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Different research models

What is research?

"Research is a topic that many find intimidating. When people think of research they often tend to think of people in white coats conducting experiments or drug trials. But most health research is not like this... A broad definition of research is any activity which is undertaken to increase knowledge. In the health field research can be defined as the systematic investigation of a problem, issue or question which increases knowledge and understanding of health and the provision of care."

Excerpt from 'What is research', Research Bites Issue #1, March 2002

Research definitions

"Action research is a methodology that combines action and research to examine specific questions, issues or phenomena through observation and reflection, and deliberate intervention to improve practice."

"Applied research is research undertaken to solve practical problems rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge sake."

"Basic research is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without looking for long-term benefits other than the advancement of knowledge.

"Clinical trials are research studies undertaken to determine better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat diseases."

"Epidemiological research is concerned with the description of health and welfare in populations through the collection of data related to health and the frequency, distribution and determinants of disease in populations, with the aim of improving health."

"Evaluation research is research conducted to measure the effectiveness or performance of a program, concept or campaign in achieving its objectives."

"Qualitative research is research undertaken to gain insights concerning attitudes, beliefs, motivations and behaviours of individuals to explore a social or human problem and include methods such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation research and case studies."

"Quantitative research is research concerned with the measurement of attitudes, behaviours and perceptions and includes interviewing methods such as telephone, intercept and door-to-door interviews as well as self-completion methods such as mail outs and online surveys."

"Service or program monitoring and evaluation involves collecting and analysing a range of processes and outcome data in order to assess the performance of a service or program and to determine if the intended or expected results have been achieved."

These research definitions have been sourced from the Disability Services Commission Research Database (accessed on 12/02/08)

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Useful PHCRIS resources

Research Profiles

Designed to include information from all primary health care researchers and users in Australia, Research Profiles provide a platform for anyone involved in research to locate and/or publish information from projects, to presentations, posters, reports and articles.

Research Bites

Fact sheets about research compiled by the University of New South Wales as part of the NSW Primary Health Care Research Capacity Building Program.

Other resources

Community Organisers Toolbox: Understanding Research
This guide is meant to provide a basic understanding of research and its role in development.

Provides postgraduate research students with an overview of the research process.

Research Methods Knowledge Base
This website offers a fundamental distinction between the two data types, qualitative research and quantitative research.

Bandolier's 'What is...' series
Providing a set of short, clear explanations of several important topics in Evidence Based Medicine.

Behind the headlines - your guide to the science that makes the news
A useful glossary of common terms used in peer review publications.

PHRU Appraisal Tools
Access tools designed to help with the process of critically appraising articles of the various types of research.

Quality in qualitative research
Criteria for authors and assessors in the submission and assessment of qualitative research articles for the Medical Journal of Australia
Kitto SC, Chesters J, Grbich C. (2008). MJA, 188(4), 243-246

A health researcher's guide to qualitative methodologies
The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of qualitative methodologies for health researchers in order to inform better research practices.
Dew K. (2007). Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 31(5), 433-437

Successful Qualitative Health Research: a practical introduction
Hansen EC. (2006). Allen & Unwin

An overview of clinical research: the lay of the land
Grimes D, Schulz K. (2002). The Lancet, 359(9300), 57-61

Cochrane Consumer Network terms and references

Compiled by PHCRIS
Last updated Mon 30 Mar 2015

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