Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research) are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological, etc.
Economists' usual list begins with distribution of income. There is no reason to believe that the distribution of income that emerges out of market processes is desirable or acceptable. Unbridled market forces without any role of government might lead to a large number of people living under subsistence. This is an area for government to do something. We know that unbridled economic forces can lead to big booms and big recessions. We need to do something about that. We know that a market can lead to pollution -- and there's an important role for government there. We know that there will be under-investment in public goods. As we think about the innovation economy, we should remember that most of the innovation in the private sector is based on research financed by the government, such as its role in developing the Internet.
Joseph Stiglitz, on question "In what sphere of life, if any, do you think it most important to limit the influence of market forces?", in "Nobel Laureates Offer Views on the Economy", Wall Street Journal (Sept. 3, 2004)