What is the difference between 究明 and 研究?

Wanikani’s definition for both of them is “investigation”. Is the first one just the more academic version?

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研究 is a bit more like “research”. Like something you do at a lab.


Ah, gotcha! so 研究 is like what scientists and researchers do, versus 究明 which is what detectives do?


Welcome to this forum! :crab::crocodile:
I have no idea what’s the answer, but I’m interested in knowing too.

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You can get a pretty good idea by searching on google images.

So clearly academic research I guess

I might be wrong about this, but I think 研究(けんきゅう) refers more to academic research (you also see it as a part of words like 研究者(けんきゅうしゃ), meaning researcher), whereas 究明(きゅうめい) is the more like a “finding out the truth about something” or “getting to the bottom of something” kind of investigation. I haven’t seen 究明(きゅうめい) used too much yet though, so I might be wrong about that one :grin:


Weblio has





So they both involve 明らかにする - making something clear, and the distinction between 道理や真理を in one definition and 事実や真理などを is pretty subtle, but it sounds to me like 究明’s definition emphasizes thoroughly pursuing the target of the truth and logic of a situation, while 研究’s definition emphasizes the detailed investigation and careful thought, less so the specific target. Which I’d say supports the investigation vs. research idea pretty well.

The associated words listed are also likely more clarifying than the definitions themselves in this case.

真相を究明する is to get to the bottom of something

中世史を研究する is to research medieval history
対策を研究する would I suppose be to research countermeasures (like to a virus)
研究者 is a researcher
研究発表 would be an announcement of findings

(so yeah, it’s like @BIsTheAnswer and others have said)

Also, note it seems Wanikani’s primary definition for 研究 is “research” :slight_smile:
looks like later you’ll get 探究 too so that’s fun.


As a former researcher, I used to use both terms and 研究 would be more akin to “scientific research” and 究明 to “scientific investigation” or “scientific inquiry” and they meant markedly different things, even when used out-of-context :slight_smile: .

@blu3rock when in doubt about the meaning of a WaniKani term or if you encounter multiple terms with the same main meaning, check Jisho.org. The words using the same kanji usually give a good idea what a given search word really means.


That’s good advice - I’ll definitely check out Jisho next time I’m confused.

Thank you for your reply! This helps a lot :smiley:

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@BIsTheAnswer is is a very simple and clear away of explaining! Thank you!!!

@rodan thank you for this thoughtful response. It is very detailed and helps a lot!

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