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How to Conduct Research

Dr. Aliya Hisam

What is Research ?

Research can be defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method.


In Scientific terms
systematic collection

analysis interpretation of data

Steps in Conducting Research?

Steps in Research
1. Selecting a Research Topic

2. Formulating the Research Question

3. Performing a Literature Review / Search 4. Developing the Research Project Proposal 5. Performing Data Collection 6. Performing Data Analysis

7. Data Interpretation & Inferences

8. Write-up of Research Results 9. Dissemination of Information

1. Selecting The Research Topic

Criteria for selecting a Research Project

Relevance Avoidance of duplication Feasibility Political acceptability Applicability Cost-effectiveness Timeliness Ethical considerations

2. Formulating the Research Question

More Examples:
To determine frequency of anemia in pregnant women visiting tertiary care facilities of Sindh. To determine association between maternal smoking and low birth weight. To compare the effectiveness of dressing A versus dressing B in Patients with infected wounds of the foot.

3. Performing a Literature Review / Search

Literature search defines an attempt by the researcher to develop a ready source of reference material for the study.
It should preferably be undertaken before developing the research project proposal.

It is also of tremendous dissertation / article writing.



Sources of Literature Search

Non-Internet Searches

Internet-Based Searches

Use of the Internet

General Purpose Search Engines Yahoo ( MSN ( Google (

Use of the Internet

Websites for article abstracts : the primary source for accessing MEDLINE online for abstracts. : will also allow access to Pubmed and Medline. : Pakistani website with all the journals of Pakistan available with the abstracts of their articles. Almost all of the major search engines will allow abstract retrieval.

4. Developing the Research Project Proposal (Synopsis)

It must give a comprehensible account (with all relevant details) of the research project proposed to be undertaken by the candidate. A synopsis should not be more than 1000 words or about 4 A-4 size pages.

Structure of a Synopsis
It must contain the following components: a. Title b. Introduction c. Objectives

d. Operational Definition
e. Hypothesis( if required) f. Material & Methods (Methodology)
a. Place of study, Duration of study, Sample size, Inclusion and exclusion criteria, study design, Data collection tools, data analysis,

g. References

a. Title
Should reflect the objectives of the study. It must be written after the whole synopsis has been written so that it is a true representative of the plan (i.e. the synopsis). It should give the topic selected for the study in the minimum possible words. General recommendation is not to exceed 150 letters. Please do not use abbreviations in the title (with exceptions of really standard abbreviations). The topic should reflect the purpose of the study.

b. Introduction
Should contain brief background of the selected topic. It must identify the importance of study, its relevance and applicability of results. It must clearly state the purpose of the study.

Describe (with references) the current status of research conducted (nationally, internationally) on the topic & the results obtained. State why you have chosen to undertake research work on this topic in your setting.

c. Aims & Objectives

Describe your aim in carrying out the study, or the aim that you think will be achieved after the study.

Describe clearly one or two main objectives, that you will undertake to do in your study, so that your aim can be achieved. Objectives are statements of mentions. They inform the reader clearly what the researcher plans to do in his/her work. The must identify the variables involved in research.
Objective should start with an action verb and be sufficiently specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART).

d. Operational Definitions
Definitions of operational terms used under the conditions of your research study. Examples:
Define anaemia in a study on anaemic patients: < 10 g/dl or < 12 g/dl. Define SBP in a study on hypertensive patients: > 140 mm Hg or age adjusted values.

e. Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a statement showing expected relation b/w 2 variables. Hypothesis is needed in the following study designs:
All interventional studies Cohort Case control Comparative cross sectional.

f. Methodology / Materials & Methods

Describe the setting and duration of the study. Describe the study population & the sample. Give the sampling method and (estimated) sample size. Indicate the appropriate study design for your study Briefly describe the materials & methods you will utilize during your study. Describe Data Collection tools, data types expected (variables of primary interests). Describe Data Analysis tools including tests of significance.

f. Methodology / Materials & Methods

Study Design:
Mention the name of the appropriate study design.

Setting :
Name and place where the research work is to be conducted.

Duration of Study:
How long will the study take with dates.

Sample Size:
How many patients will be included. If there are groups how many per group?

Sampling Technique:
Type of sampling technique employed.

f. Methodology / Materials & Methods

Sample Selection: Inclusion criteria: on what bases will patients be inducted in the study. Exclusion criteria: On what bases will patients be excluded from the study. Data Collection Procedure: A detailed account of how the researcher will perform research; how s/he will measure the variable. It includes: Identification of the study variables Methods for collection of data Data collection tools: (proforma/questionnaire)

f. Methodology / Materials & Methods

Data Analysis Procedure: Relevant details naming software to be used, which descriptive statistics and which test of significance if and when required, specifying variables where it will be applied. Data Collection Instrument: The researcher must attach, as an annex, the proforma or questionnaire with the help of which he/she intends to collect data. The proforma/ questionnaire must match the objectives and must not contain irrelevant sections like inclusion and exclusion criteria etc.

g. References
References: Minimum of 5 References cited in Vancouver style

Some Important Tips

Please use the future tense for a synopsis, as the work will be undertaken in the future. Please do not include long textbook passages. Avoid abbreviations; if to be used, first give the full name followed by the abbreviation in brackets , e.g. cerebro-vascular accident (CVA); the abbreviation CVA can then be written anywhere after this. Please do not give the detailed proforma containing clinical work up as the data collection tool.