Applied Research vs. Pure Research

What's the Difference?

Applied research and pure research are two distinct approaches to conducting scientific investigations. Applied research aims to solve practical problems and find solutions that can be directly applied to real-world situations. It focuses on addressing specific issues and generating practical outcomes. On the other hand, pure research, also known as basic or fundamental research, is driven by curiosity and the desire to expand knowledge in a particular field. It is conducted purely for the sake of knowledge and understanding, without any immediate practical application in mind. While applied research seeks to provide immediate solutions, pure research lays the foundation for future discoveries and advancements. Both approaches are essential in the scientific community, as they complement each other and contribute to the overall progress of knowledge and innovation.


AttributeApplied ResearchPure Research
GoalPractical applicationAcquisition of knowledge
FocusSolving specific problemsExploring fundamental concepts
MethodologyProblem-solving approachExperimental or theoretical investigation
ApplicabilityDirectly applicable to real-world situationsMay not have immediate practical use
ResultsPractical solutions or innovationsNew knowledge or theories
CommercializationOften leads to commercial products or servicesNot necessarily focused on commercialization

Further Detail


Research is a fundamental process that drives innovation and progress in various fields. It involves the systematic investigation of a particular subject to gain knowledge and understanding. Two primary types of research are applied research and pure research. While both aim to contribute to the body of knowledge, they differ in their objectives, methodologies, and outcomes. In this article, we will explore the attributes of applied research and pure research, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Applied Research

Applied research, also known as practical research, focuses on solving specific problems or addressing practical issues. It aims to provide solutions that can be directly applied to real-world situations. Applied research is often conducted in collaboration with industry, government agencies, or non-profit organizations to address their specific needs or challenges.

One of the key attributes of applied research is its goal-oriented nature. Researchers in applied research work towards finding practical solutions or developing new technologies that can be implemented in various fields such as medicine, engineering, agriculture, or business. The research questions in applied research are often driven by the need to solve a specific problem or improve existing processes.

Applied research typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, drawing knowledge and expertise from different fields to address complex problems. Researchers collaborate with professionals from various backgrounds, including scientists, engineers, economists, and social scientists, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the problem and develop effective solutions.

Another characteristic of applied research is its emphasis on the application of findings. The outcomes of applied research are intended to have immediate practical implications. The research findings are often used to develop new products, improve existing technologies, inform policy decisions, or enhance organizational processes. The success of applied research is often measured by its impact on solving real-world problems and improving the quality of life.

Applied research also involves a strong element of feasibility and practicality. Researchers need to consider the constraints and limitations of the real-world context in which the research is conducted. Factors such as cost, time, resources, and ethical considerations play a crucial role in shaping the research design and methodology. The results of applied research are expected to be directly applicable and feasible within the given constraints.

Pure Research

Pure research, also known as basic or fundamental research, is driven by curiosity and the desire to expand knowledge without any immediate practical application. It aims to explore the underlying principles, theories, and concepts of a particular subject, often without a specific end goal in mind. Pure research is driven by the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.

One of the primary attributes of pure research is its focus on theoretical understanding. Researchers in pure research seek to uncover fundamental truths, discover new phenomena, or develop theories that explain natural or social phenomena. The research questions in pure research are often open-ended and exploratory, allowing for a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Pure research is characterized by its emphasis on scientific rigor and objectivity. Researchers follow a systematic and rigorous methodology to ensure the validity and reliability of their findings. They employ various research methods, such as experiments, observations, surveys, or mathematical modeling, to gather data and test hypotheses. The results of pure research contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field and may serve as a foundation for future applied research.

Unlike applied research, pure research is not bound by immediate practical considerations or constraints. Researchers have the freedom to explore unconventional ideas, challenge existing theories, or delve into uncharted territories. This freedom allows for serendipitous discoveries and breakthroughs that may have far-reaching implications in the long run.

While pure research may not have immediate practical applications, it often serves as the building blocks for applied research. The theoretical frameworks, principles, and concepts developed through pure research provide a solid foundation for applied research to build upon. Pure research contributes to the advancement of knowledge and understanding, paving the way for future innovations and practical solutions.

Similarities and Differences

Although applied research and pure research have distinct objectives and methodologies, they also share some similarities. Both types of research involve systematic investigation and follow a scientific approach. They require researchers to formulate research questions, gather data, analyze findings, and draw conclusions based on evidence.

Furthermore, both applied research and pure research contribute to the body of knowledge in their respective fields. While applied research focuses on immediate practical applications, pure research expands the theoretical understanding and lays the groundwork for future advancements.

However, the key difference between applied research and pure research lies in their objectives and outcomes. Applied research aims to solve specific problems and generate practical solutions, while pure research seeks to expand knowledge and understanding without immediate practical applications.

Another difference is the level of collaboration and multidisciplinary involvement. Applied research often requires collaboration with industry or organizations to address real-world challenges, while pure research is more focused on individual or academic pursuits.

Additionally, the time frame and funding sources for applied research and pure research may differ. Applied research projects are often time-bound and funded by organizations with a vested interest in the outcomes, while pure research projects may have longer time frames and rely on academic or government funding.


Applied research and pure research are two distinct types of research that contribute to the advancement of knowledge and understanding. While applied research focuses on solving practical problems and generating immediate solutions, pure research explores theoretical concepts and expands the boundaries of knowledge. Both types of research play a crucial role in driving innovation and progress in various fields, and their collaboration often leads to significant breakthroughs. By understanding the attributes of applied research and pure research, researchers can choose the appropriate approach based on their objectives and the nature of the problem at hand.

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