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In the Getting started with research, I discussed means of getting started in research, choosing a research area and development of a research question. This leads the research student on to the development of a research proposal, however, before the final research proposal can be developed and presented, it is imperative that the previous literature in the area is scoped and evaluated to identify the need for the proposed study and establish its context in the specific research area. In this article, I will discuss means of undertaking and presenting a literature review. While the focus of the article is presenting the literature review for dissertation purposes, I will also touch upon disseminating review in academic journals.

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In the previous articles of the research series, I delved into the issues of choosing a research topic, formulating research questions, undertaking literature reviews as well as choosing research design. As you will note, the focus was on ‘How’ to do research and ‘what’ to research. Much like general medical and surgical research, physiotherapy research in the 20th century was also driven by focus on objective designs such as RCTs and therefore rarely discussed the underlying philosophical assumptions related to research. This article is aimed at highlighting the need for researchers to understand the basic philosophical issues which impact on the research design and conduct and to discuss the four prevalent paradigms

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The word ‘research’ has a certain mystique about it. To most of the people outside the research community, it represents an activity that is exclusive to an elite group of scientists. The perception of a researcher is one detached from the outer world, isolated in his laboratory or scholarly library. This was certainly the image in my mind as I embarked on my physiotherapy career. Over the years, this has not only been dispelled, I am now able to introduce myself to general public as a researcher. So in the next few articles in this series, I will aim to unravel some of the myths about research as well as focus on practical research methods. 

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There is a body of literature about research designs which focus on the methods to be used, nuances, traditions, authority, experts, paradigms, or schools of thought related to each method. This all makes it sound so complex?  As a new researcher, the question in our minds is - what design should I choose for successful completion of my dissertation? The short and clear answer to this question is -the research design should follow from and be able to answer the research question. Through this article, I aim to present a brief decision making guide for students to make it easy for them to choose a research design which will help them answer their research question and to finish their dissertation on time.

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