Conducting Research

Research is a process of scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry that produces knowledge

Systematic reviews and Evidence-based guidelines are seen as the cornerstones of an Evidence-based approach. However these can only be of high quality if the quality of the individual studies (primary research) from which they are crafted is also high. Unfortunately, although the Cochrane Oral Health Group (COHG) has completed many systematic reviews these have raised issues regarding the quality of the primary research considered in these reviews. The COHG has also identified many thousands of dental trials but they are grouped in specific areas and are of variable quality. There is a need, not only to encourage greater use of an Evidence-based approach in dentistry but also to improve the quality of dental research.

Research is the act of going up alleys to see if they are blind
Plutarch (circa 45 – 125 A.D)

This section provides a very brief introduction to some of the more common research designs with links to some helpful resources. While the Evidence-based approach has focused on RCTs in the past it is worth remembering that RCTs are not always the most appropriate research design to address a problem and that the most appropriate study design should be chosen to answer the question being researched! (ref 1)


  1. Sackett DL, Wennberg JE. Choosing the best research design for each question.BMJ. 1997;315:1636.