Planning your research

Resources to help you from initial question through ethical considerations

The quality of a research paper depends primarily on the quality of the research study it reports. However, there is also much that authors can do to maximise the clarity and usefulness of their papers.

The research question

The research question should be stated clearly, along with an explanation of where it came from and why it is important.  [ … ]

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Clear reporting of methodology

Over many years Doug Altman, professor of medical statistics, and other methodologists have come to the rescue through publications on study design and analysis and through developing standardised ways of reporting research clearly and fully.  [ … ]

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Trial registration

Thorough and transparent reporting of clinical trials is particularly important. Their results underpin many clinical policies and funding decisions about treatments,and it is vital that their findings are robust and reliable.  [ … ]

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Publication ethics

Another important issue to sort out at the planning stage – as well as ensuring that the study will be conducted in an ethical manner – is to agree on a publication plan among all the investigators.  [ … ]

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Scientific misconduct

There are differing definitions of scientific misconduct. We deal with these problems at BMJ on a case by case basis while following guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).  [ … ]

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Competing interests

Finding the right way to encourage authors to declare any relevant interests is a thorny issue, but it’s one worth tackling.  [ … ]

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From research to publication

85% of health research is wasted: how to do great research, get it published, and improve health outcomes.  [ … ]

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