Nearly everyone, even within our small specialty, has a slightly different idea, or bias, as to what constitutes research. We hear of clinical research and academic research and pharmaceutical research and descriptive research and cutting-edge research, but the distinctions often blur and are unimportant. What is important is that research of all kinds increases knowledge and adds information that improves patients' well-being. Perhaps we can agree with a general definition: Research is inquiry. In its simplest form, it may be nothing more than a literature review pertinent to an observation or interest. More often we think of systematic research (a progression starting with questions and ideas) moving forward to a hypothesis, then planning approaches and methods for experiments, all directed toward characterizing normal features and disease mechanisms to prevent and treat illness.
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