Steps to Developing a Research Project: Resources to Help

Designing a research project is a careful process that involves many steps. The Academy and the Nutrition Research Network offer many resources to help members through each stage of the process, from development of the research question through reporting and disseminating results. The Academy and other organizations offer resources (including webinars and tutorials) to help with each of these steps.

Step 1: Develop the Research Question
The first step in designing a research project is to define the general problem by reviewing existing literature and specifying the research objectives. This is also a good time to start looking for funding sources.

Step 2: Outline the Methodology
In this stage, researchers define the target population and determine where, when and how the data will be collected. They select or create data collection tools and develop a plan for analyzing the data. They also start the process of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

Step 3: Conduct the Research
Research starts with participant recruitment and the informed consent process. It also includes project monitoring and data collection. Depending on the design of the study, this stage can take weeks, months or even years.

Step 4: Analyze the Data
This stage may include data aggregation, statistical analysis and results interpretation.

Step 5: Reporting and Dissemination of Results
This step may include abstract and/or manuscript preparation, publication selection and conference presentation.


Step 1: Develop the Research Question

Making the Case for Research


Research in Nutrition and Dietetics — What the Academy Can Do For You?: A comparison of five research models relevant to dietetics.

Grant writing resources from other organizations

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Manual: The Evidence Analysis Manual is the Academy's step-by-step instruction guide for EAL project teams (expert panels, lead analysts, evidence analysts and Academy staff) to carry out the process of evidence analysis. It highlights the EAL's rigorous methodology used for all EAL systematic reviews and includes templates used in the process. Consider one of the many Grade V evidence analysis questions posted on the Academy's the Evidence Analysis Library for your next research project.

Exploring Quality Improvement

Find out the differences between Quality Improvement and research through project examples and learn how to design and execute your own quality improvement project.

Step 2: Outline the Methodology

Research Ethics for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: Four self-study modules on research ethics to learn about the regulation of research and how it applies to you as you get started in research. Approved for 1.5 CPE credits. The training modules are hosted on the UNM Moodle website.  Follow the instructions below to create an account.

Create a UNM Moodle account.

Once you have created your account, click here to access the training.

Fact Sheet Institutional Review Board: Where, when and why to submit your research.

Fact Sheet Special Populations: Special considerations for participants such as pregnant women, children, students and employees.

Guide for Effective Nutrition Interventions and Education: A simple, practical and evidence-based tool to help nutrition education practitioners design high-quality and effective programs.

Scientific Integrity Principles: Recognizing the need to have a single document to guide scientific decision making at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy), the Council on Research was charged with developing a scientific integrity policy for the organization. This article covers the scope of the principles, presents the principles and existing related resources, and outlines next steps for the Academy to review and revise current policies and create new ones in alignment with these principles.

Step 3: Conduct the Research

The Informed Consent Process: Fact sheet with instructions on obtaining informed consent from study participants.

RDN Recruitment Strategies: The following are three methods for surveying RDNs through the Academy.

  1. Apply for a mailing list.
  2. If you have a certain practice area that you are targeting, DPGs have a process for approving student surveys. Contact DPG chairs for details.
  3. The Nutrition Research Network reviews survey projects and distributes if approved.

Ethics in Action: Conducting Ethical Research Involving Human Subjects: A Primer

Data Collection and Analysis Tools: Tools and templates to manage data

Introducing ANDHII: Background information on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Health Informatics Infrastructure.

Research Data Security: Guidance on safe data storage and management.

Needs Assessment: A systematic approach to data collection.

Step 4: Analyze the Data

MOOC List: Find free online classes on a variety of statistics topics.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Research Methodology Collection: This is a series of articles that review the importance of research design, analyses, and epidemiology in the conduct, interpretation, and publication of nutrition research.

Basic Statistical Concepts in Nutrition Research: The Nutrition in Clinical Practice article "describes general statistical concepts and provides some guidelines to assist in the interpretation of research literature. Fundamental topics of statistics, including power analysis and sample size, confidence intervals and hypothesis testing, and analysis of variance and regression, are also reviewed."

Books on Statistical Analysis

Interpreting Statistical Findings: A Guide for Health Professionals and Students: This text by Walker and Almond is intended to help those with little research experience understand and interpret statistical results.

Evaluating Clinical and Public Health Interventions. 1st Ed.: This book for clinicians by Mitchell Katz guides researchers through the process of designing a study, collecting and analyzing data, and publishing results. Practical examples are provided.

Fundamentals of Biostatistics. 5th Ed.: Author Bernard Rosner describes biostatical concepts using examples from medicine and clinical practice.

Nutritional Epidemiology. 2nd Ed.: Willet's standard reference on the epidemiology of diet and disease introduces readers to research strategies, methods of dietary assessment, and analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data.

Step 5: Reporting and Dissemination of Results

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Journal's author information page provides an example of the formatting and organizational requirement typically required for publication in peer reviewed journals.

Ethics in Research and Publication: The Publishing Ethics Resource Kit (PERK) is an online resource to support journal editors in handling publishing ethics issues. It is a single point of access for information and guidelines on publishing ethics.

FNCE®; Education Session Resources: Guidelines and training PowerPoints for submitting your research for a Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo Educational Session, including webinars detailing how to submit a poster abstract and how to present a poster at the conference.

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors: Authorship, publishing and manuscript preparation resources.