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Research

Once a problem has been defined, problem solvers need to collect information or data. They need to know what has already happened to create the problem, what is going on in the present, and what is likely to happen in the future. They need to know what sources of data are available and whether they are primary in nature, that is, providing data that the researcher needs to collect firsthand, or secondary, that is, data provided through publications of research already performed. Problem solvers also need to know how best to collect the data—which research design is most effective for the primary work, which sources are most useful and reputable for the secondary work. Most research is conducted using both methods, but depending on the nature of the problem, one method may dominate.

Primary research dominates when the problem has received little attention in the past, only recently has been defined, or perhaps needs to be redefined by discovering new elements through laboratory experimentation or fieldwork. Such problems center on the phenomenal world; they are tangible. Several examples are relevant: research in genetic engineering, nuclear fusion, drug therapies for the relief or cure of cancer or AIDS, or the research of social scientists about human behavior.


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