Research - Encyclopedia

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RESEARCH Fr. recerche, from recercher, re- and cercer, mod. chercher, to search; Late Lat. circare, to go round in a circle, to explore), the act of searching into a matter closely and carefully, inquiry directed to the discovery of truth, and in particular the trained scientific investigation of the principles and facts of any subject, based on original and first-hand study of authorities or experiment. Investigations of every kind which have been based on original sources of knowledge may be styled "research," and it may be said that without "research" no authoritative works have been written, no scientific discoveries or inventions made, no theories of any value propounded; but the word also has a somewhat restricted meaning attached to it in current usage. It is applied more particularly to the investigations of those who devote themselves to the study of pure as opposed to applied science, to the investigation of causes rather than to practical experiment; thus while every surgeon or physician who treats an individual case of cancer may add to our sum of knowledge of the disease, the body of trained investigators which is endowed by the Cancer Research Fund are working on different lines. Again, the practical engineers who are building aeroplanes, and those who are making practical tests by actual flight in those machines, cannot be called "researchers"; that term should be confined to the members, for example, of the scientific committee appointed by the British Government in 1909 to make investigations regarding aerial construction and navigation. Further, the term is particularly used of a course of post-graduate study at a university, for which many universities have provided special Research Studentships or Fellowships. These act as endowments for a specific period, and are conditional on the holder devoting his time to the investigation at first hand of some specified subject.

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