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Table 1 Some Adapted Definitions of Pilot Studies on the Web (Date of last access: December 22, 2009)

From: A tutorial on pilot studies: the what, why and how



A trial study carried out before a research design is finalised to assist in defining the research question or to test the feasibility, reliability and validity of the proposed study design

A smaller version of a study is carried out before the actual investigation is done. Researchers use information gathered in pilot studies to refine or modify the research methodology for a study and to develop large-scale studies

A small scale study conducted to test the plan and method of a research study.

A small study carried out before a large-scale study to try out a procedure or to test a principle

An experimental use of a treatment in a small group of patients to learn if it will be effective and safe on a broad scale

The initial study examining a new method or treatment

A small study often done to assist the preparation of a larger, more comprehensive investigation.

Small, preliminary test or trial run of an intervention, or of an evaluation activity such as an instrument or sampling procedure. The results of the pilot are used to improve the program or evaluation procedure being piloted before it is used on a larger scale.

  1. *Emphasis is ours