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Scholar vs. Researcher — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on March 29, 2024
A scholar is broadly engaged in academic studies and intellectual activities, while a researcher conducts detailed studies and experiments in specific fields.
Scholar vs. Researcher — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Scholar and Researcher


Key Differences

A scholar typically refers to an individual deeply involved in the academic and intellectual pursuits of a broad or specific subject area, often focusing on theoretical aspects, teaching, and writing. Scholars are recognized for their extensive knowledge and contribution to understanding and interpreting complex ideas within their field of expertise. On the other hand, a researcher is someone who conducts systematic investigations and experiments, aiming to discover new information or validate existing knowledge. Researchers may work within academic, scientific, or industrial settings, focusing on empirical data collection and analysis to answer specific questions or solve problems.
While scholars engage in a wide range of intellectual activities, including analysis, critique, and the development of theories, researchers are more narrowly focused on empirical study and practical investigation. This difference highlights the scholar’s role in contributing to the body of knowledge from a theoretical standpoint, whereas the researcher’s contribution is through the methodical gathering and analysis of data to advance understanding in a practical and often measurable way.
Scholars are often associated with institutions of higher learning, such as universities and colleges, where they teach, mentor students, and engage in scholarly writing and research. While researchers can also be found in academic settings, they are equally likely to work in government, private sector research institutions, and non-profit organizations, where the focus is more on applied research with tangible outcomes.
The work of a scholar may include publishing articles, books, and reviews that contribute to academic discourse and debate within their field. Researchers, by contrast, often publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, present at conferences, and apply their research outcomes to develop new technologies, policies, or scientific advancements. This demonstrates the scholar's emphasis on contributing to intellectual and educational frameworks, while the researcher focuses on generating new knowledge or solutions with a basis in empirical evidence.
Both scholars and researchers play crucial roles in the advancement of knowledge and society. Scholars ensure that there is a continuous dialogue within the academic community, preserving and interpreting the wealth of knowledge that forms the foundation of various disciplines. Researchers drive innovation and progress through their dedication to uncovering new information and understanding the world in tangible ways. Despite their differences, the work of scholars and researchers often overlaps, especially in academic settings where empirical research contributes to scholarly discourse and vice versa.

Comparison Chart


Broad academic and intellectual activities, theoretical analysis.
Specific investigations, empirical data collection and analysis.


Teaching, writing, critiquing, developing theories.
Conducting experiments, data analysis, presenting findings.


Articles, books, reviews contributing to academic discourse.
Peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, patents.


Primarily academic institutions.
Academic, scientific, industrial, government settings.


Advancing understanding and interpretation of complex ideas.
Generating new knowledge, solutions, and technological advancements.

Key Traits

Deep knowledge of a subject, critical thinking, theoretical insight.
Methodical, analytical, focused on empirical evidence and practical outcomes.

Compare with Definitions


An expert in literature.
The scholar spent years analyzing medieval texts.


A clinical trial coordinator.
The researcher tested new cancer treatments.


An academic writer.
The scholar's articles influenced educational practices.


A lab scientist in genetics.
The researcher's work led to breakthroughs in gene therapy.


A professor of philosophy.
As a scholar, she contributed to ethical debates.


A data analyst.
The researcher analyzed patterns in big data for insights.


A historian.
The scholar published a comprehensive history of ancient Rome.


A pharmaceutical developer.
The researcher contributed to the creation of a new vaccine.


A linguist.
The scholar developed a new theory of language acquisition.


An environmental researcher.
The researcher conducted field studies on climate change effects.


A scholar is a person who pursues academic and intellectual activities, particularly those that develop expertise in an area of study. A scholar may also be an academic, who works as a professor, teacher or researcher at a university or other higher education institution.


Careful study of a given subject, field, or problem, undertaken to discover facts or principles.


A learned person.


An act or period of such study
Her researches of medieval parish records.


A specialist in a given branch of knowledge
A classical scholar.


To engage in or perform research.


One who attends school or studies with a teacher; a student.


To study (something) thoroughly so as to present in a detailed, accurate manner
Researching the effects of acid rain.


A student who holds or has held a particular scholarship.


To do research for
Research a magazine article.


A student; one who studies at school or college, typically having a scholarship.


One who researches.


A specialist in a particular branch of knowledge.


One who conducts research. In the field of scientific research, also called an investigator or scientist.


A learned person; a bookman.


A scientist who devotes himself to doing research


(Singapore) someone who received a prestigious scholarship


One who attends a school; one who learns of a teacher; one under the tuition of a preceptor; a pupil; a disciple; a learner; a student.
I am no breeching scholar in the schools.


One engaged in the pursuits of learning; a learned person; one versed in any branch, or in many branches, of knowledge; a person of high literary or scientific attainments; a savant.


A man of books.


In English universities, an undergraduate who belongs to the foundation of a college, and receives support in part from its revenues.


A learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines


Someone (especially a child) who learns (as from a teacher) or takes up knowledge or beliefs


A student who holds a scholarship

Common Curiosities

Why are scholars important?

Scholars play a vital role in preserving, interpreting, and expanding the body of knowledge in their fields, contributing to education and intellectual culture.

Can a scholar be a researcher?

Yes, many scholars also conduct research as part of their academic work, and the roles can overlap, especially in university settings.

What separates a scholar from a researcher?

The main difference lies in the focus of their work; scholars are more engaged in theoretical aspects and academic discourse, while researchers focus on empirical studies and practical investigations.

What is a scholar?

A scholar is an individual deeply engaged in the study, teaching, and writing within an academic field, contributing to the understanding and interpretation of complex ideas.

What impact do researchers have?

Researchers drive progress and innovation through their studies, leading to new technologies, scientific discoveries, and solutions to complex problems.

Where do researchers work?

Researchers work in a variety of settings, including universities, private research institutions, government agencies, and the industry.

What does a researcher do?

A researcher conducts systematic studies and experiments in specific areas to discover new information or validate existing knowledge, focusing on empirical data analysis.

What distinguishes scholarly writing from research reports?

Scholarly writing often explores theoretical concepts and engages in academic discourse, while research reports focus on presenting empirical findings and analyses.

How do scholars contribute to their fields?

Scholars contribute through teaching, writing, and engaging in academic debates, offering new insights and theories within their disciplines.

What skills are important for a researcher?

Critical thinking, analytical skills, proficiency in data analysis, and the ability to conduct systematic investigations are key for researchers.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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