Monday, January 28, 2013

Finding the answer requires asking the question

I understand that the title of this blog post has me sounding a little like Yoda, but one fundamental piece of information that guides the entire research grant proposal is the research question.  Without a clear, well-defined question, how can one expect to obtain an answer through research?  While drafting a hypothesis is something that was probably covered in your elementary school science class, it is easy to forget the importance of refining this piece before setting out to write a large, complicated research plan. 

One method of drafting the research question that is used often in health sciences research is PICO.  The letters stand for Patient Problem, Intervention, Comparison, & Outcome.  Using the PICO framework can help you to logically think through the problem you are hoping to address through your research.  If you are struggling to draft your research plan, perhaps going back and applying this method will help you to realize that your research question is too broad, too narrow, or perhaps too insignificant.  If you are following my advice and have started working on your proposal far in advance of the next deadline, you should have plenty of time to make adjustments as needed!

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