Guidelines for Defining Systematic Investigation
and Generalizable Knowledge
The definition of research as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) regulations: “Research means a systematic investigation, including research
development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable
knowledge.” 45 CFR 46.102 (d)
To be considered a “systematic investigation”, the concept of a research project must
meet all of the following:
- Attempt to answer research questions (in some research, this would be a hypothesis).
- Is methodologically driven, that is, it collects data or information in an organized
and consistent way.
- The data or information is analyzed in some way, be it quantitative or qualitative
- Conclusions are drawn from the results.
“Generalizable Knowledge” would include one or more of the following concepts:
- The knowledge contributes to a theoretical framework of an established body of knowledge.
- The primary beneficiaries of the research are other researchers, scholars and practitioners
in the field of study.
- Publication, presentation or other distribution of the results is intended to inform
the field of study.
- The results are expected to be generalized to a larger population beyond the site
of data collection.
- The results are intended to be replicated in other settings.
- Web based publication for professional purposes.