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February 1996

Research and Dermatologic Excellence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland.

Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(2):133-136. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890260033004

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.1 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. Until about 25 years ago, dermatology research was largely descriptive—we had gross cutaneous observations, we had light microscopy, we had the electron microscope, and

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