For the suburb of Melbourne, Australia, see Research, Victoria.
Research is an active, diligent and systematic process of inquiry in order to discover, interpret or revise facts, events, behaviors, or theories, or to make practical applications with the help of such facts, laws or theories. The term “research” is also used to describe the collection of information about a particular subject.
The word “research” derives from the Middle French (see French language) and the literal meaning is “to investigate thoroughly”.
Basic & Applied Research
Generally, one can distinguish between basic research and applied research.
Basic Research (also called fundamental or pure research) has as its primary objective the advancement of knowledge and the theoretical understanding of the relations among variables (see statistics). It is exploratory and often driven by the researcher’s curiosity, interest or hunch. It is conducted without a practical end in mind although it can have unexpected results that point to practical applications. The terms “basic” or “fundamental” research indicate that, through theory generation, basic research provides the foundation for further, often applied research. Because there is no guarantee of short-term practical gain, researchers often find it difficult to obtain funding for basic research.
Basic research asks questions such as:
Applied Research is done to solve specific, practical questions; its primary aim is not to gain knowledge for its own sake. It can be exploratory but often it is not. It is almost always done on the basis of basic research. Often the research is carried out by academic or industrial institutions. More often an academic instituion such as a university will have a specific applied research programme funded by a industrial partner. Common areas of applied research include electronics, informatics, process engineering and applied science.
- At what point in human history did logical thought arise?
- Are living organisms the rule or the exception?
- What is the mind-body connection?
- What is the specific genetic code of the oceanic whitetip?
Applied research asks questions such as:
There are many instances when the distinction between basic and applied research is not clear. It is not unusual for researchers to present their project in such a light as to “slot” it into either applied or basic research, depending on the requirements of the funding sources. The question of genetic codes is a good example. Unravelling it for the sake of knowledge alone would be basic research – but what, for example, if knowledge of it also has the benefit of making it possible to alter the code so as to make a plant commercially viable? Some say that the difference between basic and applied research lies in the time span between research and reasonably foreseeable practical applications.
- How can Canada’s wheat crops be protected from grasshoppers?
- What is the most efficient and effective vaccine against influenza?
- How can communication among workers in large companies be improved?
- How can the Great Lakes be protected against the effects of greenhouse gas?
Thomas Kuhn, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, traces an interesting history and analysis of the enterprise of research.
Generally, research is understood to follow a certain structural process. Though step order may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following steps are usually part of most formal research, both basic and applied:
- Formation of the topic
- conceptual definitions
- operational definitions
- Gathering of data
- Analysis of data
- Conclusion, revisting of hypothesis
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The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
The Salk Institute is a private, non-profit, research organization dedicated to fundamental research in biology and its relation to health, studying such challenging problems as the organization and operation of the brain, the control of gene activity, and the molecular origins of cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Biomedical research, grants. HHMI investigators contributed to the discovery of genes related to diseases such as cystic fibrosis and obesity, and to basic understanding of cell development and communication. Scientists are employed by HHMI and conduct their work at HHMI facilities at leading research institutions nationwide. Web site has extensive news and information on recent research findings.
Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals.
The main task of the Institute are researches devoted to different aspects of animal systematics, paleontology, faunistics, and cytology. All scientific projects carried out in the Institute's departments are focused on three main disciplines: zoology of vertebrates, zoology of invertebrates and experimental zoology.
Vascular Biology Laboratory
Information on research on stimulating angiogenesis to reduce hypertension. Includes publication list, newsletter and resource links.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
The Whitehead Institute is a non-profit, independent basic research and teaching institution recognized worldwide for pathfinding programs in cancer and AIDS research, developmental biology, structural biology, infectious disease, and genetics.
University of Belgrade Institute for Biological Research
Information about the institute's activities, research, and staff. In English and Serbian.
Joint Institute for Biological Sciences
Collaborative effort of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to promote and develop support for collaborative research and development in the biological sciences. With links to initiatives, focus areas, and the Tennessee Mouse Genome Consortium.
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
conducts basic biomedical research into complex genetic systems to unlock the mysteries of disease and find the key to their causes, treatment and prevention.
Institute of Biology/Genetics
Research on cyanobacterial peptide biosynthesis, genetics, and light-harvesting apparatus, plant organellar RNA polymerases, chloroplast-nuclear interactions, and fungal phylogeny - from Humboldt Univ.-Berlin.
Michael Rosbash's Laboratory Website
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Information about the agricultural, veterinary, forestry, and food sciences research, carried out by the French scientific organisation based at research centres around the world.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Life Sciences Division
The mission of the Life Sciences Division is to advance science and technology in order to understand complex biological systems and their relationship with human health and the environment.
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn
Research center in Naples, Italy. Includes descriptions of current research projects.
Institute for Medical Physics and Biophysics University of Leipzig
Homepage of the Institute for Medical Physics and Biophysics University of Leipzig: staff, research, publications, scientific events, teaching and history.
Research and Development Institute
Pharmaceutical research and development formulation including modern drugs and natural products.
Harbor-UCLA Research & Education Institute
Harbor-UCLA REI is recognized internationally as one of the leading independent medical research & education organizations in the nation, managing more than 500 medical research & education grants & contracts; affiliated with the UCLA School of Medicine.
The main research activities - ranging from the physical chemistry of organized molecular complexes to basic biological research and cancer genetics - are conducted in the Research Division of the Curie Institute. This basic research is targeted to the development new diagnostic methods and cancer treatments.
NCBI Coffee Break
Interactive articles that show how the application of bioinfomatics tools from the NCBI contribute to scientific discoveries.
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
This branch of NMFS/NOAA is responsible for Federal fisheries research in the coastal oceans off Alaska and the west coast of the United States.
Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati
Part of Children's Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, the Children's Hospital Research Foundation is a national leader in advancing fundamental science and medicine, and in improving children's healthcare.
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
Includes background information on the Australian fishing industry and research projects being funded, planned, and managed by the FRDC in Australia.
Muka Head Research Station
The research arm of Malaysian Science University, studying tropical marine and coastal science. Current projects include studies of clams, oysters, and marine biodiversity.
Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
TAFI was established as a centre of excellence in applied marine research to support the development and sustainable management of Tasmania's living marine resources.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a philanthropy whose scientists carry out biomedical research at the frontiers of biology. HHMI also awards grants for science education and international science.
Kewalo Marine Laboratory
Includes access to the Marine Invertebrate Reproduction Database as well as information about sponsored research, events, and scientists.
Behavioural Ecology Research Group
Researches the causal bases of behavior through demographics, molecular phylogenetics, physiological traits, and evolutionary physiology.
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Information and links to research, grants, and extension activities in agriculture, forage biotechnology, and plant biology.
Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology
Research center in the Emory College Department of Anthropology offering information about research, teaching, publishing, and collaboration activities.
Ocean Research, Inc.
Marine environmental consulting firm with special focus on the central and south Pacific Ocean; includes staff biographies, current projects overviews, and an image gallery.
Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory
Information about the programs and resources available at the laboratory, including publications, databases, specimens, grants, and library services.
University of Michigan Life Sciences Initiative
Information on the Life Sciences Institute, the Life Sciences Corridor, the Life Sciences Values and Society program, and educational programs and events.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Research in cancer biology, plant genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, and neurobiology.
Massey University Institute of Molecular BioSciences
Research in plant development, host-microbe interactions, protein structure and function, gene expression, and molecular evolution and ecology. Located in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Karolinska Institutet - Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics (MBB)
Research at MBB covers many fields of medical biochemistry and biophysics.