Starting Your Research Project: From Problem to Theory to Question

  • Jeffrey J. H. Cheung
  • Tavis Apramian
  • Ryan Brydges


This chapter represents a guide for how to start a meaningful research project in simulation-based education. Rather than a checklist for conducting research, we introduce how to begin your foray into research, and how to think like a principal investigator. Conducting high quality research takes more time and assistance than most expect. For novice researchers reading this chapter, we suggest you first aim to produce impactful research with the help of your collaborators, as a co-investigator, before taking on the role of principal investigator. We emphasize use of theory to guide your research project and to lay the foundations for a research career with longevity. We argue that focusing on theory will help distill your research problems into research questions that align with established methodologies and methods to provide meaningful answers. We believe strongly that using theory ensures findings from a single research project can transcend their original context, providing meaningful insights to researchers and educators writ large. We also acknowledge the challenges of using theory, and note the need to develop a strong, well-rounded research team with the requisite resources, time, and expertise (in theory and clinical education).


Theory Conceptual framework Research Research program Research question Methodology Methods 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey J. H. Cheung
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tavis Apramian
    • 3
  • Ryan Brydges
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.The Wilson Centre, Toronto General HospitalUniversity Health Network and University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical EducationUniversity of Illinois at Chicago College of MedicineChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family MedicineMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.The Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital – Unity Health TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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