Developing a Research Hypothesis

Excellent research begins with a clear hypothesis which can be examined by the generation of new data by state-of-the-arts techniques. The hypothesis should be original and one which will generate substantial interest if answered by leading investigators in the field. It is not excellent research to investigate an hypothesis which is highly predictable or expected or in which there would be little interest. A review of the literature or review of patients' charts may be the source of data used for a thesis. However, the basic requirement still applies. There must be a hypothesis which can be supported or rejected on the basis of data gleaned from the patients' records or published literature. These data should be subjected to statistical analysis, and the results should either confirm or reject the original hypothesis. As with any other thesis, a review of the literature and a section dealing with the interpretation of the data and a discussion of its importance should be included. A literature review cannot be a simple narrative describing the information obtained from these sources.

Developing a Clinical Research Project

Opportunities are available for you to pursue a thesis project in either basic or clinical research. Clinical research is less completely “controllable,” and is therefore more subject to potential confounders and sources of bias. However, clinical research offers the advantage of more direct clinical relevance. Whatever topic you choose, you can likely find a qualified advisor in the medical school. But an advisor knowledgeable in your area of interest may or may not have a strong background in research methods. If they do not, you should be prepared to follow a systematic process in the development of your project to be sure the results are what you intend.

Click here to for the Developing a Clinical Research Protocol: The Survival Guide.