Four Types of Scholarship

There are many different types of scholarship: this is because “scholarship” (most broadly) is simply about learning. While “research” is the most common kind of scholarship, especially in the discipline of medicine, scholarship can include creative practices, advocacy and transformation work, quality improvement, and knowledge translation or program creation/evaluation (aka design science). Each kind of scholarship project comes with attendant methods, activities, theoretical frameworks, presentation expectations, and ways of thinking about the world. Whatever kind of scholarship you choose, it should offer some (however broad) new knowledge that is useful to the discipline of Family Practice. Some projects require ethics approval, some do not.

Here are some broad descriptors of the various kinds of scholarship you might undertake. Below this are further details, including some details about concepts like methods, methodologies, theoretical frameworks, means of documenting and presenting, and outcomes.

  • Quantitative
    • Descriptive
    • Correlational
    • Casual comparative/quasi experimental
    • Experimental
  • Qualitative
    • Phenomenological
    • Historical
    • Action-based or participatory
    • Ethnographic
    • Case studies
    • Grounded Theory

  • Visual
    • Photo essays
    • Paintings
    • Videos
  • Performance and Sound
    • Dance
    • Theater
    • Music composition
  • Written
    • Poetry/Advocacy
    • Short Stories
    • Creative Essays

  • Organizing a public event
  • Undertaking an advocacy project
  • Responding to a pressing social need or injustice

  • Contributing to the betterment of a program, clinic, strategy, or policy
  • Undertaking a search for solutions to a problem in a place or program, testing that solution, evaluating the success of the solution
  • Analytical essay
  • Developing tools
  • Creating a website
  • Designing an “app”
  • Virtual manuals
  • Programing and simulation scenarios
  • Producing electronic tools
  • Curriculum development and evaluation
  • CME update

The most commonly undertaken kind of scholarship that Family Practice Residents choose to do is “research”. The broadest definition of research is simply “a systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” Bearing in mind that for many peoples and communities, notably in Canada, research has quite negative implications and is understood a part of a colonial paradigm, it is nevertheless fair to surmise that, with these critiques in mind, research falls broadly into two domains: quantitative research and qualitative research.

Contemporary reference points, such as Wikipedia, summarize quantitative research as a research strategy focusing on quantifying the collection and analysis of data. Quantitative research is formed from a deductive approach where emphasis is placed on the testing of theory, shaped by empiricist and positivist philosophies. Quantitative research is mostly associated with the natural, applied, formal, and social sciences. This research strategy promotes the objective empirical investigation of observable phenomena to test and understand relationships. This is done through a range of quantifying methods and techniques, reflecting on its broad utilization as a research strategy across differing academic disciplines.  The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories, and hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. Quantitative data tends to be any data that is numerical in form such as statistics and percentages.

On the other hand, and again if you looked up it up in places like Wikipedia, qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, documents, case studies, and artifacts. The data are generally nonnumerical. Qualitative methods include ethnography, grounded theory, discourse analysis, and interpretative phenomenological analysis. Qualitative research methods have been used in sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, social work, folklore, and educational research. Qualitative researchers study individuals’ understanding of their social reality.

There are many types of studies and projects that can be undertaken within the rubrics of quantitative research and qualitative research. These specifics are detailed in the next section.

Creative Practice is another kind of scholarship. It is sometimes referred to as “Research Creation” and, according to the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) is defined as “an approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices, and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. The creation process is situated within the research activity and produces critically informed work in a variety of media (art forms). Research-creation cannot be limited to the interpretation or analysis of a creator’s work, conventional works of technological development, or work that focuses on the creation of curricula. Fields that may involve research-creation may include, but are not limited to: architecture, design, creative writing, visual arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles), performing arts (e.g., dance, music, theatre), film, video, performance art, interdisciplinary arts, media and electronic arts, and new artistic practices.

UBC’s Family Practice Program supports Advocacy or Transformative Action as an important domain of scholarship, given that we define scholarship as an activity with the character, qualities, activity, or attainments of a scholar, and synonymous with learning. According to the author Bilorusky, J. A. (2021). Of the text Principles and Methods of Transformative Action Research: A Half Century of Living and Doing Collaborative Inquiry, transformative action research is about “research,” “inquiry,” and “action”. The intent of transformative action research is to bring about some changes that “matter” and are valuable and useful for an individual, a group, an organization, a community, and/or the larger society. Transformative Action Research requires that a scholar to continually ask questions about what we think “matters” the most—about what’s valuable, and what’s useful or practical, in ways that matter to us. Undertaking Advocacy or Transformative Action scholarship does not absolve you from asking a scholarship question, putting that question in context, explaining how and why you will be undertaking an action, and then summarizing the outcomes of the transformative action. You must do all of this, even if you are organizing a community sit in, a protest march, or an intervention of some kind.

There are two other kinds of scholarship that fulfill expectations of an R2 Scholarship project: Quality Improvement and Program Evaluation and Education Outreach, Design Science, and Evaluation. According to the Fraser Health Authority, the purpose of a quality improvement scholarship endeavor is to improve internal processes, practices, costs or productivity for a specific intervention [i.e. determine how this intervention affected this participant group in this setting]. The purpose of a program evaluation is to inform decisions, identify improvements [i.e. formative evaluation], and provide information about the success of programs [i.e. summative evaluation] according to predefined goals and objectives. Planning the evaluation may run concurrently with program planning.  The design of both kinds of projects can be flexible (you can choose different methods for undertaking your QI or program evaluation project) and both, again according to Fraser Health, will ultimately have utility to decision-makers; program management who use the findings to make improvements to the ‘practice’ being reviewed to benefit current and future program participants. Education Outreach, Design Science, and Evaluation is a broad umbrella descriptor of scholarship that, again as summarized in contemporary reference sources like Wikipedia, focuses both on the development and performance of something (a website or an ap or a tool) with the intention of improving the functional performance of that something.

General Method and Written Report Guidelines

NOTE: These guidelines apply to ALL project types. For project specific details please click on each project type individually.


Manuscripts are recommended to be between 2000 and 5000 words, and should not exceed 12,000 words, including the abstract, tables and references.


Include Objective, Design, Setting, Participants, Method, Main findings, and Conclusion and should be between 250 and 400 words. Up to four key words (MeSH headings) should be included.

Manuscript Structure:

Page 1: Title page with project title, authors, supervisor named;

Page 2-x: Final abstract;

Page x-end: Manuscript to include background including how this project is relevant to family medicine, question, methods including statement of ethics obtained/not required, findings (this can include any type of project output e.g., creation, data, etc.), discussion, conclusion, references, authorship statement, acknowledgements, appendices; keep tables/diagrams in-line with text rather than separate files.



                Quantitative                         Program Evaluation

                Qualitative                          CQI

                Other                                Validation of a tool

                Case Study                           CME Update

                Design Science                       Scholarship of Teaching