Step 1: Select a Topic
Often, research ideas and hypotheses grow from the bedside in response to patient care. At other times, research responds to community needs or epidemiological events. Clinical experiences can be the driving force for research. When you encounter an idea or experience that inspires you, that is a good time to start thinking whether your idea can generate a research study. To get an idea of the time investment, check out this research timeline.
Check out this section of the FAQs for more on jumpstarting the brainstorming process.
Step 2: Review the Literature
As part of formulating your research question, it’s important to evaluate existing evidence and its quality, as it is possible your original question has been answered. From there, identify research gaps and prioritize what new evidence is needed to fill those gaps. The CMH Medical Library can link you to great resources, conduct a literature review on your behalf, point you toward publication databases, and make an article request on your behalf. To keep track of literature found, this Literature Review Flowchart and this Table of Evidence Summary may help keep you organized.
Check out this section of the FAQs for more information and resources on Literature Reviews.
CMH Article Request Form
CMH Literature Search Request Form
Literature Review Flowchart
Table of Evidence Summary
JGME Article: Literature Reviews: Key Considerations and Tips
JGME Article: Systematic Reviews in Medical Education
Step 3: Define the Problem/ Research Question
Narrow down the topic, define the problem clearly, and form a hypothesis. One of the most important steps in the research process is formalizing your Research Question and defining your study population. This (2min) video breaks down the use of PICO (and how it can be used to jumpstart a solid Lit Review). You can review this guide to help formulate your own question using the PICO framework. If you are unsure if CMH has the patient population to support your study, be sure to work with GME Research staff to secure a custom report out of the EMR early on.
Check out this section of the FAQs for more information and resources on formulating your research question.
Guide for Formulating PICO Questions
Using PICO in a Lit Review
Step 4: Design the Study
The clinical question can guide the research design; for a refresher on your options, check out these study design options. Keep in mind that the design may need adjustment to ensure feasibility based on resources; these feasibility considerations should be weighed. Be sure to reach out to GME Research Staff for guidance on your statistical plan at this stage. If your study requires financial support, please review the Resident Research Project Funding Policy and draft your budget using this Budget Template. You can contact the ADGME with questions.
Check out this section of the FAQs for resources and guidance on: defining you study population; sampling; appropriately powering you study; study design options; feasibility; recruitment and consenting; funding; and assembling your Research Team.
Populations and Sampling
Resident Research Project Funding Policy
Study Design Options
Step 5: IRB Application
The exact steps for obtaining IRB approval will be determined by your study population, research question, and study design. Regardless, you will need to complete CITI Training. Visit the CMH IRB homepage on the intranet to access the eProtocol, the specific application materials needed, and other IRB resources. To prepare you for this step, you will want to review: this rundown of common IRB forms, common mistakes to avoid, and guidance on what “risk” means to the IRB. When writing you informed consent forms, you may want to use this glossary of lay terms for medical language. You can find Case Report Forms here. If the jargon gets too be a bit much, consult this list of IRB terms or this glossary of research terms. For questions about HIPAA and research, this document on HIPAA Requirements and Forms for Research and this Understanding HIPAA roadmap can be helpful, but be sure to also review additional relevant research laws, regulations, and policies.
Check out this section of the FAQs for more information and resources on the levels of review and getting IRB approval.
Common IRB Forms Explained
Case Report Document
CITI Certification Instructions
CMH IRB Homepage
Common Challenges with IRB Apps
HIPAA and Research
Human Subjects Terms and Definitions
IRB Glossary of Terms
Lay Terms for Medical Jargon
Research Laws, Regulations, and Policies
Step 6: Data Collection
Once your study is approved and implemented, check out this section of the FAQs for more information and resources on action items needed after IRB approval, making amendments to your study, adverse events and serious adverse events, and IRB updates.
Step 7: Data Analysis
Once data collection is complete, it is time to clean, anayze, and synthesize. Be sure to reach out to GME Research Staff before you begin this stage. If you would like to refresh your stats training, check out this review sheet on medical statistics definitions, this stats webinar, or this guide to basic statistics.
A Guide to Basic Statistics
Medical Statistics Definitions
Webinar: Simple Ways to Sleuth out Statistical Errors
Step 8: Close Your Study and Share Findings
Once you have synthesized your data, you may wish to share your findings with internal CMH stakeholders and/or the broader scientific community. Assemble your dissemination team and choose your dissemination route (manuscript writing, scientific poster creation, conference presentation, etc.). For guidance on who to include on your Dissemination Team, consult the CMH Authorship Policy.
If writing a manuscript, be sure to reach out to the CMH Medical Librarian for Endnote access to manage your citations. This Coursera course can help sharpen your scientific writing skills. Be aware that based on the type of study you are writing about, specific publication criteria may be necessary; you can review checklists for standardized publications here. If you want to create a video abstract for your scholarly output, you can review this resource for guidance.
If you are creating a scientific poster, you can find CMH-branded poster presentation templates here. You can also find additional guidance on creating an updated scientific poster here. If you are giving a podium presentation, you may use this CMH-branded PowerPoint deck.
Check out this section of the FAQs for more information and resources on: major steps in the manuscript writing journey, guidance on who to include as an author, how to avoid predatory journals, how to close your study or plan for succession. Some specialties offer guidance for communicating your research results.
Checklists for Standardized Publications
CMH-branded Poster Presentation Templates
CMH-branded Podium Presentation Template
CMH Policy on Authorship
Endnote Access (Contact Librarian)
Creating Video Abstracts for Scholarly Dissemination