Types of research
Types of research
You have decided on the area you wish to research, reviewed the relevant literature, and developed a research question; your next task is to decide what method is most appropriate to address that question. The first issue you need to consider is whether your study is research or audit. This is important as research and audit, while similar in many respects, have a number of differences that have important ethical, methodological, and management implications. The vogue for ‘call this research project an audit and we don’t need ethics’ is thankfully passing, due not least to intolerance by the General Medical Council (GMC) and National Health Service (NHS) disciplinary panels of such slippery practice. A second issue is broadly methodological, and concerns whether you intend to use quantitative or qualitative methods. Finally, you need to consider whether your research can be done in a clinical setting or is better suited to laboratory conditions, which will have important implications for the manner in which you approach your study. We begin the chapter by considering service investigation and audit and will examine how audit differs from research. Following this we consider quantitative and qualitative approaches and examine their philosophical underpinnings, methods and analysis. Finally we examine basic science concepts and laboratory-based research. For any clinician the main priority in service investigation is the process of auditing one’s own practice. There are, however, other means of evaluating practice. This section will focus in on the assessment of service quality. This, as it turns out, is rather difficult to define. The Department of Health (DoH; 1) defi ne quality as ‘doing the right things, at the right time, for the right people and doing them right—first time’. This, as you may notice, is a rather broad definition which may be of limited value to you when you are planning to use the concept of quality as the central theme of your investigation. However, as this concept of quality is at the centre of pretty much every document the DoH publishes, it is worth keeping it in mind.
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