We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between Basic and Applied Research?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 26, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Both basic and applied research are important to the advancement of human knowledge, but they work in slightly different ways, and they have different end goals in sight. Basic or pure research is conducted solely for the purpose of gathering information and building on existing knowledge, as opposed to applied research, which is geared towards the resolution of a particular question. A neurologist who studies the brain to learn about its general workings is doing basic research, while a neurologist who is searching for the origins of Alzheimer's disease is involved in applied research.

Often, applied research builds on existing basic research. Basic research could be considered the foundation of knowledge which provides people with the basic information they need to pursue particular areas of research. In the example of the two neurologists above, for example, the neurologist involved in applied research on a neurological condition will probably use research published by the neurologist who is more generally studying the brain.

The lines between basic and applied research can blur. For example, a researcher playing around with batteries and methods of storing energy might accidentally stumble upon a revolutionary battery which could be utilized as a commercial product. In this case, research conducted to more generally develop ways of understanding and storing energy could have an immediate real world application, such as storing solar power trapped by the solar panels on a house.

In basic research, general theories, ideas, and questions are explored and tested, from where the universe comes from to how animals communicate. Some people have suggested that this type of research should not have priority, because it doesn't always result in an immediate benefit to humans, but without basic research, many applied research programs would be hard-pressed to get the start they need. Doing basic research ensures that applied researchers don't need to reinvent the wheel every time they start on a new project, because the groundwork has been done.

Some researchers prefer to focus on one type of research or the other, addressing natural curiosity or concerns about specific problems faced by humans. Others may flit back and forth, or find themselves starting a project which could be considered basic which turns applied, or vice versa. Flexibility in research is critical, as it promotes innovation and new approaches to scientific problems. Basic research is sometimes criticized as a funding hog, but in fact both types of research can be costly, and investing in basic research actually saves money in the long run by promoting the exploration of general knowledge.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By sherlock87 — On Nov 07, 2010

@vogueknit17, Often even professional scientists and researchers will try to perform basic research or basic experiments when beginning a new project, as it helps them get ready to deal with that subject matter.

By vogueknit17 — On Nov 07, 2010

Basic research can also be helpful for students, both high school and university level, in learning how to research before trying to tackle the often more difficult applied research methodology. Students can know that if a basic experiment or project is performed and the known solution found, they are ready to move onto something more difficult.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.