Category Archives: Disseminating findings

Pilot sTUdies: Look before you leap! (a priori vs. posthoc)

Why does it matter if a study is labeled a “pilot”?

SHORT ANSWER: …Because a pilot is about testing research methods,….not about answering research questions.

If a project has “pilot” in the title, then you as a reader should expect a study that examines whether certain research methods work (methodologic research). Methods include things like timing of data collection, sampling strategies, length of questionnaire, and so on. Pilots suggest what methods will effectively to answer researchers’ questions. Advance prep in methods makes for a smooth research landing.

Small sample = Pilot? A PILOT is related to study goals and design–not sample size. Of course pilots typically have small samples, but a small sample does not a pilot study make. Sometimes journals may tempt a researcher to call their study a pilot because of small samples. Don’t go there. Doing so means after-the-fact, posthoc changes that were Not the original, a priori goals and design.

Practical problems? If researchers label a study a “pilot” after it is completed (post hoc), they raise practical & ethical issues. At a practical level, researchers must create feasibility questions & answers. (See NIH.) The authors should drop data analysis that answers their original research questions.

Ethics? This ethically requires researchers 1) to say they planned something that they didn’t or 2) to take additional action. Additional action may be complete transparency about the change and seeking modification to original human subjects’ committee approvals. An example of one human subjects issue is that you informed your subjects that their data would answer a particular research question, and now you want to use their data to answer something else–methods questions!

Options? You can just learn from your small study and go for a bigger one, including improving methods. Some journals will consider publication of innovative studies even when small.

Look first, then leap: Better to look a priori, before leaping. If you think you might have trouble with your methods, design a pilot. If you made the unpleasant discovery that your methods didn’t work as you hoped, you can 1) disseminate your results anyway or 2) rethink ethical and practical issues.

Who’s with me? The National Institutes of Health agree: https://nccih.nih.gov/grants/whatnccihfunds/pilot_studies . NIH notes that common misuses of “pilots” are determining safety, efficacy of intervention, and effect size.

Who disagrees? McGrath argues that clinical pilots MAY test safety and efficacy, as well as feasibility. (See McGrath, J. M. (2013). Not all studies with small samples are pilot studies, Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, 27(4): 281-283. doi: 10.1097/01.JPN.0000437186.01731.bc )

Part 2: It’s a jungle out there! Flaky academic conferences

Flaky conferences can taken advantage of your time, money and energy.  My own publications in bona fide journals have triggered an onslaught of emails from probably predatory conferences–World Congresses of this and that (global health, nursing, education, etc.).  The cartoon below totally resonates!  Thanks PHD Comics.

http://phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1704

 

“It’s a jungle out there:” Predatory Journals

Cool. You completed your project and now want to publish it.

Beware! Predatory journals are ready to snap up your work!  It helps them, but not you.

What is a predatory journal?  One that can eat you and your paper alive.

  • tiger junglePredatory journals don’t meet quality peer-review standards.
  • The predator may post your manuscript online, which then vanishes from access.
  • If you are writing an article and cite a predator-published manuscript, you undercut your own credibility.
  • If you’re counting on the article for credit towards tenure, your personnel reviewers may toss a predator-published article aside. 0 credit for you & questions about your own credibility. [For more on this in nursing see: Owens, J.K. & Chinn, P. (2018, January 20). “Reference letters & the specter of publications in predatory journals, Nurse Author & Editor, 28(1), 2. Retrieved from http://naepub.com/peer-review/2018-28-1-2/]

Many predators are Open Access Journals. What are Open Access Journals?  Ones “that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access” (https://doaj.org/faq#definition).

Open Access Journals may be legitimate OR predatory.

How can you identify predatory journals? While perhaps not Mighty Mouse—yep, I’m showing my age—help from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is on the way. DOAJ provides a searchable list of LEGITIMATE open access journals (click here)A quick search for “nursing” yielded 7.

How does DOAJ define quality  of journals? Quality open access journals “must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review (particularly in the Humanities) carried out by at least two editors” (https://doaj.org/faq#definition).

Is there a list of predatory open access journals? YES. To see one that is updated, click here. Also, you can help! If you find an open access journal that claims to have the DOAJ quality seal, but isn’t on the DOAJ legitimate journal list, DOAJ wants to hear from you!

For more on DOAJ, see https://doaj.org/: “DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent.”

predator raptorStay safe. As Randy Newman sings, “It’s a jungle out there.”

-Dr.H

Looks like a “Scholar Scam” to me! Caveat Emptor

Caveat emptor2Caveat Emptor! (“let the buyer beware”)   I got a string of emails that I suspect are phishing to get me to send $$$.  Does the emailer assume that I am in some sort of “publish or perish” greed mode?

