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NTR 629 - Week 1A. Introduction to Research. Research - Defined. A systematic process that uses the scientific method to identify relationships and/or determine differences in order to resolve previously unanswered questions or problems ( discover something new !). Attributes of Research.

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research defined
Research - Defined
  • A systematic process that uses the scientific method to identify relationships and/or determine differences in order to resolve previously unanswered questions or problems (discover something new!).
attributes of research
Attributes of Research
  • Based on work of others
  • Based on logical rationale, tied to theory
  • Can be replicated
  • Generalizable to other settings
  • Doable
  • Incremental
  • Apolitical
  • Generates new questions (circular)
diagram of scientific method
Diagram of Scientific Method


Do results alter theory? New lines of research? Conclusions

Ask a question… identify a problem…Generate Hypothesis

Test the Hypothesis… Interpretation

Collect Data… Observations

  • A theory helps us to organize information into a coherent body… a set of related ideas that explain something.
  • End? Beginning?
  • Paradigm shift?
  • Examples of Theories?
why learn to do research
Why Learn To Do Research?
  • “The Academy (of Nutrition and Dietetics) believes that research is the foundation of the profession providing the basis for practice, education and policy.”
  • Our profession is dynamic
    • e.g., Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics
  • Legislative and Public Policy Priority Area of the Academy
    • E.g., “Nutrition monitoring and research”
  • Life-long learning
what can research uncover
Document effectiveness of group education and individual counseling.

Determine most effective and efficient intervention.

Determine impact of intervention on biomarkers, dietary intake, and anthropometrics.

Examine relationship between behavioral factors and dietary intake.

Document cost-effectiveness of Medical Nutrition Therapy (or other) interventions.

Determine sensory acceptability of fat reduced products.

Think about what else…

What Can Research Uncover?
the research process
The Research Process
  • Get an idea!
    • Select idea or identify problem to be solved
  • Statement of the problem:
    • Description of the background and rationale for performing the study. Ask: Who? What? How to assess? Where?
  • Review of Literature:
    • Review past or current studies that are relevant to the study
    • Review hypotheses and definitions in related studies
  • Hypothesis:
    • Prediction of what is expected to occur, or relationship expected between the variables (factors being considered)
  • Definitions:
    • Operationalize key terms and variables in the problem statement
the research process cont
The Research Process (cont.)
  • Select Study Design
  • Select Sample Parameters:
    • Sample often refers to subjects of the study
  • Instrumentation:
    • Determine what will be used to measure or collect data
  • Procedures:
    • step-by-step, from beginning to end, including pilot study.
    • Gain IRB approval (do online education in advance – certificate)
  • Data Analysis:
    • Statistical procedures to analyze and explain the data
      • Interpretation and evaluation
      • Comparison against theory and findings of others.
      • Conclusions and applications
research question
Research Question
  • Problems needing solutions lead to research questions.
  • The research question is the articulation of ideas that at least imply the relationship between two or more variables.
    • Variables are attributes that differ in population
  • Proper research questions need collectable data to create possible answers
  • Research questions must have an empirical (based on observable evidence) referent(s)
  • The research question leads the way to the hypothesis.
example idea to question
Example: Idea to Question
  • Start with an Idea:
    • Matching CPE needs of members

with professional association services.

  • Research Question(s):
    • Regarding the services provided by the association, what are the preferences?
    • Is there a difference in reported characteristics among health professionals?
    • Difference in districts or regions?
    • Services most preferred?
developing the research question
Developing the Research Question

Formulating the Question

Focusing the Question

Researchers narrow the scope of a research question by:

Having a clearly defined and specific goal for a study

Consulting with colleagues and getting feedback

Linking a question to specific hypotheses or working concepts

  • A research question begins with the literature review
  • A creative research question addresses a new topic that is embedded within a body of existing literature
  • The question involves reframing the literature in order to establish a context for a study
components of research questions
Components of Research Questions
  • Who (which)
    • Subjects or units being assessed should be defined
  • What
    • The factor of interest should be stated specifically (e.g., body weight, knowledge, iron intake, etc.)
  • How assessed
    • The outcome to be assessed should be stated specifically (e.g., disease incidence, change in knowledge, etc.)
characteristics of good questions

Not involve harm


Identify units/subjects and variables


Constitutive definition – “dictionary”

Operational definition – clarify by example; list measurable behaviors that demonstrate the term

Empirically testable


Time, energy, money, available resources


Worthwhile venture

Contribution to knowledge

Improvement of practice

Improve the human condition

Characteristics of “Good” Questions