JMIR Formative Research (JFR) (a PubMed-indexed sister journal of J Med Internet Res (JMIR) and JMIR mHealth & uHealth, the leading eHealth and mHealth journals by impact factor) publishes peer-reviewed, openly accessible papers containing results from process evaluations, feasibility/pilot studies and other kinds of formative research and preliminary results. While the original focus was on the design of medical and health-related research and technology innovations, JFR publishes studies from all areas of medical and health research.
Formative research is research that occurs before a program is designed and implemented, or while a program is being conducted. Formative research can help
- define and understand populations in need of a intervention or public health program
- create programs that are specific to the needs of those populations
- ensure programs are acceptable and feasible to users before launching
- improve the relationship between users and agencies/research groups
- demonstrate the feasibility, use, satisfaction with, or problems with a program before large-scale summative evaluation (looking at health outcomes)
Many funding agencies will expect some sort of pilot/feasibility/process evaluation before funding a larger study such as a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).
Formative research should be an integral part of developing programs or adapting programs, and should be used while the program is on-going to help refine and improve program activities. Thus, formative evaluation can and should also occur in form of a process evaluation alongside a summative evaluation such as a RCT.
This journal fills an important gap in the academic journals landscape, as it publishes sound and peer-reviewed formative research that is criticial for investigators to apply for further funding, but that is usually not published in outcomes-focussed medical journals aiming for impact and generalizability.
Summative evaluations of programs and apps/software that have undergone a thorough formative evaluation before launch have a better chance to be published in our high-impact flagship journals (JMIR mHealth, J Med Internet Res, JMIR Serious Games), thus we encourage authors to submit - as a first step - their formative evaluations in JMIR Formative Res (and their evaluation protocols in JMIR Res Protoc).
JMIR Formative Res has been accepted for indexing in PubMed and PubMed Central.