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Being Examined: Tips for your viva

This wisdom comes from the 10th annual ‘Life beyond the PhD’ conference () hosted at Cumberland Lodge. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend and gather a multitude of hints and tips for my academic career…Now I plan to share them here for those who wish to read them…I have also experienced a viva voce examination…so these viva tips also come from me too.

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What is a viva voce?

In a nutshell it is the oral assessment of your PhD Thesis.

So your first viva tip would be….know how a PhD/doctorate/thesis is defined!…Here is a sample of some of the key phrases and expressions relating to ‘doctorateness’:

  • worthy of publication either in full or abridged form;

  • presents a thesis embodying the results of the research;

  • original work which forms an addition to knowledge;

  • makes a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and offers evidence of originality shown by the discovery of new facts and/or the exercise of independent critical power;

  • shows evidence of systematic study and the ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject;

  • the thesis should be a demonstrably coherent body of work;

  • shows evidence of adequate industry and application;

  • understands the relationship of the special theme of the thesis to a wider field of knowledge;

  • represents a significant contribution to learning, for example, through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views;

  • provides originality and independent critical ability and must contain matter suitable for publication;

  • adequate knowledge of the field of study;

  • competence in appropriate methods of performance and recording of research;

  • ability in style and presentation;

  • the dissertation is clearly written;

  • takes account of previously published work on the subject.

Source: Searching for ‘Doctorateness’.

The problem is…..that a range of literature has pointed out the variability in examination processes across universities, individual examiners, disciplines. Yup, this can be a fairly subjective process. So it is your job within your thesis and within your viva to make your case and convince your examiners that your work is indeed doctoral work.

Within Wellington’s (2013) framework for assessing ‘Doctorateness’, there are seven categories listed for which doctorates may contribute original knowledge. Therefore, in order for ‘Doctorateness’ to be unequivocally established for your thesis, it is important to apply the categories of this framework to each component of your research. The table below was added to my own thesis in order to prove how and why my work was indeed doctoral work.

Category number Category description Evidence
1 Building new knowledge, e.g. by extending previous work or ‘putting a new brick in the wall’. The Delphi method has been used previously to assess the workplace needs of midwifery populations (Hauck, Bayes and Robertson 2012). Yet the views and opinions of an expert panel about the design and development of an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress have been gathered and presented for the first time within this thesis.
2 Using original processes or approaches, e.g. applying new methods or techniques to an existing area of study. As the Delphi study presented within this thesis was a modified one, where the identity of experts remained unknown to the researcher, and free text response options accompanied each statement, it has also applied somewhat original processes and approaches to an existing area of study.

 

3 Creating new syntheses, e.g. connecting previous studies or linking existing theories or previous thinkers. Chapter one presents the first narrative review to integrate studies of midwives in work-related psychological distress (Pezaro et al. 2015). This original knowledge demonstrates how midwives working in rural, poorly resourced areas who experience neonatal and maternal death more frequently can experience death anxieties, where midwives working in urban and well-resourced areas do not. This creation of new syntheses connects previous studies and existing theories together to form new knowledge.

 

The mixed-methods systematic review presented within chapter three is the first of its kind to collate and present the current and available evidence in relation to existing interventions targeted to support midwives in work-related psychological distress (Pezaro, Clyne and Fulton 2017).

 

4 Exploring new implications, for either practitioners, policy makers, or theory and theorists. Chapter two makes an original contribution to ethical decision making, and may be extrapolated and applied to other healthcare professions who may also now consider the provision of confidential support online.
5 Revisiting a recurrent issue or debate, e.g. by offering new evidence, new thinking, or new theory. The original research presented in chapter two contributes to an ongoing academic dialogue in relation to ethical decision making.
6 Replicating or reproducing earlier work, e.g. from a different place or time, or with a different sample. The mixed-methods systematic review, presented in chapter three somewhat replicates earlier work from a different place, time, and with a different inclusion sample (Shaw, Downe and Kingdon 2015).

