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The Virtue of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Thomas S. Inu, MD, ScM
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Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, MA 02215. Requests for Reprints: Thomas Inui, MD, Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 126 Brookline Avenue, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02215.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1996;125(9):770-771. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-125-9-199611010-00012
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The human enterprise of research may be characterized as a problem-solving activity, one driven by curiosity or by various needs for information—to take action in the face of threats, to make predictions, to test a theory about how nature works, or to establish a context of meaning and order. In the Judeo-Christian cosmology, it may be speculated that research might never have arisen had Adam and Eve not been expelled from the Garden of Eden. Perfect circumstances create little or no need for an expanded understanding of the origin of problems. But once out of the Garden, as soon as he stubbed his toe or stepped on a thorn, Adam might have been heard to say, “Ouch! What was that? How did it happen? How can I avoid getting hurt again?” If necessity is the mother of invention, problems may be the mother of research.

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