Reading and Critiquing Research Reports

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Types of Research Reports
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Presentations at professional conferences -Oral reports -Poster sessions Journal articles -Papers often subjected to peer review -Peer reviews are often blind (reviewers are not told names of authors and vice versa)
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Content of Research Journal Articles
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IMRAD format Title and Abstract -Introduction -Method -Results -And Discussion References
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Abstract
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Brief description of major features of a study at the beginning of a journal article -Old style—single paragraph, about 100 to 150 words -New style—more detailed, with specific headings Only in quantitative article- independent and dependent variable.
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Introduction
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Description of: -Central phenomena, concepts, or variables -Study purpose, research questions, or hypotheses (don’t always see in intro) -Review of literature- based on independent and dependent variables. Theoretical/conceptual framework-not always listed, but can discern the linkages between indep/dep variables -Study significance, need for study
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Method Section- Quantitative
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Research design Sampling plan and characteristics of study participants Methods of operationalizing variables and collecting data Study procedures, including procedures to protect participants Analytic methods and procedures
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Method Section- Qualitative
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Research tradition Sampling approach and description of study participants Setting and context Data collection approaches Study procedures Analytic strategies Use interviews and purposive samples (want to handpick)
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Results Section Findings- Quantitative
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Descriptive information (e.g., description of subjects) Results of statistical analyses Names of statistical tests Value of calculated statistics Level of statistical significance Precision and magnitude of effects (sometimes) Look for inclusion and exclusion criteria. Clinically significant- wouldn’t change actual actions in the hospital. No changes in terms of how we treat pts. Level of statistical significance—index of how probable it is that the findings are reliable For example, p < .05: Probability is less than 5 in 100 that the findings are spurious (probability is 95 in 100 that the findings are \"real\" and replicable)
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Results Section Findings- Qualitative
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Findings often organized according to major themes, processes, or categories identified in the analysis Almost always includes raw data—quotes directly from study participants
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Discussion
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Interpretation of the results Implications for nursing practice and for further research Study limitations Always areas of improvement in any study.
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Research Journal Article Style
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Often difficult to glean the \”story\” being told, because of: Compactness—page constraints Jargon Objectivity, impersonality Statistical information Last two especially prominent in quantitative research articles Info subjective to some extent in qualitative. Articles- Written in passive voice in quantitative but active voice used in qualitative.
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Research Report Tips
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Read regularly, get used to style Read copied articles—underline, highlight, write notes Read slowly Read actively Look up technical terms in glossary Don’t be intimidated by statistics—grasp gist of story \”Translate\” articles or abstracts
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Research Critiques
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Careful and objective appraisals of the strengths and limitations of a study Critiques of individual studies can be done for a variety of reasons (e.g., for a student assignment; for making decisions about whether or not to publish a manuscript; for EBP purposes) Vary in scope, length, and form, depending on purpose Can be comprehensive, appraising the substantive, methodologic, theoretical, ethical, interpretive, and stylistic aspects of both the study and the report (e.g., students can critique a single study to demonstrate their research skills) Non-comprehensive critiques tend to focus on key substantive and methodologic issues, focusing on the integrity of the study’s evidence. Critiques can be facilitated by: -Using a formal protocol or critiquing guideline—although a one-size-fits-all guideline does not typically work perfectly (see guidelines for quantitative and qualitative studies in this chapter as models) -Reviewing a model of a good critique
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Research Challenges
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Researchers face numerous challenges and make many decisions: Conceptual/substantive Financial Ethical Practical Methodologic
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Major Methodologic Challenge
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Designing studies to support inferences that are: Reliable and valid (quantitative studies) Trustworthy (qualitative studies) If research is reliable it must be valid as well.
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Reliability
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The accuracy and consistency of obtained information
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Validity
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The soundness of the evidence—whether findings are convincing, well-grounded, and support the desired inferences Whether intervention had an effect on dependent variable.
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Trustworthiness
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The overall integrity of the study’s evidence Credibility—a key criterion, achieved to the extent that researchers can engender confidence in the truth of the data and their interpretations Confirmability Dependability Transferability Authenticity
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Triangulation
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is the use of multiple sources or referents to draw conclusions about what constitutes the truth. Triangulation can contribute to credibility. Triangulation is a useful strategy in both qualitative and quantitative research.
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Bias
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An influence producing a distortion in study results Examples of factors creating bias: Lack of participants’ candor Faulty methods of data collection Researcher’s preconceptions Participants’ awareness of being in a special study Faulty study design
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Research Control
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In quantitative studies, research control involves holding constant extraneous factors (confounding variables) that influence the dependent variable, to better understand relationships between the independent and dependent variables. Research control is one method of addressing bias.
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Randomness
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allowing certain aspects of the study to be left to chance rather than to researcher or participant choice An important tool for achieving control over confounding variables and for avoiding bias
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Masking
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involves concealing information (usually about the study hypotheses or about participants’ status in different groups) from those playing a role in the study. Used in quantitative studies to reduce biases stemming from awareness

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