Medical research requires as much attention to management as it does to science. Effective research depends first upon the thoughtful statements of purpose and objectives, and related research questions. These important initial steps in turn drive key decisions regarding study type, plans for analyses and competent implementation within bounded timeframes and budgets. The research endeavour materializes by selecting appropriate study types based on coherent research questions, appropriate data collection, and ultimately concludes by drawing inferences on the basis of properly planned analyses. This article reviews these principles and inter-relationships.