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Henry Ford Hospital Nursing Research Toolkit

This toolkit is a guide for investigators who are interested in planning, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating nursing research projects. Each of the grey tabs represents a page that can be printed.

Quantitative Method - Identifying and Refining the Research Question

  1. Identify the problem and decide on a research question
  2. Initiate a literature search and review the literature
  3. Identify a theoretical framework to guide the study
  4. Formulate a hypothesis (a predicted statement of researcher's expectations or predictions about relationships among variables). Non-intervention studies don't have a hypothesis  because introducing a testable intervention/treatment is not part of the research)

Design and Planning

  1. Decide on a research design (overall plan for obtaining answers to research questions)
    1. Where will data be collected?
    2. How often will data be collected?
    3. What outcomes will be measured?
    4. What strategies will be used to minimize bias?
  2. Develop protocols for the intervention
    1. Decide exactly what the treatment or intervention will involve
    2. Who will administer it?
    3. How frequently?
    4. Over what time frame?
    5. Identify what the alternative (control group) condition is
  3. Identify the population to be studied
  4. Design the sampling plan. The sample is a representative subset of the population: how will the sample be selected, recruited, and how many participants will there be?
  5. Specify methods to measure research variables: Will data be collected using self-reports, observations or biophysiological measures?
  6. It's always, always better to use a data collection instrument that's reliable and valid instead of creating your own instrument. Valid, reliable tools are precise instruments that have been tested for reliability (results are consistent) and validity (concept is accurately measured).
  7. Safeguarding subjects: protecting the rights of participants begins with submitting an Internal Review Board (IRB) application to ensure that human rights are protected.
  8. Finalizing the research plan. Ask other researchers to review the study protocol. It's also helpful to pretest measuring instruments with a small pilot group to identify problems that may occur. 

Data Collection / Preparing for Analysis

  1. Collecting the data
    1. Who will collect the data?
    2. When and where will data be collected?
    3. How will the study be described to participants?
    4. How will the information be recorded? 
  2. Preparing the data for analysis: who will code/prepare and enter data for analysis?


  1. Analyzing the data

Consult with a statistician: If you have decided on a research question and are planning a research study, the next step is to meet with a Biostatistician.  A Biostatistician can assist with turning your research question into a statistical question that is focused on outcomes that can be tested and measured. They will also determine the appropriate sample size for your study. Check with your unit manager to make sure the Biostats meeting can be billed to your unit cost center. 

Henry Ford Health Public Health Sciences (PHS) can assist with this step. 

Interpretation of Results

  1. Interpretation of results involves making sense of the study results and examining implications of the study results and how the results can be used.
    1. Cathy Draus: at the Center for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice (H101 Main campus) can assist with interpretation of statistical results. 


  1. Sharing the findings. A study can't make a difference in practice until findings are shared. Even if the study didn't turn out as anticipated, this is still useful information.
    1. Prepare manuscript for journal submission or apply to present a poster or podium presentation at a conference
    2. See more information on dissemination: 
  2. Translating the findings in practice
    1. Plan for the use of the evidence in the practice setting and make recommendations in your article or presentation as to how the evidence can be translated into practice. It's also important to indicate the implications your study has for nursing practice