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Dignity Health Libraries: Clinical Research

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Study Designs in Clinical Research

Google Scholar Citations

Google Scholar Citations provide a simple way for authors to keep track of citations to their articles. You can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and compute several citation metrics. You can also make your profile public, so that it may appear in Google Scholar results when people search for your name.

Research Directions in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine 

This guide provides resources that point to new directions in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research. Over the years, researchers have identified the strengths and weaknesses of existing methodologies, and are now exploring new initiatives to advance CAM's clinical evidence base.

Other Types of Reviews & Research Activities

Clinical Research Overview

Bench-to-Bedside Thinking

Clinical research is the “proof of principle” that a basic discovery has the potential to advance medicine and improve health. Clinical research scientists are the translators. Their role is to recognize the clinical relevance of basic discoveries and design the optimal means for determining if the discovery leads to improved health. In doing so, they can bridge a gap between knowledge produced at the lab bench and its use at the clinical bedside. Optimal translation demands the thoughtful, statistically sound analysis of data derived from a meticulously designed and conducted clinical research study. (Description adapted from Stanford Medicine Clinical Research Program Overview)

Study Design and Methodology Resources

Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review summarises the results of available carefully designed healthcare studies (controlled trials) and provides a high level of evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions. (Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, 2011)

Estimated timeline for completing a Cochrane systematic review:




Preparation of protocol


Searches for published and unpublished studies


Pilot test of eligibility criteria


Inclusion assessments


Pilot test of Risk of Bias assessment


Validity assessments


Pilot test of data collection


Data collection


Data entry


Follow-up of missing information




Preparation of review report


Keeping the review up-to-date


Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from Courtesy of the University of Maryland HS/HSL


If you are considering a systematic review project, we suggest you consult the following documents; they provide the framework for conducting systematic reviews.

Additionally, researchers should use the PRISMA statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) when writing the reivew. The PRISMA statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four phase flow diagram.  PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.


Internal Review Board (IRB) Resources

IRB Web Resources

​​The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research seeks out the ‘why’, not the ‘how’ of its topic through the analysis of unstructured information – things like interview transcripts and recordings, emails, notes, feedback forms, photos and videos. (from QSR International.)
Qualitative data analysis (QDA) is the range of processes and procedures whereby we move from the qualitative data that have been collected into some form of explanation, understanding or interpretation of the people and situations we are investigating. (from Online QDA.)
Using Qualitative Research
In general, consider qualitative research when:
  • You are in the exploratory stages of research, developing theory.
  • You need to investigate irregularities.
  • You need to examine policy implementation.
  • You want to collect people's viewpoints.
  • The research question is not suitable for traditional surveys or experiments (e.g., suicide, sexual identity).
  • You need to learn meaning (list adapted from Price and Brown & LloydAdvances in Psychiatric Treatment (2001) 7:350-6.)

More resources:

Understanding Patients' Needs & Experiences (from Public Library of Science (PLoS))

Qualitative vs. quantitative research (from Xavier University Library).

Grey Literature

Grey literature (GL) is defined as:

  • "Materials not published commercially or indexed by major databases.

  • "Ephemeral," "invisible" literature that may be unpublished, unevaluated, not peer-reviewed.

  • "Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." (Luxembourg, 1997 - Expanded in New York, 2004) (

Resources for locating grey literature:

Clinical Trials Registries and Resources

    A registry and results database of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the U.S. and around the world. Gives information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers.
  • CenterWatch
    The global source for clinical trials information: offering news, analysis, study grants, career opportunities, and trial listings to professionals and patients.
  • Current Controlled Trials
    Allows users to search, register and share information about randomised controlled trials.
  • HSRProj: Health Services Research Projects in Progress
    Information about ongoing health services research and public health projects. Hosted by the National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR).
  • ISRCTN Register
    A numeric system for the unique identification of randomised controlled trials worldwide. The ISRCTN Register also accepts registration of other forms of studies designed to assess the efficacy of health-care interventions.
  • EU Clinical Trials Register
    Allows users to search for information on clinical trials in European Union (EU) member states and the European Economic Area (EEA) and clinical trials which are conducted outside the EU/EEA if they form part of a paediatric investigation plan (PIP).
  • PROSPERO: International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews
    An international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care. Hosted by the UK's National Institute for Health Research.
    Part of NIH's Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. Includes reports, data, and analyses of NIH research activities.
  • UK Clinical Research Network: Portfolio Database
    The UKCRN Portfolio comprises four smaller portfolios of studies belonging to the four nations of the United Kingdom.
  • International Clinical Trials Registry Platform
    This Clinical Trials Search Portal provides access to a central database containing the trial registration data sets provided by various international registries. Hosted by the World Health Organization.


Internet Resources

 Government Resources


Developed by Billie White, MLS, Clinical Librarian, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