Learn English – Is “research” singular or plural?


For example, used in a sentence of the form:

His research on molecular biology and computational genetics is path-breaking…

My own guess is that it refers to one body of work, hence singular.

Best Answer

The noun research without final -es is singular; that with final -es added is plural: research is but researches are.

OED lists both count and mass noun usages for research. Often the plural is used in much the same sense as the (singular) mass noun, as in

The foundation opted to fund Dr. Hughes’s research(es) on neutron stars.

Despite what some of the comments have said, I do not believe that the count or plural usage is foreign to American English—of which I am a native speaker, though possibly tainted by some formative years in England. I routinely hear people speak of a research article or paper as “a research,” though I do not use the word thus myself. (This question addresses that usage.) OED lists an American example of count-noun usage with indefinite article:

1889 Jrnl. Amer. Chem. Soc. 11 110 An intimate research into the oxims of benzil.

And the American Heritage Dictionary offers both mass (1) and count (2) definitions of research as noun:

  1. Careful study of a given subject, field, or problem, undertaken to discover facts or principles.
  2. An act or period of such study: her researches of medieval parish records.