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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…

Image result for boolean operators

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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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

 

Image result for be who you are and say what you feel

Related image

Related image

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……

Image result for put your own oxygen mask on first quote

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

Image result for quote "I do research because"

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

Image result for hypothesis

  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

 

Image result for methods

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.

Image result for research designs

Image result for data analysis

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

Image result for variables

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?

Image result for publish

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.

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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Why Midwifery and Nursing Students Should Publish their Work and How

Both midwifery and nursing students do wonderful work. Here, I am referring to ‘the student’ as any nurse or midwife who is currently enrolled in a postgraduate course, as well as those aspiring to be and working towards becoming nurses and/or midwives.

Students have a unique perspective on things, which those in academia or teaching may not be privy to. As such, any contribution from the student groups is a valuable one.

I generally hold the belief that if you are doing something worthwhile, you should share it. Throughout your student journey, you are learning things which generally, other people know about. However, when you are doing your literature review/thesis or dissertation, you are (or should be) contributing to new knowledge.

Image result for publishing

Students often say to me “I have never published before, and I am ‘only’ a student”…. Never think that your contributions hold no value. No doubt they will be valuable to the whole midwifery community, because your insights invariably are.

Also….we need more midwives and nurses to join the academic community!

Nobody can know everything, and nobody can conduct all of the literature reviews that need to be done (and these are always of great value to the nursing and midwifery communities as a whole)! As such, your new and original contributions are highly valuable. You also worked really hard on them!

So…Why not share your work through publication?…How will your new knowledge ever be widely shared among those looking to discover new knowledge and learn if you don’t?

Image result for publishing

So how can I publish my work?

Firstly, what do academic journals publish?

  • Opinion pieces
  • Literature reviews
  • Summary papers
  • Original research projects

These are the most common things that journals publish, and also the most likely things you will be working on. So think about how your work stands out, how is it original? If it is similar to another paper…are you building on what has previously been found? Try to look on Google Scholar initially to see what has already been published in your area of interest.

You should be referencing widely as a student (Not Heat Magazine, but high quality papers!)…Look at your reference lists – what have these authors published? in which journals? This activity may guide you to the kind of thing you might want to publish and where.

COLLABORATE – Ask one of your tutors or another academic midwife in a similar field to co-author a paper with you. This may mean that you can gain some valuable mentorship from another nurse/midwife, and also strengthen your paper with new ideas and a ‘fresh eyes’ approach. They may also have published papers before, and so can guide you in the right direction.

Image result for collaborate

Where should I publish my work?

As you may be fairly early on in your quest to journey down the publishing path… you may want to begin with some widely read and frequently published journals such as:

  • The British Journal of Midwifery
  • The Nursing Times
  • Midirs
  • The British Journal of Nursing
  • The practising midwife
  • The Nursing Standard

However, you may also want to aim for more international journals, and publish elsewhere. This website is very good at helping you to find the right journal for your paper.

The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year. The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.

Journal Rank (SJR indicator) is a measure of scientific influence of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from.

Image result for impact

Once you find the journal you would like to publish in…read their own explanation of what they want to publish – they will often say what they are looking for, or have a call for a specific research topic they have coming up. This may mean that you could contribute towards a special journal issue on a shared topic/theme.

Check out what they have published over the last few months… does it resemble the kind of paper you are trying to publish? Could you model your own paper to emulate the kind of things that are already being published..makes sense right?

Then…. When we have read our paper many times over with ‘fresh eyes’, we make our final edits in partnership with our co-authors….and submit!..

But what’s the process for doing this?

Image result for academic publishing process flow chart

In my experience, the journey from submission to publication usually takes around 3-4 months (Make sure to submit any revisions ASAP)!

I’m Published….what now?

Let the world know! – Share share share! This was the whole reason you published your work… so that others could read and learn about what you found. Your paper is important!…People will want to read it. Blog about it, share it via social media and email it to your professional colleagues. See my advice on using social media here.

You are looking for impact. Once you are published, you may want to track your Altmetrics score. Remember to add the paper to Linkedin, Research gate and academia.edu where people can find your work more easily…

Image result for altmetrics

The publishing journey is certainly an emotional and professional roller coaster where rejections can wound and successes can be truly empowering! Try to enjoy the peer review process as a positive thing. Any criticism and reflection will only make your paper better in the long run – don’t despair…it is rare to get papers accepted for publication without any revisions at all!

