Skip to main content
21 May 2018

Beginners’ Guide for Applied Research Process: What Is It, and Why and How to Do It?

This guide is written for beginner applied researchers, especially those working in policy and organizational fields. The first part of the guide provides an overview of what applied research is, how it is different from basic research, why it is important, and what constitutes high-quality applied research. In the second part the guide provides a simplified five-step framework for making social science methods more applicable and useful for finding solutions to practical problems of individuals and organizations. These steps provide a structure to ambiguous and messy work of applied research and help the researcher break down the research project into specific tasks and set deadlines. Each step also provides a review of common pitfalls in this process along with tips for avoiding them. This guide draws from the author’s synthesis of key research methods textbooks. The five-step framework has been tested and refined by the author in the process of teaching applied research courses and mentoring graduate students’ research projects with public, private, nonprofit and international organizations for over a decade.