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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 120-122

How to design a research study at your clinic?

Assistant Professor, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Kattankulathur, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication26-Dec-2017

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rachula Daniel
No. 2, IAF Station Road, Duraisamy Nagar, East Tambaram, Chennai - 600 059, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjosr.tjosr_16_17

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It remains a goal of TNOA JOSR to encourage members to share their medical research with the community of ophthalmologists by publishing the results of their work in TNOA JOSR. The TNOA Journal of Ophthalmic Science and Research is a peer-reviewed, quarterly, online before print that is published in English. TNOA JOSR publishes multiple types of medical education-related contributions that include original research manuscripts, review articles, editorials, case reports, case series, practice-related articles, drug review, brief communication, spotlight on a current topic of interest, journal scan, and photo quiz. The objective of this paper is to simplify steps in selecting an appropriate topic and how to go about doing a research study amidst a busy clinic or hospital schedule.

Keywords: Research study, study design, TNOA JOSR

How to cite this article:
Daniel R. How to design a research study at your clinic?. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2017;55:120-2

How to cite this URL:
Daniel R. How to design a research study at your clinic?. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 May 27];55:120-2. Available from: http://www.tnoajosr.com/text.asp?2017/55/2/120/221444

  Introduction Top

Why do we do research studies and why do we submit them to get published in Journals? Publication in peer-reviewed journals is known to be the ultimate product of any scholarly activity.[1]

We may see that few have an internal drive:

  • Research interest – gives a sense of achievement and fulfilment
  • Feeling of joy when your article is published in a journal
  • Once one is published, the next gets easier!

Few others are motivated by an external drive:

  • Promotions in educational institutions
  • When you have to guide students' short-term projects
  • Whenever the TNOA JOSR Editorial Board asks for your submissions!

To get going with a research paper among a busy practice is easier said than done! To start off, it is best to go ahead with a literature search of topics which interest you the most. A focused, proactive reading is to be done and not a mere passive reading. Read selectively from published highly cited papers and papers top-ranked conferences. Read published articles' abstract and see if methods are feasible. What to first look for, in an article first is the Research Question and next to the study design. The more you read an article of interest with a critical attitude, it becomes easier to get an overall idea, of not only what was said but what has not been said.

  the Order of Presentation in an Original Research Manuscript Top

The order in which presentation of original research manuscripts is done in medical journals is SIMRAD.[2]

The acronym SIMRAD stands for:

  • Summary (or Abstract, a synopsis of the manuscript)
  • Introduction (literature review and research question)
  • Methods (how study was conducted)
  • Results (findings)
  • Analysis (data statistics)
  • Discussion (what results and analysis mean).

Although the manuscript title is not contained within the SIMRAD acronym, it is probably the most important component of paper.[2],[3]


Abstract and summary are the terms which denote the same component of the original research manuscript. The Abstract is as important as the Title of a manuscript because it may be the only part of the entire paper that people will ever read.[4] The abstract helps a person decide whether to read the paper or not. It also provides the reader with an easy layout or framework to understanding the paper.[5]

The length of the abstract is journal-specific. All medline-indexed abstracts cannot exceed 400 words. Some other journals specify abstract to be a maximum of 250 words. The numbers in the abstract are to be written as numerals. The abbreviations and acronyms should be spelled out for the first time in the abstract. References are not to be included. It is said that the abstract is required to be the most labor-intensive part of the manuscript.[4]

The abstract summarizes the following components:

  1. Introduction/objective (why study was done)
  2. Methods (type of study; study setting; duration; conditions; subject selection– Inclusion and exclusion criteria; sample size; interventions/treatment; and main outcome measures)
  3. Results (main outcomes, including means, standard deviations, level of significance, etc.), and
  4. Discussion/conclusion (only those conclusions supported by study data; application statement; recommendation).

  Introduction Top

The introduction should provide the reader information to understand the rest of the paper.[5] The literature review that you have done provides a framework for your Research Question. The research question is the backbone of the study and should be clearly and easily found in the introduction section.[1]

It should explain why the problem was researched and also if the present study will contribute to existing knowledge.[5] Key references should be cited that clearly relate to the study problem. Most references will appear in the Introduction section.

While writing the Introduction, the funnel shaped approach is followed:

  • Introduce your field of study
  • Narrow focus using specific and important references
  • Justify your research
  • Statement of purpose (hypothesis, predictions, purpose, objectives, etc.)
  • Definitions
  • 5–6 references.

