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Before You Start Your Research: Research Methods

Learn about how to publish in a scholarly journal

Research Methods Texts in UHN Libraries

There is a lot to know about any given research method - too much for one page.  Here are some books about research methods in UHN Library collections - you can also search OneSearch for more books, book chapters, guidelines and journal articles.

Qualitative Reseach in the Health Professions
Essential Concepts in Clinical Research
Fundamentals of evidence-based health care and translational science
Clinical Trials, Second Edition
Nursing research in Canada: methods, critical appraisal, and utilization
Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research 6th Ed

Brief Guides for Specific Publication Types

An abstract or summary of a scientific article or report that is organized or structured in well-defined sections. A typical sequence of sections includes some or all of the following: “Objectives” or “Aims,” “Design,” “Setting,” “Subjects,” “Main outcome measures,” “Results,” and “Conclusions.” The structured abstract is intended to be comprehensive and to provide a logical order for the presentation of a scientific communication. Structured abstracts are required by many journals.


Alspach JG. Writing for Publication 101: Why the Abstract Is So Important. Crit Care Nurse. 2017;37(4):12-5.  

Cook DA, Bordage G. Twelve tips on writing abstracts and titles: How to get people to use and cite your work. Medical teacher. 2016;38(11):1100-4.   

von Elm E. Writing the abstract: completeness and accuracy matter. European journal of anaesthesiology. 2011;28(7):483-4.    

Ferreira JC, Patino CM. Twelve tips to write an abstract for a conference: advice for young and experienced investigators. Jornal brasileiro de pneumologia : publicacao oficial da Sociedade Brasileira de Pneumologia e Tisilogia. 2018;44(4):260.   

Fowler J. Writing for professional publication. Part 11: writing conference abstracts. British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing). 2011;20(7):451.    

Frazer A. How to write an effective conference abstract. Emergency nurse : the journal of the RCN Accident and Emergency Nursing Association. 2012;20(1):30-1.  

Detailed descriptions of a few patients or clinical cases (frequently, just one sick person) with an unsual disease or complication, uncommon combinations of diseases, an unusual or misleading Semiology, cause, or outcome (maybe a surprising recovery). They often are preliminary observations that are later refuted. They cannot estimate disease frequency or risk (e.g., for lack of a valid Denominator).


Rison RA. A guide to writing case reports for the Journal of Medical Case Reports and BioMed Central Research Notes. Journal of medical case reports. 2013;7:239.   

Sun Z. Tips for writing a case report for the novice author. Journal of medical radiation sciences. 2013;60(3):108-13.  

A detailed analysis of the occurrence, development, and outcome of a particular problem or innovation, often over a period of time. A detailed description of a concrete situation requiring ethical analysis, judgment, and—sometimes—action


Fowler J. Writing for professional publication. Part 9: using client case studies. British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing). 2011;20(5):330.    

Aitken LM, Marshall AP. Writing a case study: ensuring a meaningful contribution to the literature. Australian critical care : official journal of the Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses. 2007;20(4):132-6.   

Simmons MP. Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Reply Paper. PLoS computational biology. 2015;11(10):e1004536.   


The plan, or set of steps, to be followed in a study or investigation or in an intervention program.

Research Proposal

A document prepared by a research agency for a prospective customer outlining in detail the programmes of research, its objectives, its methodology, and project timescales and costs that the agency proposes to carry out on behalf of the customer.


Guyatt G. Preparing a research protocol to improve chances for success. Journal of clinical epidemiology. 2006;59(9):893-9.   

Karlik SJ. How to develop and critique a research protocol. AJR American journal of roentgenology. 2001;176(6):1375-80.   

Lengauer T, Nussinov R. How to write a presubmission inquiry. PLoS computational biology. 2015;11(2):e1004098.  

Glossary Terms

Definitions appearing in this guide are drawn from A Dictionary of Epidemiology, 5th ed. Oxford University Press.

A dictionary of epidemiology. 6th ed. edited for the International Epidemiological Association by Miquel Porta ; associate editors, Sander Greenland, John M. Last. New York: Oxford University Press; 2016.