 

7 Presenting research in a novel way, e.g. new ways of writing, presenting, disseminating. The results of this research have been disseminated via popular media publications throughout. A further summary of this research is planned for publication. Furthermore, this research has also informed new guidance, published by the Royal College of Midwives, who also present the findings of this research in a new way. This new guidance is intended to guide heads of midwifery to support midwives experiencing work-related stress. Evidence of this can be found in Appendix 15.

 

Adapting this table to fit your own work should assist you in realizing how your own research can be argued to be doctoral work, both in your thesis and in your viva. Once this argument is clear in your own mind, your confidence should rise and enable you to direct your thoughts towards a really positive goal. Getting your PhD!…and not just because you want it, but because you are worthy of it! You have worked really hard for this opportunity, and seeing your work match up to this framework can really help you to visualize your successes. But now there are other things you can do to help you prepare…

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Viva tips

Just because you have submitted your thesis, this does not mean you can sit back a relax until your viva day. Following a short break, and with fresh eyes, you should be revisiting your thesis and getting to know it really well. Also, be sure to keep up to date with any new research arising in your field, it may well be discussed in your viva!

Get to know your university’s policies and procedures. This will help you to prepare for how the viva voce may play out on the day. As your examiners will be drawing upon their own expertise, make sure that you also have a broad knowledge of their work!

Pick your battles. Fighting every point can be really jarring for everyone in the room, and your examiners need to see that you can accept constructive criticism and reflect. Decide what you will really defend, and what you are willing to let go of. This means that you will need to anticipate what your examiners may ask you. Here, it is a good idea to mock up some practice questions. Try defending the questions you fear most. This will help you to face your demons and formulate your arguments….constructively. An extra tip here would be to record yourself arguing your points. How do you sound? are you believable? How do you come across?

Having your supervisor with you can be very reassuring and comforting, although they may well not be allowed to speak during your viva voce. However, try to have them sit next to you or behind you, as eye contact or some other gestures, however well meaning may put you off your game.

Once you get to the viva, be prepared to break the ice. Your examiners are not ogres. They want you to pass! Starting your viva with a warm greeting can set the tone for the session, so don’t start with your defensive wall up too high! You can also set the scene with a short presentation to cover some broad points you anticipate coming up. Use this time to also show your knowledge and demonstrate your own unique way of thinking and working.

If there has been a long gap between your thesis submission and your viva, you may now have moved on to new ways of thinking or changed your original work to move on to a new project. Remember that this new work does not count in your viva. You must remain focused on what you submitted.

If the discussion moves to really complex debates, it is important to keep your cool, remain professional and don’t turn into a robot who has learnt their responses off by heart. Also, don’t be overly humble or point out your own weaknesses directly…if they are raised by the examiners, then you can show respectful considerations to other methods, but it is still important not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Your viva can last a good few hours…it is basically a brain marathon! So you will need to prepare both mentally and physically. This means de-stressing, eating and sleeping well…and generally giving time to your own self care regime. If you need a break during the session, don’t be afraid to ask for one. If you feel overwhelmed at any time, take a constructive pause to write or read and deliberate. It can’t be an extremely emotional and draining experience.

However, some people can enjoy their viva. After all, you will be speaking about your own work with experts in the field for some time. This is a chance to show off, be proud of what you have achieved and even learn more! Thinking in this positive way may make the viva experience not seem so daunting.

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I personally found my own viva experience very daunting, emotional and stressful. However, my examiners were not ogres…they too wanted me to pass and to help me make the best of my work… Following the submission of my revised thesis, I realized how much better my thesis now is because of this viva process and the input of my examiners. Having now gone beyond the viva process, I believe that I have truly earned my PhD. I worked hard for it. It didn’t come easy. It was a brain marathon. But would a PhD really be worth having if it was easy to achieve?

I can also now reflect on this process and learn from it. It is an experience that will certainly stay with me and enrich my future work. I hope it will also enable me to improve my own examination and supervisory skills in future.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

 

 

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5 career tips for a successful academic application

This wisdom comes from the 10th annual ‘Life beyond the PhD’ conference () hosted at Cumberland Lodge. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend and gather a multitude of hints and tips for my academic career…Now I plan to share them here for those who wish to read them…

Tip One: Potential employers will want to know how they will benefit from having you work with them as much as, if not more than, how you will benefit from working with them. Why should they invest their money in you? Will they be able to tolerate you on a daily basis? This means that you will need to come across as unselfish, and avoid saying the same thing as everyone else…be different!