But here is proof that other students are doing it!….(see below)

 It will all be worth it in the end I promise!…and if its not worth it…then its not the end..Good Luck!

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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Feeling a Little Tense? A guide for Student Midwives and Student Nurses on Grammatical Writing Styles – Essay Tips

 

There are a few questions I get asked by students on ‘The Grammatical Person…’

  • Which tense should I write in?
  • Should I write in the first person?
  • How do I get an A grade in my student essay?

So I thought I would write a short blog on this topic – I hope it may be of help to some people. However, I do not claim to be a grammatical ninja…so please do consult with your own tutors and refer to your own university guidelines and learning outcomes for a more personalised approach.

Image result for grammar

The Basics

Who is speaking in your essay? If it is an informal reflection, a diary or a blog, it will generally be your voice that we want to hear (first person). Speaking in the second person voice usually works well for advertising or promotional materials, however, it rarely becomes a feature in academia. Writing in the third person is usually the most scientific way of writing things… and so

  • the person speaking (first person)
  • the person listening or being spoken to (second person)
  • the person being spoken about (third person)
First Person

 

Subjective Case Objective Case Possessive Case
I, we Me, us My/mine/our/ours
Second Person you you You/yours
Third person (Singular) he (masculine)

she (feminine)

it (neuter)

him (masculine)

her (feminine)

it (neuter)

his/his (masculine)

her/hers (feminine)

its/its (neuter)

Third person (plural) They Them Their/theirs/his/hers

There are four present tense forms in English:

Tense Form
Present simple: I work
Present continuous: I am working
Present perfect: I have worked
Present perfect continuous: I have been working

Image result for grammar

So what about the student midwife’s or student nurse’s essay?

Well..Think of your essay/thesis/dissertation/research as a person/thing.

What is it going to do? What has it done? What is it doing?

Examples:

Introduction – “This essay will describe and explore the various factors relating to the experience of women during the postnatal period”

Background – “The literature suggests that new mothers find it hard to bond with their babies where they experience a lack of compassion from those around them (references)”

Methodology – “This research firstly looked to explore the literature in relation to wound healing in diabetics. It did this by ….”

Results – “The research data collected within this research via a series of qualitative interviews highlights that midwives feel better able to communicate with doctors if the doctors are nice to them. These midwives also became better practitioners as they communicated with each other more effectively”

Discussion – “It is interesting to note that the results presented within this research suggest that home birth is a less safe option for childbearing women, as many of these studies fail to look at home birth in the wider context and only focus upon…”

Conclusion – “This dissertation has outlined 32 interventions which assist medication adherence in patient groups who are reported to experience symptoms of poor mental health.”

Reflection – “Throughout the process of writing this essay, I found it refreshing to discover how I could enhance my critical thinking by synthesizing the results of my research in line with the findings presented. As a nurse, I have previously only tried to interpret the literature thematically, and so in taking this new approach, I have now been able to develop my skills.”

Do you see?… as the essay progresses…so does the past and present tense. Additionally, the research/essay/dissertation remains to be a separate entity from the writer. This is how most scientific papers are written. Only within the reflective section has the writer referred to themselves (this may be required for some essays, but generally not in scientific papers).

 

Lastly:

Image result for grammar

I hope this will help some students to clarify how they would like to present their work.

See my 15 Top Essay Writing Tips for Midwifery and Nursing Students here

Also…

See my guide to literature reviewing here

Until next time – Look after yourselves and each other 💛💙💜💚

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Why be a midwife?

As I recently watched lots of eager new midwifery students find their way through the first term of their midwifery courses, I found myself reflecting on why we all chose to be midwives in the first place. Not everybody can be a midwife of course, and we are all very lucky to have such wonderful training available here in the United Kingdom…But midwifery is not always an easy professional path to take.

‼️ 😎

It is wonderful to see so many eager new student midwives around, they are indeed precious diamonds who must be nurtured as the world tries to recruit and retain a high quality midwifery workforce in the face of global shortages..

The bravery that is required to be an NHS midwife cannot be exaggerated.

Why did you want to become a midwife?

✨🌟✨

(Comments welcome below!)

What is it like being a midwife? – ‘The Secret Community for Midwives in the Making’ is full of aspiring midwives wanting to join the profession. Some of whom are really struggling to. I applaud you all for your enthusiasm and efforts, and I wish you all the very best in your endeavors…. However, it is not always a bed of roses.

