The nature of the research process may significantly vary in every field, reflecting diverse and divergent disciplinary foundations, paradigms, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches.
Research is a systematic process to discover, create, or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Definitions and categorization of research vary by professional field, academic discipline, method of inquiry, and objective. Visit this page to learn more about UNLV’s 18 major academic units, i.e. colleges, schools, departments, and other programs..
Research can also be categorized in more general terms as applied vs. basic research or qualitative vs. quantitative research. There is, however, a middle ground where a combination of approaches blend to address more complex issues.
The definitions and examples are as follows:
Scientific study and research that seeks to solve practical problems and to find solutions to everyday problems, cure illnesses, and innovate new technologies, rather than to acquire new knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Examples include:
- How can we cure cancer?
- How can we design more efficient and affordable cars?
- Can we innovate smaller, faster, and cheaper computers or phones?
- How can we improve grain yields?
Basic or Pure Research
Driven by a researcher’s interest in a specific question for the sake of generating new knowledge or expanding existing knowledge. There is no visible value, gain-seeking, or commercial interest. Examples include:
- What is the “black hole”?
- How did the universe begin?
- Why do birds migrate?
- What are electrons?
Deals with phenomena that are difficult or impossible to measure or quantify mathematically, such as beliefs, meanings, emotions, and symbols in order to gain deep insights into human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior.
- Why does youth language change over time?
- Is there a relationship between individual identities and eating behaviors?
- How do science and religious rhetoric intersect, particularly around issues of climate change, human origins, and the body?
- What are the ethics of immigration?
Refers to the systematic empirical investigation of any phenomena via statistical, mathematical, or computational methods and technics with the goal of developing generalizable models, theories and hypotheses pertaining to phenomena.
- Understanding the radiation induced mammary carcinogenesis
- Electronic and chemical properties of surfaces and interfaces
- The development of data management systems for the purposes of habitat restoration and preservation of ecological data
- Inferential procedures for coefficient alpha to measure internal consistency reliability