Tip Two: Avoid jargon, and make sure you back up your claims with lived examples! For instance..It is no use saying that your I.T skills are fabulous if you don’t back this up with a real lived example of how you have used your I.T skills to do something of real value.

Tip Three: A potential employer will only take a few seconds to scan your CV. Therefore, you need to cut out the gimmicks, reduce it to no more than a couple of pages and make sure that you have used clear and easy to read formatting. Everything on your CV should be in reverse chronological order, and tailored to the job you are applying for. Your cover letter should never be a replication of your CV, yet it should hold lived examples of the skills you have presented.

Tip four: Within your interview,  it will not necessarily matter what answer you give to any awkward interview questions, as long as your answers are void of generic jargon and backed up with a sound rationale for your choice. Also, it is important not to pretend that either you or your research is impervious to failure…what matters is how you handle things and learn.

Tip five: Be yourself, and be honest about any career gaps…being evasive over these issues will only arouse suspicions…the truth is always far more welcome….It’s often not as big a deal as you think, and a good employer will appreciate what you are planning to do to get back on track.

For further hints and tips see this early career researcher blog.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

 

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How to conduct research: A dummy’s guide to conducting research

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Seminars held by the worlds top universities generally present the most up to date and respected ideas in relation to conducting research. Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a conference where several seminars were held over a one week period…How very convenient!…These seminars in combination were able to map out a broad blue print of how to conduct research for their audiences (myself and other chums).

As a result of attending these wonderful seminars, I am now able to translate what was shared into this dummy’s guide to conducting research. I write here not only to refresh my own knowledge in this area, but also in the hope that it may be of use to the readers of this post. Wish me luck!…

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So why do we do research?…Because we have an idea?, a problem to solve?, or an area where a lack of knowledge resides?..(See ) …These are all valid reasons to conduct research within reason, but…What is research?…

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OK, so we need to define a research question…What question, need or idea are we trying to answer?..What itch do we have to scratch? We need to formulate a research question….and also formulate a research problem.

How to formulate a research problem

  • Explore the nature of the problem. Why is it a problem?..who does it affect?
  • Explore the context of the research problem. Where does it ‘sit’ among other things?
  • Define your variables. What would vary?…what can’t you control?…what would be the impact of that?
  • Think about what would happen if you didn’t address this problem. What would be the consequences of doing something else?
  • Define your objectives? What are you trying to achieve by doing this research?

How to formulate a research question

Think first…is your research question:

  • Interesting
  • Relevant
  • Focused
  • Answerable

Then…narrow your ideas down to develop a great research question.

Broad topic  Narrowed topic      Focused topic   Research Question
Children’s
health →
 Children and diabetes → School meals and sugar content→ Is there an association between sugar content in school meals and diabetes risk?
Walking → Walking related injury → Walking related injury and
adults→
How does Walking related injury affect
adults?
Bullying → Teenagers and
bullying →
Teen peer
pressure and aggressive behavior→
What role, if any, does
peer pressure play in the development of aggressive behavior
among teens?

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  1. Non directional hypothesis = Pregnant women will experience some change in their pattern of urination.
  2. Directional hypothesis = Pregnant women will urinate less frequently.
  3. Null hypothesis = A statistical assumption. e.g: There will be no difference in the frequency of urination for pregnant women who swim compared with those who do not swim.

And to test this theory…..(quasi-experimental or experimental study design)..we must ascertain the relationship between variables.

Components

Experimental group = Pregnant women swimming

Expected result = e.g Pregnant women will urinate less frequently

Comparison group = Pregnant women who do not swim

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Quantitative and qualitative research characteristics….