So you want to become a midwife?...Midwives all over the world experience work-related psychological distress. Causes of psychological distress can include hostile behaviour towards staff, either from other staff or patients, workplace bullying, toxic organisational cultures, medical errors, traumatic ‘never events’, critical incidents, occupational stress, workplace suspension, whistleblowing, investigations via professional regulatory bodies and employers, and/or pre-existing mental health conditions.

The consequences of psychological distress in midwifery populations can result in death by suicide, death anxiety, depression, burnout, depersonalisation, compassion fatigue, shame, guilt, substance abuse disorders, and symptomatic displays of self-destructive and unethical behaviour. This situation is highly significant as it is incompatible with safe, high quality maternity care.

This situation is further reflected in the following academic paper -> ‘Midwives Overboard!’ Inside their hearts are breaking, their makeup may be flaking but their smile still stays on. This latest output was kindly co-authored by Wendy ClyneAndrew TurnerEmily A. Fulton, and Clare Gerada.

So as our new student midwives may well be facing this reality soon, why do they still want to sign up?

Hint -> It is certainly not for the cash!

“If nobody comes from the future to stop you, how bad can the decision really be?”

Midwives do not enter the midwifery profession to fail, overwhelmingly they pursue midwifery because they want to achieve, contribute and be of value to the maternity services (Spitz, Sermeus and Thomson 2013). If we can remember this, then we can be kinder to ourselves and each other as our maternity services become ever more challenging.

Why did you become a midwife?

I became a midwife because I have always been fascinated by pregnancy, birth and human biology. Think about it.. its amazing! When my brother was born (I was 4 years old), I read my mums pregnancy books from cover to cover..the midwifery profession was then the only profession in which I have ever really felt at home. I wanted to make the experience for everyone.. magical.

As I am now an academic midwife, doing less and less clinical work, I find myself wanting to contribute to the profession in a variety of new ways. I am now a part of the midwifery profession because I want to improve the psychological well being of midwives in a quest for safer and higher quality maternity services. This does not mean that my original reasons for joining the midwifery profession have changed or disappeared. However, it does mean that I now realise that both excellence in maternity care and joyful midwifery practice cannot happen unless the psychological well being of midwives is adequately supported. I believe that I am now a part of the midwifery profession so that I can help to create psychologically safe professional journeys for all midwives.

What is the best thing about being a midwife?

  1. For me, the best thing about being a midwife is that every day I have a new opportunity to do something meaningful, make a real difference to people’s lives and make a positive change in the world…

    (however big or small)!

✨🌟✨

Midwives enter the profession to shine and deliver great things. Lets not let their professional ‘sparkle’ fade out.

✨🌟✨

A photo by Morgan Sessions. unsplash.com/photos/YIN4xUBaqnk

Other research (2007) reports that ‘within 2 years in practice the newly qualified nurses could be categorised as sustained idealists, compromised idealists, or crushed idealists. The majority experienced frustration and some level of ‘burnout’ as a consequence of their ideals and values being thwarted. This led to disillusionment, ‘job-hopping’ and, in some cases, a decision to leave the profession.’ – Let’s all ensure that the same does not happen within our midwifery profession.

Keep the midwifery profession’s spark alive!!!

 How?

  • Let’s be kind to ourselves and our colleagues.
  • Let’s remember why we joined the midwifery profession
  • Let’s remember that nobody joins the midwifery profession to fail
  • As failure remains unintentional, remember that punishment and blame serve no real purpose.
  • Let’s nurture new talent
  • Express gratitude whenever possible
  • Take every opportunity to learn, mentor, share knowledge and lead with courage.
  • Listen.

Also see this blog post -> 20 Ways to Create a Thriving #NHS workforce

Join the midwifery profession because it is fabulous…. (The midwife diaries can help you with your application)… Then look after yourself because it can be a challenging ride. Stay because you want to, and then care because your fellow midwives need caring for. When we are all cared for, we can work effectively in partnership with women and each other to achieve excellence within the maternity services..

..(excellence for midwives as well as for mothers and babies!)..

Until next time, be kind to yourselves, and each other 💛💙💜💚

References:

Maben, Jill, Sue Latter, and Jill Macleod Clark. “The sustainability of ideals, values and the nursing mandate: evidence from a longitudinal qualitative study.” Nursing Inquiry 14.2 (2007): 99-113.

