Difference Between Basic and Applied Research

What is Basic Research?

Basic research investigates topics that are not yet well-known or understood by society. It can also be done to explore new ideas and theories, with or without any intention to solve a problem or answer questions.

One could, for example, be curious to find out why cats like staying in houses where humans are instead of outside. He would then come up with a hypothesis or a set of questions and do an experiment to prove or disprove the prediction.

The knowledge gained would have no other use except to satisfy that desire to know.

There are many forms of research, such as observational, experimental, and computational. This kind of research begins with an interest to understand a subject more, or find out why certain scenarios are the way they are.

In many instances, learning institutions such as universities and medical schools do basic research with the goal of providing a foundation for future applied research.

Basic research can be conducted by individuals, small groups, and large teams. Researchers are often not sure what their findings will mean until they have finished their work and had time to analyze it.

What is Applied Research?

Applied research, on the other hand, follows specific questions and aims to solve problems that may arise from basic research studies. Applied researchers try to answer questions and find solutions for issues they have uncovered in their studies.

This is a type of research that produces practical solutions to a specific problem in the real world. It is used in various disciplines, including social science, behavioral science, natural sciences, and health sciences.

Application-based research is more than simply understanding or predicting a phenomenon. Once a researcher identifies a disease, he does not stop there. He goes to the laboratory to think of how a cure can be found. 

He looks for the best method to use in the research based on what he already knows about diseases, basic knowledge, and solicits funding to get started on the project. This is how diseases like the tuberculosis plague were eradicated.

Applied natural sciences are the application of natural science in medicine, engineering, chemistry, and other science-related fields. It is this kind of research that comes up with computer applications that make people’s lives easier. Examples of such apps include Zoom and Gmail.

Difference Between Basic Research and Applied Research

Basic research is the scientific process of curiosity-driven research. It is the “pure” form of research. Basic Research can lead to applied research which often leads to researchers asking questions that help them get deeper into what is called applied research.

Applied research is using experiments and scientific methods to solve identified problems in society. A good example is Covid 19 pandemic. It is a strange disease that caught the medical world unawares. They had to quickly find a solution as people were dying en masse. Result? After studying the disease, they came up with Covid 19 protocols and vaccines. Problem solved.

Comparison Between Basic and Applied Research

Parameter of ComparisonBasic researchApplied research
KnowledgeExpands on what is already known for its own sake.Looks for new knowledge to offer better solutions to problems in society.
PurposeAdds knowledgeLooks for ways to solve a problem.
ImpactDoes not have an impact in society in tangible ways.It solves problems in society making people live better lives. An example is finding a cure for a fatal disease.
ApproachIt is theoretical.It is practical.
ScopeIt relies on general information.Researchers look for a specific subject that requires a solution and use experiments and other methodologies to find a practical solution.


  1. https://cspo.org/legacy/library/090721F8CB_lib_PielkeBeyondBasi.pdf
  2. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=–3rmWYKtloC&lpg=PP1&ots=FZXjicmlS7&dq=what%20is%20applied%20research&lr&pg=PR17#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20applied%20research&f=false