Skip to main content

Research Methods 101 for the Provider: A Guide to Critical Research Consumption - 2 CME Credits

Develop the necessary tools to evaluate research and design your own studies

Start Date: September 18, 2018
Duration: ~ 2 hours
Price: $99

Course Description

Course registration is currently closed while we upgrade our learning platform with enhanced functionality and self-service options for learners. If you would like to be notified when the course re-opens in March 2020, please click here.

Research Methods 101 for the Provider: A Guide to Critical Research Consumption is designed to increase providers’ competence to critically evaluate research by increasing their knowledge of the scientific method, research design, and common biases. Ideally, improvements in knowledge and competence will translate into improvements in clinician performance as they use their understanding of research to provide better care and communication to their patients.

This course is geared toward providers and researchers in all areas of health care with the primary goal of providing participants with the tools necessary to be critical consumers of research and (if desired) begin to design their own research.

What You'll Learn

  • Critically evaluate empirical research
  • Identify critical components and potential pitfalls of research designs
  • Determine the appropriate research design for a given research question


Sarah E. Nelson, PhD

Sarah E. Nelson, PhD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Associate Director for Research at the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance


Research Methods 101 for the Provider: A Guide to Critical Research Consumption is organized as follows:

Precourse Information:
Accreditation and AMA Credit Designation
Disclosure Statement
How to Take This Course
Viewing Videos
Grading and Certificates

Case 1: Vaccine Skepticism
MMR-Autism Link

Case 2: I Found It on the Web
Cited Article
Problems with the Cited Journal
Researching Sources
Research Tips and Strategies

Case 3: Just DUIt
Self-Report Biases
Measurement Validity
Sampling Bias
Pretest, Posttest, and Observation
Conducting an Experiment

Case 4: Gambling with Your Design
More on Sampling
Back to Gambling
Cross-Sectional, Multi-Wave Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Design
Sampling Problems

Case 5: Miracle Diet
Types of Effects

Case 6: Worried About Starting Your Own Study?
More on Study Design
Steps in the Study Process
Funding Your Study

CME Certificate
CME Posttest
Course Evaluation



The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The Harvard Medical School designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Risk Management

This activity meets the criteria of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for 2 credits of Risk Management Study. This includes 3 Credits of Opioid Education and Pain Management Training. Please check your individual state licensing board requirements before claiming these credits.

Other Accreditaton

Learners may also claim the following types of credit for completing this module:

American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders – The sponsor of this program has been approved to offer 1.5 hours of Continuing Education credit for Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS) in accordance with the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders.

American Psychological Association (APA) – The Division on Addiction is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Division on Addiction maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course offers 1.5 continuing education credits.

National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) – The Division on Addiction is nationally approved by NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals Approved Education Provider Program (Provider number 396). This program offers 1.5 continuing education credits.

National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) – The Division on Addiction has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6121. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Division on Addiction is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

The Division on Addiction verifies that this workshop meets the requirements of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing (Regulation 244 CMR 5.00) toward relicensing. This course offers one contact hour.

To claim these additional credits, email your CME certificate to Vanessa Graham at


Disclosure Policy

Harvard Medical School has long held the standard that its continuing medical education courses be free of commercial bias.

In accord with the disclosure policy of the Medical School as well as standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, course planners, speakers, and content reviewers have been asked to disclose any relevant relationship they, or their spouse or partner, have to companies producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. In addition, faculty have been asked to list any off-label uses of pharmaceuticals and/or devices for investigational or non-FDA approved purposes that they plan to discuss.

Such disclosure is not intended to suggest or condone bias in any presentation, but is elicited to provide the course director and participants with information that might be of potential importance to their evaluation of a given presentation.

Disclosure Statement

All individuals including course directors, planners, reviewers, faculty, staff, etc., who are in a position to control the content of this educational activity have, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, reported no financial relationships related to the content of this activity.


Dr. Sarah E. Nelson, Ph.D is the associate director for Research at the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, and an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. At the Division, Dr. Nelson is pursuing four major lines of research: (1) studying the etiology of addiction, investigating the individual trajectories of people who develop problems with addiction and developing predictive models of that development, (2) evaluating voluntary gambling interventions, such as self-exclusion, and their relationship with more formal treatment-seeking behaviors, (3) determining the needs of Native youth and their communities around addiction and recovery, and (4) investigating the relationship between DUI offense, psychiatric comorbidity, and other psychosocial factors.

Dr. Nelson has collaborated on studies of gambling involvement, the effects of exposure on gambling, gambling self-exclusion and self-limitation programs, and internet gamblers, developing predictive models based on early play patterns to detect subscribers who are at risk for gambling problems. Dr. Nelson’s work on DUI offenders and mental health has led to a project applying that research to clinical practice. The project has involved the development and implementation of a mental health assessment system (the Computerized Assessment and Referral System: CARS) at DUI programs across the state of Massachusetts, a randomized clinical trial of CARS at two of those agencies, and six-month follow-up with more than 300 DUI offenders enrolled in the study, a national pilot of CARS, and the public release of CARS in June 2017 at

Dr. Nelson has given invited presentations at international, national, and local conferences and seminars, interweaving all of her presentations with examples and exercises that provide a basic survey of how science progresses and encourage people to think critically about research and practice. More formally, she has developed and codirected a research methods seminar for health professionals at Cambridge Health Alliance in addition to this CME course.


For questions regarding the course content or cme credit types other than AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™, please contact the course administrator, Vanessa Graham:


Research Methods 101 for the Provider: A Guide to Critical Research Consumption:
Original Release: 6/8/2015
Most Recent Update: 9/18/2018

End Date: (/18/2021 (Enrollment ends 8/18/2021)


How long will this course take?

This course should take approximately 2 hours to complete. You do not need to complete it all at once. You may come back as often as you like.

How long will this course be available?

This self-paced course will close enrollments three years after its start date.

What web browser should I use?

The platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 11 and above. See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

What if I want to learn more about this topic?

HMS Continuing Education holds live topic-focused conferences throughout the year. Please see our course catalog for upcoming events.