Characteristic Quantitative research Qualitative research
Philosophical origin Logical positivism Naturalistic/Interpretive
Focus

Reasoning

Concise and objective Broad and objective
Reasoning Logistic and deductive Dialectic and inductive
Basis of knowing Cause and effect relationships Meaning, discovery and understanding
Theoretical focus Tests theory Develops theory
Researcher involvement Control Shared interpretations
Methods of measurement Structured interviews, questionnaires, observations, scales or measurements Unstructured interviews and observations
Data Numbers Words
Analysis Statistical analysis Individual interpretations
Findings Generalisation, accept or reject theoretical propositions Uniqueness, understanding of new phenomena and/or theory

Image source and further reading = Crowe, Michael, and Lorraine Sheppard. “Qualitative and quantitative research designs are more similar than different.” Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice 8.4 (2010): 5.

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Quantitative data analysis methods Qualitative data analysis methods
Involve statistics/number analysis Text analysis
Seek deductive interences Seek inductive inferences
Focus on quantifiable phenomena (comparisons, differences, trends and relationships) Focus on meanings (themes)
Involve data clustering analysis for relationships in non-hypothesis testing Involve data structuring and coding into themes and groups.
Involve systematic predetermined analysis Involve in-depth fluid analysis
Value-free enquiry Considers the impact a researcher may have on others’ values
Objective Subjective
Narrow and specific General and broad

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Variable = Anything that varies

Independent variable = does not depend on that of another. Can be introduced or withdrawn by the researcher

Dependent variable = Depends on the independent variables and it’s out come variable e.g: Trauma, bleeding, symptom changes.

Extraneous variable = Unwanted influence that may interfere with either the dependent and/or independent variables.

Demographic variable = Age, gender, race etc.

Top tips:

  • We can ask..’What is the relationship between two or more variables?’ However, we cannot infer ’cause and effect’.
  • Experimental study designed (hypothesis testing) is considered to be the ‘Gold standard’ for evidence. However, you can gather a multitude of this type of evidence via systematic review and/or meta analysis (See more information on these here or in the image below).
  • Ethical considerations should be revisited throughout the study, as well as before commencement.
  • Take control of any extraneous variables by random sampling (from a larger sample base), random assignment (into either a control or experimental group), selecting a homogeneous (similar on an important variable) sample and by matching the control to the experimental group on important variables.

In conducting a systematic review, you can also arrive at new research problems and questions…meaning that the possibilities of conducting research are endless!..

 

But why do all of this hard work if you are not going to share what you have found, analysed, discussed and then concluded?

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It is important to publish and share your work at both a high and low level, so that new knowledge is available to everyone!…Students and professors alike should publish. It is never too soon or early in your career to get started on this. If you are not confident about writing or publishing your work, contact me and I will be happy to partner with you throughout the process.

Not sure how to do this?…see my post…’Why Midwifery and Nursing Students Should Publish their Work and How’ for further info.

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If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤

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An exploration of mixed-methods research

What is Mixed-methods research?…. a mixture of methods? …or a multitude of methods in either one study or a succession of research?….Yes….it is a pickle.

What is mixed methods research?

I am on a learning curve (as always)…and I have been refining my understanding of mixed methods research…so what is mixed-methods research as I understand it now?

Firstly…what is a method?

I like to think of it as a recipe. Everyone knows a recipe for making a Victoria sponge…Eggs, sugar, butter, jam…and cream….But perhaps my method is different from your method..I add vanilla essence….you prefer yours with blackcurrant jam….We are both using a recipe or ‘method’ for making a Victoria sponge…

It’s just that the recipe or ‘method’ has both agreed standards… and modified versions.

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So…in research terms, I used to think of mixed-methods as literally a mixture of methods used in a single study….perhaps questionnaires and interviews…or a focus group and a literature review…But there are others who have defined it differently. Basically…we are actually looking at a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative research in one study/paper…Here are some other definitions below from leaders in the field..

Pat Bazeley: I tend to distinguish between mixed methods and multimethod, although if I need a generic term, I used mixed methods. Multimethod research is when different approaches or methods are used in parallel or sequence but are not integrated until inferences are being made. Mixed methods research involves the use of more than one approach to or method of design, data collection or data analysis within a single program of study, with integration of the different approaches or methods occurring during the program of study, and not just at its concluding point. Note that I am not limiting this to a combination of qualitative and quantitative research only, but more broadly, combinations of any different approaches/methods/data/analyses.

