Generating a Hypothesis for an Oncology Study
Choosing a relevant and useful research question is fundamental for successfully conducting clinical research. Frequently, the formulation of an interesting, feasible, and innovative question is a challenge to investigators, regardless of their scope of action. Finding the balance of having internal validity (which is essential), while at the same time maintaining external validity and taking into account the risks involved, are some of the main requirements when planning a research study. Some useful tools that may guide researchers throughout this process are the FINER (Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, and Relevant) criteria and the PICOT (Population of interest, Intervention, by describing the Comparison group, Outcome of interest, and the Time required to assess the outcome) format. By using these tools, investigators are able to develop an adequate research question and, as a consequence, formulate hypotheses that have a scientific impact. In oncology, owing to the complex mechanisms of cancer, the difficulty lies in finding a research question that is simultaneously feasible and interesting. This chapter discusses the thinking processes required to define a research question in the field of oncology, the framework on which to build the question, its potential risks, and the main aspects of strong hypotheses in this field.
KeywordsResearch question Research hypothesis Clinical trial Clinical research Oncology
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