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Writing In The Health Sciences: The Research Process


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part I of a three part series on the publication process in the health sciences

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
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Writing In The Health Sciences: The Research Process

  1. 1. The Research Process Writing in the Health Sciences Part I
  2. 2. Why Publish? <ul><li>Opportunity to expand or share knowledge/ideas in a chosen field or discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure recognition of “ownership” of a particular idea or theoretical advance </li></ul><ul><li>Career-enhancing (publish or perish) </li></ul><ul><li>Personal gratification – seeing name in print </li></ul><ul><li>Acquire valuable practice in working with the written word </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Research : studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical applications of such new or revised theories or laws. </li></ul><ul><li>Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary </li></ul>
  4. 4. Or … <ul><li>Research : “ … the art of muddling through.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ahmed Riahi-Belhaoui </li></ul>
  5. 5. “Arranging the pencils: preliminary steps” <ul><li>Decide to write the paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FINER criteria (Feasibility / Interesting / Novel / Ethical / Relevant) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Confer with a mentor or a possible collaborator </li></ul><ul><li>Attend presentations on under-explored, but interesting research topics </li></ul><ul><li>Create a timetable </li></ul>
  6. 6. Preliminary Steps Questions <ul><li>Do you have access to the population/objects to the studied? </li></ul><ul><li>Problem should have a clinical and/or educational significance – the “so what?” </li></ul><ul><li>Time? </li></ul><ul><li>Costs? </li></ul><ul><li>Other Expertise? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Research Process Road Map <ul><li>Define the Problem/Question </li></ul><ul><li>Determine author (s) </li></ul><ul><li>Select the audience/target readers </li></ul><ul><li>Do a Literature Review </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a target journal </li></ul><ul><li>Research Design </li></ul>
  8. 8. Characteristics of a Good Research Question <ul><li>Original </li></ul><ul><li>Of interest to the researcher and the outside world </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis can be formulated & tested </li></ul><ul><li>Study feasible in terms of time, ethics, money, materials and expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Results potentially important and may change current ideas and/or practice </li></ul><ul><li>Potential to develop further projects with similar theme </li></ul>
  9. 9. Developing the Hypothesis <ul><li>In general, a hypothesis has four parts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject group: who/what are you interested in studying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Treatment or exposure: what is being done to part of all of your subject group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcome measure: how or in what manner is the treatment or exposure going to be assessed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control group: who are you comparing this against </li></ul></ul><ul><li>State the hypothesis in the “If ….., then …” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Responsible Conduct of Research: Authorship <ul><li>Decide who is on first (second and third) </li></ul><ul><li>Assign responsibility early </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical Issues </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional guidelines on authorship/publication practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journal (ICMJE) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>U of Minnesota: Office of the Vice President for Research </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Responsible Conduct of Research <ul><li>Scientific fraud </li></ul><ul><li>Conflicts of Interest </li></ul><ul><li>Bias </li></ul><ul><li>Confounding </li></ul>
  12. 12. Literature Review – Helps: <ul><li>Clarify or refine the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Verify that this is an important problem which needs answering </li></ul><ul><li>Fills in gaps of existing knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Find measurement instruments </li></ul><ul><li>Identify researchers with similar interests </li></ul><ul><li>Identify or refine target journal selection </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t limit to just what is available electronically </li></ul>
  13. 13. Literature Review - II <ul><li>Common databases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MEDLINE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web of Science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PsycINFO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CINAHL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cochrane Library </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Others </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embase </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CAB Abstracts </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. RefWorks <ul><li>Check target journals “Instructions to Authors” for required citation style </li></ul><ul><li>Demos </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PubMed & Ovid MEDLINE demo ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Links to other importation guides </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Choosing a Journal: Part I <ul><li>About the article: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Key point to be made/desired impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity of the issue – is it broad or narrow? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technicality of the methodology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time lines / timeliness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographical limits </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Choosing a Journal: Part II <ul><li>Journals differ in terms of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Degree of competitiveness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disciplinary background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intended audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance attached to theory and methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Degree of dogmatism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Format, style and article length </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turnaround time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refereeing procedures </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Choosing a Journal: Part III <ul><li>About the potential journal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discipline/subject (s) covered </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Level of technicality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Circulation numbers and location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nature of the target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frequency of publication / publication lag </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specific relevance of articles already published </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prestige/accessibility/impact factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs involved </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Categories of Manuscripts <ul><li>Articles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Original theoretical and/or empirical research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review articles or essays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practitioner-orientated articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educational technique </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><li>Chapters in books </li></ul><ul><li>Book reviews </li></ul>
  19. 19. Research Designs <ul><li>Qualitative Research: Gather non-numerical data to help explain or develop a theory about a relationship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Phenomenology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grounded theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Case study </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quantitative Research: Numerical analysis/research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Descriptive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experimental </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Overview of Research Study Designs Clancy, MJ. 2002 Overview of research designs. Emerg Med J 19:546-549
  21. 21. The Research Process Kuhlthau CC. 1991. Inside the search process: information seeking from the user’s perspective. J Am Soc Info Sci 42(5):361-371.