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Basic research, also called pure research or fundamental research, is a type of
scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century (with notable practitioners in previous centuries). It involves careful ...
with the aim of improving scientific
theories A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as observational study or researc ...

theories
for better understanding and prediction of natural or other phenomena. In contrast,
applied research Applied science is the use of the scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense ...
uses scientific theories to develop
technology Technology ("science of craft", from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. I ...

technology
or techniques which can be used to intervene and ''alter'' natural or other phenomena. Though often driven simply by curiosity,"Curiosity creates cures: The value and impact of basic research
,
National Institute of General Medical Sciences The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) supports basic research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization, and analysi ...
,
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
.
basic research often fuels the technological innovations of applied science. The two aims are often practiced simultaneously in coordinated
research and development Research and development (R&D, R+D), known in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geogra ...
.


Overview

Basic research advances fundamental knowledge about the world. It focuses on creating and refuting or supporting
theories A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as observational study or researc ...
that explain observed phenomena. Pure research is the source of most new scientific ideas and ways of thinking about the world. It can be exploratory,
descriptive In the study of language, description or descriptive linguistics is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestu ...
, or explanatory; however, explanatory research is the most common. Basic research generates new ideas, principles, and theories, which may not be immediately utilized but nonetheless form the basis of progress and development in different fields. Today's computers, for example, could not exist without research in pure mathematics conducted over a century ago, for which there was no known practical application at the time. Basic research rarely helps practitioners directly with their everyday concerns; nevertheless, it stimulates new ways of thinking that have the potential to revolutionize and dramatically improve how practitioners deal with a problem in the future.


By country

In the United States, basic research is funded mainly by federal government and done mainly at universities and institutes. As government funding has diminished in the 2010s, however, private funding is increasingly important.


Basic versus applied science

Applied science focuses on the development of technology and techniques. In contrast, basic science develops scientific knowledge and predictions, principally in
natural science Natural science is a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or ph ...

natural science
s but also in other empirical sciences, which are used as the scientific foundation for applied science. Basic science develops and establishes ''information'' to predict phenomena and perhaps to understand nature, whereas
applied science Applied science is the use of the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves caref ...
uses portions of basic science to develop ''interventions'' via technology or technique to alter events or outcomes. & "Technology" in Applied and basic sciences can interface closely in
research and development Research and development (R&D, R+D), known in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geogra ...
.Gerard Piel, "Science and the next fifty years", § "Applied vs basic science", ''
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists The ''Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists'' is a nonprofit organization concerning science and global security issues resulting from accelerating technological advances that have negative consequences for humanity. The ''Bulletin'' publishes conte ...
'', 1954 Jan;10(1):17–20
p 18
The interface between basic research and applied research has been studied by the National Science Foundation.
A worker in basic scientific research is motivated by a driving curiosity about the unknown. When his explorations yield new knowledge, he experiences the satisfaction of those who first attain the summit of a mountain or the upper reaches of a river flowing through unmapped territory. Discovery of truth and understanding of nature are his objectives. His professional standing among his fellows depends upon the originality and soundness of his work. Creativeness in science is of a cloth with that of the poet or painter.
It conducted a study in which it traced the relationship between basic scientific research efforts and the development of major innovations, such as oral contraceptives and videotape recorders. This study found that basic research played a key role in the development in all of the innovations. The number of basic science research that assisted in the production of a given innovation peaked between 20 and 30 years before the innovation itself. While most innovation takes the form of applied science and most innovation occurs in the private sector, basic research is a necessary precursor to almost all applied science and associated instances of innovation. Roughly 76% of basic research is conducted by universities. A distinction can be made between basic science and disciplines such as medicine and technology. They can be grouped as ''STM'' (science, technology, and medicine; not to be confused with ''STEM'' cience, technology, engineering, and mathematics or '' STS'' (science, technology, and society). These groups are interrelated and influence each other, although they may differ in the specifics such as methods and standards. The
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, busines ...
mixes basic with applied sciences for its award in Physiology or Medicine. In contrast, the
Royal Society of London The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by Charles II of ...
awards distinguish natural science from applied science.Medals, Awards & Prize lectures
,
The Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists ...
website, accessed 22 Sep 2013.


See also

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Blue skies research Blue skies research (also called blue sky science) is scientific research in domains where "real-world" applications are not immediately apparent. It has been defined as "research without a clear goal" and "curiosity-driven science". It is sometim ...
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Hard and soft science Hard science and soft science are colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in con ...
*
Metascience Metascience (also known as meta-research) is the use of scientific methodology to study science itself. Metascience seeks to increase the quality of scientific research while reducing waste. It is also known as "''research on research''" and "'' ...
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Normative scienceIn the applied sciences, normative science is a type of information that is developed, presented, or interpreted based on an assumed, usually unstated, preference for a particular outcome, policy or class of policies or outcomes. Regular or traditi ...
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Physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

Physics
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Precautionary principle The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) is a broad epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as fac ...

Precautionary principle
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Pure mathematics Pure mathematics is the study of mathematical concepts independently of any application outside mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, struc ...
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Pure Chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a Ch ...


References


Further reading

* {{Authority control Research