Research design is a plan to answer your research question. Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify/collect, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. Research methods are strategies used to implement the research design.
This section provides an overview of the several different types of research designs categorized into three main types-quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods.
Choosing the appropriate research design
Research design is a plan for your entire research process that defines the research topic, purpose and scope as well as the type of study best suited to answer your research question. It also incorporates the most suited research methods and procedures.
- Summary: From Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd Ed.). Chapter one: A Framework for Design, pp. 3-26.
- Journal article: Frieden, T. R. (2017). Evidence for health decision making—beyond randomized, controlled trials. New England Journal of Medicine, 377(5), 465-475.
- Presentation: Basic and Advanced Designs in Primary Care Research – Dr. Ric Angeles, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Presentation: Research Study Design 101 for Primary Care by Drs. Michelle Howard and Gina Agarwal, Faculty Spring Retreat
Additional resources about some specific quantitative methods
Research with health administrative data
- Presentation: Using health administrative data for primary care research – Dr. Michelle Howard and Shuaib Hafid, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Presentation: Geographic information systems and health research – Shuaib Hafid, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Resource: Navigation Guide to Primary Care Data Sources – This guide introduces Canadian data sources that can be used for secondary analyses to answer research questions relating to primary care.
- Presentation: Validating tools – Dr. Matt Kwan and Jeffrey Graham, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Presentation: Designing and administering surveys by Dr. Michelle Howard
- Journal article: Artino Jr, A. R., La Rochelle, J. S., Dezee, K. J., & Gehlbach, H. (2014). Developing questionnaires for educational research: AMEE Guide No. 87. Medical teacher, 36(6), 463-474.
- Journal article: Rickards, G., Magee, C., & Artino Jr, A. R. (2012). You can’t fix by analysis what you’ve spoiled by design: developing survey instruments and collecting validity evidence. Journal of graduate medical education, 4(4), 407-410.
Research with medical chart data: Retrospective Chart Reviews
- Presentation: Retrospective Chart Reviews by Dr. Michelle Howard and Jeffrey Templeton, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Journal article: Matt, V., & Matthew, H. (2013). The retrospective chart review: important methodological considerations. Journal of educational evaluation for health professions, 10.
- Tutorial: McMaster Chart Review Research Ethics Tutorial
- Successful completion of this tutorial is required before your application for retrospective Review will be reviewed by the HiREB. The tutorial takes about 15 minutes to complete and contains guidance for researchers, several privacy scenarios, a quiz with 5 questions and a certificate of completion.
- Book Chapter: Creswell, J. W. (2007). Five qualitative approaches to inquiry. In J. W. Creswell (Eds.) Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (pp. 53-84). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
- To borrow a copy of this book, contact Neha Arora
- Presentation: Introduction to Qualitative Research – Dr. Meredith Vanstone, Spring Retreat
- Presentation: Overview of Qualitative Methods – Dr. Meredith Vanstone, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Book: Giacomini M. Theory matters in qualitative health research. The SAGE handbook of qualitative methods in health research. 2010 Aug 19:125-56.
- Presentation: Grounded Theory, Phenomenology & Narrative Methodologies: Designing methodologically rigorous qualitative studies – Dr. Meredith Vanstone, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
Additional resources about some specific qualitative methods
- Journal article: Sandelowski, M. (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in nursing & health, 23(4), 334-340.
- Journal article: Sandelowski, M. (2010). What’s in a name? Qualitative description revisited. Research in nursing & health, 33(1), 77-84.
- Journal article: Elo, S., & Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of advanced nursing, 62(1), 107-115.
- Journal article: Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative health research, 15(9), 1277-1288.
- Journal article: Assarroudi, A., Heshmati Nabavi, F., Armat, M. R., Ebadi, A., & Vaismoradi, M. (2018). Directed qualitative content analysis: the description and elaboration of its underpinning methods and data analysis process. Journal of Research in Nursing, 23(1), 42-55.
Reflexivity and rigour in qualitative research
- Journal article: Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2020). One size fits all? What counts as quality practice in (reflexive) thematic analysis?. Qualitative research in psychology, 1-25.
- Journal article: Schwandt, T. A., Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (2007). Judging interpretations: But is it rigorous? Trustworthiness and authenticity in naturalistic evaluation. New directions for evaluation, 114, 11-25.
- Journal article: Hamberg, K., Johansson, E., Lindgren, G., & Westman, G. (1994). Scientific rigour in qualitative research—examples from a study of women’s health in family practice. Family Practice, 11(2), 176-181.
Mixed methods design
- Journal article: Creswell, J. W., Fetters, M. D., & Ivankova, N. V. (2004). Designing a mixed methods study in primary care. The Annals of Family Medicine, 2(1), 7-12.
- Journal article: Borkan, J. M. (2004). Mixed methods studies: a foundation for primary care research. The Annals of Family Medicine, 2(1), 4-6.
- Journal article: Sandelowski, M. (2000). Combining qualitative and quantitative sampling, data collection, and analysis techniques in mixed‐method studies. Research in nursing & health, 23(3), 246-255.
This section includes information about the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HiREB) and different types of HiREB applications and processes to apply for them. It also includes resources related to research involving Indigenous communities and data ownership.
