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Research can be defined to be search for knowledge or any systematic investigation to establish facts.



Wikipedia (2009), Research [online] Available at <> [accessed: 31 October 2009]



"Basic research or fundamental research (sometimes pure research) is research carried out to increase understanding of fundamental principles. Many times the end results have no direct or immediate commercial benefits: basic research can be thought of as arising out of curiosity. However, in the long term it is the basis for many commercial products and applied research."



Wikipedia (2009), Basic Research [online] Available at <> [accessed: 31 October 2009]


"Applied research is research accessing and using some part of the research communities' accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often state, commercial, or client driven purpose. Applied research is often opposed to pure research in debates about research ideals, programs, and projects."



Wikipedia (2009), Applied Research [online] Available at <> [accessed: 31 October 2009]


Generally, research is understood to be a process whereby an explanation for an observed phenomenon is verified or otherwise by experimentation or collection and interpretation of information.

That process generally consists of the following steps (or something similar):

  • Observation of a particular phenomenon.

  • Suggesting an hypothesis (or explanation of the phenomenon)

  • Defining terms and concepts

  • Gathering of data

  • Analysis of data

  • Testing (and revising) the hypothesis.

  • Conclusion, iteration (repeating) if necessary.


However, it is important that the researcher (and those who make reference to research) exercise caution with regard to how findings are presented.



“A common misunderstanding is that by this method a hypothesis can be proven or tested. Generally a hypothesis is used to make predictions that can be tested by observing the outcome of an experiment. If the outcome is inconsistent with the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is rejected. However, if the outcome is consistent with the hypothesis, the experiment is said to support the hypothesis. This careful language is used because researchers recognize that alternative hypotheses may also be consistent with the observations. In this sense, a hypothesis can never be proven, but rather only supported by surviving rounds of scientific testing and, eventually, becoming widely thought of as true (or better, predictive), but this is not the same as it having been proven.”



Wikipedia (2009), Research [online] Available at <> [accessed: 31 October 2009]



Why do we carry out research?


Stated in the most naked of terms:

  • Basic / pure research is carried out because we “just want to know”

  • Applied research is carried out because we are hoping to “solve a problem” or “improve a situation”.



See also the Wikiversity "Introduction to Research"


Qualitative & Quantitative research