The introduction establishes a clear relationship between what is already known about the research problem (literature review) and the specific research question(s), hypotheses, and/or objectives under study.

Ideally, three paragraphs are recommended.

  • Paragraph 1: What we know (Review of literature)
  • Paragraph 2: What we don't know
  • Paragraph 3: What we did to find out (Research question).

  Methods Top

The methods section should be a detailed description of how the study was conducted.[2] It should give a step-by-step, logical, description of the research design, and is the second most important part of a study, the first being the research question.[3] The selection of an appropriate study design to be relevant to your study question is of utmost importance [Table 1].
Table 1: Study questions and appropriate designs

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The study design should be appropriate to your study topic. The Institutional Ethical Committee (IEC) clearance should be obtained and consent forms are to be signed by the subjects/participants. The subjects/participants recruitment, exclusion/inclusion, and assignment to different groups should be described. To be statistically valid, the subjects must be randomly selected from the population and randomly assigned to study groups.[3]

The study instruments/tools (e.g., questionnaires, interview forms) should be included as figures or tables. The study's independent variables (e.g., treatment/interventions) and dependent variables (e.g., consequences, effects) should be given. The appropriate statistical test should be used in data analysis, and a description of the statistical methods used to analyze the data are to be justified apart from citing the name and version of the statistical software used. This section comprises of 3–5 paragraphs.

  • Paragraph 1: Participant selection
  • Paragraph 2–4: Variables and procedures for the objective
  • Last Paragraph: Analytic methods.

  Results and Analysis Top

The results and analysis section is the most important part of an experimental research paper and is written as a single section in a manuscript called Results.[6]

This section should give a brief summary of what was found in the present study.[6]

Tables and figures should be used to help simplify extensive and complex data. They need to summarize information (e.g., means and standard deviations), be accurate (e.g., totals equal data reported), and be able to stand alone (e.g., not require reference to text to explain it).[3]

This section must aim for Figures/Tables of 3–4 in number totally.

  • Table 1: Patient characteristics
  • Table 2–4: One for each research objective

  Discussion Top

After the abstract, the discussion is considered to be the hardest section to write.[5] Begin the discussion section by returning to the specific problem investigated, giving a clear synopsis of your major findings and a critical comparison with findings of similar studies (both areas similarity and difference).[6] The discussion section must be like a dialogue having an inverted funnel-shaped approach, i.e., going from the specific to general.

  • Address your hypothesis with reference to your results
  • Explain and put findings in context (references)
  • Comment on your finding's significance and potential for future study.

Highlight the implications of your findings, and how your work has added to knowledge of the topic and also mention the study's limitations.[3]{Table 2}

The Discussion may have 5 paragraphs

  • Paragraph 1: Summarize main finding
  • Paragraph 2: Summarize supporting findings. Discuss the discrepancies between new results and previously reported results in similar studies
  • Paragraph 3: What are the implications and how does it change practice?
  • Paragraph 4: Limitations-Discuss the research limitations and identify future research
  • Paragraph 5: Summary/conclusion-Discuss the theoretical implications and possible practical applications of your research.

  Summary Top

Doing a Research Study at your Clinic calls for motivation and an attitude to contribute to the ophthalmic fraternity. As an end result of our scholarly activity, it is no longer an obligation, but our duty as a professional. Publish and Flourish!

  • Do a Literature survey
  • Select a topic of your interest, with methods you have access to
  • Give a title to your study with study design
  • Involve statistician
  • Get IEC approval
  • Get study participants consent
  • Collect data regularly
  • Critically review your article like a reviewer would
  • Publish.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Jaeger RM, Hendricks AY. The publication process in educational measurement. Educ Meas Issues Pract 1994;13:20-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Parsell G, Bligh J. Writing for journal publication. Med Teach 1999;21:457-68.  Back to cited text no. 2
Bordage G. Considerations in preparing a publication paper. Teach Learn Med 1989;1:47-52.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lilleyman JS. How to write a scientific paper – A rough guide to getting published. Arch Dis Child 1995;72:268-70.  Back to cited text no. 4
Rudner LM, Schafer WD. How to write a scholarly research report. Pract Assess Res Eval 1999;6:1998-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Pamir MN. How to write an experimental research paper. Acta Neurochirugica Suppl 2002;83:109-13.  Back to cited text no. 6


  [Table 1]


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