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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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Developing your literature search strategy in 5 easy steps

OK, so you have a research problem that you want to solve or answer using evidence based in the literature. You need to find the right literature and capture it by spreading your net wide, and in the right places. You need a strategy for searching the literature….a search strategy if you will. I hope that these 5 steps will get you to where you want to be.

search strategy

What is a search strategy?

1.A structured organisation of terms used to search a database

2.A document that shows how terms combine to retrieve the best results

3.Something that must be adapted for each database you use

4.Something which is tailored to the question you are trying to answer

5.A good search strategy is something that takes time to refine

Different ways to search the literature

1.Electronically

2.Manually

3.Snowballing of the literature (going from reference list to reference list to find what you  need.

4.We can do a rapid review of the literature or an exhaustive one

5.We can see what other published literature reviews have done and how they have found their literature for ideas.

6.Ask! (Librarians, authors etc.)… authors of great papers often know of other papers you may be looking for…why not ask them?

Step one: Define your research question or ‘problem’.

First…we will use this as an example: Does hand washing among midwives reduce postnatal infections? 

  Example:
P (Problem or Patient or Population) postnatal infections
I (intervention/indicator) hand washing
C (comparison) no hand washing; other solution; masks
O (outcome of interest) reduced infection

 

Whilst PICO can sometimes be seen as the go to tool for formulating your question..don’t be limited by it. Here are a few other tools to help your formulate your perfect research question…

Methodology  e.g. questionnaires

Issues e.g. ethical decision-making

Participants e.g. midwives or patients

—————————————————

Setting – Where? What is the context?

Perspective – For who?

Intervention (Subject of Interest)– What?

Comparison – What else?

Evaluation – What results?

————————————————————

Sample

P I Phenomenon of Interest

Design

Evaluation

Research type

————————————————————

Client – who is the service aimed at?

Location – where?

Improvement – what do you want to find out?

Professional – who is involved in providing/improving the service?

——————————————–

Context

Intervention

Mechanism

Outcome

———————————————-

Expectation—What do you want the information for?

Client Group.

Location.

Impact— What change are you looking for? How is this being measured?

Professionals.

Service—For example, community services, birth centres or accident and emergency.

Step two: choose which databases you will search

Different search databases should be searched separately as they each have their own dictionaries of terms and keywords. Each database is tailored toward a particular topic of interest. The following set of databases relate to healthcare topics.

1.Web of Science (strong coverage which goes back to 1990 and most of its journals written in English)

2.Scopus (Covers a superior number of journals but with lower impact and limited to recent articles)

3.CINHAL (Prime source of nursing and allied health literature)

4.Pubmed & MEDLINE (Great starting point for any health or medical literature search.)

5.Cochrane (The source of systematic reviews)

6.NHS Evidence & The TRIP database (Search a limited number of high quality sources)

7.PsychINFO (Prime source for psychology and psychiatry literature.)

8.AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine Database)

9.HMIC (Health Information Management Consortium – great information from DoH and Kings Fund)

There are no strict rules as to how many databases you should search. That would depend on how thorough you are trying to be. Also, many databases will pick up duplicates for you…which you will later need to delete.

Step three: Identify and map your key concepts

A concept map is a visual representation of concepts within your research question or ‘problem’ and their relationships to each other.

To create a concept map:

  • Write down the main concepts which relate to your research question and circle them on a blank page.
  • Write down other words/concepts and ideas which relate to each of your concepts in groups. Draw lines between concepts to show how they are related.

concept map

Step four: Identify your key words

Some of these you may already have found in your concept mapping work, however, you really need to grab every keyword you can to get the best results…sometimes your databases will already have predefined keywords for you to use….helpful 🙂

To identify your own keywords, you will need to break down your own research question. I will go back to using our example.

Does Hand washing among midwives reduce Postnatal infections
‘OR’ ‘AND’ ‘OR’ ‘AND’ ‘OR’
Hand hygiene Midwifery staff Postpartum infections
‘OR’ Clean hands ‘OR’ Midwif* ‘OR’ After birth
‘OR’ Washed hands

 

 

Step five: Build your concepts and keywords into a search strategy

Sounds easy right? Well let me show you how to do this using an example from one of my published systematic literature reviews.

The questions relating to this review were…

1) What interventions have been developed to support midwives and/or student midwives in work-related psychological distress? and 2) What are the outcomes and experiences associated with the use of these interventions?

Key concepts have been underlined.