 

Valerie Caracelli: A mixed method study is one that planfully juxtaposes or combines methods of different types (qualitative and quantitative) to provide a more elaborated understanding of the phenomenon of interest (including its context) and, as well, to gain greater confidence in the conclusions generated by the evaluation study.

 

Huey Chen: Mixed methods research is a systematic integration of quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study for purposes of obtaining a fuller picture and deeper understanding of a phenomenon. Mixed methods can be integrated in such a way that qualitative and quantitative methods retain their original structures and procedures (pure form mixed methods). Alternatively, these two methods can be adapted, altered, or synthesized to fit the research and cost situations of the study (modified form mixed methods).

 

John Creswell: Mixed methods research is a research design (or methodology) in which the researcher collects, analyzes, and mixes (integrates or connects) both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or a multiphase program of inquiry.

 

Steve Currall: Mixed methods research involves the sequential or simultaneous use of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and/or data analysis techniques.

 

Marvin Formosa: Mixed methods research is the utilitization of two or more different methods to meet the aims of a research project as best as one can. The research project may be conducted from either one or two paradigmatic standpoints (mixed methodology study).

 

Jennifer Greene: Mixed method inquiry is an approach to investigating the social world that ideally involves more than one methodological tradition and thus more than one way of knowing, along with more than one kind of technique for gathering, analyzing, and representing human phenomena, all for the purpose of better understanding.

 

Al Hunter: Mixed methods is a term that is usually used to designate combining qualitative and quantitative research methods in the same research project. I prefer the term multimethod research to indicate that different styles of research may be combined in the same research project. These need not be restricted to quantitative and qualitative; but may include, for example, qualitative participant observation with qualitative in-depth interviewing. Alternatively it could include quantitative survey research with quantitative experimental research. And of course it would include quantitative with qualitative styles.

 

Burke Johnson and Anthony Onwuegbuzie: Mixed methods research is the class of research where the researcher mixes or combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, concepts or language into a single study or set of related studies.

 

Udo Kelle: Mixed methods means the combination of different qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and data analysis in one empirical research project. This combination can serve for two different purposes: it can help to discover and to handle threats for validity arising from the use of qualitative or quantitative research by applying methods from the alternative methodological tradition and can thus ensure good scientific practice by enhancing the validity of methods and research findings. Or it can be used to gain a fuller picture and deeper understanding of the investigated phenomenon by relating complementary findings to each other which result from the use of methods from the different methodological traditions of qualitative and quantitative research.

 

Donna Mertens: Mixed methods research, when undertaken from a transformative stance, is the use of qualitative and quantitative methods that allow for the collection of data about historical and contextual factors, with special emphasis on issues of power that can influence the achievement of social justice and avoidance of oppression.

 

Steven Miller: Mixed methods is a form of evolving methodological inquiry, primarily directed to the human sciences, which attempts to combine in some logical order the differing techniques and procedures of quantitative, qualitative and historical approaches. At present mixed methods must devote itself to resolving a set of issues, both epistemological and ontological. The first must devote itself to what Miller and Gatta (2006) call the “epistemological link,” that is the rules and rationales which “permit” one to proceed mixed methodologically. The second must adhere to some form of “minimal realist” ontology, where either social reality is “One” but can be accessed by different methods separately or working in conjunction, or social reality is multiple in nature and can ONLY be accessed through mixed methods. Present day attempts to couch mixed methods within some broad notion of pragmatism are not satisfactory.

 

Janice Morse: A mixed method design is a plan for a scientifically rigorous research process comprised of a qualitative or quantitative core component that directs the theoretical drive, with qualitative or quantitative supplementary component(s). These components of the research fit together to enhance description, understanding and can either be conducted simultaneously or sequentially.

