Research Methods for Medical Graduates  book cover
1st Edition

Research Methods for Medical Graduates

ISBN 9781032087252
Published June 30, 2021 by CRC Press
320 Pages 60 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book discusses the why and how of each step of data-based medical research that can provide basic information to emerging researchers and medical graduate students who write theses or publish articles. The chapters are arranged in the sequence of steps for data-based research. The research steps are comprehensively covered from the selection of the topic to the final publication. Reporting methods such as CONSORT, STARD, and SAMPL guidelines are also covered. Each chapter has separately earmarked examples from the contemporary literature that illustrate the different research methods.

Key Features

  • Discusses all the steps of data-based medical research

  • Examines the topics in depth by way of examples from contemporary literature

  • Features notable information in boxes for special attention


Table of Contents

  1. Basics of Medical Research
    1. What Is Medical Research?
      1. Medical Research and Empiricism
      2. Types of Medical Research and the Scope of This Book
      3. Levels of Medical Research

    2. Uncertainties in Medical Research
      1. Epistemic Uncertainties
      2. Aleatory Uncertainties
      3. Managing Uncertainties in Empirical Medical Research

    3. Broad Steps in Medical Research
      1. Pre-Investigation Steps
      2. Investigation Steps
      3. Post-Investigation Steps

    4. Quality of Medical Research
      1. What Qualifies Good Research?
      2. Quality of a Good Researcher
      3. Pleasures and Frustrations of Medical Research

  2. The Topic of Medical Research
    1. Selection of the Topic of Research
      1. What Is a Problem?
      2. Review of Literature and Databases, and Their Critique

    2. Feasibility and Resources
      1. Ethical Considerations
      2. Resources

    3. Objectives and Hypotheses
      1. Broad and Specific Objectives
      2. Hypotheses

  3. Study Designs: An Overview
    1. What Is a Design of an Empirical Study?
      1. Elements of a Design
      2. Types of Designs

    2. Descriptive Studies
      1. Sample Surveys and Their Designs
      2. Case Studies and Case Series
      3. Census

    3. Analytical Studies
      1. Choice of Strategy for Analytical Studies
      2. Some Useful Terms and Concepts for Analytical Studies

    4. Essentials of Intervention Studies
      1. Medical Experiments
      2. Clinical Trials

    5. Essentials of Observational Studies
      1. Prospective Studies
      2. Retrospective Studies
      3. Cross-Sectional Studies

    6. Reliability and Validity of Designs, and Biases
      1. Reliability of a Design
      2. Validity of a Design
      3. Biases in Medical Studies and Their Control

    7. Where to Use Which Design?
      1. Recommended Designs for Different Types of Research Questions
      2. Levels of Evidence for Cause–Effect Relationships

  4. Clinical Trials
    1. Types of Clinical Trials
      1. Therapeutic Trials – Efficacy and Safety
      2. Clinical Trials for Diagnostic and Prophylactic Modalities
      3. Field Trials for Screening, Prophylaxis, and Vaccines
      4. Superiority, Equivalence, and Noninferiority Trials
      5. Other Types of Clinical Trials

    2. Basics of Clinical Trials
      1. Arms of a Trial
      2. Phases of a Clinical Trial
      3. Randomization and Matching
      4. Control Group in a Clinical Trial

    3. Validity of a Clinical Trial
      1. Selection of Participants
      2. Blinding, Concealment of Allocation, and Masking
      3. Compliance
      4. Uncertainties in Clinical Trials

    4. Choosing a Design for an Efficacy Trial

  5. Observational Studies
    1. Prospective Studies
      1. Subjects in a Prospective Study
      2. Potential Biases in Prospective Studies and Their Merits and
      3. Demerits

      4. Cohort Studies
      5. Longitudinal Studies
      6. Repeated Measures Studies

    2. Retrospective Studies
      1. Case–Control Design
      2. Selection of Cases and Controls
      3. Merits and Demerits of Retrospective Studies

    3. Cross-Sectional Studies
      1. Merits and Demerits of Cross-Sectional Studies

    4. Comparative Performance of Prospective, Retrospective, and
    5. Cross-Sectional Studies

      1. Performance of a Prospective Study
      2. Performance of a Retrospective Study
      3. Performance of a Cross-Sectional Study

  6. Assessment of Medical Factors
    1. Intricacies of Assessment
      1. Univariate and Multifactorial Assessments
      2. Assessment in the Implementation Phase and the

      Results Phase

    2. Types of Medical Factors
      1. Distal and Proximal Factors
      2. Physiological and Pathophysiological Factors
      3. Pathological Factors and Disease

    3. Assessment of Mortality, Duration, and Quality of Life
      1. Assessment of Mortality
      2. Quality of Life and Duration

  7. Methodology of Data Collection
    1. Types of Measurements
      1. Nominal, Metric, and Ordinal Measurements
      2. Other Types of Scales for Measurement
      3. Continuous and Discrete Variables

    2. Tools of Data Collection
      1. Questionnaires, Schedules, and Proforma
      2. Interview, Examination, and Investigation