The likely phisher got in touch with me via ResearchGate.  I love ResearchGate.  Seriously. It’s a great place to notify interested scholars of peer-reviewed work OR to post your work as ‘grey literature’ (i.e., “usually unpublished [work, including]… research reports, …evaluations, theses, dissertations, webcasts, poster sessions, presentations, conference proceedings, PowerPoint Presentations, etc..” per CSU/LB)

I christened the emails a “scholar scam.”  (Please disabuse me of this notion if you know better.)  First,I got an email asking if one of my ResearchGate-posted papers had been published. When I Scamanswered ‘no,’ I got a string of gmails  (not “.edu”) attempting to get me to add as author someone who is not an author, then with other requests.  Supposedly the advantage for me is to get help publishing.  Frankly, I don’t need the help. (If you do, please pick your own reputable scholar friends to assist.)

I suspect that the phisher wants to convince me to PAY with promises  of publication. The paying part would be real and the publication part likely imaginary.  (BTW: Anyone can pay to publish anytime without anyone else’s help.)  I was not yet asked for $$$, but if the emails continue, I expect that to come.

ummm….no thank you….Caveat Emptor!    

What do you think? Anyone else receive similar emails?-Dr.H

p.s. the article in question that is fulltext at ResearchGate – Highfield, MEF, Osterhues, DJ, & Chu, L. (2008) Religious & spiritual content in physical therapy curricula: A survey of U.S. program directors. Published on ResearchGate.

 

To Italicize or NOT to Italicize. That is the question.

So…after you do research or finish out your evidence-based practice project, you have to disseminate your findings, right?  That means good writing skills are necessary.

I stumbled into the GRAMMAR PARTY blog today when I wondered whether or not to italicize coup d’état. Do you know?  I didn’t.  Check out this helpful resource.

 

Grammar Party

Every once in a while, it feels good to add a snooty foreign word or phrase to your writing. I mean, what would the writing world be without a little je ne sais quoi? However, there are rules about how to treat these words and phrases on first reference, and that’s what today’s post is about. (After all, teaching language and style rules is Grammar Party’s modus operandi.)

Section 7.49 of the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Italics are used for isolated words and phrases in a foreign language if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers. If a foreign word becomes familiar through repeated use throughout a work, it need be italicized only on its first occurrence. If it appears only rarely, however, italics may be retained.”

The question is: How do you know if a foreign word or phrase will be…

View original post 232 more words

Creation & Use of Evidence: Different!

The difference between research and evidence-based practice (EBP) can sometimes be confusing, but the contrast between them is sharp.  I think most of the confusion comes because those implementing both processes measure outcomes.  Here are differences:

  • RESEARCH :  The process of research (formulating an answerable question, designing project methods, collecting and analyzing the data, and interpreting themagnifyingGlassmeaning of results) is creating knowledge (AKA creating research evidence).  A research project that has been written up IS evidence that can be used in practice.  The process of research is guided by the scientific method.
  • EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE:   EBP is using existing knowledg(AKA using EBPresearch evidence) in practice.  While researchers create new knowledge,

The creation of evidence obviously precedes its application to practice.  Something must be made before it can be used.  Research obviously precedes the application of research findings to practice.  When those findings are applied to practice, then we say the practice is evidence-based.

A good analogy for how research & EBP differ & work together can be seen in autos.

CreateCar
Creating a car!

 

  • Designers & factory workers create new cars.

    UseCar
    Using a car!
  • Drivers use existing cars that they choose according to preferences and best judgments about safety.

 

 

CRITICAL THINKING:   1) Why is the common phrase “evidence-based research” unclear?  Should you use it?  Why or why not?  2) What is a clinical question you now face. (e.g., C.Diff spread; nurse morale on your unit; managing neuropathic pain) and think about how the Stetler EBP model at http://www.nccmt.ca/registry/resource/pdf/83.pdf  might help.  Because you will be measuring outcomes, then why is this still considered EBP.

Write Away!

Want to know the standardized format for writing up your research study, QI report, Writing1case study, systematic review, or clinical practice guideline?    Check out these standardized reporting guidelines: http://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/

Of course you should always give priority to the author instructions for the particular journal in which you want to publish, but most adhere generally or fully to these standardized guides.

Write away!

DIY your own Intro/Background: Structure & Argument

Want to know how to write an introduction/background section of a paper?  Pay attention to STRUCTURE & evidence-based ARGUMENT in order to DIY (do-it-yourself) your own intro/background for a school paper or research report!

Let’s use this 2015 free full-text article by Marie Flem Sørbø et al. as a model!  Past and recent abuse is associated with early cessation of breast feeding: results from a large prospective cohort in Norway .   (Hint: Clicking on the article’s pdf tab may make it easier to read.)

