How to Get Started: From Idea to Research Question

  • Lachlan M. Batty
  • Timothy Lording
  • Eugene T. Ek


Developing a clinically relevant, structured, and answerable research question is a prerequisite when conducting clinical research. It is paramount in developing any type of investigation and has implications on study design, implementation, and applicability in the clinical environment. Confirming a paucity in knowledge and literature is important in the progression from initial idea to research question. The FINER (Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, and Relevant) criteria are important elements to consider when developing an idea into a clinical investigation. The PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) approach is a useful tool for structuring a research question. Clear definitions and descriptions for each of the PICO elements are critical in the development of a good research question. Based on the question, a subsequent hypothesis should be accompanying, which can either be accepted or rejected based on the results of the subsequent investigation.


Clinical question Research question Hypothesis testing Dependent variable Independent variable PICO 


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© ISAKOS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lachlan M. Batty
    • 1
    • 2
  • Timothy Lording
    • 3
  • Eugene T. Ek
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of OrthopaedicsSt Vincent’s Hospital MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsWestern HealthMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Melbourne Orthopaedic GroupMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryMonash Medical Centre, Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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