Research: From idea to publication



research, publishing, publications


We present a fifteen-step process to assist in taking an idea to a research publication. This process ensures that evidence-based medicine practice is followed to prevent redundant research questions. The steps are the following: Step 1 – Identify broad research ideas with a potentially ‘weak’ evidence base, rather than starting with a specific research question. Step 2 – Identify the knowledge gap within the intended field of research by examining the background literature. Step 3 – Focus on the ‘foreground knowledge’ to frame a potential research question. Step 4 – Conduct a comprehensive literature search, to determine whether the question has been asked before, and if so, if the research was robust. Step 5 – Write a study one-page summary which provides a succinct summary of what you intend to do. Step 6 – Learn how to pitch your research idea. Step 7 – Write the protocol. The rigid process of protocol writing will ensure that a number of important practical study issues are dealt with timeously. Step 8 – Discuss the protocol with experts. Their input will make your protocol more robust. Step 9 – Consider the data points, statistical analysis plan and a potential process evaluation. This will ensure no data redundancy which often compromises research projects in resource-limited environments. Step 10 – Make a ‘social contract’ committing oneself publicly to the project. Step 11 – Write a grant application. This allows identification of funding priorities of potential grant funding agencies, thereby allowing the researcher to frame their research in such a manner to hopefully ensure the financial support necessary for the success of the project. Step 12 – Ensure that the research protocol is publicly visible, which increases the integrity of the project. Step 13 – Conduct the research, which requires education, communication and steering committee meetings to ensure early identification of study conduct problems. Step 14 – Analyse the data according to the statistical analysis plan. Step 15 – Write a good manuscript.

Author Biographies

BM Biccard, University of Cape Town

Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

RN Rodseth, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Jones Bhagwan and Partners, South Africa






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