Where do research ideas come from?

The question which research we have to do is addressed not only to the researchers but also to the policy makers and investors in health sector who must decide which studies they should encourage and support.  Good research ideas are the result of using knowledge, scientific findings, activities and attitudes of the researchers.

  • Search in medical texts

The following suggestions can be helpful for finding suitable research subjects:

  • The study of medical texts and review articles that distinguish the difference between researches.
  • Participation in scientific conferences.
  • The students’ questions often entail good ideas for research.
  • Work in a team, your coworkers or the professors of academic disciplines can provide the spark for research ideas.
  • The researches should have updated information about the interests of investing institutions.
  • To become specialist in a limited field of study.
  • Be a good observer.
  • Be ambitious and a dreamer.
  • Be curious and sceptic when reading scientific findings. Science should not be considered sacred, rather it should be questioned and approached by doubt.


Before starting the research, the scientific texts should be fully explored and read. Today the medical tests are like a jungle through which navigation is very difficult. To keep up with the myriads of latest academic texts is difficult. Annually around 2 million article is published in more than 20 thousand of biology and medicine related journals. Such a big volume of articles has led to the appearance of indexing and abstracting services.

English language has turned to the common language of scientific communications. Therefore, all those who are active in international realms must have the ability to read and understand English. Today computer knowledge has become a must, because online searches have substituted traditional search methods.    

Libraries have spread widely and are no longer the repertoires of printed books, rather they have categorized their documents and are archived based on subject matter, authors and titles. General and collage libraries are part of network of libraries. This network has facilitated the access to whole documents, because they can easily lend books to other libraries through an interlibrary loan system.  

  1. Innovations for the growth of access to scientific texts

Free access

Free access to scientific data was among the primary issues in world information society agenda held in 2003 in Geneva.  The envoys of 176 countries signed a statement to attempt to make it possible for everyone to get free access to scientific findings, production and dissemination of scientific data and scientific sources.  

Access to novel researches through health internetwork access to research initiative (HINARI)

Health problems in developing countries is better to be solved by the help of researches of the same countries; those who know better what issues should be presented and who can find the solution. For this reason, these people need to have access to the international repertoire of scientific findings. In developing countries most of organizations responsible in the health realm don’t have access to international scientific journals or have limited access because they cannot afford the subscription fee. 

World Health Organization (WHO) have priority to increase access to scientific information, that is why it has created HINARI association by the collaboration of 6 major publication (Blackwell PublishingElsevier, the HarcourtWolters KluwerSpringer Science+Business Media, and John Wiley & Sons ) to get free access to these publishers’ journals for the people in developing countries.

The direct connection to HINARI journal has been done by the United States National Library of Medicine through PubMed. More information about HINARI is available in http://www.healthinternetwork.net.

The virtual library of health studies in east Mediterranean region

The WHO office in east Mediterranean region has done a breakthrough via virtual network. The aim of this network is to make it available for vast majority of people to have affordable access to health and medical biology documents. Now it is available to most member countries of the region and they all are allowed to have activity in the virtual network. Previously a group from central libraries has shown interest in participation in this network. Researchers can have access to these services via http://www.emro.who.int/HIS/VHSL/Index.htm.

PubMed Central

National Library of Medicine(NLM) has provided the free and online access to full biological sciences articles. This widespread network offers the access to reviewed articles in the field of biological science from its general achieve via internet. The international community and the users of world wide web can search through biological science texts and retrieve the article abstracts and all reports free of charge.

PubMed can be considered as the logical extension of Medline which brings together the categorized details of articles and their abstracts (http://pubmedcentral.nih.gov). Some publishers and scientific communities transfer their published articles to PubMed.  United States National Institutes of Health founded PubMed and Medline. The out of network potentials of this website allows the easy tracking of the full article content in the website of some technological and medical publishers.

Medical Index of east Mediterranean

East Mediterranean indexing project of medical studies started by archiving health and biological science journals in 1987. This broadcasting center is still active and gets updated and provides the researchers access to published articles.  The archiving has been done in three formats:1- The printed version of current indexes every four months. 2- Online through the local office website in internet  (http://www.emro.who.int/library). 3- As a CD which gets updated every six months.

The indicators of proper research subject

Good research subject must be feasible, interesting, novel, ethical and relevant which makes the Acronym FINER.  Researchers can evaluate the research topic with these five features.


Before the researcher takes the final decision about the research topic he must be certain that he can do the research. In the following you can find some examples of effective elements.

Interest and passion

The research topic should be interesting for researchers and academic society. If researchers had not enough motivation for doing the research on a specific subject, this can affect the research negatively and it may not be done properly.


The researcher must be familiar with the latest studies on the subject of the study. The research must lead to new findings. The novelty of research subject does not mean that it must be unprecedented. The prefix “Re” in the English word “Research” means repeated search. Most of successful studies are neither brand new studies nor the repetition of previous studies. The progress in science has taken place gradually. The building of science has been constructed gradually and from different research findings. It should not be asked whether this study has been done in the past, rather the right question is “does it add something new to the existing body of knowledge? Adding knowledge to prior studies leads to their confirmation, rejection (especially if there is a drawback in the main report) or adding new information to them.

The ethical issues

The first stage in the selection of research subject is the consideration of ethical issues. It is essential that all the ethical issues be observed in the research. The existence of ethical issues indicate that the research should not be done. If the subject of the study is human being, the following items must be considered:

  • If the research subject is about a test or a new working method, there must be some evidences to indicate the superiority of new treatment method over the previous one.
  • Before the subject is exposed to new medications, there must be sufficient data regarding the results of studies done on animals or a small group of human to endorses its probable safety and efficiency. The progress of clinical trials that observe the ethical principles is gradual and a step by step process, if the result of one stage is positive then the next stage with ensue.


  • The performance of clinical trials in a country in which that method is not to be performed or is unprovable, is unjustified. For example, the medications that can bot be supplied in a country should not be tested on the population of that country. This issue must be observed in the researches of pharmaceutical and international companies.
  • The research should not have confliction with cultural values, believes, religion and rules of society. The trials should be first done on animals and the initial results obtained. If the research entails doing tests on volunteers (who have no interest in the research) in this case the research should be performed in the condition that there has been no other means of obtaining the results and acquisition of new scientific findings and treatments is expected.
  • The research and clinical trials on animals too must be plausible. If possible, laboratory biologic systems with computer simulated models should be used as a substitute. The tests performed on animals can be plausible if they lead to knowledge progress or be an inevitable phase prior to clinical trials in humans.



Why the clinical trial? For the research to be considered related, it should potentially lead to the progress of science, be effective on the clinical management of illnesses or policy makings or be a lead to further researches.

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar