Methodology Matters

CPTL features the Methodology Matters section. This section is focused on faculty development. The articles in this category are expert-guided, critical, evidence-based discussions of problems many researchers encounter in their methodology. The idea of Methodology Matters is to answer frequently asked questions and help researchers avoid common pitfalls. Using information in this section can greatly improve your research and increase the chances of your manuscript surviving the rigors of peer review. For more information about the section in general, read this more detailed introduction to Methodology Matters.

This page organizes our Methodology Matters collection into five broad topical areas. The links below will take you to the original published article from CPTL.

Rating Scales and Rubrics

Many educators and researchers use rating scales and rubrics to measure educational outcomes. The usefulness of the information we get from them can be limited by the design of the scale or rubric. This series begins here with design issues with scales and rubrics. After the data is gathered, how should you analyze it? The last article in this series provides much helpful information and helps correct common mistakes.

Why number of categories matters in a rating scale.

A mixed approach to creating rubrics.

How to analyze data from Likert and other rating scales.

Numbers and How to Use Them

Not all educators and researchers are statisticians. But some of the contributors to our Methodology Matters section are! These articles discuss some things you do (and don’t) need to do when you are reporting numbers.

The difference between practical and statistical significance.

Not sure you are reporting your numbers correctly? This article discusses best practices for reporting your numerical data with the appropriate level of precision.

Do you want to research variables that may predict outcomes? We have published this guide to using multiple linear regression in pharmacy education.


Have you ever wondered exactly what “validity” means? Or if the results of your study are valid? Read on….

This article is about research validity in pharmacy education research.

Not sure if scores from your instrument are valid? This primer helps you understand what validation is and how to validate assessments used at your institution.

Are you developing an instrument to measure a social science concept? This article helps you define your concepts, create questionnaires that give valid results, and perform item analyses to help make them better.

Study Design

In research, you should begin with the end in mind. This means that the usefulness of your data is largely determined at the outset by how you design your study. Check out these articles that discuss the importance of study design and how to make it better so you can draw more robust conclusions.

This article helps you understand how your study design impacts the conclusions you can–and cannot–draw from your data.

This article discusses the basics of design-based research (DBR).

Qualitative Research Methods

Pharmacy educators and researchers are often comfortable with numbers and hard data, but less comfortable with qualitative data. However, qualitative research methods are extremely important and useful. More importantly, it is equally important to employ proper, rigorous methodology in qualitative methods as it is in quantitative. The articles below provide an excellent introduction to this topic.

Check out this overview of qualitative research practices and how to use them in pharmacy education.

Check out the details on using focus groups in pharmacy research. For garnering consensus among a group on difficult questions, learn about how to use the Delphi process.

This article outlines how to establish validity in qualitative research.

This article outlines how to perform rigorous thematic analysis in qualitative research.

Interested in combining quantitative and qualitative methods? Take a look at how to incorporate mixed methods into your research.

Click here to learn about Using cognitive interviews and think-aloud protocols to understand thought processes.