The following are DIRECTLY derived from research questions:
1. Null and alternative hypotheses (hypothesis testing and inferential statistics)
2. Research design (observation or experimental)
3. Population of interest (inclusion and exclusion criteria)
4. Sampling method (non-probability or probability)
5. Intervention or independent variable (categorical, ordinal, or continuous)
6. Confounding or control variables (secondary, tertiary, and ancillary research questions)
7. Comparator or control treatment (categorical, ordinal, or continuous)
8. Outcome or dependent variable (categorical, ordinal, or continuous)
9. Outcome and design for an a priori power analysis to calculate sample size
10. Structure of the database (between-subjects, within-subjects, or multivariate) and code book
11. Statistical tests used (descriptive, between-subjects, within-subjects, correlations, survival, or multivariate)
Researchers must take the appropriate amount of time to fully formulate and refine research questions. SO MUCH is dependent upon it for their study. Luckily, this task is made easier with the use of two prevalent mnemonics: FINER (feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant) and PICO (population, intervention, comparator, outcome).
FINER is a more of a philosophy for writing research questions. The arguments for the "F," "I," "N," "E," and "R" are all and informed upon by the empirical literature in the area of empirical or clinical interest. Researchers especially have to be well vested in the most current literature in order to make sound arguments for interesting, novel, and relevant questions.
PICO is employed to explicitly and operationally define the population of interest, the intervention, the comparator, and the outcome in a research question. It is also more readily applicable in busy clinical and empirical environments and when writing literature search queries.
These two mnemonics compliment each other very well in applied empirical and clinical environments. The post-positivist philosophy of social and medical sciences lends itself well to FINER. Measurement of observable constructs and the application of experimental designs through the PICO mnemonic is also strongly reflective of a post-positivist philosophical orientation. Together, the "why" and "what" questions associated with conducting research can be argued in an evidence-based, objective, and logically sound fashion.