What Is Applied Research?
Applied research is an outcome-based methodology that applies existing knowledge to develop solutions for modern world problems. The term “applied” refers to the fundamental objective of applied research, which is to form practical applications to real-world problems. This type of research relates to action oriented research, as both methodologies are used to make sense of a current problem by utilizing existing data. Action research uses qualitative methods in natural settings to develop theories for teaching and learning. It is designed to implement change by providing concrete solutions to issues relating to social and educational systems in a localized setting.
Applied research fits within the broader designation of action-oriented research, which also includes classic action research, participatory research and grounded action research, see P.M. Toscano. Praxis Inquiry.
Strengthening Western Extension
In order to strengthen Extension programs in western metropolitan areas, the Western Center established a two-pronged research agenda:
- Identify best practices and organizational models for metropolitan Extension. Applied research on effective metropolitan organizational and staffing models, as well as best practices in metropolitan program development, delivery and evaluation will increase the opportunity for Extension professionals to be visible and valued partners who inform and address local concerns.
- Exploration of emerging metropolitan issues where land-grant universities can contribute to decision making and policy development. Metropolitan issues are complex, they impact multiple entities and are often politically influenced. Objective research and recommendations will provide communities with a basis for informed decision-making. Initial identification of emerging metropolitan issues will be established by the Western Center’s advisory board in cooperation with metropolitan decision-makers from the public, non-profit and private sectors. In addition, the Western Center will periodically query Extension educators in the West by using on-line surveys, focus groups and other means to refine issues and approaches.
Hot Shot Roles
Most often, the Western Center’s applied research will be undertaken by transdisciplinary teams of experts (Hot Shots) drawn from Extension programs in the West. As such, the staffs’ role will be to:
- Identify the research scope of work and appropriate team composition/members
- Support these teams in their work
- Help obtain sufficient extramural funding to underwrite the research
- Assure the quality and timeliness of the team’s research products.