Types of Research: Pure research vs Applied research


Types of Research

Research has traditionally been classified into two types: pure (basic, fundamental) research and applied (action) research. But we find that this distinction-implying as it does that pure research supplies the theories and applied research uses and tests them out in the real world is too rigid to characterize what happens in most academic disciplines, where, for example, "real-world" research generates its own theories and does not just apply "pure" theories.

There is however no sharp line of demarcation between these two categories of research. A sound theoretical system is a must for organizing even specific problems. Even when we plan for action research we must have a very sound theoretical Foundation to work upon the action.

1. Pure Research

Pure research is concerned with the quest for knowledge and knowing more about the phenomenon without concern for its practical use and also with developing and testing hypotheses and theories. It is said, there is nothing so practical as a good theory. For example, developing a theory pertaining to the functioning of group mind or group dynamics. This type of research is also used to reject or support the existing theories about social phenomena.

Pure research deals with questions that are intellectually challenging to the researcher but may or may not have practical applications at the present time or in the future. Thus such work often involves testing hypotheses containing very abstract and specialized concepts. A person wishing to do pure research in any specialized area of social science generally must have studied the concept and assumptions of that specialization enough to know what has been done and what remains to be done. Most pure research cannot be done in isolation but must be conducted within a unifying conceptual framework so that it can build upon past research in the area.

2. Applied Research

The practical application of knowledge, systematically acquired and validated, for the purpose of meeting a recognized need. Applied research is associated with a particular project and problem. Such research, being of practical value, may relate to current for activity an immediate or immediate problem practical facing situations of society. For example, economists could point out how a planning system may be useful in the public distribution of mass consumption commodities. Applied research is research with findings that can be applied to solve social problems of immediate concern.

Differences between Pure research and applied research

The differences between pure and applied research are:

Pure Research

Applied Research


  • Expand knowledge of the process of organizational process.
  • Results in universal principles relating to the process and its relationship to outcomes.
  • Produce findings of significance and value to the society.



  • Improve understanding of specific organizational problems.
  • Create solutions to organizational problems.
  • Develop findings of practical relevance to organizational stakeholders.


  • Undertaken by people based in universities.
  • Choice of topic and objectives determined by the researcher.
  • Flexible scales of time.


  • Undertaken by people based in a variety of settings including organizations and universities.
  • Objectives negotiated with the originator.
  • Tight scales of time.


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