online QDA logo - Home Page



Bookmark and Share

Idea tag cloud


What is a GP? This stands for General Practitioner, who is a fully qualified medical doctor who specialises in general practice. This is a first line of medical care in the community. Every person in the UK is assigned to a local GP and apart from emergencies, the GP or the general practice (the “surgery”) where he or she works (often along with other doctors and nurses) is the person’s first port of call when they are ill or have a medical problem. In serious cases, GPs refer people on to specialist services in local hospitals. In other cases they recommend and prescribe treatment themselves. After release from hospital, for example following an automobile accident, patients will again see their GP for longer-term treatment during recovery.
In emergencies, people may be taken directly to hospital (usually to the Accident and Emergency department – the A&E). But when they leave hospital and go home to continue their recovery, their GPs are sent medical records of their treatment.

For more information see:

NHS Direct website website

What is a Health Visitor? A health visitor in the UK is a qualified and registered nurse or midwife who has undertaken further (post registration) training in order to be able to work as a member of the primary healthcare team. The role of the health visitor is about the promotion of health and the prevention of illness in all age groups by giving advice and support. Health visitors work with mothers of young babies - advising on such areas as feeding, safety, physical and emotional development and other aspects of health and childcare.
They also work with people of any age who suffer from a chronic illness or who live with a disability. This includes helping such people to overcome difficulties they may face in coping with their illness or disability. They may run health promotion schemes and anti-smoking clinics.

Qualified health visitors are regulated by the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council.

For more information see:

NHS Careers website

Nursing & Midwifery Council

image of a light bulbGetting the idea

Authors of this page:Dawn Clarke and Graham R. Gibbs

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 27th July 2008





Learning outcomes

  1. Learn about some of the key ways in which researchers get ideas for new projects.
  2. Learn how research ideas can be used to develop initial research designs.



Frances was a mature student in her final year of her PhD.  She worked as a healthcare professional – a Health Visitor. The title of her thesis is: 'The Personal Experience of Whiplash Injury and its Relationship to Healthcare Provision'.

Frances was inspired to undertake research on people’s experiences of having whiplash injury. Ideas for research projects come from a variety of sources. Sometimes they are suggested by other researchers (‘more research on this is needed’). In other cases the idea arises because you have transferred ideas or issues from one area to another and in modifying the ideas to make them fit the new domain, you come up with new research questions. However, often, ideas are suggested because of something in the researcher’s own experience that the current literature does not seem to address adequately. That was what happened to Frances.

As she explained, her interest in the research topic happened after an accident in which she personally experienced a whiplash injury. At first, she thought the accident was just a minor injury. Her healthcare background did not prepare her for the problems that followed. In fact she experienced many problems that did not start until some time after the accident and she realised she was probably not the only person experiencing this.

Loudspeaker iconHear Frances on getting the idea.

I actually had a whiplash injury and that’s some years ago now but at the time when the accident happened and I had the injury I felt that I was unhurt. A few hours later things started to kick in and I actually had a lot of problems from that injury, problems that I as a healthcare professional, I was a health visitor and a nurse in my background …could not foresee, it was a minor injury, there shouldn’t be any problems, I was unhurt, what’s going on here? So that was kind of the lead up into that [the research] … so what it made me think was, well surely if I’ve got this problem I can’t be the only person to experience this kind of reaction from a whiplash injury … and that set me thinking.


The contrast between her personal experience and the views and ideas of the medical profession was the start of Frances' research enquiry. Frances' experiences, both personally and professionally, gave her an insight that enabled her to begin to develop the research ideas.

She used this insight to develop parts of her research design such as,

  • the research questions,
  • the participants from whom she could elicit the relevant information,
  • methods of data collection and analysis (see later in this chapter).

To start with, Frances’ questions were very much dominated by the medical perspective which she was familiar with from her job.


Loudspeaker iconHear Frances on the questions she wanted to ask patients and the kind of issues that they raised for her research.

And then they [patients] were asked when they sought medical treatment, and where did they go? And why did you go? How were you taken there?’ so I wanted to understand how they felt about their accident and receiving their injury, and what led to their decision to decide to go and seek medical help given that a lot of people who’ve been in an accident, certainly the rear shunt ones, won’t all have symptoms from a whiplash. So I wanted to know was it straight away? Was it 24 hours? 48 hours? Who did they go to? Was it the hospital setting? Was it their own GP? Did they go because they decided to go? Or did somebody advise them to go? What were the kind of things behind that? In a sense it felt that that was that start up really, it provided the context for me, the background as to why they sought help. So that was a big one really and that really came out of my own experience of having had an injury myself and the factors that made me decide to go and seek medical assistance to find out what was going on. Because for me it was like ‘oh well’ because everything was ok, whiplashes, you don’t really have problems from a whiplash, that was an element there, so I was interested to know what was going on here, what were the factors that were there.


Creative Commons License
The resources on this site by Graham R Gibbs, Dawn Clarke, Celia Taylor, Christina Silver and Ann Lewins are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Where did Frances get the idea for this research?


Case ContentsNext page   1   2   3   4   5   Back to overview