Skip to content. Skip to navigation

Faculty Development

You are here: Home / Introduction to Educational Research / Getting started

Getting started

If you hear the words ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting?’ in terms of starting to think about an idea for research, then raise a small warning flag. Yes, a research study should be interesting to the person doing it, but that is never enough on its own. If you hear those words, ask ‘Why?’ The answers you get should include any of the following.

  • It is theoretically interesting: that is, it allows you to test out some aspect of theory; for example, that different people learn in different ways.
  • It is empirically interesting: that is, it allows you to add to questions and answers that the literature so far has provided; for example, that providing different types of teaching material is more useful than providing just one method.
  • The situation calls for review or evaluation: for example, you are playing your part in implementing a new government initiative, a new curriculum or developing a new educational package and wish to judge whether it is successful or not in your context.
  • Funding is available in the area you want to study: research is much more enjoyable if you have someone to help you do it – particularly when your working life is already as full as it is. So obtaining a grant for doing something you’re already interested in might allow you to employ a research assistant or pay someone to transcribe interviews.


Of course, sometimes a piece of research will satisfy all four of these reasons, and there are likely to be other criteria for getting started. For example, Parsell and Bligh (1999) suggest a number of reasons that stimulate people to write (which in academic and clinical contexts often follow from research).


Intrinsic reasons

Extrinsic reasons

To share knowledge

For career advancement

To increase status

For collegial approval

For pleasure

To meet a challenge


Academic pressures

To demonstrate a commitment to patient care

To improve practice

To reflect advances in medical technology

To monitor or evaluate changes in healthcare delivery

Multi-professional team-based practice

Obligations to patients


Thinking point
List the main reasons why you want to do research and what you might research about.

Print module to PDF

Save a PDF of this module, so you can print it and read it in your own time.

Email your comments

Let us know what you think about this module or give us your feedback.

Further information

More information about this module, further reading and a complete list of glossary terms.

Learning activities

Read about the recommended learning activities for this module.