Spitz, Bernard, Walter Sermeus, and Ann M. Thomson. “Student midwives’ views on maternity care just before their graduation.” Journal of advanced nursing 69.3 (2013): 600-609.

3

A Guide to Literature Reviewing for Student Midwives & Student Nurses

Recently, I have had some midwifery (and nursing) students ask me about how to write their dissertation (Usually a literature review)…

Frequent questions included:

  • How to write a midwifery dissertation
  • How to write a nursing dissertation
  • How to structure a literature review
  • How to do research in midwifery
  • How to do research in nursing
  • How to bring the evidence together
  • How to make a well structured argument

This fairly long blog post may answer some of these questions for nursing and midwifery students…

See also my 15 Top Essay Writing Tips for Midwifery and Nursing Students here

Part of my work involves being a facilitator for problem based learning. Through this role, I enjoy supporting undergraduate health care students to study and develop their skills in evidence based practice. I do not claim to be an academic genius, and many of the rules in academia seem to be subjective in any case. However, in response to students asking for some suggestions and guidance, I hope that this simple and loose guide to literature reviewing may act as reference material for some student nurses and midwives working towards their dissertations or indeed any other essays and beyond.

Literature reviewing for dummies

(except you are not a dummy!)

Below I have written a very simplified example of a literature review. This is based upon a fictional subject which holds no relation to either midwifery or nursing practice. However, these methods may be applied to any subject in either nursing or midwifery practice.. you just need to replace my words with nursing or midwifery words as required.

Note: Although this may be a starting point to get you thinking about structuring an essay, literature review or dissertation please be mindful that one size may not fit all situations. Also, please do not take this example as a literal quick fix that will magically translate your work into A* material… always speak to your own tutors throughout the process of your writing in order to make sure that you are staying right on track.

type writer.jpg

Title: Make sure it states clearly what your essay will be about, what it will do and explore, and how you went about doing what you have done:

How do 20 to 30 year old’s experience vintage tea parties? A narrative literature review.

With this title I am clearly setting up the parameters of what I am going to be looking at. I am also presenting a clear and answerable question which chooses a population of 20 to 30 year old’s to look at, and an ‘intervention’ or ‘interaction’ with a vintage tea party to explore. I am also telling my reader straight away that I will be exploring this topic and trying to answer my question by reviewing the relevant literature (a literature review).

Introduction: Make sure that you tell the reader exactly what this essay is going to do and produce. You will also want to set out a little bit about why you have chosen to look at your particular topic.

Introduction

Vintage tea parties are becoming increasingly popular among 20 to 30 year old’s (Vintage quarterly, 2016). This may suggest that populations within this age group enjoy hosting and attending tea parties, yet it is not yet known how this particular population experience vintage tea parties around the world. As 20 to 30 year old’s look to enjoy more social activities and enhance their social well-being, it will be important to understand how and why they may experience vintage tea parties as either a negative or positive social venture. This review aims to unite the evidence in relation to how 20 to 30 year old’s experience tea parties around the world. It will do this by reviewing the relevant literature and presenting it’s findings narratively in order to produce a global overview of current understanding.

Background: Give the reader a little bit of history to the topic in focus. Set the scene and entice your reader to learn more.

Background

Humans have enjoyed socialising with other humans for approximately 200,000 years (Human socialisation journal, 2014). Many of these social activities have often involved food and drink (Food and drink journal, 2013). They have also been used as a means to unify various groups of people, and allow new generations of humans to meet new tribes of people (Tribal weekly, 2015). Along with food and drink, social events in history have often involved music making, artworks and entertainments (Entertainment journal, 2013). More recently, these social events have introduced the concept of ‘themed’ social events where participants often enjoy a changed reality for a short period of time (Party time monthly, 2014). However, it is not yet known which particular components in combination enhance the experience of event participants.

Tea parties are one way that humans often come together in a bid to enjoy social interaction with food, drink and merriment (International Tea Party Journal 2015). The concept of a vintage themed tea party is a relatively new one, and is an activity currently most popular within social groups aged between 20 to 30 years old (Vintage parties quarterly, 2016). This age group is typically one which looks to enjoy a healthy work/life balance and frolic with similar social groups (Frolicking International, 2016). Vintage tea parties may be one way in which this group may enjoy a fruitful social life, yet it is not known which particular elements of a vintage tea party are most efficacious when brought together in unison. Therefore, it will be important to explore the literature in relation to how this particular age group experiences vintage tea parties, and which particular elements of a vintage tea party may come together to optimise this experience for future social occasions of this type.

