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Medical Statistics Made Easy


Developing a research project

Research is an organised and systematic way of finding answers to questions

Say why you are interested in your topic area. Take time to make sure you are asking the right question. Some examples of research questions are:
Does a cold environmental temperature result in falsely low readings of tympanic temperature?
Do longer consultation times reduce consultation frequency?

This should be closely related to the aim.
Describe what you have done in a way that would enable the reader to repeat your work.

Try to present results neatly and use graphs and charts only if this clarifies.

This is where you should restate the main findings and write about the strengths and weaknesses of this research study. Compare these results with those of other research studies in the same area. What are the implications of your study? What changes do you suggest in your practice or in primary care generally?

Summarise and then possibly suggest further research.

Refer to papers that resulted in you formulating an aim. You could also refer to papers that contributed to the development of your method.




Research methodologies and types of study

Meta Analysis
Systematic Review
Randomised Controlled Trials RCTs
Narrative Research
Cross Sectional Studies
Case Control Studies
Cohort Studies
Prospective & Retrospective Studies


Systematic reviews and meta analysis

any attempt to synthesise the results and conclusions of two or more publications on a given topic.

Systematic review
a review that strives to comprehensively identify and track down all the literature on a topic. Searches needed of unpublished work, foreign journals, citation searches and follow up of references.

a specific statistical technique for assembling all the results of several studies into a single numerical estimate.


Literature review

How to write a literature review Santa Cruz University

What is a literature review? University North Carolina

The purpose of a literature review is to find and evaluate existing research evidence on a topic.
It can be described as ‘secondary research’, and as such should set out to answer a clear question.

Say why you chose your particular topic and what use the findings will be to your practice. Keep your question simple, clear and relevant e.g.
Do patient participation groups improve patient care?
What is the evidence for the use of antibiotics in acute otitis media?

Which databases did you search? e.g. Medline, Embase, Cochrane. What keywords did you use? How did you select the papers to read? How did you judge a paper to be worth including? What criteria did you use to evaluate the papers?

Describe the range of literature you identified, and critically appraise the most relevant and important papers. These papers may themselves be reviews or meta-analyses. You need to provide more than just a descriptive list of articles and books.

Say what the main findings of your review are, how complete the review is, and what its limitations are. How much weight do you think you can give to the evidence you present? How do your findings compare with existing guidelines or accepted practice? Your recommendations for change should be in this section e.g. recommending that there should be more young people on the patient participation group.

Summarise the evidence and information you have collected, and the implications for practice including suggestions for further study.

You can include references chosen for your review and also those that have helped you with your method e.g. a paper on how to do a literature review or on critical appraisal of the literature.


Internet searches

Internet searches Berkeley Tutorials

Effective Internet searches Media Awareness Canada


Boolean web searching

Boolean Searching on the Internet internet tutorials.net



Qualititive research

Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research wilderdom.com

Qualitative Research carbon.ucdenver.edu

What is qualitative research? qsrinternational.com


Interviews focus groups questionnaires

Focus Groups NY State University

focus group tips.com


Pilot studies

Pilot studies experiment-resources.com


Narrative research



Action research


John Sandars Action Research and Practice based learning
Action research infed.org

A method of doing research and solving a problem at the same time with the aim of providing the most effective and efficient health care
eg Would a 3 day course of trimethoprim for cystitis be just as effective as a 7-day course?
It is more about improving practice rather than improving knowledge

It is not the same as audit
Audit involves standard setting and evaluating to see if has been met
Action research is about a critical enquiry: will the change enable us to act differently

3 stages
ENQUIRY the question you ask (a real clinical issue) it needs to be realistic and achievable
ACTION the action you wish to investigate
PURPOSE mainly to improve health care (+knowledge
The Action Research Project Cycle
Research Focus: ‘What am I trying to do’
Make sure it is not too complicated
Make sure it is relevant to the needs of practice/patients
Aim is NOT a publication in a research journal! but rather to improve care
Methodology: Background reading (what have others done, how did they approach it etc)
You may need to improve your skills in areas like questionairre design & data handling
Evaluation: what did you find, is it surprising?
what have you learnt then?
how can this learning be applied?
Remember ethics
Make sure that the rights of the patients are respected
Assess risk/benefits before the project starts
if you are worried about ethical implications, contact local research ethics committee

