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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?…

Image result for quote on research is formalised curiosity

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?

                                          Image result for hypothesis

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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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Highlights from the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada #ICM2017 #ICMLive

toronto

My vacation is now over following a visit to the 31st International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada (ICM). I think we would all agree that this was an emotional occasion, as thousands of midwives came together from all over the world to both celebrate our wonderful profession and share new research, knowledge and ideas about our exciting future.

I was personally in awe of our midwifery leaders, who certainly inspired a passion for change, strength and future thinking in midwifery practice. I would like to think that my work will go some way towards building a bright future for the profession, and one day I hope to stand beside those on the main stage of midwifery who are ultimately steering the ship. Yet for now, I am learning from a plethora of inspirational midwives about how to thrive and implement change. As I come to the end of my PhD, I reflect on how I might move forward in partnership with the most inspiring midwives I know. It was an honor to spend time with them in Canada….see all of those flags?…What a wealth of knowledge!

Naturally, we were flying the flag for the Brits…

Throughout the conference I naturally gravitated towards all of the midwifery workforce presentations, my favorite and most passionate area of workforce research…Here are some highlights from these sessions below:

I would like to thank all of these wonderful research groups for sharing their insights with me, and for helping my understanding of midwifery workplace wellbeing to grow. I would also like to thank those at Nottingham University and Elsevier for inviting me to their exclusive evening receptions. I felt very honored to be among the best academic midwives in the world!

Thank you also to those of you who came to see me present some of my own research (done in partnership with my wonderful colleagues at Coventry University and NHS England of course). It was really enlightening to hear your thoughts on the staff experience!…The best is yet to come!

Equally, I would like to thank the audience who came to discuss my PhD work following my presentation at this wonderful conference. Indeed, there was much interest in this work going forward, and whilst other interventions were presented for mothers and babies, it was clear that by following the MRC framework for developing complex interventions and by incorporating the Revised Transactional Model (RTM) of Occupational Stress and Coping, this intervention, being deeply rooted within an evidence base, is now ready for co-creation.

It was particularly interesting to hear the audience keen to invest in this project and disseminate it widely across the profession. As an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress, this intervention certainly has the potential to be widely adopted. This was music to the ears of a global midwifery audience, who may often see things developed in other countries, and yet be unavailable in their own area of practice.

Again, the theme arose here that midwives wanted a place to talk and seek help confidentially, away from traditional channels. I see such places growing organically in the online arena, yet none seem to be fit for purpose, evidence based or co-created on a large scale. To me this suggests that the next phase of my research (to build and test an evidence and theory based online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress) will be well received by the midwifery community, especially if it has the support of larger healthcare organisations who can champion its implementation, dissemination and testing.

To spread and embed a large and complex intervention such as this across the midwifery profession would indeed be a legacy. Yet this work may also support excellence in maternity care, increase safety and support effective retention and recruitment strategies for maternity services around the world. As such, taking this work forward will indeed be crucial since it has been reported that reducing stress and fatigue among maternity staff is key to reducing baby deaths and brain injuries during childbirth, according to a detailed new analysis published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The challenge is to turn the vision for online support into practice.

icm

This was a wonderful, inspiring and thought provoking conference. To see a more detailed day by day summary, please see the wonderful blog by my dear friend @Dianethemidwife ….

Day One

Day two

Day three

Day four

Day five

Last day

It is sad that my time in Toronto is now over, but I have returned home with a new found sense of hope and enthusiasm for doing great things in the midwifery profession….

Until next time..🤚🇨🇦🇬🇧

 

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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Making Birth better: How research shapes practice #bbresearch17

Indulging in my passion for research, I am today reflecting on my time at  …an intimate conference made into a delightful day thanks to  & …More specifically …    &   …

I personally enjoyed this as a more intimate conference, where deeper conversations could get the brain working on what was really needed in maternity services and health research…Another reflection of the day can be seen on Steller here…

As you can see, we had a great line up for the day, and a fish and chip lunch no less!

Highlights for me include:

Stop sexualising breastfeeding!!!! The great presentation by

Learning about associated with at with

Learning so much about at with Prof. Soo Downe

Getting a wave from miles away from  across the miles sending & midwifery love to us all …..❤️

Powerful words from at …. how do we cope as midwives, & ensure excellence in maternity care?

And of course.. # learning all about making sure that blood goes to baby with  with ❤️

Learning about the barriers to identifying poor shared by prof at  with 🎓

Yet there were a couple of overarching themes that came from the day…including….

 

Thank you to everyone who came to see these wonderful presentations (including those who came to see my own presentation of course – you gave me lots to think about!)!…and thank you all for such an intimate and heartwarming day discussing my favorite topic…Research in Midwifery 😍…

 

And a last word from the Head of Midwifery at Hinchingbrooke  Hospital….(Heather Gallagher)…..

bbresearch

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 💚💙💜❤

 

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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….🎓💜🌟