Friday, February 17, 2012


          Often students or new in research activities are interested to understand the difference between Basic and Applied research.
This difference is clear. There are two angles to look into this difference.
1. The hierarchical positioning of two concepts.
2. From the point of literary meanings

From the point of literary meaning of two words; 
          Basic research is a conventional research activity or also known as academic research. This is done for sake of knowledge gathering or to contribute in body of knowledge. For example some researcher is trying to find the reasons of  values deterioration among youth. The results of  this research will be a contribution  towards social science. It may lead to further investigations and more research findings.
Applied Research on the other hand will be an extension to basic research. It is executed to find solutions to certain problem faced by any individual or by any organization, or society. The purpose behind this research activity is to discover and eliminate causes of  the problem. For example the high crime rate among youth may invite the attention of policy makers to find the reasons and eliminate such factors which cause this behaviour. Or a manager is worried about the failures in meeting targets and delays in completing tasks. And he truly desires to find the reasons for such delays, so that he can eliminate the factors causing such delays.

From the point of hierarchical positioning of two words;  
          Basis and applied research are collinear activities. They occur in a sequence. Most of the time applied researchers can find solutions to their problems in some already conducted basic research papers. They can use existing knowledge to solve their problems. On the other hand, companies keep on doing various researches in their organizations with the hope that they may help them in future. Many times organizations starts from the scratch and complete their research by finding solution to the problems.

          The difference between Applied and Basic Research is due to the objectives set for research. If objective is to contribute to the body of knowledge in an academic domain then it is called a Basic Research. And if purpose is to solve the problem by investigating root causes of that problem then it is called Applied Research.

          The common between the two types is that researchers are going through similar research activities and  one can not realize that what is the objective of the researcher unless researcher himself  tells the objective that whether he is doing applied research or he is on an academic domain of basic research.

          I remember one of my student in MBA class was doing research in his bank as an academic requirement for his degree. He submitted a thesis on the study of cultural difference in work environment. In that documents he investigated possible effects of such cultural differences. He questioned about 20 people organization for this research objective and prepare analysis and recommendations. He concluded that besides gender differences cultural difference among employees may effect work environment. This was an example of Basic Research. There may be a possibility that by looking in to this work(basic research report),  the manager of that Bank may have started investigating that how cultural difference can bring improvement in the work environment in his Bank. Then this research would be applied research.
(Author: Muhammad Azeem)