Below is a search strategy I built to answer these research questions. This was used to search one database only.

search strategy

As you can see, the search starts right from the bottom with the first concept ‘midwives’… the ‘population’. Each concept moving forward is grouped together with keywords combined with the boolean operator ‘OR’. When I need to combine concepts nearer the top, I combine them using the boolean operator ‘AND’. See below…

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This search strategy also uses truncations, where I have entered the root of the word and then a (*) at the end. When you do this, the database will then return any ending of the root word. Another example of this would be ….child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood.

If a word you want to find is spelled in different ways, wildcards can also be used to substitute a symbol for one letter of a word. Examples of how you might use this may be

wom!n = woman, women
colo?r = color, colour

(Credits to https://libraries.mit.edu/experts/)

Click this link for a great example paper, where the authors have mapped their key concepts and search terms to their research questions and databases.

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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.

I hope you find this ‘How to’ guide useful. I now look forward to you all going forth to develop and share your own search strategies with me. I can’t wait to see what problems you will solve 🙂

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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Top tips for #FreshersWeek #freshers2017 #Uni #StudentLife from an academic midwife

Tis that time of year again when students from all over the world descend upon university campuses to embark upon a fun filled journey of learning, adventure and growth.

Having been in education now for a number of years, I think this must be close to my tenth freshers week! Every year I get the same buzzy feeling of excitement as the freshers week commences…

(Unless that is the same feeling of excitement you get when Santa is coming…oh come on…Autumn…I am already thinking about the festive season!)

The streets are full of vibrant things to do and get involved in…people are making friends and connections and everyone is ready to take on a new challenge in life!

The sad thing is…whether I wear my student ID badge, or my staff ID badge..I am seemingly passed by when the invites for the foam parties and other nights out are being dished out…(grump)!…hmm…I wonder why? 🤔🎓 Maybe it will be different this year…and if you do see me on campus…I would love to hear about your plans!

I will be involved in the #CovHLSFreshers Twitter takeover this year..Ooh..snazzy!

 

As well as other survival guides out there, I wanted to share some of my own hints and tips for freshers.

Tip One:

No matter how scared or excited you are during freshers week….I think there are a few quotes that you should memorize and repeat to yourself in times of need….

Image result for a little nonsense now and then quote

Image result for everything will be alright in the end

 

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Tip Two:

Remember that there is no need to justify your course choice to anyone but yourself. This is your journey, your life now….trust yourself to make your own life choices. You got this!

Tip Three:

Find your tribe….Not necessarily those who look and talk like you…but those who will hear your voice, sing with you and lift you up. This could be your relevant student society or Twitter community..it could even be those you meet through doing what you love….hold on tight to these people for the ride…and make sure to lift each other up!

Tip Four:

Document your journey and take time to reflect. This experience will be over all too quickly and it’s going to be amazing! reflecting will help you to be mindful about your own situation and recognize your own achievements as your hard work pays off. Be grateful for 1 thing every day…however big or small…and celebrate the achievements of yourself and others every chance you get.

Tip Five:

Look after yourself. Self care can make your university experience a million times better. Take breaks, help yourself before you help others…and as for romance……

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See->

10 Tips for Success & Self-Care for Academics

Category Archives: Student Tips 🎓

❤Welcome all!❤

See you on campus!

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!…

research

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

Image result for which research design

 

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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.

Image result for methods of research data analysis

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 Structure a Research Paper

OK, there are many ways to structure a research paper, and I would urge everyone to follow the guidelines of which ever journal, school or university they are writing for. However, have you ever wondered how to structure a research paper? (A typical one anyway)!…Well I have put together one structure which you may find useful in your writing and planning (I certainly have).

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Introduction:

  • State what this paper going to do, say or explore
  • State why your topic or ‘problem’ is important – why should we care about it?
  • State what we already know about this issue, and what is yet to learn
  • What are you aiming to do with this work? If you are answering a problem, what are your research question(s)?

