Welcome to the Understanding Research platform

The Understanding Research platform aims to help people understand the basic concepts of research. Understanding research concepts is known as research literacy. It establishes a common language among patients, managers, clinicians and researchers who may collaborate on research projects.

What is research literacy

Research literacy is defined as being sufficiently familiar with scientific ethics and methods to understand basic research concepts (knowledge), respect research ethics (attitude), and communicate with researchers and research participants (behavior). This definition is adapted from Nebeker and López-Arenas (2016).

Who this platform is for

Understanding Research is intended for patients, managers, clinicians and any other stakeholders interested in research and collaboration with researchers.

Why we created this platform

  • Help stakeholders understand and use a common research language
  • Enable research teams, patients and members of the public to prepare their partnerships
  • Guide research teams, patients and members of the public through the important steps of research
  • Enable research teams, patients and members of the public to have access to several external references that will help them in their partnerships

How the platform is organized

The platform consists of this website in conjunction with an Open Science Framework (OSF) repository. The website provides textual content on research literacy, while the OSF repository provides public access to the training materials we have developed, all available under a Creative Commons license. The OSF repository also contains a workbook with expanded information for each topic covered on this website.

The platform is organized into the following themes:

  • Research: An introduction to science, research, and ethics
  • Literature Reviews: An introduction to the types of literature reviews and instruction on how to read research articles
  • Methodology: An explanation of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research, and the participatory approach
  • Knowledge Translation: An introduction to evidence synthesis and dissemination

graphical representation of website organization: Research > Literature Reviews > Methodology > Knowledge Translation

The Open Science Framework repository hosts our research literacy training materials, including:

  • PowerPoint slides for research literacy workshops
  • Accompanying workbook for participants - Download workbook
  • Brief videos explaining various concepts - View videos

About us

The mission of the Quebec SPOR Support Unit is to contribute to meeting the needs of patients and stakeholders in the health and social services network through concrete actions and to build a critical mass of multidisciplinary methodological expertise aligned with these needs.

Within the Quebec SPOR Support Unit are the Method Developments and Research Strategy in Partnership with Patients and the Public components.

The Method Development Component aims to meet the needs of researchers, patients, clinicians and managers for advanced methods (methodological and technical approaches) for the planning, conduct and evaluation of patient-oriented research.

The Patient and Public Partnership Strategy unit aims to develop centres of expertise throughout Québec based on the methodology developed by the four Réseau universitaires intégrés en santé (RUIS) du Québec.

The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) was developed in partnership with researchers, clinicians, decision-makers, patients, members of different communities and citizens.


Nebeker C, López-Arenas A. Building research integrity and capacity (BRIC): an educational initiative to increase research literacy among community health workers and promotores. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education. 2016 Mar;17(1):41.

Copyrights and usage

This knowledge product entitled Understanding Research is protected by copyright and belongs to the authors.

This knowledge product is available for use under Creative Commons Public License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

If you are planning to use any material from Understanding Research, please let us know who you are and how you plan to use it. This information is very important to us for evaluating its use and impact. You can write to us at supportunit [dot] fammed [at] mcgill [dot] ca.​

Privacy policy

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If you have questions about your privacy, please contact us at supportunit [dot] fammed [at] mcgill [dot] ca

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This initiative is sponsored by the Quebec SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Method Development component; the Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP); the Patient and Public Partnership Strategy for the Quebec SPOR SUPPORT Unit, and the McGill Department of Family Medicine.

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