What a great album from Simple Minds. Ahhh, the 80’s. Their title track New Gold Dream should get you in the mood for the next letter in our F.I.N.E.R. mnemonic – a convenient way to remember what makes a good research question. We covered I for Interesting last time and today we will go over N for Novel.
Your pocket protector in place and armed with an interesting research question that you think is feasible, you are now stuck wondering if the research path you are about to take will satisfy the next criteria: is it novel?
The whole idea behind research is to contribute new information.
No need to reinvent the wheel. You want to save your precious energy and time for answering a question that will move you forward in your area of science.
So, how do you know it is novel? Here are a few suggestions you can try:
1- Review the scientific literature. And then review it again. Not sure how to get started? Talk to a librarian at your institution.
2- Get out there and talk to people about your research idea. Experts in the field will be happy to chat (most of the time anyway!) and may give you insider knowledge about the area of research. How about having lunch with friends/colleagues and ask them what they think. I did exactly that yesterday (shout out to Sindhu Johnson!) and what did I find out? That my ideas were well received and that there is at least one person who thinks I am on the right track. Perfect. Who’s next?
Now though you want your question to be as original as possible don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Often building on previous work or simply confirming it can be important. For instance assessing whether findings in one population also applies to others. This is often the case in pediatric research.
Having the new gold dream is always a great way to start. Just keep in mind what makes a good research question. Next time we take on ethics…
See you in the blogosphere,