Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University

Patient & Public Engagement

Developing the research plan

Brochure Cover

How can Patient and Public Research Partners contribute to developing a research plan?

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What is a research plan?

A research study starts with planning:
• the research questions
• the research methods
• details such as:

  •  funding (how much will this cost?)
  • scheduling (how long will this take?) 
  • recruitment (how to find and recruit participants?) 
  • collecting and analysing data (how to gather information?) 
  • preparing results (how to share findings?)

What are research questions?

“Research questions” are clear and focused questions about a topic. There are three common types of health and social care research questions:

Exploratory research questions aim to learn about an experience or event. They focus on discovering new ideas and insights.

Descriptive research questions try to learn about how often something occurs or how much it happens, so that researchers can draw conclusions about the group they are interested in.

Explanatory research questions try to find answers to explain why things occur, to predict future events, and to compare different interventions.

Why do research questions matter?

Because the research questions guide:
• what the study will be about
• how researchers will answer the questions and
• which outcomes will be explored.

A Testimonial from a Patient and Public Research Partner

“It was important to see where my role as a caregiver sits and how it can be helpful to inform the research. Finding the answers together – maybe that’s the best thing about research – sharing information between researchers and partners”.

- An ACHRU Caregiver Research Partner

How can you help?

Some ways that Patient and Public Research Partners can contribute to the development of the research plan include: • Helping researchers figure out the questions they should be asking and what outcomes are important
• Helping to write a grant application. Grants provide funding to complete the research project
• Helping to inform applications to research ethics board. These boards must approve the research plan and ensure ethical standards are met.

Will you be paid and acknowledged?

Absolutely! As a Patient and Public Research Partner, you will be paid for your time and travel costs. Your input will be acknowledged, as we value your insights.

What is your commitment?

You can decide with the research team what activities interest you most. As a research partner, you can decide how much time you can commit. You can decide when you want to start and stop taking part in the research.