Modular Learning Objectives By the end of this module, the student shall be able to satisfy the following outcomes expectations: Case Identify hypotheses and research questions in research articles. SLP Begin planning a literature review by identifying resources that will provide access to scientific writing and research studies pertinent to an area of interest in the health sciences. TD Describe random selection and its use in research studies. There are two main areas of preparation that we are going to cover in this module. Becoming familiar with the literature relevant to your research hypothesis. Becoming familiar with basic information on collecting and organizing data in order to interpret it in meaningful and useful ways. The PowerPoint presentations that accompany this module are meant to familiarize you with the terminology and operations related to data and its presentation. The brief text portions of this module will acquaint you with ways of approaching the process of literature review, and the strengths and weaknesses of various methods of data collection. This module includes a case assignment that is intended to help you to continue to learn how the seemingly complex aspects of quantitative analysis have important applications in your career as a health science professional. You will also be expected to make progress toward the completion of your session project. Part I METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION & THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES The ongoing struggle to avoid BIAS: In every part of the enterprise of performing research in health science, a researcher needs to take great pains to avoid the dreaded possibility of BIAS. BIAS, or error, can come about in any number of ways during the process of defining the question, collecting the data and analyzing it. It can also happen from random causes; what I like to refer to the “stuff happens” effect. But this is by definition beyond the researcher’s control. In every way that can possibly be anticipated, there is a need to control for known sources of bias. If the data is BIASED towards a certain outcome that does not reflect reality, then a meaningful or useful answer to the original question has not been obtained. Once the researcher has defined the question, the next step will be to find a way to obtain subjects that minimizes the potential for creating bias through the selection procedure. Obtaining subjects for study – data collection methods: Data is the word we use for the information that we collect in order to do our research (the singular for this word is datum but we rarely use it.) (Click here for a Presentation on Types of Data) Data collection is also known as sampling. It might not seem obvious, but HOW you go about obtaining your subjects can be as crucial to the validity of your outcome as the question you ask and the type of statistical procedure you decide to use to analyze your data. There are two broad categories of data collection in research: Probability sampling Non-probability sampling Probability sampling is also called random sampling and is considered to be the most powerful and desirable method because theoretically each member of the larger population from which the sample is drawn had an equal chance of being chosen. Of course, it may occur to you that this can be very easy to imagine, but very hard to execute. Even if you have complete control over the sampling procedure (let’s say you have 3,000+ experimental rats to test out your new cancer treatment) you can see right away that any subjects you pull from this sample are NOT by definition random. They may be randomly chosen from your subject pool, but the fact that they were in your pool to begin with makes them by definition NOT randomly selected. How can we randomly sample human beings in similar studies? If they have the cancer we are trying to treat, they are also by definition NOT randomly selected. Systematic sampling might get us around some (but not all) of these problems. In a more benign example, let’s say we are surveying hospital patients to determine what factors cause them to perceive their interactions with the nursing staff as positive and comfortable. If we surveyed all the patients in several hospitals, we would not be creating a random sample, however, if we chose every ith (let’s say 10th) patient admitted to all 20 hospitals within 30 miles of our university, then we would come closer to obtaining some of the advantages of a probabilistic selection without being truly probabilistic in our procedures. Every patient in all 20 hospitals had a 10% chance of being chosen – that’s still not random. Stratified sampling is useful when we know that the larger population, to which we wish to generalize our conclusions, has two or more subpopulations. For example, let’s say we are curious about whether or not nursing students feel adequately prepared for their quantitative analysis studies by their high school mathematics coursework. It might occur to you that our population of nursing students has a large female and smaller but still substantial male subpopulation. So we might want to stratify our sample relative to the proportion of females and males at the school – if your school has 400 female and 180 male students, you might want to take 10% from each group (40 females and 18 males.) Or, in this case, because mathematics education techniques and trends changes from generation to generation, we might want to look at our 18 to 25-year-olds as contrasted with our 26-to-35 year olds as contrasted with our 36-to-45 year olds etc. and we would take 