Research 101

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Research 101

  1. 1. Research 101: Health Sciences Indentify and Develop the Topic Selecting a topic for a research paper is a most difficult matter. If you have the option of selecting to choose your own, always make it a subject that interests you. Satisfying your curiosity makes the work much more enjoyable. You may already know a great deal about the topic. However, it is necessary for you to "think through" the different aspects of your research while gathering materials and writing the paper. Is your topic too broad or is it too narrow? Are there adequate resources available to you in order to develop the topic? Is there enough time to develop this topic into the paper for your class? Step 1. State precisely the subject to be explored. Test yourself to see what you already know about the topic. Create a list of words that you feel are relevant to your research interest. The more you can focus your thoughts the easier the research will be.  Writing a paper about “diabetes” is much too broad a concept. A PubMed search for "diabetes" will return over 360,000 records. A CINAHL search for "diabetes" will return over 54,000 records.  Writing about “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” is better but still too broad. A PubMed search for "diabetes mellitus AND insulin-dependent" will return over 24,000 records. A CINAHL search for "diabetes mellitus AND insulin-dependent" will return over 20,000 records.  Writing about “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and the aged over 65” is focusing more. But, it’s still too broad. A PubMed search for "diabetes mellitus AND insulin-dependent AND aged over 65" returns over 4000 records. A CINAHL search for "diabetes mellitus AND insulin-dependent AND aged over 65" returns over 4000 records.
  2. 2. ? Step 2. State the topic as a question. You are writing about this topic for a reason. It's either your own interest or something your professor feels that you should know. Focus your thoughts by determining what is the information that you want to learn from the research. Construct questions that ask "What do I want to know about this topic?" ? ? Here are a few examples based on the searches above:  How do the elderly cope with insulin-dependence on their own?  Does “self-care” give the insulin-dependent elderly a sense of ? empowerment over their disease?  What are the social implications of insulin-dependence for the elderly? ? ? Step 3. Refine your ideas about the topic. Ask yourself, "What type of information do I need for this topic?" Once you have formulated a topic question or proposition you can determine the type of information that you will need.  Case Report (or series) - "descriptive study of a group of people, usually receiving the same treatment or with the same disease."  Clinical Practice Guideline - "systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient making decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances."  Evidence-based Medicine - articles that reflect "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients"  Technical Report - documents that describe the process, progress, and or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. Step 4. Focus your ideas by asking yourself, "Where would I find information for this topic?"  In the Library? Are there books, journals or media that I need?  In a Library database? Are there e-books, e-journals or other resources available on-line through the Library's website?  On the Internet? Are there websites that have important and reliable information about this topic? Ask this question to a librarian or your professor. They can guide you to the best research resources. This publication created by Mark D. Puterbaugh Information Services Librarian Warner Memorial Library Eastern University (mputerba@eastern.edu) Prepared by Malinda Shannon Research Assistant Friday, September 24, 2010

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