A two-fold classification of research is reported in the literature which proposes two kinds of research: Fundamental or Basic Research & Action or applied research
It is difficult to provide a clear distinction between fundamental and applied research as both of them are intermingled. However, the two modes of research differ in their objectives.
1. Fundamental Research
The aim of fundamental research is to add new knowledge to the existing literature on the basis of the observable phenomenon. It aims at understanding the natural phenomenon and formulates theories and models to explain it. It generates new ideas or frameworks that may not be used immediately but prepares a basis for future developments.
For example, a scientific study that how a particular stimuli affect the neuronal activity of the brain! What happens when fluid is subjected to constant shear! How does the temperature affect the properties of an alloy? All these investigations provide an insight into the fundamentals and prepare the basic framework for their potential utilization.
2. Action/Applied Research
Development of new objects such as software, vaccines, drugs falls under the regime of action or applied research. In action research, researchers study their problems scientifically to guide, evaluate, and correct their decisions and actions. It does not add to the theoretical knowledge directly but suggests ways for the utilization of existing knowledge. The main focus of action research is on improving the current practices in a field and thereby bring innovation.
For example, researchers formulate a drug to suppress the neuronal activity against stimuli. An application of the fluid is sought due to its astonishing behavior with shear rate. A variety of alloy is prepared for diverse applications varying the synthesis temperature, all these falls under the regime of applied research.
One fuels the other!!
Applied research uses scientific theories developed by fundamental research practitioners for innovation, while fundamental research relies on the innovation made by applied research. Knowledge gained by applied research is used for the development of tools that further help in boosting fundamental research.