Sometimes, research may be aimed at expanding a field of knowledge or improving the understanding of a natural phenomenon. This type of research is known as a basic, pure or fundamental research, and it is a major means of generating new ideas, principles and theories. 

In many cases, basic research fuels scientific innovations and development because it is driven by the need to unravel the unknown. In this article, we will define what basic research is, its data collection methods and how it differs from other approaches to research. 

What is Basic Research?

Basic research is a type of research approach that is aimed at gaining a better understanding of a subject, phenomenon or basic law of nature. This type of research is primarily focused on the advancement of knowledge rather than solving a specific problem. 

Basic research is also referred to as pure research or fundamental research. The concept of basic research emerged between the late 19th century and early 20th century in an attempt to bridge the gaps existing in the societal utility of science. 

Typically, basic research can be exploratory, descriptive or explanatory; although in many cases, it is explanatory in nature. The primary aim of this research approach is to gather information in order to improve one's understanding, and this information can then be useful in proffering solutions to a problem. 

Examples of Basic Research 

Basic research can be carried out in different fields with the primary aim of expanding the frontier of knowledge and developing the scope of these fields of study. Examples of basic research can be seen in medicine, education, psychology, technology, to mention but a few.

Basic Research Example in Education 

In education, basic research is used to develop pedagogical theories that explain teaching and learning behaviours in the classroom. Examples of basic research in education include the following:

  1. How does the Language Acquisition Device work  on children?
  2. How does the human retentive memory work?
  3. How do teaching methods affect student's concentration in class? 

Basic Research Example in Science

Basic research advances scientific knowledge by helping researchers understand the function of newly discovered molecules and cells, strange phenomena, or little-understood processes. As with other fields, basic research is responsible for many scientific breakthroughs; even though the knowledge gained may not seem to yield immediate benefits. 

Examples of basic research in science include: 

  1. A research to determine the chemical composition of organic molecules.
  2. A research to discover the components of the human DNA. 

Basic Research Example in Psychology 

In psychology, basic research helps individuals and organisations to gain insights and better understanding into different conditions. It is entirely theoretical and allows psychologists to understand certain behaviors better without providing  solutions to these behaviours or phenomena.  


Examples of basic research in psychology include: 

  1. Do stress levels make individuals more aggressive? 
  2. To what extent does caffeine consumption affect classroom concentration?
  3. A research on behavioral differences between children raised by separated families and children raised by married parents. 
  4. To what extent do gender stereotypes  trigger depression? 

Basic Research Example in Health  

Basic research methods improve healthcare by providing different dimensions to the understanding and interpretation of healthcare issues. For example, it allows healthcare practitioners to gain more insight into the origin of diseases which can help to provide cures to chronic medical conditions. 

Many health researchers opine that many vaccines are developed based on an understanding of the causes of the disease such as in the case of the polio vaccine. Several medical breakthroughs have been attributed to the wealth of knowledge provided through basic research. 

Examples of basic research in health include: 

  1. An investigation into the symptoms of Coronavirus.
  2. An investigation into the causative factors of malaria
  3. An investigation into the secondary symptoms of high blood pressure. 

Basic Research Method

  • Interview

 An interview is a common method of data collection in basic research that involves having a one-on-one interaction with an individual in order to gather relevant information about a phenomenon. Interview can be structured, unstructured or semi-structured depending on the research process and objectives.  

In a structured interview, the researcher asks a set of premeditated questions while in an unstructured interview, the researcher does not make use of a set of premeditated questions. Rather he or she depends on spontaneity and follow-up questioning in order to gather relevant information. 

On the other hand, a semi-structured interview is a type of interview that allows the researcher to deviate from  premeditated questions in order to gather more  information about the research subject. You can conduct structured interviews online by creating and administering a survey online on Formplus.

  • Observation

Observation is a type of data-gathering method that involves paying close attention to a phenomenon for a specific period of time in order to gather relevant information about its behaviors. When carrying out basic research, the researcher may need to study the research subject for a stipulated period as it interacts with its natural environment. 

Observation can be structured or unstructured depending on its procedures and approach. In structured observation, the data collection is carried out using a predefined procedure and in line with a specific schedule while unstructured observation is not restricted to a predetermined procedure. 

  • Experiment

An experiment is a type of quantitative data-gathering method that seeks to validate or refute a hypothesis and it can also be used to test existing theories. In this method of data collection, the researcher manipulates dependent and independent variables to achieve objective research outcomes. 

