Basic Research: Definition, Examples

what is basic research?Basic research focuses on the search for truth or the development of theory. Because of this property, basic research is fundamental. Researchers with their fundamental background knowledge “design studies that can test, refine, modify, or develop theories.”

Generally, these researchers are affiliated with an academic institution, and they perform this research as part of their graduate or doctoral works. Gathering knowledge for knowledge’s sake is the sole purpose of basic research.

Basic research is also called pure research. Basic research is driven by a scientist’s curiosity or interest in a scientific question.

The main motivation in basic research is to expand man’s knowledge, not to create or invent something. There is no obvious commercial value to the discoveries that result from basic research.

The term ‘basic’ indicates that, through theory generation, basic research provides the foundation for applied research. This approach of research is essential for nourishing the expansion of knowledge.

It deals with questions that are intellectually interesting and challenging to the investigator. It focuses on refuting or supporting theories that operate in a changing society.

Basic research generates new ideas, principles, and theories, which may not be of immediate practical utility, though such research lays the foundations of modern progress and development in many fields.

Basic research rarely helps practitioners directly with their everyday concerns but can stimulate new ways of thinking about our daily lives.

Basic researchers are more detached and academic in their approach and tend to have their motives. For example, an anthropologist may research to try and understand the physical properties, symbolic meanings, and practical qualities of things.

Such research contributes to an understanding of broad issues of interest to many social sciences-issues of self, family, and material culture.

Having said so, we come up with the following definition of basic research:

Definition of Basic Research

When the solution to the research problem has no apparent applications to any existing practical problem but serves only the scholarly interests of a community of a researcher, the research is basic.

Most scientists believe that a fundamental understanding of all branches of science is needed for progress to take place.

In other words, basic research lays down the foundation for the applied research that follows. If basic work is done first, then applied spin-offs often eventually result from this research.

A person wishing to do basic research in any specialized area generally must have studied the concepts and assumptions of that specialization enough to know what has been done in the past and what remains to be done.

In the health sector, for example, basic research is necessary to generate new knowledge and technology to deal with major unsolved health problems. Here are a few examples of questions asked in pure research:

  • How did the universe begin?
  • What are protons, neutrons, and electrons composed of?
  • How do slime molds reproduce?
  • How do the Neo-Malthusians view the Malthusian theory?
  • What is the specific genetic code of the fruit fly?
  • What is the relevance of the dividend theories in the capital market?

As there is no guarantee of short-term practical gain, researchers find it difficult to obtain funding for basic research.

Examples of Basic Research

Example #1

The author investigated the smoothness of the solution of the degenerate Hamilton-Bellman (HJB) equation associated with a linear- quadratic regulator control.

The author established the existence of a classical solution of degenerate HJB equation associated with this problem by the technique of viscosity solutions and hence derived an optimal control from the optimality conditions in the HJB equation.

Example #2

Hasan (2009) gave a solution to linear programming problems through computer algebra. In his paper, he developed a computer technique for solving such linear fractional programming problems.

At the outset, he determined all basic feasible solutions of the constraints, which are a system of linear equations.

The author then computed and compared the objective function values and obtained the optimal objective function value and optimal solutions. The method was then illustrated with a few numerical examples.

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