All posts by Martha "Marty" Highfield PhD RN

It is difficult to be simple! Yet, research can be easily understood if explained well. That's my aim.

Challenges to "Medical dogma" – Practice your EBP skills

Medscape just came out with Eric J. Topol article: 15 Studies that Challenged Medical Dogma in 2019. Critically check it out to practice your skills in applying evidence to practice. What are the implications for your practice? Are more or stronger studies needed before this overturning of dogma becomes simply more dogma? Are the resources and people’s readiness there for any warranted change? If not, what needs to happen? What are the risks of adopting these findings into practice?

Your thots?

Ho Ho How Do You Punctuate That?

Grammar Party


It’s getting to be that time of year when children close their eyes and fantasize about an old, fat man breaking into their house while they sleep naïvely in false security in their bedrooms.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the man says to himself as he places consumer goods under a tree that for some reason has been moved to their living room.

Wait. Perhaps he says “Ho ho ho!” instead. Just how many exclamation points does this slavemaster of reindeer use?

Let’s turn to the authorities. Here’s what Merriam-Websterhas to say:

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 10.24.56 AM.png

There you have it. Three hos and one exclamation point.

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas (etc.) to you!

Erin Servais is a professional book editor who is really hoping she won’t get coal this Christmas. Learn more about how she can help you reach your publishing goals here: Dot and Dash website.

View original post

On Target all the time and everytime !

“Measure twice. Cut once!” goes the old carpenter adage. Why? Because measuring accurately means you’ll get the outcomes you want!

Same in research. A consistent and accurate measurement will get you the outcomes you want to know. Whether an instrument measures something consistently is called reliability. Whether it measures accurately is called validity. So, before you use a tool, check for its reported reliability and validity.

A good resource for understanding the concepts of reliability (consistency) and validity (accuracy) of research tools is at Below are quoted Key Takeaways:

  • Psychological researchers do not simply assume that their measures work. Instead, they conduct research to show that they work. If they cannot show that they work, they stop using them.
  • There are two distinct criteria by which researchers evaluate their measures: reliability and validity. Reliability is consistency across time (test-retest reliability), across items (internal consistency), and across researchers (interrater reliability). Validity is the extent to which the scores actually represent the variable they are intended to.
  • Validity is a judgment based on various types of evidence. The relevant evidence includes the measure’s reliability, whether it covers the construct of interest, and whether the scores it produces are correlated with other variables they are expected to be correlated with and not correlated with variables that are conceptually distinct.
  • The reliability and validity of a measure is not established by any single study but by the pattern of results across multiple studies. The assessment of reliability and validity is an ongoing process.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” R.Frost


Below is my adaptation of one of the clearest representations that I have ever seen of when the roads diverge into quality improvement, evidence-based practice, & research.  Well done, Dr. E.Schenk PhD MHI, RN-BC!qi-ebp-research-flow-chart

Your public persona: Name matters

This applies to you current and future authors. (Don’t think you won’t be one someday!)

Try to find an author name you can stick with. You want people to easily find all your work. What to consider? What does the future hold? Here’s some help from new online article in Nurse Author & Editor:

Is “data” singular or plural?

I’m a stickler for the plural.  (Peer reviewers are, too.) What’s your take?

Grammar Party

Man with laptop. Word bubble says: Hey, girl. Let's check out some data together

Buckle up, folks. People have strong feelings about whether to treat “data” as a singular or plural noun. And we are going to talk all about it today.

Technically, “datum” is the singular version, and “data” is the plural version.

This means—technically—“data” takes a plural version of a verb.


The data are correct.
The data show these numbers.
The data illustrate the findings.

But . . . these days, most people treat “data” as if it were singular. So they use a singular verb with it.


The data is correct.
The data shows these numbers.
The data illustrates the findings.

This is where you have to make a decision. Are you going to be a stickler and fight for “data” as a plural, or are you going to buckle under peer pressure and treat it as singular?

You are entitled to your own thoughts about this. But guess…

View original post 155 more words

Predicting the future: Hypotheses

What is the difference between a research question and hypothesis?  A hypothesis is a predicted answer and focuses on testing whether a particular cause(s) actually creates a particular effect(s) (i.e., ASA lowers MI risk).   A hypothesis allows us to test whether we are telling the future correctly.  ( note: It may be written in interrogative form, but should not be confused with a research question.  If the terms cause, effect, or any of their synonyms occur you are dealing with a hypothesis: an educated prediction.)

On the other hand, we use a research question when we don’t know enough to predict possible cause and effect, & merely want to describe something.  A question may also be used to find out whether or not 2 things are related to each other, but we aren’t ready to identify one as causing the other (i.e., which came 1st, the chicken or the egg?—these are related, but which was the cause?)  Research questions allow us to gather information that may lead to hypotheses.

There you have it.  Consider yourself introduced to hypotheses and research questions.

What do you think?

Critical thinking question: One of the following is a hypothesis & one is a research question.  Which is which?

  1.  The purpose of this study was to describe the expectations for pain relief of patients with abdominal pain and how their communication with providers relates to their overall pain relief. (Yee et al 2006)
  2.  We investigated whether a brief pain communication/education strategy would improve patient pain communication skills. (Smith et al, 2010)

Happy research reading!