Every research begins with a clear delineation of the purpose of the investigation as this goes a long way to determine the research process or methodology adopted. In this sense, a researcher may choose to carry out basic research or applied research. 

Applied research is set on providing answers to specific questions in a bid to provide a solution to a defined problem. In this article, we will outline the features of this method of systematic investigation as well as how it differs from other approaches to research. 

What is Applied Research?

Applied research is a type of research design that seeks to solve a specific problem or provide innovative solutions to issues affecting an individual, group or society. It is often referred to as a scientific method of inquiry or contractual research because it involves the practical application of scientific methods to everyday problems. 

When conducting applied research, the researcher takes extra care to identify a problem, develop a research hypothesis and goes ahead to test these hypotheses via an experiment. In many cases, this research approach employs empirical methods in order to solve practical problems. 

Applied research is sometimes considered to be a non-systematic inquiry because  of its direct approach in  seeking a solution to a problem. It is typically a follow-up research design that further investigates the findings of pure or basic research in order to validate these findings and apply them to create innovative solutions.     

Types of Applied Research

There are 3 types of applied research. These are evaluation research, research and development, and action research.

  • Evaluation Research

Evaluation research is a type of applied research that analyses existing information about a research subject to arrive at objective research outcomes or reach informed decisions. This type of applied research is mostly applied in business contexts, for example, an organisation may adopt evaluation research to determine how to cut down  overhead costs. 

  • Research and Development

Research and development is a type of applied research that is focused on developing new products and services based on the needs of target markets. It focuses on gathering information about marketing needs and finding ways to improve on an existing product or create new products that satisfy the identified needs. 

  • Action Research

Action research is a type of applied research that is set on providing practical solutions to specific business problems by pointing the business in the right directions. Typically, action research is a process of reflective inquiry that is limited to specific contexts and situational in nature. 

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Examples of Applied Research 

Applied research is relevant in different fields of study; especially science and social science-related fields. Examples of applied research can be seen in medicine, education, business, engineering, psychology and health, and these would be further explicated below. 

Applied Research Example in Business

Applied research is used in business to build knowledge and develop product solutions. It enables organisations to identify the peculiar needs of target markets and this would help them to create different business strategies that would allow them to satisfy these needs. 

In addition, conducting contractual research would help business owners to get insightful feedback on product gaps that may have, otherwise, been ignored. This is a great way to get first-hand information on target market reactions which can inform brand decisions. 

Applied research also helps employers of labour to identify and address the productivity needs of their workforce. For instance, an organization may carry out applied research in order to measure the effectiveness of its recruitment practices or of its organisational structure. 

Examples

  1. Applied research to improve an organization’s hiring process. 
  2. Applied research to improve workplace efficiency and organizational policies.
  3. Applied research to bridge skill gaps in the workplace.

Applied Research Examples in Education 

In education, applied research is used to test pedagogic processes in order to discover the best teaching and learning methods. It is also used to test educational policies before implementation and to address different issues associated with teaching paradigms and classroom dynamics for a better learning experience. 

Educational applied research attempts solving a problem by gathering data from primary sources using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. This data serves as empirical evidence which is then subjected to rigorous analysis and description in order to arrive at valid conclusions.

The goal of this research methodology is to determine the applicability of educational theory and principles by way of subjecting hypotheses to experimentation within specific settings. Applied research in education is also more utilitarian as it gathers practical evidence that can inform pragmatic solutions to problems. 

Characteristics of Applied Research in Education 

  1. It clearly highlights generalizations and hypotheses that inform the research findings.
  2. It relies on empirical evidence.
  3. It is set at providing solutions to a defined problem.
  4. It requires accurate observation and description.

Examples

  1. A study into the way to improve teacher-learner classroom engagements.
  2. A study into the way to improve a school's readiness for its students.
  3. A study to build students' interests in Mathematics.  

Applied Research Example in Science

In itself, applied research is a scientific method of investigation because it applies existing scientific knowledge to practical situations. It is useful in different fields including thermodynamics, physics, material sciences and microbiology. 

Examples of applied research in science include the following: 

Examples

  1. Applied research to improve agricultural crop production
  2. Applied research to treat or cure a specific disease.

Applied Research Examples in Psychology 

There are different reasons psychologists would make use of applied research in the course of their work. In many cases, industrial-psychologists concerned with workplace behavior, human resources and organisational development combine psychological principles with applied research to proffer solutions. 

Examples of applied research in psychology include:

  1. Applied research to improve workplace commitment by arriving at practical worker-motivation strategies.
  2. Investigating treatment and management options for anxiety and panic attacks.
  3. Investigating factors that improve worker's productivity. 

Applied Research Example in Health  

In health and medical sciences, applied research serves as the background to evidence-based and solution-oriented medicine. It effectively merges scientific knowledge and methods with health experiences in order to arrive at accurate and verifiable results; using empirical research data or evidence. 

The adaptation of applied research to medicine is referred to as applied clinical research. Many health and medical practitioners use applied research to measure the extent to which the findings of basic or pure research can be adopted or modified into a solution-oriented approach.

Examples of applied research in health include:

  1. An investigation to identify the healing properties of a specific herb.
  2. An investigation to identify the side effects of using a particular drug. 

APPLIED RESEARCH METHODS

Qualitative and quantitative data collection methods are used in applied research to gather empirical evidence that is further subjected to experimentation in order to arrive at valid research outcomes. The following are data collection methods in applied research:

  • Interviews

An interview is a qualitative method of data collection that involves having a one-on-one interaction or discussion with the research subjects in order to gather relevant information that can serve as empirical data. It can be conducted with the use of an audio recorder, digital camera or camcorder. 