10% of each group. Non-probability sampling means that there will be no way to even approximate a chance to be selected, or that you don’t try to approximate it. Contrast the method of the quota sample with the stratified sampling described above. You decide to just find 5 nursing students – any five – in each age group and ask them about their perceptions of how well-prepared by their high school math courses they feel to take quantitative analysis, and not even bother with the relative proportions of age groups. Or finally, the convenience sample is just what the name says: convenient. The subjects who just happen to be there and available. If I want to know how my Introductory Psychology students at Santa Monica College like the Virtual Office Hours system for posting student questions for faculty, I merely survey them at the end of the course. Perhaps you can tell me why this survey would not be very informative. Think about these aspects: Demand characteristics: The students are able to guess what my agenda in surveying them on this question is, and they either deliberately answer in a way that will help me or hurt me. In either case, the information I get will be distorted or biased. Experimenter bias: Any other impact that my behavior towards them might have on how they answer. Representativeness of the sample: Will the fact that they are one small segment of the much larger population of students at the college matter? How so? Also please visit these links: Statistics Glossary. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from http://www.stats.gla.ac.uk/steps/glossary/sampling.html Trochim, W.K. (2006). Research Methods Knowledge Base. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/contents.php PART II WAYS TO APPROACH YOUR LITERATURE REVIEW The literature on health and medicine is extensive and always expanding and changing. The first time you go to the Cyber Library or to your local “physical” university-level library, you may not feel like you know how to proceed and where best to direct your energies. There are two broad, general directions in which to go: The “top-down” search The “bottom-up” search The “top-down” search begins with actual references from academic and scientific journals, in other words. The strategy assumes that you already have a high level of familiarity with the research area and the issues and knowledge that relate directly and indirectly to the area. As such, “top-down” searches tend to be less systematic than “bottom-up” searches, and for a novice researcher, the omitted source material can translate into important missing information. The “bottom-up” method is strongly suggested for those who are new to the process of investigating a research question. It is the more effective strategy when one is still trying to build a general knowledge base in the field of interest, and it is the one that I will recommend that you choose as a novice health sciences researcher. It will allow you to become more familiar with broad concepts that you are just now mastering in other courses, and how these essential concepts related to current issues and ongoing areas of debate and uncertainty. STEPS INVOLVED IN A BASIC “BOTTOM-UP” LITERATURE REVIEW Try to list all possible terms that might be useful “index terms” in checking broad references and databases regarding your area of research interest. Use the Glossary in the TUI Cyber Library to assist you in covering all possible relevant terms. Look up your topic and terms related to it in a good general reference. Use the index terms and information from the general reference to do either a Computerized Literature Search or a Manual Search of the Literature (or both, if the resources are available.) Skim the abstracts, tables of contents and outlines of the articles and books you initially select in order to determine which will be most directly relevant, informative and helpful to you in understanding your topic and refining your research question. Obtain actual electronic or print copies of the references that appear to fit the above-stated criteria, select the best from among them, and begin outlining and note-taking. It is not at all unusual for the process of reviewing the literature to cause you to consider changing your research question. In my experience, novice researchers usually start with an overly broad question, and end up refining, focusing and working to a more specific and testable research problem. Feel free to contact me by e-mail or post your questions to the course discussion area. The latter action will allow your peers to learn from your questions and comments. In Module 2, you will search ProQuest to find research articles about your SLP topic. The articles must be no more than 5 years old. Choose one of those ProQuest articles to use for this Case assignment. The article you choose for this assignment MUST have all of the information requested below. If it does not, you should search again for a suitable article. If you are unsure of how to proceed, please ask for clarification before you start your paper. Look at the subheadings below and make sure you choose at least one article that will have enough information to complete the assignment. You will not earn points by stating that the article did not include all of the information required to answer each part of the assignment. Note: This assignment asks for more information than you provided in Case 1, so please be sure to read the instructions. This is an exercise in critical thinking — it is never ok to simply copy or paraphrase the article’s abstract. Write a 2 page summary of the article, following