Methodology: How did you search for your answers? Give as much detail as you can. What did you do? How? Where did your results and answers come from? How did you extract what you wanted from what you found? How are you going to share this and make your argument? Why?

Methodology

The literature in relation to how 20 to 30 year old’s experience vintage tea parties was reviewed narratively in order to gain a current overview of global understanding. The overriding question for this review was:

How do 20 to 30 year old’s experience vintage tea parties as a social activity?

You may want to use the SPIDER tool to formulate your own question: The SPIDER tool was developed by adapting the PICO tool, I will apply this hypothetical research question to this tool as follows:

  • (S) Sample: Populations aged between 20 and 30 year’s old.
  • (PI) Phenomenon of Interest: The experience of either attending or hosting a vintage tea party as a social activity.
  • (D) Design: Any study type (surveys/focus groups/cohort studies/interviews etc).
  • (E) Evaluation: The views, attitudes and opinions of 20 to 30 year old’s who either attend or host vintage tea parties as a social activity.
  • (R) Research type: qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods research will be searched for.

Search strategy

Initially, the CINHAL, Medline and PsycINFO electronic databases were used to retrieve relevant papers in relation to the subject matter. Several key terms which were considered to be of relevance were entered into these databases simultaneously. These terms were entered together, and united using either the word ‘and’ or ‘or’. The search terms were used in the following format:

Vintage tea parties ‘and’ social occasions ‘or’ parties ‘and’ young people and’ tea ‘and’ cake ‘or’ lace doilies ‘or’ old fashioned ‘and’ antiques ‘or’ social gatherings ‘or’ cupcakes.

Inclusion criteria:

Papers were included if they specifically focused on the experiences of people aged between 20 and 30. Papers had to have a particular focus upon the experience of vintage tea parties in order to be included within this literature review. As the ‘vintage’ era was considered to be between the 1930’s and 1940’s, only papers published from 1960 onward were considered for this review. It was considered that from this period, the traditional tea party would indeed be classified as ‘vintage’ in retrospect.

(Please note that this is an extremely crude search strategy. These can be made much more efficient and systematic in more advanced papers – See an example here.)

This search strategy resulted in 27 separate searches and retrieved 1720 papers. Duplicate articles were then removed to reveal 808 papers. The abstracts of these remaining papers were then scanned reviewed and against the inclusion criteria, leaving 235 papers for further review. These remaining papers were read in their entirety and assessed for their suitability for inclusion. Following these assessments, 88 papers were removed as they did not focus upon the experience of tea parties, only the process of hosting them. Additionally, 92 papers were removed as they referred to the experiences of populations either over the age of 30 or under the age of 20. Lastly, 52 papers were removed as although they did refer to the experience of attending and hosting tea parties, these parties were not considered to be vintage in nature. This left 3 papers for inclusion. The reference lists of these papers were scanned for any further papers suitable for inclusion. Through this scanning, 1 further paper was included, resulting in a total of 4 papers to be included within this review. The paper selection process is represented within figure 1.

Figure 1: Paper selection process – This should leave the reader with no doubt about what you did, how you selected your papers for inclusion or exclusion and why. It also allows you to reflect upon your process.

Note (n=) Just means ‘number of’ ..e.g. (n=1).

Figure 1: Paper selection process

Records identified through database searching
(n =1720)

                                    ∇

Additional records identified through other sources
(n = 1)

                                    ∇

Records after duplicates removed
(n =912)

                                    ∇

Records screened
(n = 235)

                                    ∇

Records excluded
(n = 231)

                                    ∇

Studies included
(n = 4)

                                    ∇

Full-text articles excluded:

Paper does not focus upon the experience of tea parties (n =88)

Out of age range criteria (n=92)

Tea party not vintage in nature∇ (n=52)

Papers included: This should be some sort of table where you present which papers you are including within your review. You can go into further detail of each one as appropriate… But for this example it might look something like this:

Table 2: Study overview and characteristics

Paper  Sample number  Sample Type Study Design Findings
 

The mad Hatters tea party (Carroll, 2015)

4 Alice in wonderland (aged 21), The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse  

Participants self reported their experiences to an interviewer.

 

Tea, iced cakes and singing are ‘enjoyable’. Can be enjoyed during either a birthday or an ‘un-birthday’.

