Applied Research: Definition, Examples

What is Applied Research?The pursuit of information that can be directly applied to practice is aptly known as applied research. The goal of this research is to determine the applicability of theory and principles by testing hypotheses within specific settings.

What is Applied Research?

Researchers in this field try to find immediate solutions to existing problems facing a society or an industrial or business organization.

The approach is much more useful as it strives to find information that will directly influence practice.

People cannot foresee the future well enough to predict what is going to develop from basic research. If we only did apply research, we would still be making better spears.

The needs of social action inspire applied research. It aims at finding a practical solution for an immediate problem of the society making optimal use of the available resources.

The problem-solving nature of applied research means it is conducted to reveal answers to specific questions related to action, performance, or policy needs.

In contrast to pure research, applied research entails large-scale studies with subsequent data collection problems.

Applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

One might legitimately say that the goal of applied research is to improve human conditions. For example, applied researchers may investigate ways and means to:

  • Improve agricultural crop production;
  • Treat or cure a specific disease;
  • Improve the energy efficiency of homes, offices, or modes of transportation;
  • Suggest innovative and modified methods of measurement in any specific investigation.

Some scientists feel that the time has come for a shift in emphasis away from purely basic research toward applied research for the sake of the human population.

This trend, they feel, is necessitated by the problems resulting from global overpopulation, pollution, and the overuse of the earth’s natural resources.

In recent years, applied research, under the banner of operations research, has extensive applications in health and family planning programs to identifying problems and designing and evaluating policies and programs that will deliver the most significant benefit at an affordable cost.

In social sciences, research is often a mixture of both basic and applied; some stages of a study may have a basic flavor, while other stages may be more applied.

Examples of Applied Research

Example #1

Eclampsia is a major cause of maternal mortality in Bangladesh.

From the clinical observations in Bangladesh and elsewhere, it is observed that the early cesarean section may nullify the violent effect of this grave disease.

To date, no such study has been undertaken in our country. It is proposed that a comparative study between Caesarean section and Vaginal delivery in Eclamsia be undertaken.

The study will help to reduce the maternal and prenatal mortality considerably and thus improve our health status.

Example #2

It has been observed that in Bangladesh, the proportion of women who are delivered through Caesarean section is very high.

It is suspected that a small height is one of the risk factors for difficult deliveries. A study may, therefore, be conducted to verify if this proposition is true.

Example #3

Ethnic minority businesses are in existence in many parts of the world. Their effort to enter into business is often explained as an essential alternative means of earning and maintaining their livelihood.

Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi settlers in Britain comprise a majority of the ethnic business communities.

These ethnic business entrepreneurs are facing various problems that inhibit their business development and activities.

A large number of organizations and services were developed to redress the small enterprises’ sectors in Britain.

Hakim (1994) undertook a study to identify the awareness and uses of different kinds of services by the Bangladeshi ethnic entrepreneurs covering available advisory services and sources of assistance in Britain.

Based on his study findings, the author concluded that Bangladeshi ethnic entrepreneurs were not sufficiently aware of the advisory services and assistance provided by different organizations.

Those who were aware they did not fully utilize these services. The author then made a number of recommendations for favorable and positive action by the concerned authority.

Example #4

In the adventure travel survey in a US county, the managers of a group of county river basin outfitters wanted to know how to increase customers’ satisfaction and repeat business for their multi-day river trips.

They wanted to make their business more predictable and profitable.

To achieve their goals, they conducted applied consumer research with several river­outfitting companies to help answer questions of interest to managers.

Traditionally, basic research was considered as an activity that preceded applied research, which in turn preceded development into practical applications.

Recently, these distinctions have become much less clear-cut, and it is sometimes the case that all stages will intermix.

This is particularly the case in fields such as biotechnology and electronics, where fundamental discoveries may be made alongside work intended to develop new products, and in areas where public and private sector partners collaborate in order to develop greater insight into key areas of interest.

Basic Research vs. Applied Research

#Basic ResearchApplied Research
1Basic research is sponsored by an agency or organization committed to the general advancement of knowledge.Applied research is sponsored by an agency with a vested interest in the results.
2Results in basic research are the property of society and the research community.Applied research results become the property of the sponsor.
3Studies related to basic research rely on the established reputations of the researchers and are totally under their control.Studies related to applied research follow explicit terms of reference developed by the sponsor to serve the sponsor’s needs.
4Budget allocations are generally based on global proposals, and accounting is left to the researchers.Budget accountability is directly related to the sponsor and relates to agreed terms of reference, time frames, and methodologies.
5The conduct of research is based on ‘good faith’ between the funding agency and the researcher.In applied research, The work is contractual between sponsor and researcher.
6The research produces findings and conclusions, but rarely suggestions or recommendations except those related to further research needs.Applied research includes applied recommendations or suggestions for action leading to implementation.
7Basic research tends to extend an identifiable scholarly discipline.By its nature, applied research tends to be interdisciplinary.
8Basic research is typically focused on a single set of testable hypotheses.Contract research frequently analyzes the consequences of alternative policy options.
9Decision-rules relate to theoretically- based tests of statistical significance.Decision-rules relate to predetermined conventions and agreements between the sponsor and the researcher.
10Research reports are targeted to other specialized researchers in the same field.Research reports are intended to be read and understood by laypersons.
11The driving goal is to contribute to basic theoretical knowledge.The driving goal is to have practical payoffs or use of results.
12Success comes when results appear in a scholarly journal and have an impact on others in the scientific community.Success comes when results are used by the sponsor/client in decision making.


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