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Is medical education research ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ research?

Is medical education research ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ research? Adv in Health Sci Educ (2008) 13:1–2 DOI 10.1007/s10459-007-9092-0 EDITORIAL Larry D. Gruppen Received: 1 November 2007 / Accepted: 12 November 2007 / Published online: 4 December 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 It is a common experience for those doing medical education research to be dismissed by our basic science and clinical colleagues as working in the ‘soft’ sciences, often with the implication that our research is ‘sloppy,’ else we would have the same rigor and precision of the ‘hard’ sciences. This perspective ignores, however, important differences in the contexts and constraints of doing ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ research. Suppose we were to conduct research about the dispersion of an airborne infectious virus and the development of brain pathology as a result of exposure to that virus. A typical ‘hard’ science approach to this issue might look something like this. After a careful power analysis to determine the number of rats needed for the study, the researchers order several dozen rats from a laboratory animal supply firm. The firm would certify that all the rats are bred for genetic similarity and free from exposure to other pathogens. These rats would then be randomized into control and intervention cohorts. The http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Health Sciences Education Springer Journals

Is medical education research ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ research?

Advances in Health Sciences Education , Volume 13 (1) – Dec 4, 2007

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Education; Medical Education
ISSN
1382-4996
eISSN
1573-1677
DOI
10.1007/s10459-007-9092-0
pmid
18060572
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Adv in Health Sci Educ (2008) 13:1–2 DOI 10.1007/s10459-007-9092-0 EDITORIAL Larry D. Gruppen Received: 1 November 2007 / Accepted: 12 November 2007 / Published online: 4 December 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 It is a common experience for those doing medical education research to be dismissed by our basic science and clinical colleagues as working in the ‘soft’ sciences, often with the implication that our research is ‘sloppy,’ else we would have the same rigor and precision of the ‘hard’ sciences. This perspective ignores, however, important differences in the contexts and constraints of doing ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ research. Suppose we were to conduct research about the dispersion of an airborne infectious virus and the development of brain pathology as a result of exposure to that virus. A typical ‘hard’ science approach to this issue might look something like this. After a careful power analysis to determine the number of rats needed for the study, the researchers order several dozen rats from a laboratory animal supply firm. The firm would certify that all the rats are bred for genetic similarity and free from exposure to other pathogens. These rats would then be randomized into control and intervention cohorts. The

Journal

Advances in Health Sciences EducationSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 4, 2007

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