Difference Between Theory and Research

Theory vs Research

Though theory and research are inseparable terms in the field of education, there exists a difference between them. Both theory and research are concepts used in almost all the study fields. Theory is a generalized thinking or a conclusion of something which is a result of an analysis. Theory could be defined as the end result of an analysis. Also, theories usually answer questions and there is the possibility for it to be accepted in one time as well as to be rejected in later periods and vice versa. Research, on the other hand, is a way that is used to create new knowledge. It is a methodology that is practiced systematically that increases the awareness of humans, societyculture, and nature. Let us look at the terms in detail before going into the difference between theory and research.

What is Theory?

Theory can be defined as the generalized thinking or a conclusion of something, which is a result of an analysis. Theories are always proven scientifically with evidence. Both social and physical scientists engage in theorizing knowledge, which helps humans to understand things clearly. Theory is different from a hypothesis. Hypothesis is merely an idea or a concept, which is not scientifically analyzed. These are the assumptions made by scientists before an investigation. However, once the hypotheses are analyzed and proved to be correct, they are recognized as theories. But not all hypotheses become theories. Moreover, a theory can be used as a tool to understand, explain and make predictions about a concept. Theories tell and explain us what something is. However, theories are just conceptual framework. There is no practical aspect included in them.

Difference Between Theory and Research

What is Research?

Research is a way of expanding the existing knowledge base and  creating new knowledge. This is a creative work that is done systematically in order to increase the stock of knowledge of humans and also to use this knowledge to make new applications. Usually, a research is preceded by a hypothesis. When a problem arises, scientists usually make a hypothesis around the problem. Then, they apply various research methodologies in order to find out whether the hypothesis is correct or not. If the research gives a positive result, there is a possibility for the hypothesis to become a theory. Or else, the scientists would have to make new assumptions and continue the research. There are various kinds of research too. Scientific, humanistic, economic, social, business, etc. are some of the research fields. All in all, research can be identified as one of the main and basic requirements of the study fields since it generates new knowledge. Any research could be repeated and should be scientific too.

Theory vs Research

What is the difference between Theory and Research?

• Definition of Theory and Research:

• Theory is a generalized concept which provides an explanation to existing things.

• Research is a way of expanding the existing knowledge base and creating new knowledge.

• Nature:

• Theory is a conceptual framework. Theory is used to explain things.

• Research is a creative work that generate new knowledge.

• Practical Nature:

• Theory does not include practical elements.

• Research is mostly a practical approach.

• Arrangement:

• Theory is usually a result of research. An assumption is made to a theory after a series of researches.

• Research usually precedes theories. Based on the results of the research, a theory is made.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Arnold’s appraisal theory of emotion by Ra.shell (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Research via Pixabay (Public Domain)