Basic vs. Applied Research
There are two general types of research distinguished by their purpose. On the one hand, basic research aims at answering theoretical questions and helping to broaden the knowledge base in a certain subject (Check & Schutt, 2012). On the other hand, applied research aims at answering practical questions and try to find immediate solutions to real-life problems (Check & Schutt, 2012). While both types of studies are crucial for education and learning, both of them have their benefits and disadvantages every researcher needs to realize.
First, it is crucial to distinguish between basic and applied research. Basic research is often driven by curiosity and utilizes methods that help to create new theoretical frameworks or expand the existing ones (Check & Schutt, 2012). The scope of such research is often broad and performed in a controlled environment (Check & Schutt, 2012). This implies that basic research rarely has immediate implications for practitioners. For instance, a study by Bowman et al. (2018) explores the general reasons for the achievement gap between African American students and their White counterparts. The result of the research is the identification of factors that contribute to the achievement gap and the provision of recommendations that can help to address the problem. While the results of Bowman et al.’s (2018) study are important, they do not provide a clear pattern of how the problem can be solved, which implies that the research is basic.
Applied research is the opposite in the majority of aspects. The scope of applied research is usually narrow, as the central purposes of the studies are to find a practical solution to a problem (Check & Schutt, 2012). Such research is usually conducted in real-life settings and uses empirical data (Check & Schutt, 2012). The findings of the applied research have very narrow; however, they provide clear solutions to practical problems (Check & Schutt, 2012). For instance, Jordt et al. (2017) evaluated an intervention that helps to address the achievement gap between African American student and their White counterparts. The results of the study revealed that the values affirmation intervention is effective for improving the academic achievements of minority students (Jordt et al., 2017). Thus, the research provided a clear solution to the identified problem; however, the results of the research have little use besides confirming the effectiveness of the intervention.
The primary advantage of basic research is that it leads to the acquisition of new knowledge. Applied research does not produce any knowledge; instead, it confirms the existing concepts and frameworks. Basic research is universal in nature and often leads to breakthroughs in science (Check & Schutt, 2012). Applied research, on the other hand, is very problem-specific, which helps individuals find solutions to current issues, which is not allowed by basic research (Check & Schutt, 2012). The results of applied research are usually more objective, as it is conducted in natural environments and uses standardized methods, making the results more valid (Check & Schutt, 2012). In summary, despite the benefits and pitfalls of both types of research, they are both crucial for improving educational outcomes.
Bowman, B. T., Comer, J. P., & Johns, D. J. (2018). Addressing the African American achievement gap: Three leading educators issue a call to action. YC Young Children, 73(2), 14-23.
Check, J., & Schutt, R. (2012). Research methods in education. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Jordt, H., Eddy, S. L., Brazil, R., Lau, I., Mann, C., Brownell, S. E.,… & Freeman, S. (2017). Values affirmation intervention reduces achievement gap between underrepresented minority and white students in introductory biology classes. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 16(3), 1-10.