Original research generates new observations and new data, as opposed to research that discusses, synthesizes, or reviews a body of studies that have already been completed. Original research typically includes human trials (randomized and non-randomized), cohort studies, case-control studies, other observational studies, surveys, cost-effectiveness analyses, and studies of screening and diagnostic tests. On the other hand, systematic reviews and meta-analyses are not considered original research. As an example, a trial of 30 patients taking Valerian for treatment of insomnia results in new data on how effective Valerian may be, the percent of symptom improvement, generating new original information. A review article that summarizes the results of this study along with 5 others that gave Valerian to insomnia patients may be useful as a more comprehensive summary of information, but would not be considered original research. This would instead be considered secondary or synthesis research.
- Generates new data with which to solve a problem
- Does not provide a comprehensive account of other original studies that may have shown different results
- Tends to be conducted in a specific population of patients that may or may not representative of the population at large; therefore several additional studies may be required to elucidate effects in the wider group.