Journal Article

Are the concepts basic research, applied research and experimental development still useful? An empirical investigation among Norwegian academics

Magnus Gulbrandsen and Svein Kyvik

in Science and Public Policy

Volume 37, issue 5, pages 343-353
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0302-3427
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1471-5430 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3152/030234210X501171
Are the concepts basic research, applied research and experimental development still useful? An empirical investigation among Norwegian academics

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  • History of Science and Technology
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Categorisations of research have existed for a long time and have in particular been influential since the first international R&D statistics manual was developed. However, the definitions and categorisations have come under increasing pressure. Scientists and policy-makers alike have claimed that the distinction between basic research, applied research and experimental development is increasingly irrelevant and based on misconceptions about modern knowledge production. Despite the debate there is little empirical analysis of these issues. This article fills a major gap in the literature by addressing research classifications from an empirical point of view, using two surveys among academic staff in Norwegian universities. Even though a majority of academic staff members are able to use the research categories when describing own activities, most carry out a seemingly complex mix of different R&D. This has important implications for policy and for statistical and evaluative analysis of research work.

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Subjects: History of Science and Technology ; Innovation ; Technological Change; Research and Development ; Public Policy

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