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The Relationship Between Applied Research and Pure ResearchTerm Paper

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¶ … Pure and Applied Research

Pure research and Applied research are two distinct branches or methods of inquiry that focus on different issues and produce different results. Pure research is more fundamental in nature and examines the why of a phenomenon. Its goal is to understand why something happens and to present a theory for this occurrence. Applied research, on the other hand, aims to take that theory and apply it to the real world through an experimental process that will gauge the validity of the theoretical concept. Applied research thus tests the ideas put forward by Pure research to see if they can help to overcome a problem faced in the real world. Applied research in this sense is problem-oriented when Pure research is exploration-oriented. This paper examines both concepts and gives examples of each as it discusses their differences as well as their relationship to one another.

The Difference between Pure and Applied Research

The difference between Pure and Applied Research is that the former serves as the building block for the latter. Pure research is that which is conducted to better understand why a phenomenon happens. Applied research is that which takes the understanding gained from Pure research and applies it to the real world to see how it would work in some form of an application or another. Without Pure research there would be no Applied research, and without Applied research there would be development or utilization of the knowledge gained from Pure research. This paper will discuss each of these research approaches in more detail and give examples of each.

Pure research may be said to be research undertaken on the most basic level. It is study that attempts to explore an idea to see why things happen the way they do. One example of Pure research, therefore, would be the story of Ben Franklin tying a metal key to the string of a kite and flying it during stormy weather to see whether there is some relationship between metal and electricity.

Also known as fundamental or basic research, Pure research is essential for laying the foundations of why specific phenomena occur. It can produce new knowledge that builds on a previous theory, that refines it, or that provides the data needed to create a new theory. Without Pure research, based on the scientific method, there would never have been any technological developments in the world, such as the locomotive, the light bulb, the telegraph, and so on.

Thus, just in practical life alone, Pure research is essential for providing alternative ways to look at the world and for developing creating solutions to problems that impact one's surroundings. Newton's observations on the law of gravity, for instance, would be an example of pure research: it offered new insight and a new explanation into why things occur (why an apple falls from a tree, for example) that could then serve as the basis for future developments. Einstein's Theory of Relativity would serve as another example of Pure research, as it sought to explain the relation of cosmic events to one another, which opened the door to more and more practical developments in the field of science and technology.

Pure research does not always have to lead to some form of application in the real world, but it should deepen one's understanding of the world or present, at least, an alternative explanation for occurrences that have not be considered before. In fact, it may be years, decades or even centuries before the findings presented by pure research find some practical application in the real world. Oftentimes it happens that theory is so far advanced of practical design that it takes some time for practical design to catch up to the ideas presented by pure researchers and to make use of them.

This, of course, is where Applied research comes into play. Applied research takes the findings of pure research and plugs them into real world applications. This is research that is conducted on the basis of developing new models or technology that can operate on the basis of the theories presented by Pure research. In other words, based on the predictions of Pure research, Applied research sets about developing an intervention or a method or a technique or a tool that shapes the phenomenon in a way that is beneficial. If one looks at it in terms of an organization's Research and Development division, Pure research would be the research part and Applied research would be the development part. Indeed, numerous sectors in society benefit from the relationship of Pure and Applied research -- including the medical industry, where "thoughtful changes in education provide the opportunity to improve understanding of fundamental sciences, the process of scientific inquiry, and translation of that knowledge to clinical practice" (Fincher, Wallach, Richardson, 2009, p. 1255).

The way that scientific communities think about Pure research and Applied research is also evident in the way they classify and categorize types of science and research, and even in the way they recognize scientific achievements. For instance, the Nobel Prize lumps Pure and Applied research together in its recognition of breakthroughs in the field of physiology and medicine, which highlights the special relationship that the two forms of research have with one another. On the other hand, the Royal Society of London recognizes Pure research and Applied research separately, highlighting their own unique approaches and contributions to the field of science.

Applied research is generally conducted in order to come upon a solution to a problem that impacts people or organizations or the planet or some situation in the real world. In this sense, Applied research is oriented towards solving a problem rather than answering the question why. It is directed towards adopting a course of action instead of posing a question for theoretical purposes. It is practical rather than theoretical in its nature. The results can typically be viewed and quantified immediately. Applied research is conducted in virtually every field where improvements are sought: from technology to management to business to economics to the social sciences, Applied researchers are in demand because they are oriented towards developing solutions to challenges facing real life organizations.

Some practical benefit derived from Applied research may be found in the fact that Applied research takes the theory identified in Pure research and tests it in the real world to see if it actually applies. Applied research can also be utilized as an aid when attempting to clarify or shed light on a particular concept. Applied research can also be a practice whereby more than one theory is used, so that development is achieved by way of combining or integrating various theories derived from Pure research and using them all in one single experiment to find a solution to a problem.

Some examples of Applied research include market research that is conducted in order to test a theory about a developing market. One example of this could be Mattel's opening of the House of Barbie in China in 2009. Mattel had identified a theory in its marketing that China would embrace its Barbie doll and so it tested this theory in a big way by opening a lavish, expensive House of Barbie. What Mattel discovered, however, was that the theory did not actually apply to the reality: in other words, China was not so much interested in the culture of Barbie and what the American Barbie stood for (in terms of ideals and iconographic imagery) as it was in cheaper imitation knock-offs of the real thing which could be purchased on the street for a fraction of the cost of the Mattel product (McGrath, Sherry, Diamond, 2013).

Another example of Applied research would be the application of Quantitative Easing by the Federal Reserve in its effort to prop up the flailing global economy since 2008. Three rounds of Quantitative Easing (the printing of money and using it to support the stock market) have had no real positive impact on the economy, even though the theory based on Keynesian economics that the application was based upon suggested it would have a positive impact. In this case the Applied research has shown that the theory underlining the application has not been shown to have any real world justification, for it certainly has not solved the problem facing the global economy, which is an overabundance of debt, a surplus of inventory, a loss of jobs and a decline in real working wages, coupled with growing inequality between the haves and have-nots and rising inflation in various sectors like housing alongside deflation in the price of oil. The application of Quantitative Easing, like Mattel's application of market theory in China, has proven that the underlying theory does not work to address the problem at hand. For Mattel, the problem was cultural division and the theory that Barbie had universal appeal proved false. For the Fed, the theory was that Keynesian economics (the more you spend, the better the economy gets) and as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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