About the module...




The self-paced training targets individuals new to research and who may have responsibilities in the conduct of research and focuses on information that may be helpful in understanding the tasks you are asked to carry out.



The purpose of this training is to promote an understanding of basic research concepts for new research staff. The curriculum is intended for research staff who are involved in research, but who have received little to no formal training in this area.

The primary goal is to assist new research staff in developing an understanding of basic research concepts and an appreciation for the importance of conducting research in keeping with an approved plan. We hope this enhanced knowledge and understanding of research concepts and responsible practices will contribute to the integrity of the research and the value of the research results.

The training is self-paced and provides a brief introduction to basic research concepts that serve as a basis for conducting responsible and sound research. The topics introduce how research is designed and conducted as well as how actions in the conduct of research may influence the integrity of the research project. This training introduces ethical issues associated with the conduct of research and encourages novice research staff to make choices consistent with responsible research practices.

Topics covered were chosen by research methods experts from a variety of different fields. The topics presented are commonly found in academic research methods courses; however, the information has been written using non-technical terminology to appeal to individuals who may be less experienced with this topic.

At the end of the session, trainees will be able to define and/or describe:

1. key research terminology,

2. research practices with the potential to impair or enhance research integrity,

3. important concepts related to research data and management of the data.


Novice research staff comprised of community members, college students and other lay professionals are often involved in the conduct of research. While developing a research ethics training program for novice Latino Community Health Workers (CHWs)/Promotores, we learned that while these individuals are involved in various aspects of a research study (e.g., participant recruitment, data collection and data management) they lacked a basic understanding of research design and methodology. In academic settings, faculty members routinely involve students in the conduct of research. These individuals may also lack prior training in basic research methodology since this type of information is traditionally provided in upper-level courses. Novice research staff may have the responsibilities to screen participants, collect data or enter and analyze research information. In most cases, these individuals have limited formal exposure to research design and the overarching concepts that determine and drive the conduct of research. A basic understanding of research methods is believed necessary for novice research staff to understand research and to conduct research responsibly.

The materials presented introduce basic research concepts to new research staff with little to no formal training in research methodology. This is not a comprehensive training in the subject of research methods. The content provides a basic overview and preliminary framework that should be supplemented by additional resources. These materials may also be used by research investigators as a supplement to training for a specific research activity.

The topics covered and content of each session was determined through input from focus groups, interviews and surveys of members of the SDSU research community who involve new research staff (Community Health Workers as well as undergraduate and graduate students) in the conduct of research. The concepts that were identified as important to include in this training were drafted using a variety of research methods texts and feedback and editorial changes provided by research methods experts. Materials were pilot tested by potential end users to determine if the training resulted in increased knowledge of the basic research concepts presented. Findings from the pilot testing will be made available in January 2006.



This training module was developed through support from the Office of Research Integrity within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (OS) and SDSU’s Graduate and Research Affairs.

As project director, I would like to thank the faculty and staff of San Diego State University (SDSU), SDSU Research Foundation and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) who provided valuable contributions and insight to the content as well as those who provided extensive feedback about the training during focus groups, expert review and during pilot testing.

Much appreciation to those who participated in the focus groups, surveys and interviews from SDSU including: Stuart Aitken, professor of geography, Marcie Bober, professor of educational technology, Audrey Hokoda, professor of child development, Susan Levy, professor of exercise and nutritional sciences, Robert Pozos, professor of biology and Susan Woodruff, research associate, public health.Very special thanks to Karen Coleman, SDSU professor of public health, Terry Conway, SDSU research professor of public health and Dena Plemmons, UCSD post doctoral fellow and SDSU lecturer of research ethics and responsible conduct in research, for their invaluable feedback and written contributions tso complete the final product. The web design and development is attributed to Padhmavathy Neelamegan, graduate student in the SDSU Computer Sciences degree program, who skillfully headed up our web programming.

To the core development team, thank you all as this was a very challenging project to tackle. My grandest “thank you” does little to acknowledge the contribution of Gayle Simon, SDSU Resource Specialist/Ethics Educator, who took the lead on coordinating every aspect of this project and created a methodical, orderly and manageable path of development which took us from beginning to end. My gratitude also goes to Michael Kalichman, Director of the UCSD Research Ethics Program, for his unrelenting commitment, focused contribution and good humor throughout all aspects of the development process. Lastly, special thanks to Wendy Bracken, SDSU regulatory analyst/ethics educator, who brought her interest in teaching and research and research ethics to help refine content and develop examples that could be managed and understood by our target audience.