Terms used in official statistics

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Basic research


Experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.

Basic research analyses properties, structures and relationships with a view to formulating and testing hypotheses, theories or laws. Basic research is split into pure basic research and oriented basic research. Pure basic research is carried out for the advancement of knowledge, without working for long-term economic or social benefits and with no positive efforts being made to apply the results to practical problems or to transfer the results to sectors responsible for its application. Oriented basic research is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the background to the solution of recognized or expected current or future problems or possibilities.

Examples of basic research: the study of a given class of polymerisation reactions under various conditions; the modelling of a crystal's absorption of electromagnetic radiation; the development of a new method for the classification of immunoglobulin sequences; a study about how the properties of carbon fibres could change according to their relative position and orientation within a structure; searching for alternative methods of computation, such as quantum computation and quantum information theory; the study of sources of all kinds (manuscripts, documents, monuments, works of art, buildings, etc.) in order to better comprehend historical phenomena (the political, social, cultural development of a country, the biography of an individual, etc.); research on the properties of general algorithms for handling large amounts of real-time data; a review of theories on the factors determining regional disparities in economic growth; the development of new risk theories.

High-level terms

Contact person on methodology:
Joanna Betiuk