Start a Research Project
Welcome to VCH Research. This section outlines the services and information available and provides specific instructions for obtaining ethics approval for your project as well as local institutional approval. You will also be able to identify appropriate individuals who can answer your questions as you proceed with your project.
1. Search the Literature
Use the UBC on-line library or the Electronic Health Library of BC to find the information you need. If you are not familiar with these resources, ask a librarian for help. You can also go to the list of subject guides, compiled by UBC librarians, classified by subject. Choose your area of interest from the list.
- Education & Events: VCH Research offers a wide range of education and events for researchers
- HighWire Press
- Try using Scirus, a powerful new search engine developed by Elsevier Science for locating scientific information only. Scirus delivers relevant search results because it focuses on scientific information, indexes complete documents, searches the whole Web including >>access-controlled sites, and reads non-test files like PDF.
- Evidence Based Nursing on line
- PubMed Tutorial
What should you read?
Read the most recent review you can find.
Use OVID or Pubmed to do a thorough literature search on your topic of interest and read as much of the recent material as you can.
Find the recent publications of authors of work directly relevant to you, and scan the recent issues of the journals that publish work in your area. Keep up to date with those authors and journals throughout the preparation of your project proposal and beyond.
After you have digested the literature, you may need to revisit your research question.
|Ask a librarian for help: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Teresa Lee||Biomedical Branch Library, VGH site (Mon & Fri) and Woodward Library, UBC (Tues, Wed & Thurs)||email@example.com||604-875-4505 (VGH) and 604-822-4442 (UBC)|
|Sally Taylor||Woodward Library, UBCfirstname.lastname@example.org||604-822-6638|
|Pat Boileau||CIBC Patient & Family Resource Centreemail@example.com||604-875-5887|
|Shannon Long||Librarian, Vancouver Coastal Healthfirstname.lastname@example.org||604-244-5165|
2. What's the Question?
You've made a clinical observation that leads to a question you would like to answer. Formulate the question as clearly as you can, making sure you understand exactly what patient population you are interested in and what result(s) are important. Your question will help you choose the type of method you will use.
Criteria for a good research question.
After you have determined your question, do a literature search again to verify your question.
Consider the ethical implications of your question before you go too far. Be sure you aren't proposing something for which ethics approval will be difficult to obtain.
Finer Criteria for a Good Research Question
Feasible (Adequate number of subjects.)
- Adequate technical expertise.
- Affordable in time and money
- Manageable in scope.
Interesting (To the investigators.)
Novel (Confirms or refutes previous findings.)
- Extends previous findings.
- Provides new findings.
Relevant (To scientific knowledge.)
- To clinical and health policy.
- To future research directions.
3. Build a Research Team
You will probably need a team of colleagues to undertake a research project. You can build your team at any point during the planning stage of your project, but it is better to start early. Here are some tips on teambuilding:
- Find an experienced researcher who shares your interests. As a novice, you will certainly need someone to guide you and lend credibility to the process.
- Look for colleagues from several disciplines, if possible. Although not mandatory, working with other disciplines can enrich the project. Further, funding opportunities may be better.
- Every team needs a leader. Be sure everyone on the team is clear on who that is, but be sure to listen to the ideas and suggestions of everyone on the team.
- Document the responsibilities of each member of the team.
- Early in the process, decide on authorship of publication(s) that will result from your work. Arguments about authorship afterward can leave lasting animosities.
- Even if some people you approach aren't able to be part of your team, ask them if they could be consultants on your project. If they have expertise that is important to your success, they may be willing to offer advice and serve as a knowledgeable reader of your proposal. Get any commitments in writing.
- Make sure the size of your team and the locations and working schedules of the members makes meetings practical.
- After the team is established, you may want to revisit the research question.
Clinical Epidemiology (C2E2) has consultants to help with your research projects.
Here are other resources for Methodology / Statistics support:
- British Columbia Institute of Technology: Clinical Research Program provides classroom and distance education for clinical research professionals.
- Research Skills for Health Professionals: Self-directed courses offered by Simon Fraser University Continuing Education.
- StatSoft Electronic Textbook: Basic Statistics Lessons on the Web.
- Supercourse: Web based training in epidemiology, biostatistics, and internet and global health. This site is an international collaboration by over 100 researchers to produce web based training in a variety of topics of interest to researchers.
- Learn more about qualitative research methods.
- Resource guide for Evidence-based Practice
4. Meet with a Consultant
After you are thoroughly versed in the relevant literature and you have a clear research question, you should meet with a consultant.
- Before you do, read the Guidelines for Being a Good Client.
Research Consulting Services are available for investigators at VCH. Ask a methodologist or statistician to help you with your project!
