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FUNDAMENTAL vs. APPLIED vs. ACTION RESEARCH:
Compiled by: Dr. V. Singh
Basic research or Fundamental Research
• Basic research, also called pure research or fundamental research, is scientific research aimed to
improve scientific theories for improved understanding or prediction of natural or other
• 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.
Fundamental research, also known as basic research or pure research does not usually findings that have
immediate applications in a practical level. Basic research is driven by curiosity and the desire to expand
knowledge in specific research area.
Fundamental studies tend to make generalizations about the phenomenon, and the philosophy of this type
of studies can be explained as ‘gathering knowledge for the sake of knowledge’. Basic researches mainly
aim to answer the questions of why, what or how and they tend to contribute the pool of fundamental
knowledge in the research area.
Opposite to fundamental research is applied research that aims to solve specific problems, thus findings of
applied research do have immediate practical implications.
Differences between applied and fundamental research have been specified in a way that fundamental
research studies individual cases without generalizing, and recognizes that other variables are in constant
change, whereas applied research seeks generalizations and assumes that other variables do not change.
It is important to note that although fundamental studies do not pursue immediate commercial objectives,
nevertheless, findings of fundamental studies may result in innovations, as well as, generating solutions to
practical problems. For example, a study entitled “A critical assessment of the role of organizational culture
in facilitating management-employee communications” is a fundamental study, but findings of this study
may be used to increase the levels of effectiveness of management-employee communications, thus
resulting in practical implications.
The following are examples for fundamental research:
A study into the role of US Federal Reserve into the emergence of global economic crisis of 2007 –
An investigation into the main elements of brands and branding
A critical analysis of factors impacting each stage of product life cycle
An assessment of factors leadership style in Coca Cola Company China subsidiary.
Our e-book contains explanation of research methodology to be used in conducting studies and completing
dissertations in business major in a detailed manner.
• Applied research is a form of systematic inquiry involving the practical application of science. It
accesses and uses some part of the research communities' (the academia's) accumulated theories,
knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often state-, business-, or client-
driven purpose. Applied research is contrasted with pure research(basic research) in discussion
about research ideals, methodologies, programs, and projects. Applied research deals with solving
practical problems and generally employs empirical methodologies. Because applied research
resides in the messy real world, strict research protocols may need to be relaxed.
Applied research refers to scientific study and research that seeks to solve practical problems. Applied
research is used to find solutions to everyday problems, cure illness, and develop innovative technologies.
Psychologists working in human factors or industrial/organizationalfields often do this type of research.
Examples of Applied Research
A few examples of applied research in psychology include:
investigating which treatment approach is the most effective for reducing anxiety
Researching which strategies work best to motivate workers
Studying different keyboard designs to determine which is the most efficient and ergonomic
Analyzing what type of prompts will inspire people to volunteer their time to charities
As you may notice, all of these examples explore topics that will address a real-world issues. This
immediate and practical application of the findings is what distinguished applied research from basic
research, which instead focuses on theoretical concerns.
However, researchers also suggest that basic research and applied research are actually closely
intertwined. Basic research often informs applied research, and applied research often helps basic
researchers refine their own theories.
"Because applied research investigates realistic problems, applied researchers are often concerned with
the external validity of their studies. This means that they attempt to observe behaviors that can be
applied to real-life situations.
This is important because these researchers want to be able to apply their results to a problem that applies
to individuals who are not participants in their study (as well as to those individuals who were observed in
the study. External validity is also a consideration in basic research but in some cases can be less important
that it is in applied research."
(McBride, D. M., 2013)
"Hospitals and clinics may need help in addressing problems that relate to preparing patients and their
families for major surgery or working with those who have experienced a specific type of trauma. Business
and industry may need assistance on personnel selection for given positions "on the line" or in upper-level
management. A given industry may need to determine how to most effectively design a work space within
a factory or the controls within an airplane cockpit to minimize fatigue and maximize performance
efficiency... All of these and related questions require the knowledge, expertise, and training of applied
psychologists and applied research."
(Palmer, E. L., 2004)
Examples of Applied Research
Applied research is a methodology used to solve a specific, practical problem of an individual or group. The
study and research is used in business, medicine and education in order to find solutions that may cure
diseases, solve scientific problems or develop technology.