    3. Quality of Data
      1. Errors in Medical Data
      2. Reliability, Validity, and Accuracy of Data
      3. Other Aspects of Data Quality

    4. Validity of the Tools
      1. Pilot Study and Pretesting
      2. Sensitivity and Specificity of Medical Tests
      3. ROC Curves and Youden Index
      4. Predictivities and Prevalence

  8. Sampling and Sample Size
    1. Sampling Methods and Sampling for Descriptive Studies
      1. Purposive Sampling (Nonrandom Methods)
      2. Random Sampling

    2. Sampling for Analytical Studies
      1. Sampling Methods in Observational Studies
      2. Sampling Methods in Clinical Trials

    3. Sampling and Nonsampling Errors
      1. Sampling Errors
      2. Nonsampling Errors

    4. Sample Size
      1. Sample Size for Descriptive Studies
      2. Sample Size for Analytical Studies and Clinical Trials

    Appendix 1: Some Sample Size Formulas

  9. Research Protocol
    1. Structure of the Protocol
      1. Title, Researchers, Supervisors, and Collaborators
      2. Executive Summary
      3. Main Body of the Protocol
      4. Logistics and Appendices

    2. Main Body of the Protocol
      1. Specifics of the Content of the Main Body of the Protocol
      2. Further Details of the Contents of the Main Body of the Protocol

  10. Processing of Data
    1. Collation of Data and Scrutiny
      1. Uniformity of the Process of Data Collection
      2. Data Validation
      3. Master Chart and Data Entries
      4. Indexes and Scores for Individual Subjects

    2. Epidemiological Indices
      1. Rates and Ratios
      2. Prevalence and Incidence
      3. Risk, Hazard, and Odds

    3. Representative Summary Measures
      1. Summary Measures for Quantitative Data
      2. Summary Measures for Qualitative Data

    4. Tabulation and Graphics
      1. Categorization of Data and the Choice of Class Intervals
      2. Types of Data Tables
      3. Graphs and Diagrams
      4. Statistical Distribution of Medical Measurements
      5. Normal versus Abnormal Levels

  11. Statistical Analysis
    1. Confidence Intervals, P-Values, and Power
      1. CI for Proportion and Mean
      2. CI for Relative Risk and Odds Ratio
      3. Statistical Significance, P-Value, and Power

    2. Some Basic Statistical Tests
      1. Tests for Qualitative Data
      2. Tests for Quantitative Data

    3. Relationships and Regressions
      1. Dependent and Independent Variables
      2. Basics of Logistic Regression
      3. Ordinary Least Square Regression
      4. Correlation and Agreement

    4. Cause–Effect Relationships and Validation of Results
      1. Evidence of Cause–Effect
      2. Validation of the Findings

    5. Statistical Fallacies
      1. Cherry-Picking the Statistical Indices
      2. Fallacious Interpretation
      3. Statistical Errors Can Cause Many Deaths

  12. Writing a Thesis or a Paper, and Oral Presentation
    1. Effective Scientific Writing
      1. Text Style
      2. Tables
      3. Illustrations
      4. Format of a Manuscript (IMRaD)

    2. Preliminaries of a Manuscript
      1. Title
      2. Authorship Credits
      3. Keywords
      4. Abstract and Summary

    3. Main Body of the Report
      1. Writing a Suitable Introduction
      2. Explaining Materials and Methods
      3. Describing the Results
      4. Discussion of Findings and Conclusion

    4. End Features of a Report
      1. Acknowledgment Ethics
      2. Key Messages
      3. References
      4. Contribution of Authors and Conflict of Interest
      5. Appendix

    5. Oral Presentation
      1. Essentials of Effective Presentation
      2. Poster Presentation

  13. Reporting Guidelines
    1. Guidelines for Reporting of Clinical Trials (CONSORT Statement)
    2. Reporting of Observational Studies (STROBE Statement)
    3. Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD Statement)
    4. Guidelines for Reporting of Statistical Methods

    (Revised SAMPL Statement)

  14. Reporting Ethics and Peer Reviews
  15. Covering Letter

    1. Duplication
      1. Duplicate Publication
      2. Plagiarism
      3. Copyright and Permissions

    2. Conflicts and Reviews
      1. Conflict of Interest
      2. Peer Review

    3. Confidentiality and Misreporting
      1. Confidentiality
      2. Misreporting

    4. The Last Word


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Abhaya Indrayan, PhD, has been providing research guidance to medical graduates for the past 30 years and has been conducting online courses for medical professionals around the world for 15 years.


This book provides a broad overview of research methods for medical students. It covers issues related to study design, data collection and analysis, ethical considerations, and dissemination. The book touches upon the main domains of empiric research methods. It goes beyond research primers published as articles in peer-reviewed journals. Some of the book's frameworks and terms come from the author's experiences. Most would probably find standard texts on health-related research topics, which often have overview chapters, to be a better starting point when learning research basics.

Sean Tackett, MD MPH(Johns Hopkins Hospital)