Academic Vs General Research

Research is the process through which existing knowledge can be grouped, assessed and manipulated in an effort to learn more about the subject. While direct studies and observations can provide a lot of insight into the nature of something, the true usefulness comes when the researcher considers why the information is useful, and in what contexts it can be used. To this end, it's essential to know the difference between academic and general research, and to know the ultimate goals and processes of each.

Basics of academic research

The primary purpose of academic research is to amass a body of knowledge for a specific study. This may or may not be done within the confines of written information, as some academic research includes actually performing actions and recording the results, such as in medical research laboratories. Generally, only the scientific method is used in collecting and collating information, and only authoritative, verifiable sources of information may be used. While scientific theories may be formed out of this type of research, it is then subject to vigorous examination as each of the elements are either proven or disproven, eventually producing an indisputable conclusion if possible.

General research overview

The definition of general research is a bit difficult to boil down, though it is essentially research that does not take place in an academic environment for a particular study. This may be something as simple as a student's research for an essay on a known subject or a writer's research on a product before producing sales copy. In some cases, this may be things like economic or market research for a company trying to determine trends that will potentially impact their business. Most of this type of research will likely draw on existing knowledge, and may or may not have a definite, scientific answer. Opinions and varying interpretations are acceptable in most areas of general research, and the outcome may or may not be the definitive work on the subject.

Comparison of academic versus general research

When comparing academic and general research, the most obvious difference is the goal of the research. Academic research concerns itself exclusively to adding to the pool of overall human knowledge-seeking out information that wasn't known before, rediscovering ancient secrets, drawing new conclusions from existing knowledge and other such methods.

On the other hand, general research may never produce new pieces of information. This type of research focuses more on calling up and applying the information for practical purposes. In some cases, those practical purposes may simply be re-packaging the information and teaching it to others, whereas in other instances it may direct the actions of those who seek the information.

The line between these two types of research can often be confusing, especially since general research can-and often does-occur in an academic setting, such as while teaching students about the world's existing knowledge. On the same token, academic research may not occur within an established academic institution, yet the intent of the research makes it academic in nature regardless of its location or industry.

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