 

Tea for two, and two for tea (Sinatra, 2012). 2 Doris Day (aged 25) and Frank Sinatra (aged 29). Focus group discussion Tea parties in solitude (2 people) with sugar cake make them ‘happy’. Also knee sitting is enjoyable in this context.
A tea party on the ceiling (Poppins, 1964) 2 adults aged 29. A nanny and a chimney sweep  

Questionnaire survey.

Laughing is key to a successful vintage tea party.
The queens tea party (Buckingham palace, 2010). 2500/8000 attendees aged between 20 and 30. A cross-section of honoured British society Online survey Cupcakes, doilies and finger sandwiches served with a variety of tea made the tea party ‘special’. Especially in the presence of queens and princesses.

 

At this point you may want to comment on the quality of the studies or papers you have selected. You can either do this by adding an extra column within the table above, or comment on the quality of studies within another subsection. If the quality of studies is poor, don’t worry…just acknowledge that the study is poor, and recognise that any results or recommendations you draw from those studies should probably be given less authority than the more rigorous studies.  

A basic guide as to which studies are considered to be academically superior is outlined within the pyramid below….

Image result for hierarchy of research studies

There are many published academic tools for assessing and appraising the quality of each particular study, and also for assessing any risk of bias that might be apparent. I have included a very basic quality assessment tool for assessing qualitative studies below. Feel free to use this or any more advanced ones you may find.

Image result for quality checklist for research studies systematic review

You may also want to report whether the studies that you have chosen to include are either qualitative or quantitative (or a mixture of both)

(sometimes called mixed method)!

Image result for qualitative and quantitative research

Image result for qualitative and quantitative research

(Images from: https://uxdesign.cc & http://www.slideshare.net/engelby/media-quantitative-and-qualitative-research-2012)

Data Extraction: Now that you have chosen the studies/papers with which you will address your own research questions, you will need to describe exactly how you have drawn out the knowledge or ‘data’ from those papers. This can be simple, or again, it can be a very detailed process with the use of complex data extraction tools.

Something like this tool below may help you to draw out knowledge from a paper…

Image result for research data extraction tools

(Tool from http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnthamer.asp?ArticleID=1523)

But equally, you may want to describe a simpler approach to your own data extraction method as follows…

Data Extraction

Each paper was read and re-read, whilst themes relating to the experience of either being a host or a guest at a vintage tea party were annotated throughout. Any numerical or ‘quantitative’ data was noted and will be reported narratively in order to build a broad picture of how 20 to 30 year old’s experience vintage tea parties.

Limitations: You may want to state what the limitations of your chosen studies were. Samples too small? only partial results available? not widely representative? – Bare in mind that some different types of essays will want the limitations section presented towards the end of the essay rather than just before the results section..

Limitations

This review has retrieved a small amount of papers, therefore the findings of this review may not be representative of a wider population. Also, due to the small amount of papers retrieved, it will not be possible to perform a meta-analysis of results (A meta-analysis is basically where you compare lots of similar data from a number of similar studies in order to see if the findings match closely or not. This will tell you if you can be really sure that what the evidence is telling you is really reliable and true… or not).

None of the studies selected used any verified tools to measure either a participants negative or positive experience of interacting with a vintage tea party. Therefore, these findings rely upon participant ratings, words and observations. Additionally, the studies retrieved can only be related to experiences of vintage tea parties within the western world, therefore we cannot be sure that this review is representative of other experiences around the world.

See here for a more detailed power point presentation on how to critique studies

You may also want to touch upon the limitations within your review….Did you really do everything you could have done to find all papers? What limited or prohibited you from creating the very best review of all time?

Results: Here you need to state what you actually found, what you interpreted from these findings and how these findings may related to each other.

Results

This literature review has retrieved 4 papers which illuminate how 20 to 30 year old’s within the western world experience both hosting and attending vintage tea parties as a social activity. These studies used a variety of data collection methods such as interviews (Carroll, 2015), focus groups (Sinatra, 2012), Questionnaires (Poppins, 1964), and online surveys (Buckingham palace, 2010). All studies reported that the experiences of 20 to 30 year old’s either attending or hosting vintage tea parties were positive overall. None of these studies reported any negative effects for any of their participants. Ultimately, vintage tea parties were found to be a jolly social activity for all attendees and hosts.

