Formulating an important research question Susan Furth, MD, PhD Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research [email protected] Hi, Honey—how’s everything in the world of academia?. :. Getting Started. The absolute requirement for a research project is a good idea .
Formulating an important research question
Susan Furth, MD, PhD
Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research
Hi, Honey—how’s everything in the world of academia?
The absolute requirement for a research project is a good idea.
The hypotheses formulated from this idea must be:
Clear and testable
Of limited scope (i.e., can be completed in less than a
Important as well as interesting
New, unique, extend knowledge, solve an important problem.
Focus the research on a better understanding of mechanisms that control a key biological process, or on better disease recognition, prevention, or treatment.
Talk to mentor, others knowledgeable about research area
Develop research problem that matches your interests, background, training, pubiications
Base research problem on current knowledge, research problem should present logical next step in progression from what is known, to important issue that is not
Determine that the research problem is addressable by experimental (hypothesis driven) approach
Identify research resources as well as any constraints
Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
The Methods Section begins with a brief (no more than one page) statement of the Specific Aims of the research.
The objectives of the Specific Aims page are to:
Not just a literature review (although this must be included).
Provides the rationale for what you propose to do.
Puts your proposed research in perspective
(what it will do and the importance of the results).
Can it be done? Can you do it? Will the results be accurate? Are your methods state-of-the-art? Will the hypotheses probably be supported?
Population: inclusion/exclusion criteria
Analytic plan/ methods.
Statistical design and analyses
How will data be interpreted?
Alternatives (if the primary approach fails)
Pitfalls, and how they will be handled
What will be learned?
How will the results prove they hypotheses and support the specific aims and goals?
How will the results be new and important?
An understandable but inappropriate form of rebuttal.
Remember, Columbus didn’t get it right the first time either.
What it takes to recover from a setback—
What you did—10%
What you do next—90%
Give them what they want.
State how the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses are adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project.
State/Acknowledge (with specific examples)
potential problem areas and alternative tactics.