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. For example, it may be impossible to use a random sample. Thus, transparency in the methodology is crucial. Implications for interpretation of results brought about by relaxing an otherwise strict canon of methodology should also be considered. Since Applied Research has a provisional close to the problem and close to the data orientation it may also use a more provisional conceptual framework such as working hypothesis or pillar questions.
The OECD’s Frascati Manual describes Applied Research as one of the three forms of research, along with Basic research & Experimental Development.
Due to its practical focus, applied research information will be found in the literature associated with individual disciplines.
The military is an organization that performs a lot of applied research. For example, they may want to know about the efficacy of soldier training, how well recruitment practices work, how best to deal with host nationals in times of war, how to use the internet to reduce home grown terrorists, and the effectiveness of operational styles.