Typically, in an experiment, the independent variable is modified or changed in order to determine its effects on the dependent variables in the research context. This can be done using 3 major methods which are controlled experiments, field experiments, and natural experiments 


  • Questionnaire

A questionnaire is a data collection tool that is made up of a series of questions to which the research subjects provide answers. It is a cost-effective method of data gathering because it allows you to collect large samples of data from the members of the group simultaneously. 

You can create and administer your pure research questionnaire online using Formplus and you can also make use of paper questionnaires; although these are  easily susceptible to damage. [

Here is a step-by-step guide of how to create and administer questionnaires for basic research using Formplus: 

  1. Sign in to Formplus

Signup Now

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

Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, "Basic 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 from  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 change the look and feel of your form 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 brand specifications. 

Multiple Sharing Options

Formplus offers multiple form sharing options which enables you to easily share your questionnaire with respondents. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your  social media pages. 

In addition, Formplus has an option to convert form links to QR codes; you can personalize and display your form QR code on your website/banners for easy access. You also can send out survey forms as email invitations to your research subjects.  

  • Data Reporting

 Data reporting is a type of data collection method where the researcher gathers relevant data and turns them in for further analysis in order to arrive at specific conclusions. The crux of this method depends, almost entirely, on the validity of the data collected. 

  • Case Studies

A case study is a type of data collection method that involves the detailed examination of a specific subject matter in order to gather objective information about the features and behaviors of the research subject. This method of data gathering is primarily qualitative, although it can also be quantitative or numerical in nature. 

Case studies involve a detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. In carrying out a case study, the researcher must take extra care to identify the research questions, collect relevant data then evaluate and analyze the data in order to arrive at objective conclusions. 

How is Basic Research Different from Applied Research? 

  • Definition

 Applied research is a type of research that is concerned with solving practical problems using scientific methods while basic research is a type of research that is concerned with the expansion of knowledge. 

  • Nature

Basic research generates new theories or improves on existing theories hence, it is theoretical in nature. On the other hand, applied research creates practical solutions to specific problems hence, it is practical in nature. 

  • Focus

 Basic research is knowledge-specific while applied research is solution-specific. 

  • Research Purpose

The purpose of basic research is to improve on existing knowledge or to discover new knowledge while the purpose of applied research is to solve specific problems. 

  • Scope

The scope of basic research is universal while applied research is limited in nature. This means that while applied research addresses a specific problem and is limited to the problem which it addresses, basic research explores multiple dimensions of various fields. 

  • Basic research is primarily explanatory while applied research is descriptive in nature
  • Basic research adopts an indirect approach to problem-solving while applied research adopts a direct approach to problem solving. 
  • In basic research, generalizations are common while in applied research, specific problems are investigated without the aim of generalizations. 

Characteristics of Basic Research 

  1. Basic research is analytical in nature. 
  2. It aims at theorising concepts and not solving specific problems.
  3. It is primarily concerned with the expansion of knowledge and not with the applicability of the research outcomes. 
  4. Basic research is explanatory in nature. 
  5. Basic research is carried out without any primary focus on possible practical ends. 
  6. It improves the general knowledge and understanding of different fields of study. 

Importance of Basic Research

  1. Acquisition of New Knowledge: Basic research results in new knowledge. It is responsible for many research breakthroughs in different fields of study and it is often considered as the pacesetter in technological and innovative solutions. 
  2. Basic research also enhances the understanding of different subject matters and provides multiple possible dimensions for interpretation of these subject matters. 
  3. Findings of fundamental research are extremely useful in expanding the pool of knowledge in different disciplines. 
  4. Basic research offers the foundation for applied research. 

Disadvantages of Basic Research

  1. Findings from pure research have little or no immediate practical implications. However, these findings may be useful in providing solutions to different problems, in the long run.
  2. Fundamental research does not have strict deadlines.
  3. Basic research does not solve any specific problems. 


Basic research is an important research method because it exposes researchers to varying dimensions within a field of study. This proves useful, not only for improving scholarship and the general knowledge-base, but for solving problems as is the concern of applied research. 

When carrying out basic research, the investigator adopts one or more qualitative and quantitative observation methods which includes case studies, experiments and observation. These data collection methods help the researcher to gather the most valid and relevant information for the research. 

In the case of using a survey or questionnaire for data collection, this can easily be done with the use of Formplus forms. Formplus allows you to create and administer different kinds of questionnaires, online and you can easily monitor and categorise your form responses too. 

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