The Importance of Useful Science

The purpose of good science is to contribute to a general knowledge base. This is the primary goal of research journals. However, it should not be their sole purpose. A well-written paper could be misinterpreted or see considered unsuitable for publication due to its lack of utility.

Pursuit of pure knowledge shouldn’t be curtailed by the excuse of relevance. In fact, practical issues could inspire fresh research (as for instance, in the case of Michael Faraday’s electrical research, which were triggered by his curiosity about lightning).

We also know that technology applications can come from different sources. For example the medical mission to Easter Island focused on the population’s unique resistance to tetanus; but an additional transfer of soil samples from that location to Ayerst Pharmaceuticals spurred further investigations into natural antimicrobials.

These examples prove that the distinction between “pure” and “applied” research is not the case. A more effective criterion is to encourage the development of a broad range of practical applications that can be developed from the results of scientific research as well as develop the skills of scientists to recognise potential usefulness in their research. This is one of the major goals of the translational ecology model, which seeks to transform the basic/applied science paradigm by explicitly including those who are involved in the creation and use of scientific knowledge (Enquist and others. 2017).

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