Science and practice: A case for medical informatics as a local science of design

Vimla L. Patel, David R. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Because scientific research is guided by concerns for uncovering 'fundamental truths,' its time frame differs from that of design, development, and practice, which are driven by immediate needs for practical solutions. In medicine, however, as in other disciplines, basic scientists, developers, and practitioners are being called on increasingly to forge new alliances and work toward common goals. The authors propose that medical informatics be construed as a local science of design. A local science seeks to explain aspects of a domain rather than derive a set of unifying principles. Design is concerned with the creation, implementation, and adaptation of artifacts in a range of settings. The authors explore the implications of this point of view and endeavor to characterize the nature of informatics research, the relationship between theory and practice, and issues of scientific validity and generalizability. They argue for a more pluralistic approach to medical informatics in building a cumulative body of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-492
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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