Applied Research Topic Examples
Persuasion of individuals
Interventions for specific child behaviors
Ways to manage schizophrenia
How to cure Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Ways to market products
The effectiveness of abstinence programs
Should pilots be armed?
Has U.S. policy contributed to terrorism?
How to abolish hate crime
How can bullying be prevented?
How to reverse or manage global warming
Is mercury poisoning affecting intellectual disorders?
Should vaccinations be avoided to prevent autism?
What methods can be used to prevent criminals from acting again?
What is causing increased poverty?
How can the achievement gap of students from various socio-economic backgrounds be bridged in
How can cyber security be improved?
What types of additives are acceptable and healthy for manufacturers to use in human food
Is irradiation of beef healthy for consumers?
Is genetically modified food hurting health?
How does immigration affect the economy?
Is technology use for children helpful or harmful?
Is violence in the media and in video games damaging children’s mental health?
Are there ways to prevent juvenile offenders from becoming lifelong criminals?
How is the media affecting females’ body perceptions?
Would a change in welfare policy spur an increase in individuals seeking work?
What changes are necessary to create jobs?
How does the consumption of oil in the United States affect its economy?
How would the legalization of some drugs affect various groups within society?
What type of anti-smoking campaigns can reduce smoking among youth or adults?
How can obesity be prevented?
What effect does fast food have on overall health?
How can social anxiety be overcome?
How does social media change individual’s perception of society and themselves?
Does marriage prevent certain mental or physical illnesses?
In what ways can depression be managed without medication?
Do government enforced regulations help or stigmatize those in “oppressed” groups (such as
affirmative action or Title IX in women’s sports)?
Is there a wage gap between men and women in the United States, and if so, why?
Is multi-tasking helpful or hurtful?
Are children of working mothers at any long term disadvantage as opposed to children of stay at home
What are ways to improve school readiness for children?
How can graduation rates be improved in urban school environments that are currently not producing
as many graduates as their suburban counterparts?
What can be done to increase the amount of graduating high school students choosing to attend
Is college tuition becoming prohibitive to young adults being successful and able to support
Is technology creating a “dumbing down” of individuals?
How does tobacco use in various forms affect humans?
Does marijuana pose a greater or smaller health risk than tobacco, when smoked?
Can marijuana cause the kind of impairment requiring it to be regulated like alcohol?
Applied research topics can cover a wide variety of subjects, all addressing practical problems.
• Action research is either research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective
process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of
a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. There are
two types of action research: participatory action research and practical action research.
Denscombe (2010, p. 6) writes that an action research strategy's purpose is to solve a particular
problem and to produce guidelines for best practice.
• Action research involves actively participating in a change situation, often via an existing
organization, whilst simultaneously conducting research. Action research can also be undertaken
by larger organizations or institutions, assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim
of improving their strategies, practices and knowledge of the environments within which they
practice. As designers and stakeholders, researchers work with others to propose a new course of
action to help their community improve its work practices.
Definitions: C. V. Good: “Action research is a research used by teachers, supervisors and administrators to
improve the quality of their decision and action”
John Best & Kahn: “Action research is focused on the immediate application and not on the development
of theory. It has placed its emphasis on a real problem in a local setting. Its finding are to be evaluated in
terms of local applicability, not in terms of universal validity”
What Is Action Research?
A succinct definition of action research appears in the workshop materials we use at the Institute for the
Study of Inquiry in Education. That definition states that action research
is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for
engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.
Practitioners who engage in action research inevitably find it to be an empowering experience. Action
research has this positive effect for many reasons. Obviously, the most important is that action research is
always relevant to the participants. Relevance is guaranteed because the focus of each research project is
determined by the researchers, who are also the primary consumers of the findings.
