What is Research?

Research is the pursuit of new knowledge through the process of discovery. Scientific research involves diligent inquiry and systematic observation of phenomena. Most scientific research projects involve experimentation, often requiring testing the effect of changing conditions on the results. The conditions under which specific observations are made must be carefully controlled, and records must be meticulously maintained. This ensures that observations and results can be are reproduced. Scientific research can be basic (fundamental) or applied. What is the difference? The National Science Foundation uses the following definitions in its resource surveys:

Basic research: The objective of basic research is to gain more comprehensive knowledge or understanding of the subject under study, without specific applications in mind. In industry, basic research is defined as research that advances scientific knowledge but does not have specific immediate commercial objectives, although it may be in fields of present or potential commercial interest.

Applied research: Applied research is aimed at gaining knowledge or understanding to determine the means by which a specific, recognized need may be met. In industry, applied research includes investigations oriented to discovering new scientific knowledge that has specific commercial objectives with respect to products, processes, or services.

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