Background:

  • If the word count allows, give the reader a broader picture of your topic and what you are trying to highlight with the problem you have identified
  • What is the prevalence of your problem? – Give us some stats
  • What could be changed for the better? – Tell us what has already been tried

Methods:

  • Tell us exactly what you have done in order to get the results and findings of this study
  • Tell us where your study took place and in what context
  • State the type of study you chose to use, and why that particular design was appropriate in your case
  • Who did you include in your study? – Tell us about them
  • State how you recruited this sample of participants for your study in detail – How many? where? why?
  • Describe in detail the process you went through to gather your data
  • If you use an intervention, describe it in detail
  • Tell us whether or not there were any variables in this study, is there anything we should know about?
  • How did you collect or ‘extract’ data for this study? – Tell us, and be sure to mention any instruments or tools that were used in this data collection, and why they were chosen
  • State in detail how you analysed the data you collected

Results:

  • How did it all go? Tell us who responded, what your drop out rates where and how many participants took part overall
  • Describe those who did take part – were they men? women? old? young?… where were they from and what conditions did they have?
  • Go back to your research question – Tell us what key findings relate back to answering these questions and how
  • What else did you find out – Tell us the interesting bits, the correlations, the secondary findings which came out of your work

Discussion:

  • Give the reader a quick recap summary of your overall results/findings
  • Discuss what you found in relation to previous research – How do your findings differ from or confirm previous conclusions?
  • Discuss the implications of what you have found – what might change? and who might benefit from knowing?
  • Make sure you do not overstate your findings or exaggerate (I am guilty of this too)! – List the limitations and strengths of your study
  • Offer some thoughts on what research may come next

Conclusions:

If you have covered all of the points above, all you should need to do here is describe what your paper has done, and what is has added to the literature. Leave the reader with some closing thoughts and remarks, before declaring any conflicts of interest and/or funding sources.

Image result for you don't have to be great to start but you have to start to be great

Top academic writing tips:

  • Consider whether your work may be improved by applying a theory to underpin it
  • Think about which other frameworks and/or evidence may underpin your work
  • Consider using a reporting framework or guideline to strengthen the standard of reporting in your work (also….ensure that the framework is suited to the type of research you are doing) – See list here. 
  • How else might you ensure rigor in your research? – Use peer review, risk of bias and quality appraisal tools to check your work
  • Be proud of what you have achieved… always. You are always ahead of those who have yet to begin 💜🎓💜

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.

Further reading:

Huth EJ. How to Write and Publish Papers in the Medical Sciences, 2nd edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins,1990.
Browner WS. Publishing and Presenting Clinical Research. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
Devers KJ , Frankel RM. Getting qualitative research published. Educ Health 2001; 14: 109–117.
Docherty M, Smith R. The case for structuring the discussion of scientific papers. Br Med J 1999; 318: 1224–1225.
Perneger, T V, Hudelson P M; Writing a research article: advice to beginners. Int J Qual Health Care 2004; 16 (3): 191-192. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzh053
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If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

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

1

How do you decide which type of review to use? a guide to beat the literature reviewing blues…

Recently, I have been in search of the perfect methodology for reviewing the literature. So many options…benefits, limitations and choices…I found it really hard to choose the right one.. Which reviewing methodology would Goldilocks choose? which one is just right for you?.. After all of my searching, I thought it my be useful to make a listed guide to what I have found…
So… first of all, what is a literature review?…as always, the academic community will debate around this subject… but feel free to browse my  ‘Guide to Literature Reviewing for Student Midwives & Student Nurses’ here

Perceived strengths.  The literature review method seeks to identify what has been accomplished previously, allowing for consolidation, for building on previous work, for summation, for avoiding duplication and for identifying omissions or gaps.

Perceived weaknesses.  Literature reviews lack an explicit intent to maximise scope or analyse data collected. Any conclusions they may reach are therefore open to bias from the potential to omit, perhaps inadvertently, significant sections of the literature or by not questioning the validity of statements made. Additionally, authors may only select literature that supports their world view, lending undue credence to a preferred hypothesis.

Grant, Maria J., and Andrew Booth. “A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies.” Health Information & Libraries Journal 26.2 (2009): 91-108.

But there are many types of literature review that can do much more than simply review the literature…so how do you know which one to choose?

discovery

In order to decide which type of review to use, you will need to decide what you are trying to do, find out, or achieve.

Trying to develop a new concept? theory? or model?

Then you may want to explore the use of a critical literature review methodology. This methodology allows you to demonstrate how you have not only extensively researched a topic, but that you can critically evaluate the literature and take new conclusions and interpretations from it. You can then present these new interpretations as a new hypothesis or model… sounds good right?

Search

Not systematic – You are searching to find the most relevant stuff.

Appraisal

No need to evaluate quality -You are looking for literature which is fit for purpose.

Synthesis

Usually narrative, but you can be creative with this.

Analysis

Needs to arrive at a new conceptual theory or hypothesis of some kind.

Cautions

Every conclusion you draw will be subjective – Others may not be able to repeat your process

Looking to identify gaps in research?

