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SJHMC Health Sciences Library: Clinical Research

Study Designs in Clinical Research

Research Directions in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

National Center for complementary & Alternative Medicine 

his guide provides resources that point to new directions in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research. The field has advanced significantly since the founding of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the NIH in 1992. Over the years, researchers have identified the strengths and weaknesses of existing methodologies, and are now exploring new initiatives to advance CAM's clinical evidence base.

Search Within Google Scholar For Cited Articles


Google Scholar Citations provide a simple way for authors to keep track of citations to their articles. You can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and compute several citation metrics. You can also make your profile public, so that it may appear in Google Scholar results when people search for your name, e.g., richard feynman.

Best of all, it's quick to set up and simple to maintain - even if you have written hundreds of articles, and even if your name is shared by several different scholars. You can add groups of related articles, not just one article at a time; and your citation metrics are computed and updated automatically as Google Scholar finds new citations to your work on the web. You can choose to have your list of articles updated automatically or review the updates yourself, or to manually update your articles at any time.

Other Types of Reviews & Research Activities

Page author: Billie White

For questions regarding page content, contact:

Molly Harrington


Nicole Galvan

Overview Clinical Research

Bench-to-Bedside Thinking

Clinical research is the “proof of principle” that a basic discovery has the potential to advance medicine and improve health. Clinical research scientists are the translators. Their role is to recognize the clinical relevance of basic discoveries and design the optimal means for determining if the discovery leads to improved health. Optimal translation demands the thoughtful, statistically sound analysis of data derived from a meticulously designed and conducted clinical research study.

Study Design and Methodology Resources

Internal Review Board (IRB) Resources

Clinical Trials Registries and Resources

    A registry and results database of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the U.S. and around the world. Gives information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers.
  • CenterWatch
    The global source for clinical trials information: offering news, analysis, study grants, career opportunities, and trial listings to professionals and patients.
    A repository for clinical study results in a reader-friendly, standardized format. This database serves to make clinical trial results for many marketed pharmaceuticals more transparent. Designed as a key tool to provide information to practicing physicians and their patients
  • Current Controlled Trials
    Allows users to search, register and share information about randomised controlled trials.
  • HSRProj: Health Services Research Projects in Progress
    Information about ongoing health services research and public health projects. Hosted by the National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR).
  • ISRCTN Register
    A numeric system for the unique identification of randomised controlled trials worldwide. The ISRCTN Register also accepts registration of other forms of studies designed to assess the efficacy of health-care interventions.
  • National Research Register (NRR) Archive
    This archive is a searchable copy of the records that used to be held in the National Research Register (NRR) Projects Database. It was created using the final issue of the NRR published in October 2007, based on records collected up to September 2007. The archived database contains a comprehensive record of publicly-supported health research projects from early 2000 up to and including September 2007.
  • EU Clinical Trials Register
    Allows users to search for information on clinical trials in European Union (EU) member states and the European Economic Area (EEA) and clinical trials which are conducted outside the EU/EEA if they form part of a paediatric investigation plan (PIP).
  • PROSPERO: International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews
    An international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care. Hosted by the UK's National Institute for Health Research.
    Part of NIH's Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. Includes reports, data, and analyses of NIH research activities.
  • UK Clinical Research Network: Portfolio Database
    The UKCRN Portfolio comprises four smaller portfolios of studies belonging to the four nations of the United Kingdom.
  • International Clinical Trials Registry Platform
    This Clinical Trials Search Portal provides access to a central database containing the trial registration data sets provided by various international registries. Hosted by the World Health Organization.
  • Clinical Trials
    Worldwide clinical trials listings. Includes news and information. Browsable by condition, drug name, sponsor, and location.

Systematic Reviews

A systematic review is "...a review in which specified and appropriate methods that are intended to limit bias and random error have been used to identify, appraise, and summarize studies addressing a defined question. It can, but need not, involve analysis. Includes a comprehensive search of all potentially relevant articles and the use of explicit, reproducible criteria in the — Cook DJ, Mulrow CD, Haynes RB. Systematic reviews: synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions. Ann Intern Med. 1997 Mar 1;126(5):376-

 Systematic Review: a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it. – Definition from Cochrane Collaboration

  • Estimated timeline for completing a Cochrane systematic review




Preparation of protocol


Searches for published and unpublished studies


Pilot test of eligibility criteria


Inclusion assessments


Pilot test of Risk of Bias assessment


Validity assessments


Pilot test of data collection


Data collection


Data entry


Follow-up of missing information




Preparation of review report


Keeping the review up-to-date


Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from Courtesy of the University of Maryland HS/HSL

If you are considering a systematic review project, we suggest you consult the following documents; they provide the framework for conducting systematic reviews.

Additionally, researchers should use the PRISMA statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) when writing the reivew. The PRISMA statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four phase flow diagram.  PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Meta-Analysis: a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance [often found within systematic reviews, but not the same]. – Definition from   
All meta-analyses should be part of a systematic review, but not all systematic reviews will include a meta-analysis


meline for a Systematic Revie

Internet Resources


Primary sources (archives)

  • Digitized special collections, like the Einstein Archives
  • Archives Grid : locate special collections worldwide. Search for personal papers, and historical records



Grey Literature Definition

Grey literature (GL) is defined as:

  • "Materials not published commercially or indexed by major databases.

  • "Ephemeral," "invisible" literature that may be unpublished, unevaluated, not peer-reviewed

  • "Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." (Luxembourg, 1997 - Expanded in New York, 2004) (

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research seeks out the ‘why’, not the ‘how’ of its topic through the analysis of unstructured information – things like interview transcripts and recordings, emails, notes, feedback forms, photos and videos. (From QSR International.)
Qualitative data analysis (QDA) is the range of processes and procedures whereby we move from the qualitative data that have been collected into some form of explanation, understanding or interpretation of the people and situations we are investigating. (FromOnline QDA.)Qualitative vs. quantitative research (from Xavier University Library).
Using Qualitative ResearchIn general, consider qualitative research when:
  • You are in the exploratory stages of research, developing theory.
  • You need to investigate irregularities.
  • You need to examine policy implementation.
  • You want to collect people's viewpoints.
  • The research question is not suitable for traditional surveys or experiments (e.g., suicide, sexual identity).
  • You need to learn meaning.
  • (Adapted from Price and Brown & LloydAdvances in Psychiatric Treatment (2001) 7:350-6.)
  • Understanding Patients' Needs & Experiences 
    • From Public Library of Science (PLoS).