The primary objective of a researcher is to explore the significance of a chosen topic to advance new knowledge and developments within the field. Research findings can impact a broad range of areas including academic, social, commercial, political and scientific. Research can be applied, for example, in the development of new clinical treatments, or be more theoretical in nature. Both types of research are essential.
Research projects can be conducted in a variety of ways and settings, including, but not limited to, laboratory work, animal studies, clinical studies in humans, a range of observational and other studies ‘in the field’, or investigating documents and archival resources.
A research career in complementary medicine is vital to the progression of the industry and to enhance the clinical outcomes of patients that utilise complementary health services as their primary health care profession or alongside conventional therapy.
Research in complementary medicine can be conducted in a variety of ways including through health sociology, health services research, clinical epidemiology, animal studies and experimental human trials such as randomised controlled trials.
Each field can have a significant impact on the development and advancement of clinically relevant knowledge in complementary medicine including identifying bioactivity of compounds used in complementary medicine, comparative studies of treatment or therapy, characteristics of complementary medicine users, the effectiveness of treatment and therapies, safety standards and cost-effectiveness of interventions to name a few.
Students interested in research can gain more experience in this area by being part of an established research team, for example as a research assistant or research team participant.
Individuals wishing to undertake a more formal study to lead to a career as a researcher should consider applying for enrolment in a research training degree. Typically, this involves completion of an Honours or Research Masters degree, followed by a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or Professional doctorate. These study options are available at most universities but depend on the availability of research supervisors with the expertise needed to guide a student in a particular research area.