Synthesis of findings

(This is where you bring your results together and make sense of them, there are many different ways to synthesize your results: These methodologies can include meta-narrative, critical interpretive synthesis, meta-study, meta-ethnography, grounded formal theory, thematic synthesis, textual narrative synthesis, content analysis, qualitative metasummaries, framework synthesis and ecological triangulation) – Read more about this stuff here.

But let’s not over complicate things here. We will start by  examining all aspects of, and the context of each paper, whilst comparing and contrasting the results of each paper with the others. In doing so, we may use a mixture of the methodologies described above.

In terms of finding a suitable location for a vintage tea party, both Carroll and Buckingham palace chose to locate their vintage tea parties within a garden setting (Carroll, 2015 and Buckingham Palace, 2010). Although the setting of Carroll’s tea party was in a wooded clearing, it was set behind the mad hatters house, and therefore considered to be a back garden, in the same way that the queens garden party is hosted behind the queens properties. Conversely, Poppins (1964) explores the experiences of those present at a tea party hosted in a living room, and more specifically, upon a ceiling. Both of these settings were reported to be enjoyable for guests, as those interviewed following the Mad hatters tea party reported experiences of ‘merriment’, ‘joy’ and ‘enjoyment’ in response to being in these locations (Carroll, 2015). Equally, those who completed the surveys and questionnaires posed by Buckingham Palace (2010) rated their experiences of ‘merriment’, ‘joy’ and ‘enjoyment’ as “9 out of 10” on a positive rating scale when the tea party was held outdoors, with access to the garden rooms indoors. Sinatra (2012) did not specify a location for their tea party.

Opinions and experiences surrounding the display of appropriate etiquette appears to form some conflict within the studies. Sinatra (2012) encourages two guests to sit on one another’s knees, whilst serving tea. Whilst one guest at the tea party on the ceiling expressed some distaste at the ‘excessive laughter’ and the location of the tea party being hosted upon the ceiling (Poppins, 1964). The guests and hosts of the Mad Hatter’s tea party felt that it was very important to be officially invited to the tea party, rather than simply turn up unannounced (Carroll, 2015). Equally, the queen’s tea party hosted by Buckingham Palace (2010) requires all guests to present an official invitation before entry is permitted to the garden tea party. This tea party also requires its guests to wear a particular and suitable attire. Burping, belching, trumping and swearing is never permitted, and it is expected that one holds one pinky finger out whilst drinking tea (Buckingham Palace , 2010).

Food and other beverages form an important part of each of the tea parties referred to within this review. For the Mad Hatter’s tea party, it was a focus on tea and iced cake that contributed towards both the guests and hosts having a ‘jolly’ time (Carroll, 2015). Indeed, tea and cake feature heavily within each of the studies presented, and are often commented upon as a the source of an enjoyable experience (Sinatra, 2012, Poppins, 1964, Buckingham palace, 2010, Carroll, 2015). However, a variety of finger sandwiches, petit fours and other pastries were also rated highly (10 out of 10) as the ‘delight’ of the vintage tea party, making it more ‘special’ (Buckingham Palace, 2010, Poppins, 1964). Participants within each of these studies also reported that the presentation of this food is important, as the use of doilies, tea pots, cake tiers and napkins can enhance the experience of a vintage tea party (Sinatra, 2012, Poppins, 1964, Buckingham palace, 2010, Carroll, 2015).

The timing of hosting a vintage tea party was preferred in the afternoon as ‘afternoon tea’ by all studies (Sinatra, 2012, Poppins, 1964, Buckingham palace, 2010, Carroll, 2015). Additionally, the hosts and guests at the Mad Hatters tea party suggested that the vintage tea party could be enjoyed during either a birthday or an ‘un-birthday’ (Carroll, 2010). Those who completed the surveys and questionnaires posed by Buckingham Palace (2010) and Poppins (1964) rated their experiences more highly “9 out of 10” if a tea party hosted at any time included laughter, pleasant conversation and singing. These components were also apparent within the findings of  both the ‘Tea for Two’ tea party, and the Mad Hatters tea party (Sinatra, 2012, Carroll, 2015).

Discussion: This is an opportunity to interpret these results, and share what they might mean in a wider context.

  • What was interesting?
  • What was surprising?
  • Did you find what you expected to find?
  • How will this new knowledge change things in the future?
  • What are the implications of finding this new knowledge?
  • How will it affect your, and others practice?