A form of Problem Based Learning
Lends itself well to a mutidisciplinary approach
Promotes your research skills aswell as a variety of other skills
Useful When No available evidence on your dilemma
Many of the questions we ask are unique to our own practice, so there are no published answers available.
You are more likely to wiegh up the evidence and hence integrate it into your day to day practice







Delphi study

Delphi studies wilderdom.com





Ethics committees

National Research Ethics Service NRES

Central Office for Research Ethics Committees COREC



Good Clinical Practice in pharmaceutical research

Good Clinical Practice Helpdesk


Academic referencing

Academic Referencing earn-your-degree.org

Academic writing tips / citing and referencing basics Herriott Watt slideshare.net


Harvard referencing

Harvard Guide Anglia University

LMU pdf

References are a list of all the books or articles which you have actually quoted or referred to in your text.
A Bibliography is a list of books and articles which you have read: but which you have NOT mentioned in the
A reference MUST include the following details:
a) Authors sumame(s), followed by initials (where there are 3 or more authors only the first is used followed by et al).
b) Year of publication, in brackets.
c) Title underlined.
d) Edition, if there has been more than one.
e) Volume and Part numbers, if applicable.
f) Page number(s)
g) Place of publication, if applicable.
h) Publisher’s name, if applicable.
If the item is a BOOK:
Yura, H (1988), The Nursing Process 5th Ed. p21 Connecticut: Appleton & Lange.
If the item is a Section or Chapter in a Book. The author(s) and title of the section or chapter are cited first, followed by details of the book itself.
eg: Schober, J (1993), Frameworks for nursing practice. In: Hinchliff, SM, et al. (Editors) Nursing practice and health care. 2nd ed. pp300-327. London: Edward Arnold.

Corporate Authors: Some items should be listed under the bodies responsible for their publication rather than a personal author. These might include government reports or other documents (eg from the Royal College of Nursing). Where there is a Chariman, for example, of a Working Party, however, the citation should still belisted under the Corporate Author.(ln spite of the fact that reports are commonly referred to by their Chairmen!). The Chairman’s name may be included after the titleif it helps to clarify the reference. eg:
Department of Health (1989), Caring for people: community care in the next decade and beyond (Chairman: Griffiths, R). London: HMSO.
If the item is an ARTICLE:
Thomas, D et al (1992) Team Nursing. Nursing Times Vol 88 No. 52 Dec 30/Jan 5 1992, pp40-43.
How to use your references:
Each time you quote from one of your references in the text you must give theauthor’s name followed by the date of publication, in brackets eg (Waterlow, 1988). The quotation must be enclosed in quotation marks. eg:
Research has shown that “the annual cost of treatment of pressure sores is estimated
to be three hundred million pounds” (Waterlow, 1988).
If you paraphrase a section or refer to a publication the same details must be given in the text. eg:
The huge cost to the NHS of the treatment of pressure sores has been reported by
Waterlow (1988), Robertson (1987) and Nyquist (1985).

“Second hand references”: Whenever possible you should refer to original sources rather than accept another author’s quotes. When this is not possible use the term “cited by …” followed by the reference for the work in which it is quoted. eg: in the text of your paper you might write “Calnan (1983) suggests that “It is the duty of the doctor and nurse not to conceal reality”, cited by (Schober 1993 p306)”.
The list of references would then only include the Schober citation.
Multiple authors: if an item has two authors, both should be given. eg: Abraham, S and Llewellyn-Jones, D (1987), Eating disorders: the facts. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
If, however, there are more than three authors, only the first one should be given,followed by et al.
References should be listed in alphabetical order by the Authors’ Surnames at the end of your paper.

CMS Chicago Style



Msc study skills

Study Skills for Masters Level Students Scion


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