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Designing your Research Project. Ivan J Perry Department of Epidemiology & Public Health University College Cor. Learning objectives. Understand the nature of science, with particular reference to the core concept of measurement of causes and effects

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Designing your Research Project

Ivan J Perry

Department of Epidemiology & Public Health

University College Cor


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Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature of science, with particular reference to the core concept of measurement of causes and effects

  • Explain the concept of hypothesis testing in quantitative research and understand the need to specify hypotheses in terms of measurement

  • Understand that epidemiological methods provide a conceptual framework for the conduct of clinical and population based research.

  • Understand the need to address bias,confounding and chance in designing your research project.

  • Understand the importance of sampling and the concept of target populations, study populations and study samples

  • List the major elements to be addressed in drafting a research protocol


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Scenario

It is suggested that occupational exposure to volatile anaesthetic agents causes depression. You wish to test this hypothesis.


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Science

Seeking to understand the world by a process of observation or experimentation

Measurement - core activity

Measurement of causes and effects or exposures (gene and environment) and disease

To test hypothesis relating cause to effect

Hypothesis must be testable/capable of being disproved or refuted


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Research Method

In the late eighteenth century, Antoine Lavoisier, introduced the scientific approach to problem solving:

Theory

Results

Hypothesis

Interpretation

Observations or Experiment


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Designing & Planning A

Quantitative Research Project

Question or hypothesis:must be clearly stated (descriptive vs.. analytical research) Would qualitative methods be more appropriate?

Science/research:essentially an exercise in measurement

Study design:appropriate to question/hypothesis and feasible?


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What Will Be Measured?

Be as specific as possible (e.g. Prevalence or Incidence)

Prevalence of Asthma in children with and without pets at home.

Incidence of Diabetes in smokers and non-smokers


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Five Major Study Designs

For Quantitative Work

Randomised Controlled Trial

Cohort

Case Control

Quantitative Study Designs

Ecological

Cross-sectional


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Measurement

How will exposure and outcomes be measured?

How will validity (accuracy) and reliability (precision) be determined?

Are established questionnaires/instruments available?

Need for standardised methods to minimise random error (chance) and systematic measurement error (measurement bias).


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Population/Sample

Define target population:-to whom will the findings apply

Study Population:-available for study -sufficiently representative of target population

Study Sample:-representative (in statistical sampling terms) of study population

Concept of sampling:-variation/sampling error


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Sampling

Study population and study sample?

Methods of sampling: random, stratified, systematic, cluster, convenience.

Representativeness of sample (selection bias).

Methods of recruitment and expected response rate (selection bias)

Sample size (chance, type I and type II errors).


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Data Collection

Data collection methods, questionnaires (interview or postal), physical measurements, blood tests.

Data to be collected (potential confounding variables).


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Data Entry/Analysis

EpiData/Microsoft Access

Avoid Microsoft Excel

Minitab/SPSS


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Ethical Issues

Ethics Committee

Informed Consent

Confidentiality/Data Protection

Conflicts of Interests

Research Integrity