Let’s shine a new light on things!…

SHINE A TORCH

Discussion 

(Start with a summary of your results)

Overall, participants aged between 20 and 30 reported positive experiences in relation to both hosting and attending vintage tea parties. Experiences were reported via a number of sentiments including ‘Joy’, ‘Merriment, ‘enjoyment’ and were described as being ‘special’. Questionnaires and surveys also highlighted that vintage tea parties were enjoyed both outdoors and indoors, mainly during the afternoon. Tea served from teapots with fine china, cake, sandwiches and pastries placed upon doilies and tiered plate displays can enhance ones experience of a vintage tea party, as can singing, laughing and pleasant conversation. As such, vintage tea parties can be considered a positive social activity for those aged between 20 and 30.

It was interesting to note that conversation and laughter in particular played a key factor in how this population enjoyed vintage tea parties. This would suggest that the success of such tea parties rely upon more than just the location of the event or the practicalities of hosting them. As such, part planners may wish to consider the implementation of conversation catalysts or ‘ice breakers’ to create the atmosphere required for success.

Etiquette is also an important factor to consider when creating an enjoyable vintage tea party, as gatecrashers can cause distaste among both hosts and guests. It is clear that invitations provide confidence and a certain formality to events as apposed to a spontaneous vintage tea party, which may become more informal as a result.

As many 20 to 30 year old’s already attend vintage tea parties, it was anticipated that they would indeed find these experiences to be enjoyable. The results of this review provide new and united evidence to strengthen this notion, and illuminate the particular reasons why these experiences may be enjoyable. This new evidence will be important to new hosts and party planners wishing to organise enjoyable vintage tea parties as social activity.

Implications for future practice

(What are you going to do or recommend in light of what you have found??)

Future tea parties would be enhanced by the application of these findings, as party hosts look to create enjoyable activities for those aged between 20 and 30. Party planners may wish to consider ‘vintage’ as a theme, and encourage guests to fully embrace this theme, concept and event as an alternative to the modern tea party. Future research may wish to explore these vintage tea parties in more detail with progression towards a large and adequately powered randomised controlled trial (RCT), as this would enable party planners and party goers to create the ultimate vintage tea party, as guided by a more rigorous evidence base.

“What is an RCT?” I hear you cry…

(See simplified info-graphic below)

Image result for what is a randomised controlled trial?

 

Conclusions: This is where you recap what you have done and found. It should match closely with the introduction in which stated what you were going to do. You should leave the reader with a final impact statement and your own final reflections.

In every day party creation, it is important to create an enjoyable social activity. As 20 to 30 year old’s seek to attend such activities, it is important to explore which social activities are experienced positively by this population group. This paper has reviewed the evidence in relation to how 20 to 30 year old’s experience vintage tea parties. Following a review of 4 academic papers, the evidence presented here suggest that vintage tea parties are indeed a jolly event for 20 to 30 year old’s.

As well as discovering that this population enjoy vintage tea parties as a social activity, this review has also unearthed which components may be most contributory to the success of such an event. As such, the hosts of future vintage tea parties should plan to include tea served from teapots with fine china, cake, sandwiches and pastries placed upon doilies and tiered plate displays, singing, laughing and pleasant conversation.

You may also want to include a subsection here that specifically outlines how you have met the learning outcomes set out by whichever module or dissertation/thesis it is that you are completing.

 

happy book

And there we are, a guide to writing a literature review. This guide is supposed to be a reference tool for you all to create your own masterpiece essays and dissertations. The review I present here may be much shorter than what you are required to produce, however, I hope it will serve as reference material as you progress in your academic writing. Although the subject matter here is vintage tea parties, I do hope that many nurses and midwives will easily be able to apply nursing and midwifery topics in place of the tea party.

The principles of writing a literature review are virtually the same within any subject matter. Here for instance, you just replace the vintage tea parties with diabetes, and boom…you have a literature review on how a certain population experiences diabetes or diabetic care. Whatever your academic question is, a literature review is a great way to help you find answers, improve your clinical practice and discover new evidence based practices to apply in the real world. Many clinical guidelines are constructed by reviewing the available literature. As you complete your literature reviews, you will also be able to make recommendations, based upon what you have found.

Although I have presented a loose structure for a literature review here, please be aware that there are many other structures, methodologies and reporting styles available. Yet I hope that this example will fit loosely around any essay topic if applied appropriately.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add these to the comments section below. I really hope that this makes academia a little less scary for student midwives and nurses. For further hints and tips for essay writing, see my other article here.

Until next time…take care of yourselves, and each other ❤💚💜