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Research Guidelines
How to Design and Write Up Your Experiment

1. Before you begin:  Clearly identify the problem or question.

  • The research problem or question should be stated in one sentence and the problem should be very specific with a measureable outcome.

2. Title

  • Your title should be specific enough to describe the study, but not so technical that only specialists can understand it.

3. Authors

  • The first author is usually the person who did most of the work and wrote the paper. The senior author (last author) is the program or laboratory director. Middle authors are contributors to the project.

4. Abstract

  • An abstract or summary is published at the beginning of the article to give the reader an overview of the contents of the paper.
  • The abstract should be a little less technical than the paper itself.
  • The abstract should be one paragraph of 100-250 words in length.

5. Introduction

  • Describe the importance of the problem or state the question (above) that explains the purpose or goals of the research (several paragraphs)
  • Explain and briefly summarize the current published research and relevant background that addresses this question. (several paragraphs)
  • Create a hypothesis that will predict a solution to the problem. (one to two sentences)

6. Methods (the design of your experiment)

  • This section should include:  a list of all materials used, all protocols and procedures, safety issues, clearly defined controls, environmental conditions.
  • Include the sources and catalog numbers where you purchased the materials in parenthesis.
  • Clearly define how the data will be collected and recorded, include measurement units.
  • Define the statistical tests that will be used to analyze the data.
  • For clinical trials be sure you visit the FDA’s website (http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm122046.htm) for the guidelines on conducting good clinical trials before you begin your study.

7. Results

  • Clearly state your results and include appropriate tables, figures, diagrams etc.  that summarize your data. Do NOT include conclusions in the results section.
  • The experiment must be repeated multiple times in order to have statistical significance.
  • Use graphs and charts to represent your data visually.  Write your results in paragraph form and include the calculations for all your work.  All of your analysis should be explained concisely and clearly.
  • For clinical trials: There is a free online course that can help you design your clinical trial that is offered through Johns Hopkins University:  https://www.coursera.org/course/clintrials.

8. Discussion

  • State the main or most important conclusion supported by your results in the first paragraph.
  • Explain the rationale for your conclusion and clarify any details.
  • Highlight the most significant results.
  • Describe how your results may or may not be consistent with other published studies.
  • If the results are unexpected, explain why this may so and offer some theories that may explain your data.
  • Explain how your results fit into the “big picture”.
  • Describe further studies that will be needed to fully answer your research question.
  • Preemptively address any potential flaws or problems with your project and how they may be explained or addressed in future experiments.
  • End with a one or two sentence summary of your conclusion, emphasizing why it is important and relevant and what future experiments may follow.

9. Acknowledgements

  • Thank those who helped with the experiment or made other important contributions including:
  1. Discussing the protocols
  2. Providing input on overall experimental design and interpretation of results.
  3. Commenting and editing the manuscript

10. References

  • The literature should be cited in the text and collected as a reference list at the end of the paper as per the appropriate journal guidelines.
  • Be sure to check the reference guidelines of the journal that you want to submit your paper to.  Make sure all referencing is correct before you submit your paper.

You may also download the Research Guidelines as a .doc file by clicking this link:

Research Guidelines

Outcome Measures
What Are Outcome Measures?

Outcome measures are all the possible measurements of results that may stem from exposure to a causal factor, or from preventive or therapeutic interventions.

All identified measurements of changes in health status arising as a consequence of the handling of a health problem

Types of Outcome Measures


  • Self-perceived pain
  • Physical disability
  • Psychological well-being
  • Depression
  • Mental status (dementia)


  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Body mass index
  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • White blood cell count


  • Anything that can be described in words (usually in quotes)
  • Examples
  • – “I have not been able to sleep through the night in years!”
  • – “I didn’t know that back pain was also related to my fatigue.”


  • Anything that can be described in numbers (subjective or objective)
  • Examples
  • – Lab results
  • – Height/weight
  • – Pain levels on VAS
  • – Quality of life on SF36

Which Outcome Measures should be used?

  • Look at which measures are consistently used in the literature
  • Read articles on new outcome measures
  • – Reliability
  • – Validity

Validity and Reliability of Outcome Measures

  • Need to do conduct literature search to determine the reliability and validity of the outcome measures used.
  • If you find that instruments used are not reliable or valid (or not enough literature) then that needs to be commented on in the discussion section.

This page can be downloaded as a .pdf here:

Outcome Measures

Case Studies

Coming Soon

Literature Research
  • The first step in developing a research strategy is to study previously published research literature on the subject and related subjects.

Literature Review:

  • Tells you what you need to know to design your study
  • Tells you what you need to know to understand and interpret your studyresults/outcomes
  • Helps you develop an unbiased, objective understanding of your topic
  • An extensive and complete review of the literature gives you the important perspective to see what has been done and where you are going-crucial to a well written, well- documented, well planned report.
  • A good literature search demonstrates the ability to search, identify and select materials relevant to the topic and which need to be reviewed at a level appropriate to the project.

Literature Search Profile:

  • Write down the topic you want to do search
  • Listing the key word and Search engine
  • Specifying the time period (articles which are published from which year)
  • Specifying the language (articles which are published in English, German, and Spanish etc.)
  • Specifying type of study you want to search (Case report, Case series, Randomized trials, and Review articles etc.)
  • Maintain accurate records

Some of the commonly used search engines:

  • PubMed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubMed)
  • Pub med is free search engine which comprises more than 19 million citations for biomedical articles from MEDLINE and life science journals. Citations may include links to full-text articles from PubMed Central or publisher web sites.
  • The core subject is medicine and field related to medicine. It also provides very full coverage of the related biomedical sciences, such as biochemistry and cell biology.
  • It is offered by the United States National Library of medicine at NIH as a part of Entrez information retrieval system.
  • You can also look at the PubMed tutorials to get more information about how to search in PubMed.
  • MEDLINE plus. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
  • It is website network containing health information from world’s largest medical library, the United States National Library of medicine, in cooperation with National Institute of Health. It is updated daily.
  • OVID. www.ovid.com
  • Founded in 1988.It includes growing lists of 1200 journal, over 500 books andmore than 200 databases.
  • EBSCO. http://www.ebscohost.com/
  • EBSCO provides online access to more than 150 database and thousands of e- journals.
  • CINAHL http://www.ebscohost.com/academic/cinahl-plus-with-full-text/
  • The CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), data base covers the nursing and allied health literature from 1982 to the present. It includes selected and original full text material.
  • Currently abstracts of more than 924 journal titles are available.

This page can be downloaded in .pdf format here:

Literature Search


High quality research calls for validated questionnaires that have been tested to accurately assess what the questionnaire claims to be assessing. The NIH has funded the development of such a tool called PROMIS (www.nihpromis.org) that is accessible at no cost to the entire research community. The tool measures a variety of patient-reported areas of wellbeing. Patient-reported outcomes are gaining more and more attention as we recognize the patient perspective as equally important as measured outcomes, such as lab tests. Additionally, all studies using the PROMIS tool are stored in a central bank so that studies can be compared and combined for a meta-analysis approach, which would serve us all in the Ayurveda community very well. PROMIS has incorporated the latest statistical theories, including Itemized Response Theory. I encourage all to consider this tool in their research for all of the above reasons. Explore the website and contact them if you have any questions!