Academic Collocations : STUDY and RESEARCH

A simple task with potential for further exploration and exploitation:

Ask students to brainstorm which words they might expect to see immediately before and after RESEARCH and STUDY.  Can they identify which are verbs, adjectives, and nouns?

Brainstorming done, give the students the selection below, extracted from data provided very kindly by Pearson (see here for more on their Academic Collocations List).  Can they find all of their own suggestions?  Can they find “better” versions of what they might have been trying to communicate?  Are there any surprises within the lists?

academic adj research n
basic adj research n
carry out v research n
comparative adj research n
conduct v research n
considerable adj research n
current adj research n
earlier adj research n
educational adj research n
empirical adj research n
existing adj research n
experimental adj research n
extensive adj research n
field n research n
further adj research n
future adj research n
initial adj research n
little adj research n
original adj research n
past adj research n
previous adj research n
primary adj research n
publish v research n
published adj research n
qualitative adj research n
quantitative adj research n
recent adj research n
scholarly adj research n
scientific adj research n
traditional adj research n
undertake v research n


research n effort n
research n evidence n
research n findings n
research n methodology n
(for) research n purposes n
research n topic n



numerous adj studies n
academic adj study n
classic adj study n
comparative adj study n
conduct (a) v study n
detailed adj study n
earlier adj study n
early adj study n
empirical adj study n
experimental adj study n
further adj study n
future adj study n
historical adj study n
intensive adj study n
longitudinal adj study n
perform (a) v study n
pilot n study n
previous adj study n
qualitative adj study n
quantitative adj study n
recent adj study n
review (a) v study n
seminal adj study n
subsequent adj study n
systematic adj study n
theoretical adj study n


After students have had a chance to explore and discuss, ask them if the collocations suggest any fundamental differences between the meaning of STUDY and RESEARCH.  They might find it easier to draw up lists of key similarities and differences.

With the experience of conducting this small but useful piece of research, students can be directed back to either Pearson’s list or data and asked to pick further items to explore and then report back on.  What, for example, do the collocates of ARGUMENT and DISCUSSION tell us about the difference between the two words in academic contexts?