If you are examining a research endeavor from the perspective of its application, there are two broad categories: pure research and applied research.
In the social, according to Bailey (1978:17):
Pure research is also concerned with the development, examination verification, and refinement of research methods, procedures, techniques and tools that form the body research methodology. Examples of pure research include: developing a methodology to assess the validity of a procedure; developing an instrument, say, to measure the stress level in people; and finding the best way measuring people attitudes."
Most of the research in the social sciences in applied. In other words the research techniques, procedures, and methods that information about various aspects of a situation, issue, problem or phenomenon so that information gathered can be used in other ways such as or policy formulation, administration, and the enhancement of understanding of a phenomenon.