Focus only on the INTRO/BACKGROUND section for now.  Check out the STRUCTURE then the EVIDENCE-BASED ARGUMENT of the Intro/Background.  This is how you should write your own.

STructure

STRUCTURE of INTRO/BACKGROUND in Sørbø et al. (2015):

  1. Where is the Intro/Background section located in the article?
  2. What heading is used for the section?
  3. Where are the research questions located in the Intro/Background?  (HINT: this is the standard place in all papers & in this case the authors call them “aims.)
Why2

ARGUMENTS in INTRO/BACKGROUND in Sørbø et al. (2015):

  1. Look at the first (topic) sentence of each paragraph in INTRO/BACKGROUND & listen to the systematic argument the researchers are making for WHY their study is important.
    • “Breast feeding has long been acknowledged as the optimal infant nutrition conferring beneficial short-term and long-term health effects for both infants and mothers.1–5      …
    • Abuse of women is common worldwide, as one in three women during lifetime suffer partner or non-partner abuse.10   …Adverse  effects [of abuse]… are barriers to breast feeding.*…
    • Given the overwhelming evidence of the positive effects of breast feeding, knowledge about factors influencing breastfeeding behaviour is essential….
    • We explored the impact of abuse of women on breastfeeding behaviour in a large prospective population in Norway where the expectations to breast feed are high, and breast feeding is facilitated in the work regulations….” (pp. 1-2)
      evidence2
  2. Now look at the research & other evidence written down AFTER each of above key sentences that SUPPORT each idea.
  3. Notice that the INTRO/BACKGROUND is NOT a series of abstracts of different studies!!  Instead evidence is grouped into key arguments for the study: Breast feeding is best, Abuse is common, Abuse creates barriers to breastfeeding, & Therefore, knowing about factors affecting breastfeeding is important). [Note: Of course, if your particular professor or editor asks you to do a series of abstracts, then you must, but do group them in arguments like the topic sentences.]

All this leads naturally, logically to …(drum roll please!)…the research questions/hypotheses, which are the gaps in our knowledge that the research will fill.  This sets up the rest of the research article!

Image result for star
Critical Thinking:  Your turn! Write your own Intro/Background using
STructure

  • Structure: Placement in article, heading, placement of research question/hypothesis
    Why2
  • Argument: Key idea topic sentences (make a list 1st) with supporting research & other evidence (your literature review).

For more info on Intro/Background:  Review my blogpost Intro to Intro’s

*ok, yeh. I cheated and included one additional sentence to capture the authors’ flow of argument.

?Trustworthy? Protect Your Reputation!

If you are writing something for publication, watch this 2 minute video before selecting a journal!   You’ll thank yourself for doing it.

  1. Thinkthinker
  2. Check
  3. Submit

< 2 minute video that tells you how to think, check, submit:  

  http://thinkchecksubmit.org/

Don’t be fooled.   It’s a lot of work to prepare something to publish, and you want your work to appear in a credible source and be accessible.   It’s YOUR reputation!

If you are a student search for literature, it is important to know this also!!  You want to use the highest quality evidence you can find for your projects.

Nightingale: Avante garde in meaningful data

In honor of Nurse Week, I offer this tribute to the avante garde research work of Florence Nightingale in the Crimea that saved lives and set a precedent worth following.

Nightingale was a “passionate statistician” knowing that outcome data are convincing when one wants to change the world.  She did not merely collect the data, but also documented it in a way that revealed its critical meaning for care.

As noted by John H. Lienhard (1998-2002): Nightingale coxcombchart“Once you see Nightingale’s graph, the terrible picture is clear. The Russians were a minor enemy. The real enemies were cholera, typhus, and dysentery. Once the military looked at that eloquent graph, the modern army hospital system was inevitable.  You and I are shown graphs every day. Some are honest; many are misleading….So you and I could use a Florence Nightingale today, as we drown in more undifferentiated data than anyone could’ve imagined during the Crimean War.” (Source: Leinhard, 1998-2002)

As McDonald (2001) writes in the BMJ free, full-text,  Nightingale was “a systemic thinker and a “passionate statistician.”  She insisted on improving care by making policy & care decisions based on “the best available government statistics and expertise, and the collection of new material where the existing stock was inadequate.”(p.68)

Moreover, her display of the data brought its message home through visual clarity!

Thus while Nightingale adhered to some well-accepted, but mistaken, scientific theories of the time (e.g., miasma) her work was superb and scientific in the best sense of the word.   We could all learn from Florence.

CRITICAL THINKING:   What issue in your own practice could be solved by more data?  How could you collect that data?   If you have data already, how can you display it so that it it meaningful to others and “brings the point home”?

FOR MORE INFO:

HAPPY NURSE WEEK TO ALL MY COLLEAGUES.  

MAY YOU GO WHERE THE DATA TAKES YOU!