We support researchers in developing and using research to maximize the well-being of patients, clients and residents.
The development of a research study includes composing a project management plan that takes into account the following steps both before and after the research proposal itself is written.
How do I create a research plan?
The following are key steps in the research development process:
Step 1: Generate research idea
You have an exciting research question that you want to explore.
- Once your initial research idea has been defined, it is necessary to think about research intent and previous research.
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- Has this research been done before?
- Discuss question with colleagues.
Step 2: Conduct and review literature
Contact our library services department to begin the literature review.
- Decide on the scope of the review (specific or narrow?)
- Review books, journal articles, and other peer reviewed sources such as registries of evidence-based research literature.
- Review the references section of relevant articles to aid in the search for related articles.
- Access the grey literature.
- Conducting literature reviews take time, but this is a very important step in the research process.
- Keep track of the process used in the searches.
- Consider the quality of evidence being searched (use critical appraisal tools for evaluating quality of evidence).
- Identify gaps in existing knowledge.
Go to our internal research study database to access all studies that have been conducted in Fraser Health since 2005. The database includes studies conducted on the following topics:
- Clinical intervention
- Public and population health
- Health systems and services
- Health care technology and innovation
- Knowledge transfer and implementation research
Step 3: Refine research question
Now that you have exhausted the literature, how has your original research idea changed?
- State the research question.
- Include strong justification(s) to the proposed research question. What are you adding to existing knowledge?
- Is your question feasible? That is, will it be possible to do?
- Research question should guide the study design, method, and analytical plan.
Step 4: Plan research methods
Provide a description of the proposed study, significance and how the study is being conducted to answer your research question.
Consider the following:
- What is your research objective?
- Chose a methodology (qualitative versus quantitative research).
- Include research design (observational or experimental) or theoretical framework (grounded theory).
- Identify the sampling method (probability vs. non-probability; purposeful).
- Decide on the study population and study sample (inclusion/exclusion criteria).
- Identify relevant measures/tools to be used in the study.
- Consider the reliability and validity of chosen tools (time to complete, costs).
- Consider the data collection method.
- What kind of data do you plan to collect? What collection method will you use? Questionnaire? Previously collected data? Test results? Medical records data?
- Consider sample size (sample size calculations/justification).
- Develop a statistical analyses plan.
Consider the variables you wish to measure, and review the statistical test you wish to use in order to understand if it is appropriate for what you wish to do.
Step 5: Create research proposal
Create a research proposal that will enable people who are not involved in the study to understand exactly what you plan to do. A proposal will be helpful when applying for grant funding. Your proposal should include:
- Literature review
- Expected benefits
- Research design
- Data collection techniques
- Statistical analysis plan
- Develop knowledge dissemination plan
Step 6: Applying for grant funding
The funding application process contains the following additional steps:
- Identify sources of funding and select funding source.
- Develop a timeline for development of research proposal, submission of letter of intent and application for funding.
- Identify the research team.
- Develop the study methodology.
- Prepare the grant application package, which includes the grant proposal, budget, resumé or curriculum vitae, and other additional application forms.
- Submit grant application to obtain signature of authorizing executive prior to submission for funding.
Step 7: Apply for research ethics approval
Ethics consideration is an essential component of the research process. Most studies require ethics approval when dealing with human subjects.
The Fraser Health Research Ethics Board reviews submissions on a regular basis.
Step 8: Collect and analyze data
Collecting data for your study is exciting because you are close to finding out the answer to your research question or hypothesis.
- Remember to be diligent and follow your research plan for collecting data.
- Develop data dictionary (or code book) before collecting data.
- Design data files (spreadsheet) to enter the data, consider study design and analyses plan.
- Use logic check to clean the data and identify data errors before you analyze.
- Plan for regular quality checks to identify data entry errors.
- Exercise care in the collecting and coding of data.
Step 9: Draw conclusions and relate findings
Now it is time to write up your findings and formulate conclusions.
- Was your research question answered?
- What has been learned? What are the study implications?
- What findings were significant? Not significant?
- Why do you think this was the case?
- How are your results relate to other studies from your literature review (add, support or contradict)?
- What were the limitations of your study?
- What about ideas or recommendations for future research?
How do I develop a study budget?
Prepare your budget by working with our research development specialist. You may also need to contact the People Services Department if you plan on hiring research staff or contractors (e.g., Benefits and future salary increases may have to be accounted for in the budget). The hiring of students to work as research assistants is also possible through our People Services Department.
If your study requires support from other service areas, contact those areas directly to provide study fee estimates. View more information on using research-related services.
How do I find collaborators?
How do I access data?
A number of sources provide access to health data.
Population Data BC provides access to provincial databases for population health research.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) provides statistics and analysis about the health care system in Canada. It provides access to data in more than 20 national and provincial data holdings in three areas: health services, health professionals and health spending.
For Fraser Health data:
- Access to both raw data and summary reports via our Integrated Analytics Department.
- Access to medical records via our Information Services (Health Records) Department.
You are required to complete a data access agreement and evidence of ethical approval before the information is released.
Where can I find more information and resources?
Visit our resources section for tools to guide you in your research.