There are two types of research such as Fundamental, Pure or Theoretical Research; and Applied Research.
1. Fundamental, Pure or Theoretical Research
1. A research, which makes persistent and patient efforts to discover something new to enrich human knowledge in fundamental fashion, is known as fundamental or pure. Fundamental research can take shape in two different ways.
(i) Discovery of a new theory:
Fundamental Research may be entirely new discovery, the knowledge of which has not existed so far. Such a discovery may follow from the researcher’s own idea or imagination. This really depends upon how genius a researcher is.
This discovery may have nothing to do with an existing theory. Galileo’s or Newton’s contributions are fundamental in character as these depended upon thier own imagination and scholarship. Since these fundamental contributions form the basis of different theories, it may not be wrong to call such a research theoretical as well.
(ii) Development of the existing theory:
These days, this type of research is also held to take the shape of an improvement in the existing theory by relaxing some of its assumptions or by reinterpreting it or by developing a new theory with the existing one as its basis.
Since theory is always based on assumptions, there often exists enormous scope for altering or formulating new set of assumptions and adding new dimensions to the existing theory.
There also exist the possibilities of re- interpretation of the theory that has already been developed. A researcher may, as well take off from the existing theories and come out with a new one of his own. The assumptions of a theory should always be well defined and plausible.
Relaxing assumptions, altering them or making new ones altogether depends upon how a researcher views the existing theory. In a dynamic society a scholar may ascertain that earlier assumptions have become obsolete or have been inadequately defined. Thus the theory in its existing form may appear to be outdated and implausible with the prevailing conditions.
2. Applied Research
This type of research is based on the application of known theories and models to the actual operational fields or populations. The applied research is conducted to test the empirical content or the basic assumptions or the very validity of theory under given conditions.
An applied research contributes to social science (1) by providing the kind of convincing evidence of the usefulness to society which is necessary to continuing support; (2) by utilizing and developing techniques which can also be made to serve so-called basic research; and (3) by providing data and ideas which may speed up the process of generalization.
Applied research often takes the form of a field investigation and aims at collecting the basic data for verifying the applicability of existing theories and models in given situation. Naturally, therefore, the adequacy and accuracy of data will have considerable impact on the way in which the applicability of a model can be tested.
The knowledge of research methods has considerably increased in the recent years and given caution and patience, a researcher can comfortably test the reliability of his data before embarking upon the task of testing the applicability of a given doctrine.
Not only should his data be reliable, he must also be very objective, scientific and sharp in identifying the field of application for a given theory. If a field selected is not properly identified as a case fit for the application, the results are bound to give wrong interpretations and a judgement, on whether or not a theory is applicable to a given situation, may not be revealing.