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What kind of advice can I offer the few nurses on my unit who have begun research studies and are unsure of the type of research design they should use?


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The expert this week, Marquetta Flaugher, ARNP-BC, DSN, is an advanced nurse practitioner who is ANCC-certified family nurse practitioner who works in subacute geriatric services.

Research design is the framework for describing how to conduct research that is meant to answer a clinical question. The design should describe how to carry out the research in a way that will best obtain the appropriate answers. It includes details on sample selection, how data will be collected and analyzed, use of specific tools, and a time frame for completion. Planning a research design is based on a series of selections that helps the researchers decide on either a quantitative or qualitative design.

When reviewing methodology to determine a design, the researcher should decide:

  1. What information will be gathered
  2. Whether the problem being studied affects a large number of people
  3. How the data will be analyzed
  4. What additional resources are needed to conduct the research

When determining a research design, consider the following elements:

  • Environment or setting
  • Population or subjects
  • Randomization
  • Intervention or treatment
  • Tools to be used
  • Statistical analysis
  • Communication of findings

When planning a research design, the investigator should also consider other important factors, including time, subject availability, facility resources, money, research experience, and ethics.

Marquetta Flaugher, ARNP-BC, DSN

(April 2010)