 

Isadore Newman: Mixed methods research is a set of procedures that should be used when integrating qualitative and quantitative procedures reflects the research question(s) better than each can independently. The combining of quantitative and qualitative methods should better inform the researcher and the effectiveness of mixed methods should be evaluated based upon how the approach enables the investigator to answer the research question(s) embedded in the purpose(s) (why the study is being conducted or is needed; the justification) of the study. (See Newman, Ridenour, Newman & DeMarco, 2003.)

 

Michael Q. Patton: I consider mixed methods to be inquiring into a question using different data sources and design elements in such a way as to bring different perspectives to bear in the inquiry and therefore support triangulation of the findings. In this regard, using different methods to examine different questions in the same overall study is not mixed methods.

 

Hallie Preskill: Mixed methods research refers to the use of data collection methods that collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Mixed methods research acknowledges that all methods have inherent biases and weaknesses; that using a mixed method approach increases the likelihood that the sum of the data collected will be richer, more meaningful, and ultimately more useful in answering the research questions.

 

Margarete Sandelowski: First, I think of this in terms of either a single primary research study or as a program of research. Then, I see mixed methods as something of a misnomer as mixing implies blending together. Mixed methods research, though, is more the use of different methodological approaches TOGETHER in a single study or single program of research. One cannot blend methods in the sense of assimilating one into the other. I use methods here to refer to larger inquiry approaches (e.g., experiments and grounded theory) which are themselves based in distinctive theoretical perspectives. Yet this sets up a problem too, as grounded theory, for example, can be “positivist” (a la Strauss & Corbin), “constructivist” (a la Charmaz), or “postmodern” (a la Clarke) in sensibility or influence. So, if a researcher is doing grounded theory (positivist style) and an experiment (positivist influence), are any methods actually being mixed? In other words, mixed methods research can be defined at the technique level as the combination of, e.g., purposeful & probability sampling, open-ended and closed-ended data collection techniques, and narrative and mutivariable analyses—i.e., in which anything can be used together (linked or assimilated into each other)—or it can be defined at a larger theoretical/paradigmatic level as using divergent approaches to inquiry together. I would not define mixed methods research as constituting ANY combination of 2 or more things, as any research involves the use of 2 or more of something and the use of experiment and survey is 2 things, but they are informed by one mind (typically positivist/objectivist/realist). We get tangled in words, do we not?

 

Lyn Shulha: By collaborative mixed method research, we will mean the purposeful application of a multiple person, multiple perspective approach to questions of research and evaluation. Decisions about how methods are combined and how analyses are conducted are grounded in the needs and emerging complexity of each project rather than in preordinate methodological conventions. . . . Within this context, methods can be “mixed” in a variety of ways. Sometimes, one method serves another in validating and explicating findings that emerge from a dominant approach. On other occasions, different methods are used for different parts of the issues being investigated, and in an independent way. In more complex cases, the methods and perspectives are deliberately mixed from the beginning of the process. The resulting interaction of problem, method, and results produce a more comprehensive, internally consistent, and ultimately, more valid general approach. What sets the most complex forms of collaborative mixed method research apart from other forms of inquiry is that findings depend as much on the researchers’ capacities to learn through joint effort and to construct joint meaning as on their expertise in conventional data collection and analysis techniques.

 

Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddlie: Mixed methods research is a type of research design in which QUAL and QUAN approaches are used in type of questions, research methods, data collection and analysis procedures, or in inferences.

 

Note: QUAL = qualitative research; QUAN = quantitative research

Source for quotes = Toward a Definition of Mixed Methods Research R. Burke Johnson University of South Alabama, Mobile Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie University of South Florida, Tampa Lisa A. Turner University of South Alabama, Mobile

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There are also now reporting guidelines emerging for Mixed Methods studies (O’Cathain, Alicia, Elizabeth Murphy, and Jon Nicholl. “The quality of mixed methods studies in health services research.” Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 13.2 (2008): 92-98.)

