The design phase typically starts fairly early in the research process. When a research group is working on their grant proposal they review the current body of knowledge that is relevant to their research question. Through this process, they not only get a sense of how other researchers have tackled similar questions before, but can critically assess previous methodology (steps of the study) and gauge whether their proposed methods would address previously identified limitations or gaps in knowledge. During the design phase, specific questions are addressed: (1) who/what are the research subjects, (2) how many are needed to ensure that the results can be trusted, and (3) what kind of information is collected (e.g. is it a blood test looking for specific markers or is it a self-reported survey on pain management?). Additionally, researchers must also think about what data needs to be collected to answer the research question and design the methodology appropriately in order to collect it.
A grant proposal is written to gain financial support for a research project from an organization or funding agency. In order to develop a grant proposal, information must be gathered about what is already known about the problem, specific research objectives need to be set, and a detailed experimental- and data analysis plan needs to be developed. The grant proposal is then submitted for consideration to a granting agency where a panel of reviewers will assess the application. While reviewing a grant proposal, the agency takes into account a number of factors such as how new/original the research question is, how well the proposed work aligns with the mandate of the funding body, whether the proposed project is feasible as described, or even if the assembled team is comprised of the necessary expertise.This peer-review process is critical in ensuring that the proposed work is scientifically sound.
Clearly define a specific problem to be studied. The problem can be based on interest, curiosity, initial investigations into the topic, or a previously identified problem/gap in knowledge. This problem is then developed into a research question. A research question should be focused specifically on what the research group wants to explore through the proposed project. The research question is then used to direct the goal of the study, the procedure(s) that will be carried out, the data that needs to be collected, and how this data will be analyzed.
After conclusions have been made, the next step is to communicate the findings to the wider community. Researchers often communicate their findings by publishing them in peer-reviewed journals, presenting them at conferences and/or universities, as well as reaching out to the general public by posting the findings on social media or discussing them in magazines, newspapers, or blogs.
Novel research findings can sometimes improve a current approach to treatment. The goal of communicating a study’s findings is to make people aware that better policies or treatment options are available and that these need to be implemented. This can be a long process and requires impassioned advocates (both researchers and patient-partners) to push for change that is supported by scientific evidence.
Once a study has begun, data can be collected to answer the original research question. The data is then analyzed and used to make conclusions in regards to the research question.
Before beginning a study, the subjects of the study must be recruited or obtained and all the regulatory requirements, such as ethics approvals or collaborative agreements between institutions, must be in place. It is very important to ensure that a study meets the ethical requirements before the study begins as the requirements are in place to protect the research participants as well as the honesty of the science. Some of these requirements include fair selection of the research participants, ensuring that informed consent has been obtained, and a research question that contributes to the improvement of patients quality of life or health.
If the findings of a research project are implemented, the implementations are monitored and evaluated to ensure they are correctly executed and beneficial to the particular population.
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