In simple dictionary terms, research is a “search for knowledge” and investigation is a “thorough examination of unfamiliar events”. It looks pretty fixated on the idea of a search just that it alternates between the situations at present. Research is done in the education scenario for the learning purpose. Investigation is done when the situation is an unknown scenario when the event is an unfamiliar or questionable one.

The topic of research and investigation are loosely intertwined. Research is a systematic investigation to establish facts. Investigation is work of researching into something thoroughly and systematically. In a way, they are sort of the yin and yang of knowledge quest world, just the situation decides which one to be in the active zone. Relevance, priority, accuracy, validation, all decide whether to research or to investigate.

Shed Some Light On The Debate

Research is often done by people who are trying to learn something in its depths. It is a quest in search of deeper knowledge. Scholars, students, teachers, learners of all sorts have used this go-to verb. Reading, experimenting, questioning, quizzing, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, case studies, observations are few of the methods to research. Conclusions could be vaguely made, and there is a very loose time frame for the process to complete.

Investigation on the other hand is done by people to solve a mystery, or uncanny occurrences. It is a quest in search of the right answer. Professionals, detectives, doctors, scholars, are few of the trained investigators. Inquiries about murder, crime, disaster, mishaps, legalities all come under the broad head of investigation. Conclusions have to be made accurately, and the time frame is fixed and strict for this process to be completed.

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Diving Deeper Into The Definitions

While investigation can be inquiry or a study, research is all about study. An inquiry seeking facts related to an occurred event often leads to the right answers to questions which resurface during the process. Conducting experiments to prove a theory or even hypothetical ones is to lead to answers which may or may not be right. This is the core difference between investigation and research. Investigation may be done however but the right answer is mandatory. This strictness is not valid in research. “You learn from your mistakes” could be valid only in research terms. Investigations are frequently linked with legal actions and there is no room for error, as lives are at stake here.

To conclude in all, both research and investigation are searching for answers. Investigation is a subset of research that seeks only the right answers.


Too Long Didn’t Read? Well here is a summary of the debate.

  • Research is an informal search for answers, acceptable even if it is the right answer or not. It is part of study, to search for facts, to prove theories,
  • Investigation is a formal quest for only the right answers. It is related to legal proceedings, to solve crime, to find correct answers.

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