Even though it is time-consuming and expensive, interviews allow the researcher to gather the most relevant data which gives him or her in-depth knowledge about the research subjects. An interview may be structured, semi-structured or unstructured; depending on the research purpose. 

  • Surveys/Questionnaires

A questionnaire is an instrument that is typically used for quantitative data gathering. It outlines a series of questions relating to the research context and requires the research subjects to choose or provide responses that reflect their knowledge and experiences.

There are different types of questions that can be contained in a questionnaire including rating scale questions, close and open-ended questions and fixed alternatives. You can create and administer your applied research survey using data-collection platforms like Formplus

You can also start choosing from our over 200 online survey/questionnaire templates.

Here is a step-by-step guide on  how to create and administer questionnaires for applied research using Formplus

Sign in to Formplus


Conduct Surveys with Formplus


In the Formplus builder, you can easily create different questionnaires for applied research by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus. 

Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on "Create Form " to begin.

Edit Form Title

applied-research-questionnaire

Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, "Applied Research Questionnaire".

Edit Form 

Click on the edit button to edit the form.

i. Add Fields: Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder. 

ii. Edit fields

iii. Click on "Save"

iv. Preview form. 

Form Customization

With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily improve on the appearance of your questionnaire and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images and even change the font according to your needs. 

Multiple Sharing Options

Formplus also provides multiple form sharing options which enables you to easily share your questionnaire with respondents. With the direct social media sharing buttons, you can swiftly share your applied research questionnaire link to your organization's social media pages. 

You can send out your questionnaire as email invitations to your research subjects too. Formplus also allows you to share your form's QR code or embed it in your organization's website for easy access. 

  • Data Reporting

The process of gathering useful information about a research subject which can be used for further research. This can be done through not-for-profit reports, newspapers, website articles and hospital records.

It helps you  gather relevant data that results in more insightful decisions.  However, it is susceptible to bias because the information can easily be exaggerated by the individual or group collecting the data. 

  • Observation

A type of data gathering method in applied research that requires the researcher to pay close attention to a subject (s) in order to gather useful information about it. Although bias may arise with this method, observation is widely considered as a universally accepted research practice. 

Observation helps the researcher to gather empirical data and thus, it is the starting point for the formulation of a hypothesis. There are different techniques for observation including complete observer, complete participant, participant as observer and observer as participant. 

  • Focus Groups

A focus group is a type of qualitative data collection process that allows the researcher to gather information about the disposition, feelings and opinions of the research subjects about a specific issue. 

Here, the researcher engages a group comprising 6-10 individuals with a range of open-ended questions with the aim of gathering feedback about their emotional disposition to the issue at hand. This method is cost-effective compared to one-on-one interviews, and the information obtained is insightful and detailed. 

How is Applied Research Different from Basic Research?

Applied research and basic research are common methods of inquiry, based on purpose or utility. However, there are key differences between these 2 research approaches and these would be clearly outlined below: 

  • Definition

Applied research is a type of research that is aimed at the practical application of science in order to solve practical problems. On the other hand, basic research is a type of research that is aimed at expanding knowledge rather than solving problems. 

  • Approach

Basic research is theoretical in nature while applied research is practical and descriptive in nature. Basic research explores and generates theories that may be abstract while applied research tests these theories in order to solve a problem. 

  • Scope

Basic research is universal while applied research is limited. Basic research can focus on diverse or multiple contexts while applied research focuses on specific contexts with the aim of providing a solution to an identified problem. 

  • Focus

Applied research is focused on providing answers or solutions to a specific research question while basic research focuses on multiple concepts at the same time in its quest to expand knowledge. 

  • Applied research pays attention to external validity while basic research is more focused on internal validity.

Characteristics of Applied Research 

  1. Applied research is solution-specific and it addresses practical problems. Unlike basic research that is aimed at theorizing and expanding knowledge, applied research focuses on addressing a particular problem using a range of science-based approaches.
  2. Applied research is descriptive in nature as it arrives at solutions by experimenting on empirical evidence and describing research outcomes.
  3. Usually, applied research tests theories arrived at by pure research in order to determine the usefulness of these theories in solving practical problems. 
  4. It describes the relationship between research variables by measuring the characteristics of dependent and independent variables. 
  5. Applied research relies on empirical evidence in order to arrive at valid research outcomes. 
  6. It is not theoretical and it is not directly concerned with the expansion of knowledge. 
  7. Applied research is synthetic in nature. 
  8. It is aimed at the cost-effective reduction of social problems. 
  9. Applied research is action-oriented. 

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Advantages of Applied Research

  1. Validity: Applied research is unbiased in nature because it tests empirical evidence in order to arrive at valid research outcomes. It employs carefully mapped-out procedures, and this makes it a more valid research approach.
  2. It is useful in solving specific problems. It helps individuals and organizations to find solutions to specific problems. 

Disadvantages of Applied Research 

  1. It is not flexible in nature as it is restricted to a stipulated deadline.
  2. Applied research is limited in nature and it cannot be generalized. In other words, the findings from applied research cannot be generalized.  

Conclusion 

Applied research is an important research approach because it helps organisations to arrive at practical solutions to specific problems while improving their productivity and output. Unlike basic research that focuses on generating theories that explain phenomena, applied research pays attention to describing empirical evidence with the aim of providing solutions. 

In carrying out applied research, the researcher combines a number of qualitative and quantitative data-gathering methods including questionnaires, observation methods, and interviews. This helps the researcher to gather empirical evidence that is then subjected to experimentation depending on the type of applied research and the overall focus. 

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