Then you may want to conduct a mapping review of the literature. This methodology allows you to map out and categorise the existing literature on a topic. From this you can identify what other kinds of reviews or research need doing, as you identify gaps in the literature.

Search

Can be systematic, but searching is usually bound by time constraints, so this can be determined in line with your scope.

Appraisal

No need to evaluate quality

Synthesis

Use tables and graphics

Analysis

Quantify the research found and outline study types – suggest areas of future research.

Cautions

Can be overly descriptive, try to characterise studies on more than the basis of study design

Want to combine statistical data to provide more precise results?

In this case you may consider doing a the meta-analysis (A type of analysis done within a literature review – so really, this is one component of or add on to a systematic review).

Search

Thorough, comprehensive, systematic – Can use funnel plot

Appraisal

Use quality appraisal to guide inclusion/exclusion and/or sensitivity analyses

Synthesis

Use tables, graphics and narrative

Analysis

Analyses measures of effect numerically

Cautions

Your review can only be as good as the included studies allow..also, there is little value in comparing very diverse study types.

Want to combine quantitative with qualitative?

If you want to explore a complex problem using both qualitative and quantitative literature, then a mixed-methods review is for you…

Search

Your strategy must capture both quantitative and qualitative research

Appraisal

Need to use an appraisal tool appropriate for both qualitative, quantitative and/or mixed-methods research

Synthesis

Use tables, graphics and narrative – Present qualitative and quantitative results separately

Analysis

Look for correlations, gaps in the literature and draw conclusions based on combined findings.

Cautions

Theoretical and methodological challenges in bringing together qualitative and quantitative studies

Need to assess what is already known about a topic?

A rapid review is for you.

Search

Determined by time constraints

Appraisal

Formal quality appraisal required

Synthesis

Use tables and narrative

Analysis

Look for directions of effect, and quality and quantity of the literature

Cautions

Doing things quickly…you always run the risk of bias and mistakes are more easily made

Want to know the size and scope of available research?

A Scoping review is for you..

Search

You may want to perform your search as a research in progress

Appraisal

No formal quality appraisal is required

Synthesis

Use tables and narrative.. you can also use commentary

Analysis

Look for directions for future research – Use this to form new research questions.

Cautions

This is not usually a final output…rather a means to an end

Want to address really current matters?

When you want to offer new perspectives on a current issue or point out a new area for further research, you may consider conducting a state-of-the-art review.

Search

Comprehensive and current

Appraisal

No formal quality appraisal is required

Synthesis

Use tables and narrative

Analysis

Present a current state of knowledge and list priorities for future research

Cautions

Beware of subject experts’ particularly idiosyncratic and personal perspectives on current and future priorities.

Want to systematically search for, appraise and synthesis research evidence?

If you are looking to do more than a just review or systematize the literature, then a systematic literature review is for you.

Search

Comprehensive exhaustive and systematic

Appraisal

Formal quality appraisal is required – This can be used to exclude research of poor quality

Synthesis

Use tables and narrative

Analysis

Present recommendations for future research based on what is known, what remains unknown, and what we are still unsure about…The review should answer a broad research question.

Cautions

Adhere to reporting guidelines for a strong output.

Want to create an accessible and usable document in relation to a broad issue?

If you would like to highlight reviews that address interventions and their results in relation to a broad issue, then an umbrella review is for you.

Search

Only searches for component reviews

Appraisal

Formal quality appraisal  for reviews is required

Synthesis

Use tables, graphics and narrative

Analysis

Present recommendations for future research based on what is known, what remains unknown, and what we are still unsure about…The review should consolidate all that is known about one broad issue.

Cautions

Requires the pre-existence of the narrower component reviews

Want to know what works, for whom, in what circumstances . . . and why?

If you want to unpack the mechanism(s) of how and why complex interventions thrive or fail, in particular setting(s), then the realist review methodology is for you!

Search

Highly detailed and systematic

Appraisal

Justify how judgments were made

Synthesis

Use tables, graphics and narrative – include information on the constructs analysed and describe the analytic process.

Analysis

Present the key findings with a specific focus on theory building and testing

Cautions

Ensure that the RAMESES (Realist And MEta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards) guidelines and standards are adhered to for a strong output.

workings

So…have we made a decision, are we sitting comfortably? are we ready to begin?…Let me know how you get on, and please share any additionally methodologies I may have missed.
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.
Until next times, take care of yourselves…and each other 🌟🎓🌟