Basic research- definition, methodology, methods, characteristics, examples and advantages


Basic Research which is Classification under Usage of research is a systematic investigation with an aim of promoting general knowledge by increasing of the understandability of how fundamental laws of nature works. It is a type of research that underpin the mechanism of a theory that explain how the realm works, explain what makes things work, explain why certain social associations exist and also why there exists deviation in humanity.


Basic research is also referred to as pure or fundamental research and it is the originator of most of the new scientific concepts of reasoning about the world. In a nutshell, Basic Research focus in generalization and formulation of a particular theory by gathering knowledge for its sake.

NB: You should note that end of Basic Research efforts ushers Applied Research.

Basic research methodology

2.1 Definition

Basic Research Methodology is the logical process or step by step road map on how to solve a research problem that calls for development of a theory through gathering of the relevant information. Basic Research methodology entails selection of logical procedure on the topic to be studied. That is the research problem, how specific objectives and research hypotheses of the study will be identified/or formulated. Identification of knowledge gaps to be filled, the methods utilized to identify population and sample size, nature of data to be collected and how it will be analyzed, data presentation and interpretations thereof and the reporting of the research findings.


The aforementioned description /definition on descriptive research methodology is in line with the argument of (Kothari, 1984) who was of the idea that research methodology is the rationale behind the methods we use in the context of our research study. This provides a logic as to why one is using a particular method or technique at a particular stage in the research process and not others so that research output is accomplished as supposedly.


2.1.1 Questions Basic Research Methodology tries to Answer

What kind of questions does Basic research attempt to answer?

Let’s look at them… this type of research aims at answering the “HOW” questions. It focuses on the initial or basic question of how things work. Where by the answers gotten are further utilized in Applied Research to answer more advanced questions related to improvement of already products or processes or/and procedures in existence.

Some of the “HOW” affiliated research questions Basic Research aim at answering include and not limited to;

  • How does cigarette smoking affect the lungs of human beings?
  • How do organizations guard their reputation in the presence of their customers?
  • How does drug abuse affect student performance in school?
  • How does product quality of a firm ensure market share retention?
  • How does the new technology in communication rank in America?


The following matrix portrays the link between Basic type of research and the type of research methodology adopted and then an explanation of the logical approach associated with this category and then in the last column, the research method(s) used in formulating the research problem.

2.2 Research Methodology-Diagrammatic Approach

The following diagram represents a summary of logical roadmap to be adhered to in Basic research methodology

2.3 Logical Steps; Basic Research Methodology

The following logical steps describe the Basic Research methodology. From step one to eight, it represents a logical way of how systematically the subject matter need to be dealt with. Remember that in this approach, the researcher is only curious of establishing how things work.

Step 1: Identification of the Research Problem

Basic Research process starts with the research problem for not all issues under investigation are research problem in the first place. Remember, according to our article on research problem, it was clearly stated that a research problem is the unanswered question in the mind of the researcher but not the social problems people face on daily basis. Therefore, there is what a research problem is, and what a research problem is not as per that aforementioned article.

At this stage, if a research problem is well formulated, the rest of the stages such as establishment of the hypothesis and specific objectives will be a walk over. Further, in this stage, the researcher has to frame a statement of the problem to justify why the Basic Research is necessary.


Statement of the Problem

Definition- A problem statement is a brief and precise narration of the matter at hand to be dealt with or a situation that need up scaling by the stakeholders. The problem statement highlights the current gaps arising due to the current state and the desired state by the concerned parties. The statement of the problem is based on the;

The statement of the problem addresses the what? Aspect. It narrates what is there currently which prompts an action to be undertaken. It is a bite used so as to have other concerned party buy the idea.

The statement of the problem aims at putting a justification as to why the matter at hand need to be pursued. To achieve this goal, the statement of the problem should incorporate the hard statistics as empirical evidence that there is need for change or improvement. The hard statistics portrays the actual situation on the ground and again this should be demonstrated with timelines in mind of the researcher. That is, the researcher has to portray within which time duration the situation persists.

