Published online Apr 18, 2014. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v5.i2.89
Revised: December 19, 2013
Accepted: January 13, 2014
Published online: April 18, 2014
Core tip: This paper highlights the intricacies of spinal research. The difficulties of conducting high quality research in spinal surgery are discussed, but the tools for success are outlined. Specifically, the tenets of implementing evidence-based research are provided, along with a discussion of validated outcome measures which will increase the quality of a given study design. Importantly, the randomized controlled trial should not always be considered the best study design for a given research question, and observational cohort studies may be more appropriate in certain circumstances. Ultimately, spinal surgeons are responsible for evidence-based research to justify treatment paradigms.