Good Reporting of A Mixed Methods Study (GRAMMS)…Guidelines as follows…

(1) Describe the justification for using a mixed methods approach to the research question

(2) Describe the design in terms of the purpose, priority and sequence of methods

(3) Describe each method in terms of sampling, data collection and analysis

(4) Describe where integration has occurred, how it has occurred and who has participated in it

(5) Describe any limitation of one method associated with the present of the other method

(6) Describe any insights gained from mixing or integrating methods

Mixed methods research is more specific in that it includes the mixing of qualitative and quantitative data, methods, methodologies, and/or paradigms in a research study or set of related studies. One could argue that mixed methods research is a special case of multimethod research.

 

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If you are looking to publish a paper and would like me to join your team, I am always happy to be a co-author on your article in exchange for guidance and insight..Not sure how to do this?…see my post…’Why Midwifery and Nursing Students Should Publish their Work and How’ for further info.

So until next time… look after yourselves & each other…then …in the words of Bob Marley…go ahead and stir it up….🎓💜🌟

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The 5 stages of academic rejection grief

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An academic career has been described as a journey filled with brutal, unrelenting rejection. I frequently find myself having to pick myself up from rejection. It is hard.

In academia..your peers will be some of the most intelligent, creative and driven people in the world. – I have found this to be very true. I am in awe of them all.

Additionally, from the inside, all you ever see is tweets and Facebook posts about how everyone else is winning awards, being featured by the press, or getting cited a thousand times.….Yes. I am constantly celebrating the achievements of my peers…. this is wonderful!…but yes… this does make my own rejections even harder.

Whether it is a paper in a journal, a grant application, your viva or an idea that you have lovingly nurtured and come to love and cherish, there are 5 stages of rejection grief that are more or less inevitable (for me anyway).

Having your work rejected can feel like you have just spent a lifetime nurturing and rearing a beloved child, only to find out that it has grown into an evil and murderous human being in need of ‘Major revisions’!

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1. Denial and isolation

This is wrong. It cannot be. I was so certain that my work was beautiful!…I don’t want to talk about it 😦

2. Anger

How dare the reviewer pull apart my work in this way…do they know nothing???!!

3. Bargaining

OK, I will take a look at the revisions. I will accept comment 4 and 5, but I’m not doing what reviewer 3 wants!

4. Depression

Gah!….these revisions are so laborious and depressing.

5. Acceptance

Oh…OK…phew… it is done. I am happy with it. I am at peace and ready to resubmit!

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Feedback is golden…but it can be challenging to accept…it feels like rejection….but we are all actually moving forward ..all of the time. See here about the importance of feedback. I don’t believe that managers, reviewers or examiners are out to get us (not all of them anyway)….and so we must remember that none of this is personal. It is not a rejection of you as an entity, it is a very subjective point of view which may actually improve the work you do.

Try to portray humility and gratitude…Rather than any knee jerk feelings…

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“I’m sorry… you’ve got major revisions to do”

Work that needs major revisions? How will people judge that? How will I be judged? is everything I thought I knew a lie?..what would another reviewer have said? (Most of the time the reviewers all want different things in any case)!

Self doubt, career doubt, black and white thinking and a feeling of doom sets in. ‘I am not good enough’…I begin to catastrophise. But then I reflect…what is really behind success?

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I think that my approach to revisions needs major revisions. I continue to work on these revisions daily….

Every piece of work that I have ever revised following feedback or rejection has improved. Yet every time…I have to put all of my toys back into my pram before I begin the process of making any changes. I go back and forward around the 5 stages of academic grief..round and around…but it always ends up fine in the end….mostly it ends up better.

I live in constant fear of rejection, failure and disappointing those who I respect most… But we must try to get over our fear of failure and rejection, or we loose the opportunities we have to learn and grow.

Remember…things always feel better in the morning…you will not always feel this way. The cure for academic rejection grief is not always instant success…it is compassion for both yourself and others.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and eachother ⭐🎓⭐

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Why we should welcome feedback and listen to those who raise concerns in both healthcare and research

Criticism and feedback can feel uncomfortable to both give and receive. It can be an awkward exchange, where both parties may be reluctant to let their guard down, concede to oversights, reveal any flaws and relinquish any feelings of responsibility. It can also be incredibly frustrating on both sides.

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But lets look at both sides of the coin rationally. Firstly, Why would someone offer feedback?