The statement of the problem will also incorporate the methodology to be adopted in achieving the set goals. The steps to be followed should be well articulated to ensure the practical bit is in place.


Step 2: Literature Review

This is the stage or step of visiting the already existing body of knowledge to investigate the current matter. The step involves interrogating the topic in question by comparing what other scholars or researchers has suggested on the topic of focus.

In this step, the main aim is to identify the theories which underpin the current study and also to identify the research gaps thereof. The research gaps may be theoretical, methodological and contextual research gaps.


Under theoretical research gap which is also referred to as conceptual knowledge or research gap, the researcher has to demonstrate that his/her thesis will have a statistically significant contribution to the already existing body of knowledge.


Under methodological research gap, the researcher has to demonstrate that his/her thesis will have a statistically significant contribution to the already existing body of knowledge.


Under contextual research gap, the researcher has to demonstrate that his/her thesis will have a statistically significant contribution to the already existing body of knowledge.

Step 3: Establish Objectives, Research Questions, and Hypotheses

Basic Research calls for formation of the research objectives which are classified in to two as per our research objective article. The general objective is general as the name suggests and the specific objective(s) are SMART.


Basic Research also advocate for formation of research question which should emanate from the research specific objectives. Research question is a specifically designed probe by the researcher/investigator to correctly gather answer(s) for either a research project, a research study, a dissertation, a thesis, or a review.

Basic Research further advocates that once the research question is set, the next step is formulation of a hypothesis so as to portray the postulation or the claim that the researcher need to prove or disapprove.

Step 4: Establishment of Research Design

Research design is the road map towards achievement of research objectives and/or research questions.

This design governs the researcher as a master plan to discriminatively select suitable methods and processes for collecting, handling, and analyzing data which have been collected. Now, the research designs the researcher banks on is determined by the type of research or research methodology adopted. For a scholar, there are four basic research designs that you can make use of in your study. That is;

  1. Experiment,
  2. Survey,
  3. Observational study, and
  4. Secondary data study

Step 5: Sample Selection

Based on the research design, the researcher has to draw a sample from the population unless the population is known or is a small one in size. There are various sampling techniques or methods that can be used to prepare for data collection which are classified in to probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling techniques as explained in our sampling techniques/methods article. So, using the appropriate sampling technique, a sample is drawn from the population of a certain sample size following the correct sampling procedure.

Step 6: Data Collection

In Basic Research, there are diverse ways or methods of collecting data which include;

  • Interview
  • Observation
  • Experiment
  • Questionnaire

Step7: Data Analysis

Under Basic Research, data analysis process is lengthy and it is not a one activity procedure. First, once data collection activity is over, the researcher edits and also tackles the matters of blank responses, then codes, categorizes and key in the data into a computer program for actual analysis to be done. To ensure validity of the models, first, multiple regression assumption tests are carried out which include the normality test, multicollinearity test and homoscedasticity test amongst others. Further, correlation analysis is also performed. Then in-depth data analysis is done such as multiple, hierarchical and stepwise regressions which results to useful information. Descriptive analysis is also part of data analysis.

Step 8: Report Writing

After data analysis, the next step is to do a report on the research findings. The report is pegged on the specific objectives where by the researcher is expected to demonstrate whether the specific objectives were achieved or not. Based on the report which is envisaged in the research project the end users may make use of the output thereof. In a nutshell, the report structure contains the following components, namely;

  1. Executive summary;
  2. Background of the Study
  3. Literature review;
  4. Methodology;
  5. Research Findings
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusions and
  8. Recommendations.

Basic research methods


Research methods are the techniques that are utilized in all the stages of research processes. They are tools used to ensure the end results of research task are accomplished. These techniques vary from one stage of research process to another. These methods are further classified in to two categories, namely;

a) Pre-Data analysis methods

b) Data Analysis related methods


As per Table 1.1 in this article, Basic Research methods indicated in that table (refer), namely Experiments, Surveys and Case studies methods are for the purposes of formulating the research problem and are some of the methods which fall under pre-data analysis category.  However, in this discussion of Basic Research, we will focus first on the FOUR main methods of data collection which are also pre-data analysis in nature. That is; Interview, Survey/ Questionnaire Data Reporting and Observation.


