Common sense research

"Common sense is not so common."—Voltaire (1764)

I was reminded of this widely re-quoted saying when reading Instilling a research culture in an applied clinical setting, recently published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In their paper, Dr Michael Jones and colleagues are clear and thorough in outlining a wide range of practical issues and considerations that arise in pursuing the goal of integrating research into our clinical services.

At one level it could be easy to read this paper lightly, and risk dismissing their suggestions as 'just common sense'. This would be a mistake. There are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, there is the comprehensiveness of their coverage of the many considerations that may arise. I think few clinical settings would have fully worked through implementation of every suggestion in this paper—so there are practical action points we can all take away from this paper. Secondly, one of the most helpful aspects of genuinely good advice is the way it doesn't recommend some alternatives that might also sound good on first hearing, but could ultimately lead to undesirable outcomes. I'm not claiming here to have a deep grasp on all of the things we shouldn't be doing, but my reading of this paper was that it offers good advice—both in what it does say, and what it does not.

While a few aspects of the paper speak specifically to the United States context (e.g., information about funding agencies), these should not detract for an international audience. And if you're a clinician or manager who wants to begin the process of bringing a research culture into your organization, this paper will provide a dozen ideas for where you could start.