Thread: Promising Practices

Study designs in medical research: concepts and terminology

Aleksandra Mišak – Zagreb, Croatia

Objective: This poster aims to assess the present situation of peer review in the Hormozgan Medical Journal (HMJ), to evaluate its performance, and to assess quality of the reviews.

Differently designed research studies attempt to answer different questions. For example, randomized controlled trials answer the question of which intervention is more efficacious, whereas prospective cohort studies investigate the etiology of a condition of interest. In addition, differently designed studies provide different levels of evidence, allow for different sources of bias and confounding, and use different statistical measures.

Why should a medical translator know anything about study designs? In general, the more you understand the text you are translating, the easier it is to translate it. In particular, it can help you spot the omissions, errors, or inconsistencies in the study report and draw the author’s attention to parts of the manuscript that need to be improved. In the end, you may not only produce the highest-quality translation possible, you may also improve the original text, and authors quickly learn to appreciate this sort of help.

In this presentation, I will describe the concepts that define different study designs, such as prospective or observational; the most frequently used study designs in medical research, such as a case-control study or a randomized controlled trial; explain the concepts and terminology related to a particular study design, such as randomization or odds ratio; and list expressions that have a particular meaning in research reports, such as random, bias, significant, association, or correlation. Participants will also be directed to sources of reliable information on more in-depth aspects of study design and methodology.

Aleksandra Mišak, MD, is a freelance translator and author's editor from Zagreb, Croatia. From 2000 to 2005 she formed part of the team that developed and carried out the innovative “author helpful” editing practices of the Croatian Medical Journal. She continues to specialize in working with biomedical texts and develops classes on research design and critical reading – but she also enjoys translating literature occasionally.