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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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1.1 Venturing into the Unknown

Research studies are a voyage into the unknown in at least two respects. Firstly, as a Ph.D. student you will often find yourself at the borders of our current knowledge, spying out into the uncharted territories beyond. Secondly, research studies involve learning in ways that are unfamiliar compared to the previous stages of your education. As will be explained in later sections, this is because research studies are focused on acquiring skills in addition to knowledge.

Science is probably the most remarkable enterprise that humankind has ever undertaken. During the couple of hundred thousand years that our species has existed, almost all the knowledge we have about the world we live in has been established during the last couple of hundred years – a mere thousandth of our history. We have been intelligent and curious for eons but only learned to understand Nature once science was invented. This says something of how powerful this idea is. Besides the knowledge it has brought with it, science has also fundamentally changed our living conditions. Scientific progress has found applications in technology and medicine, and these have opened up new avenues of applied research. Science is so integrated in the progress of society that, today, it is all but impossible to imagine an existence without it. This is probably one reason that science is held in such high esteem and that scientists have such high credibility among people.

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