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The Research Process

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<div>The first place to start is to identify the clinical problem, what is the gap in care, deficiency in service provision or care that needs to be improved.</div>
<div>Once you have clarified the research problem or issue it is important to look at what evidence already exists in the field. A detail search of the research literature is needed at this point. A systematic review of existing evidence may already exist, this is a great place to start, alternatively you may want to undertake your own detailed review. You can use existing evidence to make sure the answer to your problem hasn't already been determined in other research- no point in reinventing the wheel if it is not necessary. Or maybe the existing research is flawed, or doesn't cover the same types of patients or cases as you see in your department/clinic; you can use existing research to help you define an appropriate research method, outcome measures and data analysis approaches.</div>
<div>Once you have reviewed existing research in the field you should be in a position to refine your research question(s). Writing a clear research question is important it helps define the research method that should be adopted.</div>
<div>Once the RQ has been defined this will help to focus the research method. First it is important to identify whether the study requires a qualitative (interpretive) research design or a quantitative (positivistic) approach. Within each of the research paradigms (quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods approach) there is a range of research methods to consider; it is important to think carefully about the most appropriate method to use to gather data to answer your research question.</div><div>At this point it is also worth gaining stakeholder perspectives for clinical studies this will be patients from the group you intend to research. Stakeholders can give important perspectives on your study design, outcome measures, patient information leaflets and all aspects of the design. Check out the <a href="http://www.invo.org.uk">Involve</a> website for help and resources for gaining patient input to the design and conduct of your study.</div>
<div>If you work in the NHS in the UK a good place to start is to identify if your project needs NHS ethics approval, visit the Health Research Agency web site and use the <a href="http://www.hra-decisiontools.org.uk/ethics/">decision tool</a> to help you identify the correct level of research and governance approval needed for your study.</div><div><br></div>
<div>Only once you have gained the correct levels of ethical and governance approval can you move on to data collection. In this phase of the study you will need to recruit participants to your study, gain informed consent from all participants before collecting data.</div>
<div>Once all the data has been collected you can start to analyse your data according to your data analysis plan you developed during stage 4 of the research process.</div>
<div>The final part of the process is to disseminate the results. Undertaking research is costly and it is important to publish and share the research results widely so others can learn and possibly implement your findings within their practice. You will need to think of the different audiences for your research, this will include key stakeholders; study participants, other researchers, healthcare practitioners, policy makers, managers and educators.</div>