I chose this article because I am presently doing a course called Applied Research and seeing the title I was wondering, what now? So, having read the article written by Birchard & Lewington (2014) I have come to realize that a debate is going on about the importance of applied research versus basic research. Cherry (2014) defines applied research as a practical, scientific investigation that seeks to solve and treat real world problems and answer a specific question while on the other hand she defined basic research as a theoretical based investigation driven purely by curiosity that seeks to gather information to expand knowledge on what is being investigated but not to solve or treat the problem only helping us to understand the problem. The main difference between these two types of research is what they will be used for. From these definitions we can see that they both rely on each other. Applied research needs the basic research theories to guide or inform its work and the basic research needs the applied research to show practical and hands on proof of the theory. However they are used for different purposes and hence the debate and concerns around the world by researchers as governments of major first world countries invest more in applied research and less in basic research.
As researchers around the world voice their concerns about the purpose of university research it brings into sharp focus the two sides which states whether university research should be driven by intellectual curiosity or by the needs presently being experienced by a nation. However, according to the article countries like Canada, Britain and Germany are no longer debating they have gone ahead and are changing their countries focus from basic research to applied research which they claim produce more jobs and generates more cash. Scholars on the other hand are challenging this focus which they believe is geared towards short-term and troubling gains for the country.
It would seem that everyone would accept that each kind of research being discussed is linked to the other and without one the other does not give a full understanding of what is being researched. Therefore a balance should be the easiest answer, however it is not so for these very influential countries, they have significantly reduce the budget of basic research and has significantly increased the budget of applied research which has many researchers concerned.
Personally, I think applied research has its place and basic research has its place in today’s world. Also I realize that the government of each country has to do what is best in these troubling economic times. Some European countries have declared bankruptcy and are struggling to maintain their economy. However, it is important that the government look at the long term benefits of their decisions and decide if it is economically sensible to make a lot of profit on something now and then to have to spend a lot of money on a crisis that they are not prepared for. I think it is important for our government to be proactive in research than be reactive which is what they would be doing if they focus mainly on applied research that solve real problems now and not stay ahead with basic research which is knowledge gather before it may be needed. I believe basic research helps by saving time for the applied researcher to solve the problem, because they provide the fundamental information needed by the applied researcher.
In addition, politicians need to be reminded of their mandate which is to the people of the country and not to a selected few like big cooperation’s bosses. The big businesses are out to make profits without caring for the consequences, but a government should make decisions based on what is best for the people. Suppose in the event a new disease should emerge and no basic research done, no prior research because of lack of funding, what will happen is: applied research will not have a foundation on which to create the needed drug for testing, which in turn leads to many deaths. Whenever governments make a move like this, they are saying one is better or needed more than the other.
It cannot be that as a developing world we are only being reactive and scrambling for solutions when real world problems occur, it will be too late for some people. As the most intelligent form of life on this planet, it is necessary for us to think ahead, have a research bank that consist of basic research from which we can pull from as the need arises. From this applied researchers can have access to the information they need to solve real world problems.
In conclusion, I see the necessity for both types of research and I think what is needed is a balance between the two by the powers that be. As was explained each research contributes in a different way, it depends on what the results will be used for. To solve real world problems or to expand knowledge, those are the reasons we do research. So, what do you think? Basic research or applied research?