do/conduct/undertake/carry out research

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tigerduck, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. tigerduck Senior Member

    German / Switzerland

    I'm always interested in learning collocations. In my understanding, the following expressions have more or less the same meaning. Is this correct?

    do research
    conduct research
    undertake research
    carry out research

    Can you think of particular contexts, where a certain collocation would be preferred to another?
  2. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    The only suggestion I can give you would be that "do" is (only) conversational while the others are written or formal (like introducing someone at a symposium). I hear conduct and carry out more frequently than "undertake. I would expect "undertake" to refer more to future endeavours. "I undertake research on XYZ" sounds a little odd, while "We will undertake research..." sounds very formal but not quite as "odd".

    So it's formality rather than collocation that seems to drive the choice.
  3. classydingo Junior Member

    North Carolina
    English - USA
    I agree with JulianStuart. "Do" is very informal and would only be used in friendly conversation. Conduct and carry out are more formal and are those used in professional settings like in an interview, on a resume, or introducing a speaker. I think conduct is slightly more common, especially in the past tense. While it's not incorrect to say "carried out research," it just doesn't sound quite as clean as conducted research. Likewise, undertake research is grammatically correct and would be understood, but I don't think I have ever actually heard it. Keep in mind, it is very common for people to just use the verb, "to research," especially in informal settings.

    Dr. Smith does research on marine mammals = Dr. Smith researches marine mammals

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