- Tip sheet: DFM HiREB Application Review Process
- Presentation: HiREB Applications and Resubmissions Presenter – Janice Sancan, Research Ethics Officer at the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Journal article: Emanuel, E. J., Wendler, D., & Grady, C. (2000). What makes clinical research ethical?. Jama, 283(20), 2701-2711.*
Additional – Working with specific populations
- Presentation: Indigenous Data Ownership – Research Data Canada Webinar
- Presentation: Research involving Indigenous Communities – Renee Corbiere, Research Huddle [Video | Slides]
Population and Sample Considerations
This section provides guidance on sample size calculation, sampling techniques and participant recruitment.
- Learning module: Sample Size Considerations Module – University of British Columbia
- Learning module: R LeFebvre (2011). P Values, Statistical Significance & Clinical Significance – University of Western States
- Journal article: Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). To saturate or not to saturate? Questioning data saturation as a useful concept for thematic analysis and sample-size rationales. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 13(2), 201-216.*
- Journal article: Saunders, B., Sim, J., Kingstone, T., Baker, S., Waterfield, J., Bartlam, B., … & Jinks, C. (2018). Saturation in qualitative research: exploring its conceptualization and operationalization. Quality & quantity, 52(4), 1893-1907.
- Journal article: Malterud, K., Siersma, V. D., & Guassora, A. D. (2016). Sample size in qualitative interview studies: guided by information power. Qualitative health research, 26(13), 1753-1760.*
- Journal article: Sharma, G. (2017). Pros and cons of different sampling techniques. International journal of applied research, 3(7), 749-752.
- Journal article: Campbell, M. K., Mollison, J., Steen, N., Grimshaw, J. M., & Eccles, M. (2000). Analysis of cluster randomized trials in primary care: a practical approach. Family practice, 17(2), 192-196.
- Journal article: Moberg, J., & Kramer, M. (2015). A brief history of the cluster randomised trial design. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 108(5), 192-198.
- Toolkit: Cluster Randomized Trials. NIH Pragmatic Trials Collaboratory
- Journal article: Robinson, O. C. (2014). Sampling in interview-based qualitative research: A theoretical and practical guide. Qualitative research in psychology, 11(1), 25-41.*
- Journal article: Bower, P., Wallace, P., Ward, E., Graffy, J., Miller, J., Delaney, B., & Kinmonth, A. L. (2009). Improving recruitment to health research in primary care. Family practice, 26(5), 391-397.
- Journal article: Stuardi, T., Cox, H., & Torgerson, D. J. (2011). Database recruitment: a solution to poor recruitment in randomized trials?. Family practice, 28(3), 329-333.
- Journal article: Wilson, S., Draper, H., & Ives, J. (2008). Ethical issues regarding recruitment to research studies within the primary care consultation. Family practice, 25(6), 456-461.
- Journal article: Patel, M. X., Doku, V., & Tennakoon, L. (2003). Challenges in recruitment of research participants. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 9(3), 229-238
- Journal article: Page, S. J., & Persch, A. C. (2013). Recruitment, retention, and blinding in clinical trials. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(2), 154-161.*
- Presentation: Responding to Sensitive Health & Social Issues – Laura Cleghorn & Jessica Gaber, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder
- Journal article: Dunn, D. S., & Andrews, E. E. (2015). Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language. American Psychologist, 70(3), 255.*
- Journal article: Katz, A. S., Hardy, B. J., Firestone, M., Lofters, A., & Morton-Ninomiya, M. E. (2020). Vagueness, power and public health: use of ‘vulnerable ‘in public health literature. Critical Public Health, 30(5), 601-611.*
Decolonizing Research Methodologies
Decolonizing research is a process of conducting research with Indigenous communities that places Indigenous voices and epistemologies in the center of the research process. There is no fixed path for decolonizing research methodologies, publications in the section provide a broad framework for decolonizing methodologies and research paradigms
- Book: Potts, K. & Brown, L. (2015). Becoming an anti-oppressive researcher. In S Strega and L Brown, Research as resistance: Revisiting critical, Indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches (2nd Ed.). pp. 255-286. Canadian Scholars’ Press.
- Journal Article: Held, M. B. (2019). Decolonizing research paradigms in the context of settler colonialism: An unsettling, mutual, and collaborative effort. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 1609406918821574.
- Journal Article: Gerlach, A. (2018). Thinking and researching relationally: Enacting decolonizing methodologies with an indigenous early childhood program in Canada. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1609406918776075.
- Presentation: Indigenous Ways of Knowing: How should we conduct research together? – Dr. Amy Montour, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
Type of partnership approach where individuals as patients or communities are engaged in research as members of the research team to help shape the research priorities, scope, implementation and outcomes.
- Guide: PERC Advisory Board (October 2017). Building Patient Engagement in Research: A Guide for Research Teams. A product of the INSPIRE-PHC Patient Engagement Resource Centre (PERC)
- Presentation: Principled Community Engaged Research at McMaster by C. A. Klassen, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Video | Slides]
- Journal Article: Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (1998). Review of community-based research: assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual review of public health, 19(1), 173-202.
- Presentation: Working with the experts – involving people with lived and living experience in research by Dr. Claire Bodkin and Jammy Pierre, Research Knowledge and Skill Builder [Slides | Video | Resources]
- Presentation: QI in Primary Care — When, how, and how is it different from research? by Drs. Dale Guenter and Kathryn Cottrell [Video | Slides]
Implementation and Evaluation
- Presentation: Implementation Science in Family Medicine by Drs. Henry Siu and Dee Mangin [Video]
*DFM faculty members can access full text articles from the McMaster Health Sciences Library using your MacID. To request your MacID, or if you’re having issues, please email Faculty Relations at email@example.com.