Pure and applied research

There are different types of research — from pure research to applied research. But what does this mean?

Pure research


Pure research or curiosity-driven research involves seeking systematically and methodically for knowledge without having any particular application in mind. A difference is often made between pure basic research and focused basic research, where the second can be viewed as providing a platform for applications. Pure research is not necessarily economically profitable in itself but may offer conditions for future innovations and scientific breakthroughs.

Applied research


Applied research involves the systematic and methodical search for knowledge with a specific application in mind.

Development work


In development work research findings are used to create a new product.

Sectorial research


Sectorial research includes all the concepts described above restricted to a specific social sector. Two additional terms are also used in Sweden: contract research and research with individual responsibility (forskning på eget programansvar).

Contract research


In contract research the focus of the project, its extent and the level of ambition is determined by whoever commissions it.

Research with individual responsibility


Research with individual responsibility can be funded either by a research council or through the budget of a higher education institution and refers to research that is justified on sectorial or industrial grounds in which the aim is long-term development of knowledge. The researchers themselves initiate this research and are responsible for its results.
Last updated: 2014-07-31
UHR logo
Swedish Council for Higher Education www.uhr.se, Box 45093, SE-104 30 Stockholm
Phone: +46 10 470 03 00, Email: To the contact form