Perhaps even more important is the fact that action research helps educators be more effective at what
they care most about—their teaching and the development of their students. Seeing students grow is
probably the greatest joy educators can experience. When teachers have convincing evidence that their
work has made a real difference in their students' lives, the countless hours and endless efforts of teaching
The Action Research Process
Educational action research can be engaged in by a single teacher, by a group of colleagues who share an
interest in a common problem, or by the entire faculty of a school. Whatever the scenario, action research
always involves the same seven-step process. These seven steps, which become an endless cycle for the
inquiring teacher, are the following:
1. Selecting a focus
2. Clarifying theories
3. Identifying research
4. Collecting data
5. Analyzing data
6. Reporting results
7. Taking informed action
Step 1—Selecting a Focus
The action research process begins with serious reflection directed toward identifying a topic or topics
worthy of a busy teacher's time. Considering the incredible demands on today's classroom teachers, no
activity is worth doing unless it promises to make the central part of a teacher's work more successful and
satisfying. Thus, selecting a focus, the first step in the process, is vitally important. Selecting a focus begins
with the teacher researcher or the team of action researchers asking:
What element(s) of our practice or what aspect of student learning do we wish to investigate?
Step 2—Clarifying Theories
The second step involves identifying the values, beliefs, and theoretical perspectives the researchers hold
relating to their focus. For example, if teachers are concerned about increasing responsible classroom
behavior, it will be helpful for them to begin by clarifying which approach—using punishments and
rewards, allowing students to experience the natural consequences of their behaviors, or some other
strategy—they feel will work best in helping students acquire responsible classroom behavior habits.
Step 3—Identifying Research Questions
Once a focus area has been selected and the researcher's perspectives and beliefs about that focus have
been clarified, the next step is to generate a set of personally meaningful research questions to guide the
Step 4—Collecting Data
Professional educators always want their instructional decisions to be based on the best possible data.
Action researchers can accomplish this by making sure that the data used to justify their actions
are valid(meaning the information represents what the researchers say it does) and reliable (meaning the
researchers are confident about the accuracy of their data). Lastly, before data are used to make teaching
decisions, teachers must be confident that the lessons drawn from the data align with any unique
characteristics of their classroom or school.
To ensure reasonable validity and reliability, action researchers should avoid relying on any single source of
data. Most teacher researchers use a process called triangulation to enhance the validity and reliability of
their findings. Basically, triangulation means using multiple independent sources of data to answer one's
questions. Triangulation is like studying an object located inside a box by viewing it through various
windows cut into the sides of the box. Observing a phenomenon through multiple “windows” can help a
single researcher compare and contrast what is being seen through a variety of lenses.
When planning instruction, teachers want the techniques they choose to be appropriate for the unique
qualities of their students. All teachers have had the experience of implementing a “research-proven”
strategy only to have it fail with their students. The desire of teachers to use approaches that “fit” their
particular students is not dissimilar to a doctor's concern that the specific medicine being prescribed be the
correct one for the individual patient. The ability of the action research process to satisfy an educator's
need for “fit” may be its most powerful attribute. Because the data being collected come from the very
students and teachers who are engaged with the treatment, the relevance of the findings is assured.
For the harried and overworked teacher, “data collection” can appear to be the most intimidating aspect of
the entire seven-step action research process. The question I am repeatedly asked, “Where will I find the
time and expertise to develop valid and reliable instruments for data collection?”, gives voice to a realistic
fear regarding time management. Fortunately, classrooms and schools are, by their nature, data-rich
environments. Each day a child is in class, he or she is producing or not producing work, is interacting
productively with classmates or experiencing difficulties in social situations, and is completing assignments
proficiently or poorly. Teachers not only see these events transpiring before their eyes, they generally
record these events in their grade books. The key to managing triangulated data collection is, first, to be
effective and efficient in collecting the material that is already swirling around the classroom, and, second,
to identify other sources of data that might be effectively surfaced with tests, classroom discussions, or
Step 5—Analyzing Data
Although data analysis often brings to mind the use of complex statistical calculations, this is rarely the
case for the action researcher. A number of relatively user-friendly procedures can help a practitioner
identify the trends and patterns in action research data. During this portion of the seven-step process,
teacher researchers will methodically sort, sift, rank, and examine their data to answer two generic
What is the story told by these data?
Why did the story play itself out this way?
By answering these two questions, the teacher researcher can acquire a better understanding of the
phenomenon under investigation and as a result can end up producing grounded theory regarding what
might be done to improve the situation.