Guidelines for Being a Good Client
These points reflect the experience of the consultants in the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation of VCH Research Institute (VGH Site). Adherence to them will help you get the most out of the time you spend with your consultant.
- Know your question. When you begin to think about a research problem, it is useful to construct your question as a hypothesis. State the research question in as exact terms as you can. Be very specific about your outcome measures, and understand the clinical significance of the result: What result would make you (and your colleagues) change your clinical practice?
- Seek the help you need right at the beginning of your project. Never gather data and then expect help from a statistician and/or methodologist to make sense of it all, or tell you whether the result is 'significant' or not.
- Be realistic. Give your consultant enough time and information to provide meaningful assistance. Don't call at the last minute and try to get information over the phone. Unless you have already spent time discussing your project with a consultant, there are no "quick questions"!
- Don't expect the consultant to do the project for you. You must be prepared to bring your own skills, time and effort to the project. Be sure that someone on your team has experience doing the type of project that you are proposing. While your consultant can guide you and make suggestions, they can't do it for you.
- Call your consultant if you can't make it to your appointment. This is just good manners.
5. Obtain Grant Funding
Begin to prepare your grant at least 3 months in advance of the deadline date. Give yourself 6 months if you are a novice and/or there are many people who will contribute to the proposal. Note that CIHR applications require submission of an Intent to Apply one month in advance of the grant deadline.
Write a two page outline of your project.
Circulate it among all team members, as well as an expert in the field who is not involved. This should be straightforward as you have already clearly defined your question and done your literature search. Make sure the methods and significance of your project are very clear.
Use your outline to write the full proposal.
Refer to tips and guidelines to help you. Take a workshop (internal link) if you need more information.
6. Ethics Approval and Approval to Conduct Research
In order to start your research project you will need Ethics Approval and VCH Approvals to Conduct Research.
The UBC Office of Research Ethics provides you with all of the information you will need to understand the Ethics Process.
Ms. Shirley Thompson
Manager, Behavioural Research Ethics Board
University of British Columbia
Ms. Pia Ganz
Manager, Clinical Research Ethics Board
University of British Columbia
In addition, to prepare your Ethics Application the VCH Research – Clinical Research Unit can assist you.
- Information on Privacy Best Practice in Health Research: www.ors.ubc.ca/ethics/privacy/index.htm
- Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics: www.pre.ethics.gc.ca
VCH Approval to Conduct Research
Everything you need to know to obtain VCH Operational Approval of Research is explained in this section. All of the required forms are also linked here.
Tips and Guidelines for Grant Writers
Find many web & print resources for writing grants in the UBC Library Subject Resources page.
A Subject Resources page for Grant Writing and Funding put together by the BioMedical Librarian at VGH
Faculty of Medicine resources on "Grantsmanship": www.med.ubc.ca/research.htm
Have Your Grant Pre-Reviewed Before it Goes to the Agency
Ask someone who is not an expert in the field to read it and comment. Give them plenty of time to do it, and give yourself time to revise before the deadline.
7. Other Useful Resources
Tips and Guidelines
- UBC Writing Centre offers courses and on-line writing resources.
- Instructions to authors in the Health Sciences: Links to instructions for more than 3,000 journals
- Assistance with Scientific Posters: Online Bachelor Degree Programs
Clinical Research Professional Development (CRPD) Program
The CRPD is an education initiative led by a group of individuals committed to developing a program that supports the professional development of clinical research coordinators from the Lower Mainland's teaching hospitals' research institutes.
The CRPD Resources was produced by the CRPD team and provides professional development resources for clinical research coordinators and includes the workshops that will be offered in 2011.
- Nursing Research Facilitator. VCH and PHC welcome Aggie Black, RN, MPH, our new Nursing Research Facilitator. Please click here to read more about this new role.
- InspireNet. Innovative Nursing Services and Practice Informed by Research & Evaluation Network. InspireNet is a new initiative to form a BC nursing health services research network. Please click here to read more about this new network.
- CIHR has three knowledge translation online learning modules that are now freely available on the CIHR knowledge translation website. The three modules: A Guide to Researcher and Knowledge User Collaboration in Health Research, Introduction to Evidence-Informed Decision Making and Critical Appraisal of Intervention Studies.
- Free e-books for doctors and others.
- CIHR's homepage. A link to everything a Researcher needs from "what to apply for" to "final decisions" all on one page. Visit CIHR homepage now!
- Resources for nursing and other health disciplines.
- Researcher Admin
- Policies & Guidelines
- Clinical Trials Administration
- Operational Approval of Research
- Financial Administration
- Health & Safety
- Intellectual Property
- Funding Opportunities
- Education & Events
- All Forms