  • They want to make something better
  • They see an opportunity to improve something
  • They want to help you
  • They want something corrected
  • You, or someone else have asked them for feedback
  • They want to offer you their unique outsider/fresh eyes view of something that you may not be privy to.

These are all gifts, learning opportunities and avenues toward creating our best outputs. Here, we theorise that everyone who offers feedback has good intentions, which some may argue is unrealistic and naive. However, I am personally unwilling to lose out on the potentially invaluable gold dust of feedback for the sake of those who wish to meddle in mischief. The vast majority of those who enter both the healthcare and academic professions do so in order to contribute positively.

In order to feel valued and perform to the best of their abilities, healthcare staff must feel heard. This is the same for those in research. As such, whether we agree with the feedback we are given, it must be heard, examined, considered and then either acted upon or rebutted respectfully.

If you are doing your best, feel passionately about what you are trying to achieve and have worked hard to achieve something amazing, it can be hard to hear that there may be cracks in your work, despite all of your well intended efforts. You are also in the job to give your best and contribute positively. But you cannot know everything…so keep listening to those who have the ‘fresh eyes’ to see what you may not.

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Denial only denies you an opportunity to do better.

Lets look outside the box:

What is going on here?

Restaurant owner:

  • Wants her food to be good
  • Believes she has done her best
  • Defensive and protective about her achievements

Customer & Gordon Ramsey:

  • Wants good food
  • Wants mistakes corrected
  • Wants things to be better
  • Wants to be helpful and constructive
  • Has a new ‘Fresh eyes’ perspective from outside the organisation

The negative response to this feedback could mean:

  • The customer probably won’t return to the restaurant
  • The customer will avoid offering any further feedback
  • A missed opportunity to make things better
  • The expert will at some point back away from offering further assistance
  • The restaurant may fail to reach its full potential

FYI – These restaurant owners always achieve great things for their restaurants once they listen and act upon feedback

Reflection: Can we apply these roles to some of the roles active healthcare and research? (Including our own)!

Don’t despair!… If you get everything right, all of the time, you miss new opportunities to learn

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Some of my early academic papers were really very terrible. Some of the work I do now is muddled at first. I make mistakes, everyone does. I am in no way perfect, nor do I alone have all of the skills to change the world. I need help. I welcome help and input from those who can fill in for the skills I do not have and the knowledge I cannot yet see. This is why I welcome feedback and listen to those who raise concerns. In fact I grab every opportunity to do so.

In exchange for this, my work improves, I see new opportunities to thrive, new ideas are generated and collective collaborations make our outputs much stronger. Success.

If I had been steadfast in feeling that because I was so passionate about the work I was doing, nothing could possibly be wrong with it, then I would have missed the chance to create something better. Yes, it used to be frustrating to hear criticism. But this frustration can be turned around.

Once you see that a criticism is not a personal attack, it becomes a welcome guest.

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More recently, I had a paper accepted ‘No revisions required’. I was worried. I wanted feedback, I wanted changes made, I wanted other people to weigh in on my work and check for anything I may have missed. This is because I knew it would be a stronger paper having been ripped apart and then put back together again….made better.

Everything I have ever done has always been made better when others have offered their ‘fresh eyed’ feedback. Here are my top tips for making the most out of feedback.

  • Welcome and invite it
  • Listen to it, consider it and evaluate it
  • Let down your defenses (It is not an attack – people want to help)
  • Feedback on your feedback – Tell them how it was used
  • Actively search for those who can offer a ‘fresh eyed’ perspective on your project
  • Never attack those who offer you valuable feedback (They will avoid doing it again!)
  • Know that it is OK not to be perfect, you cannot do everything all of the time
  • Avoid blinkered approaches like ‘I know what is best’ & ‘Nothing can be wrong because I worked so hard for it not to be’.
  • Offer your own feedback to others – It will not only help them, but it will make you feel good and contribute toward the collective goal!

We all want to be the best we can be. We need to role-model and make things better for everyone. We need to lift each other up with support and praise.

Let go of your defenses and welcome new opportunities for success.

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Until next time, look after yourselves and each other 💙💜💚