Step 6—Reporting Results
It is often said that teaching is a lonely endeavor. It is doubly sad that so many teachers are left alone in
their classrooms to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. The loneliness of teaching is unfortunate not only
because of its inefficiency, but also because when dealing with complex problems the wisdom of several
minds is inevitably better than one.
The sad history of teacher isolation may explain why the very act of reporting on their action research has
proven so powerful for both the researchers and their colleagues. The reporting of action research most
often occurs in informal settings that are far less intimidating than the venues where scholarly research has
traditionally been shared. Faculty meetings, brown bag lunch seminars, and teacher conferences are
among the most common venues for sharing action research with peers. However, each year more and
more teacher researchers are writing up their work for publication or to help fulfill requirements in
graduate programs. Regardless of which venue or technique educators select for reporting on research, the
simple knowledge that they are making a contribution to a collective knowledge base regarding teaching
and learning frequently proves to be among the most rewarding aspects of this work.
Step 7—Taking Informed Action
Taking informed action, or “action planning,” the last step in the action research process, is very familiar to
most teachers. When teachers write lesson plans or develop academic programs, they are engaged in the
action planning process. What makes action planning particularly satisfying for the teacher researcher is
that with each piece of data uncovered (about teaching or student learning) the educator will feel greater
confidence in the wisdom of the next steps. Although all teaching can be classified as trial and error, action
researchers find that the research process liberates them from continuously repeating their past mistakes.
More important, with each refinement of practice, action researchers gain valid and reliable data on their
Three Purposes for Action Research
As stated earlier, action research can be engaged in by an individual teacher, a collaborative group of
colleagues sharing a common concern, or an entire school faculty. These three different approaches to
organizing for research serve three compatible, yet distinct, purposes:
Building the reflective practitioner
Making progress on schoolwide priorities
Building professional cultures
The action research ‘cycle’
At the simplest level, therefore, action research involves a spiral or cycle of planning, action,
monitoring and reflection:
• Is applied research more valuable than basic research?
– Some think that the research doesn’t seem very useful
– Some people often see it as a waste of money
– But applied research rests on the foundations provided by basic research
Field of Action Research
• Study the needs of
• Study the interest of
• Problems of
• Social problems.
• Problems of learning.
• Improvement of the
• Problems of teachers.
• Problems of students
Steps of Action Research
I. Identification of the Problem
II. Formation of Objectives and Hypothesis
III. Collection of Data by using suitable
IV. Preparation of suitable Action Plan
V. Analysis and Interpretation of Data
VI. Result and Conclusion
Proposal of An Action Research
I. Identification of the Problem:
“How to Remove the Complexes of Shy and Cowardly Children in class IX”
- about the background of the problem.
- Importance of the problem.
- If any studies has been conducted in this area should be analyzed.
- how the result will help the students.
(i) Individual differences
(ii) Emotional block
(iv) Physical defects
(v) Lack of vocabulary
(vii) Difference in the
(viii) Lack of mental
(ix) Habit and family
II. Objectives of the Study:
1. To study the causes of complexes of shy and cowardly children.
2. To remove the complexes of shy and cowardly children.
Hypothesis of the Study:
“If the teacher tries to develop the vocabulary and power of expression of the students through
debates, discussion, arguments, dramatic performances, oral reading, lectures etc. the students will develop
the desire to surpass other students, to perform better than them; in this way, they will overcome their
shortcomings and then be able to work fearlessly and frankly with their companions”
III. Collection of the Data
Base – Line Data:
“All data relating to the physical, sociological, economic, cultural, academic and environmental
situation of the child, the child’s history and information about his trait”
Tools for Collection of Data:
V. Analysis and Interpretation of Data:
Testing of Hypothesis:
The data will be analyzed and final testing & evaluation of the hypothesis will be done on the basis of the
work performed in accordance with the time-table. Decision will be taken about the acceptance/rejection of
VI. Result and Conclusion:
Basing upon the analysis of the data, the result and conclusion will be stated and it will be observed
that the students those are identified with complexes of shy and coward have removed their earlier attitude
and working with frank and fearlessly with the group.