Today I’m going to explain what I teach to my PhD students in their first class, whose goal is to explain the meaning of researching, and the two types of researches in the world.

After talking with several researchers and reading many books about this issue, I believe that the best definition of research is: To answer a question following a scientific methodology. Although this definition is very simple, I like because it emphasizes the starting point of the whole process, and one of the most important parts of our research: the research question (in subsequent posts., we will discuss this issue with more detail).

ask-question

There are many people who say that they research, and it’s true. But we need to distinguish two kinds of researches in the world: fundamental  and proprietary research. There are many, and many classifications in the world (and we will discuss some of them in the future), but I believe that this classification help to my students in several ways.

Fundamental research focus on problems, not in cases. So the goal is to build knowledge that we can use in other cases and contexts. Some people confuse fundamental research with theoretical studies, and it’s a mistake. Fundamental research can use empirical studies with real data or theoretical studies to achieve its goal: to build knowledge.

On the other hand, proprietary research focus on cases, not in problems. So the goal is to answer a question for a specific case (e.g. a specific company). In this situation, the goal is not to use these results to resolve problems in other specific cases or contexts. This type of research is common in consulting and market research companies whose goal is satisfy the needs of a specific customer.