The Nature and Context of Exploratory Experimentation: An Introduction to Three Case Studies of Exploratory Research

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 29 (3):275 - 284 (2007)
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Abstract

My aim in this article is to introduce readers to the topic of exploratory experimentation and briefly explain how the three articles that follow, by Richard Burian, Kevin Elliott, and Maureen O'Malley, advance our understanding of the nature and significance of exploratory research. I suggest that the distinction between exploratory and theory-driven experimentation is multidimensional and that some of the dimensions are continuums. I point out that exploratory experiments are typically theory-informed even if they are not theory-driven. I also distinguish between research programs and experiments. Research programs that are largely exploratory, such as the ones discussed in these case studies, can involve both exploratory and theory-driven experimentation

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C. Kenneth Waters
University of Calgary