This book will introduce you to research designs and methods in global health. I wrote this text for undergraduate and graduate students taking my introductory course at Duke University. Therefore, it shares the two central aims of my course: to make you a better consumer of research and to help you design your first study.
Module 1 begins with an introduction to global health research and teaches you how to identify research problems, search the literature, and practice critical appraisal. In Module 2, you’ll learn how to ask evidence-based research questions, create study aims, integrate theory, and specify important constructs, outcomes, and indicators. Module 3 is all about inference: statistical inference, causal inference, and generalizability.
We’ll turn to research designs in Module 4. In global health, we are often interested in knowing what treatments, programs, interventions, and policies “work” and why. To answer questions of impact, researchers sometimes design randomized controlled trials. Randomization is not always possible or advisable, however, and researchers must build a causal argument using non-experimental designs. We’ll consider the strengths and limitations of research designs most commonly used in the behavioral and social sciences, public health, and medicine.
Module 5 will help you fill in the remaining details for a Method section. In particular, you’ll learn about data collection procedures and planning for data analysis. Module 6 concludes with a discussion of how to practice good science and make an impact with your work.
One limitation of this book is it does not teach statistics. Statistical concepts are discussed throughout but not in great detail. Because statistical analysis is an intrinsic part of the study design stage, I recommend downloading a copy of OpenIntro Statistics and reading it alongside this book.
Visit themethodsection.com for additional materials.
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Eric P. Green
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