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Chapter 4. Solving Problems Through Adva... > Varieties of Primary Research

Varieties of Primary Research

Experimental/Empirical/Quantifiable Research

Primary research can be generally divided into categories that reflect the purpose and scope of the research being performed. Studies intended to determine the efficacy of a new drug in a chemotherapy aggregate for treating cancer, for example, would first be tested in a laboratory setting. The tests are referred to as experimental and the results are termed empirical or quantifiable. Researchers must perform a series of tests designed to see how the drug will perform in reducing the number of cancer cells under different conditions, such as the reactions of other drugs in the conglomerate to introduction of the new drug, the level of dosage, and the time of application in the course of the disease. The accumulation of findings will help lead to conclusions about the safety and efficacy of the drug and thus to decisions by such oversight organizations as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about whether the drug can be approved for use in treating people with cancer.

Other different situations also can call for quantifiable research. The current national interest in levels of achievement in education is one area that could employ empirical research. An example would be comparing different approaches to teaching reading to elementary schoolchildren: the whole language approach that attempts to immerse students in the cultural context of their reading and to deemphasize drill exercises of recognizing and memorizing phonetic structures versus the more traditional approach that indeed places primary emphasis on teaching and learning phonetic and grammatical structures, although the social contexts of students' reading texts are not ignored. The difference between the two is more a matter of degree of emphasis than it is one of exclusion. But the question before us is, How does this situation lend itself to empirical research?


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