the instructions below. Before you begin writing, review the subheadings again and make sure you chose an article with all of the information needed to complete the assignment. Begin your paper with an introduction. Your summary will be similar to an abstract, and must include subheadings for each of the sections listed below, in the same order as they are listed here. You only have to write a couple of sentences under each subheading. The purpose of this assignment is to show that you can identify these sections of a research article. Introduction: Write a couple of sentences to introduce the topic you chose. Reference: This should be so accurate that the reader can go directly from the abstract to the original article. Give a complete APA style reference. Kinds of Research: Identify the kind of research, i.e., experimental, quasi-experimental, observational (descriptive, case study, historical, etc.). Although the article may not be a clear example of one of these, it can usually be classified under one of these. Purpose: Sometimes the purpose is stated as an aim, an objective, or a goal. At other times, it is incorporated in a statement of a problem, leaving the reader to infer the purpose has a stated problem, a purpose, or both. In case the purpose is inferred, you may state it in your own words. Design: If the article is an experimental or quasi-experimental research, it is usually possible to identify the design of the study. Descriptive and historical research articles may or may not have a design that can be categorized. Try to identify the design for each article. Comment if you are unable to determine the design, and explain why. Participants: The term ?participant? refers to the sample studied. Under this heading you should include a description of ages, sexes, socio-economic status, school grade, mental level, number, and/or any other demographic characteristics given in the article to describe the particular sample used in the study. Procedure: Sometimes the procedure is referred to as the ?method? and includes a description of control techniques, measuring devices, materials used and ways of proceeding, in attempting to achieve the purpose or purposes of the study. Are measures of validity and reliability reported by the author? If so, what measures were used? When such are not reported it should be so stated. Variables: Identify the variables in the study. Identify the independent and dependent variables. The independent variables are usually the cause, stimulus, antecedent treatment or the identified groups (males-females; young couples, middle aged couples, mature couples; Baptist, Catholics, Methodists, Mormans; upper class, middle class, lower class; etc.) whereas the dependent variable is usually the effect, response, or consequence. Level of Measurement (data): Although this is often unclear, you should try to identify the level of measurement such as nominal, ordinal, interval, and/or ratio. Instrumentation: The names of the instruments (if any) used in the study should be listed. This would include such things as: The Maryland Parent Attitude Survey (MPAS), the Locke-Wallas Marital Adjustment Test (MAT), the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Test (TJTT), or other tests named in the article. Sample: Sample refers to whether the sample(s) is related (dependent) or non-related (independent). Related sample usually means that the different scores represent the same individuals or logically connected individuals (spouses, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, etc.) whereas independent samples refer to different groups. Sampling Technique: Sampling technique refers to such things as random sampling, cluster sampling, selected sampling, stratified sampling, time sampling, volunteers, solicited, snowball sampling, intact groups, etc. Statistical Tests: List the statistical tests used in the article; examples might be chi square (x2), t-test, f-test, Mann-Whitney, etc. Results or Findings: These should be confined to actual data reported by the author. Conclusions: Conclusions are the generalizations that the author believes the results or findings justify. These should be expressed in the language of the author. Critique: Up until now, you have been telling me about what the authors of the article described. In this part of the paper, please give your own opinion about the study (not about the topic, but about the way the study was done). Please comment on the study?s strengths and any possible weaknesses or limitations. ASSIGNMENT EXPECTATIONS: Please read before completing assignments. Assignment should be 1 – 2 pages in length (double-spaced). You are not restricted to a certain number of words, as you would be if you were preparing an abstract for publication. Please use major sections corresponding to the major points of the assignment, and where appropriate use sub-sections (with headings). Remember to write in a scientific manner (try to avoid using the first person except when describing a relevant personal experience). Quoted material should not exceed 10% of the total paper (since the focus of these assignments is on independent thinking and critical analysis). Use your own words and build on the ideas of others. When material is copied verbatim from external sources, it MUST be properly cited. This means that material copied verbatim must be enclosed in quotes and the reference should be cited either within the text or with a footnote. Use of peer-reviewed articles is required. Websites as references are not acceptable for this assignment.
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