Data collected under Applied Research is of both qualitative and quantitative in nature. On top of the data collected, the researcher further undertakes experiments to achieve the set goal.

Data accumulation methods followed while conducting applied research are provided below



 This is an approach used by the researcher when he/she wants to collect relevant primary data so as to carry on data analysis. These interviews range on one side the unstructured and on the other side, structured interview category.


The unstructured, as the name suggests, has no particular format that it is designed to adhere to. It is such that the researcher does not follow a strict approach such that the questions therein have loose ends. In other words, the researcher does not make use of a set of intentional questions. On the other extreme, the structured interview category has strict straight forward questions posed to the interviewee. Such that the researcher asks a set of intentional or deliberate questions.


Lastly, the semi-structured interview, the researcher makes use of a hybrid or cocktail of both unstructured and the structured questions. That is, he/she combines intentional questions for the interviewee and at the same time adds unstructured questions when necessary.



Observation is a method of data collection which involves actual or physical watching of the behavior of the subject matter over time. This procedure is undertaken by the researcher by subjecting the unit of observation to its natural environment or phenomenon.



Basic research considers this method especially when a cause-effect relationship exists between or among variables in their natural phenomenon. In this case the researcher needs to manipulate the independent variable so as to determine the outcome of the response variable. This calls for use of either laboratory or field experiment. 



Basic Research also utilizes questionnaire to collect data. A questionnaire is a data collection tool that entails a list of questions addressing both the demographic perspective of the respondent such as sex, age and occupation and also study variables. The questionnaires can either be in form of hard copy whereby they are physically issued and collected later. It is commonly referred to as drop and pick approach. Then the second category are the online survey questionnaire which are filled by the respondents online. They have also become common due to the Covid-19 Pandemic challenges.

Characteristics of basic research 

  1. Basic research is analytical in nature. 
  2. Theory Founding-Basic Research works towards establishing a Theory from the new information collected.
  3. Discovery based-Basic Research focus on new information to explain how things work. The researcher is compelled by curiosity to discover new relevant information.  
  4. Expansionary in nature-Basic research aims at broadening knowledge. In other words, it aims at generalizing the area of focus.
  5. Explanatory in nature-Basic Research aims at giving an explanation of how and why things happen.
  6. Non-Solution Based-Basic Research does not aim at solving any specific problem as it is in the case of Applied Research.
  7. Promotion based-Basic Research aims at improving the general knowledge and understanding of a certain domain. 

Advantages of basic research

  1. Provides an answer on how things happen-Basic Research helps with explanation as to how relationships exist in their natural phenomenon.
  2. Building of theory-Basic Research endeavor to gather new knowledge which is used to establish a theory in a certain field.
  3. Spring board for Applied Research-Basic Research is the foundation for Applied Research. It lays the basic which are required.
  4. Basic Research is the pacesetter in the provision of innovation and technology-based solutions-As much as there may be technological changes in the future, Basic Research is the mother board.  
  5. Increase existing body of knowledge-Basic Research builds the size of the already existing pool of knowledge and hence make it possible for researchers to carry out literature reviews.  

Disadvantages of basic research

  1. No immediate benefit-the end result of Basic Research is not practical. so it does not solve any problem as such.
  2. Not cost effective-Basic Research consumes economic resources yet no economic gain.

Difference between basic and applied research

Basic research and Applied research are always confusing terms especially to scholars. But the two terms have distinct differences as indicated in Table 1.2

About the Author - Dr Geoffrey Mbuva(PhD-Finance) is a lecturer of Finance and Accountancy at Kenyatta University, Kenya. He is an enthusiast of teaching and making accounting & research tutorials for his readers.