Al Neelain University Faculty of Medicine- Department of Community MedicineSem.7 Research Methodology CourseSelecting a Research Problem Dr.AbeerAbuzeid Atta Elmannan
Session outlines: • Selecting a research problem • Developing a research hypothesis. • Searching the literature • Citing references.
Step 1 Statement of research problem Step 2 Literature review Step 3 Formation of objectives
Step 4 Research method Step 5 Work –plan Step 6 Plan for project administration Step 7 Budget
What is a Problem? • Problemis discrepancy between what should be and what is existing • The discrepancy raises questions (Why) ? • Findinga problem is not difficult but identifying one for research is not always easy.
Formulating a Research problem • The first step in beginning a research project is to decide “ What is the Research Question”? • A “Research Question” is a question about the problem to be addressed , it is therefore focused on the content of the topic of interest. • Always a researcher should spend a considerable time in thinking it through • The task is a difficult one, although it may not appear to be so. This is the most critical step in the Research
Steps in the formulation of a Research Problem • Step 1 – Identify a broad field of interest to you • Step 2-Dissect the broad are into a sub areas • Step 3 –Select what is of most interest to you • Step 4-Raise a research question. • Step 5 –Formulate Objectives • Step 6 – Assess your objectives • Step 7- Double –check
Criteria Research problem has three criteria: • Perceived discrepancy between what is and what should be. • A question about why discrepancy exists. • More than one possible and reasonable answer to the question.
Example: • Ideally we expect that all mothers should breastfeed their infants for full two years or even longer. But actually few mothers do so i.e. there is a discrepancy between the actual and the expected behaviour of mothers. • Therefore we can say that problem exists. This problem raises several questions.
Simple questions: • Q.1. Why mothers do not breast‑feed their infants for 2 year? OR • Q.2. What are the reasons for mothers discontinuing breast feeding earlier than 2 years?
There are more than one possible answer,,, • Mothers do not have enough breast milk after the first months. • Mothers have some infection or disease of breasts or nipple which hampers breast feeding for a longer duration. • The babies do not tolerate breast milk well. • The mother may have a total dislike for breast feeding baby and so on.
Prioritizing problems for research Seven criteria are used Final score=outcome of multiplication of the scores for all criteria
1-Relevance Not relevant 0 Relevant 1 Very relevant 2 2-Avoidance of duplication Sufficient information already available 1 Some information available 2 No information available 3
3-Feasibility Study not feasible considering available resources 1 Study feasible considering available resources 2 Study very feasible considering available resources 3 4-Political acceptability Topic not accepted to policy makers 0 Topic to some extent accepted 1 Topic fully accepted 2
5-Applicability No chance of recommendations being implemented 1 Some chance of recommendations being implemented 2 Good chance of recommendations being implemented 3 6-Urgency Information not urgently needed 1 Information is needed but delay is acceptable Information very urgently needed for 2 decision making 3
7-Ethical acceptability Not ethically accepted 0 Minor ethical problem 1 No ethical problem 2
Problem analysis Focuses on two issues • Factors that may have contributed to the problem. • The relationship between the problem and the contributing factors. Contributing factors : • Socio-cultural factors. • Service-related factors. • Disease-related factors.
Problem analysis diagram(PAD) factor Factor factor problem factor Factor
Constructing Hypothesis • The second important consideration in the formulation of a research problem is the construction of a hypothesis. • A hypothesis brings clarity, and focus to a research problem. • A hypothesis tells what data to collect and what not to collect, thereby providing focus to the study. • As it provides a focus, the construction of a hypothesis enhances objectivity in a study. • Hypotheses are based on guesses. • Hence Hypothesis is a prediction, assumption, or supposition about a phenomenon, relationship or situation , arrived at from observation. It can be accepted or rejected.
The characteristics of a hypothesis • A hypothesis should be simple , specific and conceptually clear • A hypothesis should be related to the existing body of knowledge – It is important that hypotheses emerges from the existing body of knowledge • A hypothesis should be expressed in terms that can be measured.
The characteristics of a hypothesis (Cont.) It should specify ; • the population, • the cause being considered, • the expected outcome(disease), • the dose-response relationship, and • the time response relationship Example • The smoking of 30-40 cigarettes per day causes lung cancer in 10 percent of smokers after 20 years of exposure Success or failure of a research project frequently depends upon the soundness of the hypothesis
Errors in testing a hypothesis Incorrect conclusions about the validity of a hypothesis may be drawn if, • The study design selected is faulty • The sampling procedure adopted is faulty • The method of data collection is inaccurate • The analysis is wrong • The statistical procedures applied are inappropriate • The conclusions drawn are incorrect
Problem statement(summary) Should be written in a concise and clear manner, and should contain the following information: 1-Background information ( geographic areas affected, characteristics of the population groups, health services…) 2-Basic description of the research problem 3-Reasons why the problem is important . 4-Unanswered questions 5-Possible solutions
Lecture outlines • Identify the reasons for reviewing the literature • Describe the possible sources of information • List the steps in writing the literature review • Quote references • Demonstrate sources of bias in literature review • Discuss ethical issues in writing literature review
Why we review literature? • To prevent duplication • To enable comparison • To refine statement of the problem • To formulate the suitable type of methodology • To support the argument for need of the research (justification)
How to begin your search? • Examine everything available to you. • Go beyond your own library resources and ask for references . • Talk to those who know something about your topic
GETTING STARTED • Write down the purpose statement of your study. • Embedded in this purpose statement are key terms. • This part of the literature review searches for core literature. • Look for studies similar to your problem statement in Sudan. • Look for studies similar to your problem statement in other countries.
Sources of information • Individuals, groups, and organizations • Published information (e.gbooks,articles…) • Unpublished information (reports, computer databases)
Sources of information(detailed) • Articles (journals) • Books • Computer databases • Abstracts from journals • International organizations documents (e.g WHO,UNICEF) • Report from ministry of health (MOH) health facilities.
Sources of information (cont.) • Vital statistics such as births, deaths … • Census • Surveillance system • Surveys • Internet • Knowledgeable People • Opinions, beliefs of key persons (through interview)
How do you write a review of literature? • Take your problem analysis diagram as a framework for collecting information • Read information collected. • Summarize the information (using index cards, exercise book or computer entries) 3.Organize your index cards in groups according to which aspect of the problem they touch upon.
How do you write a review of literature?(cont.) 4.Decide in which order you want to discuss the various aspects. 5.Write a discussion in your own words. 6.Use consecutive numbers in the text to refer to your references. (Vancouver system) 7.Listyour references in that order. 8.Add the list as an annex to your research proposal/report.
Quoting references(Referencing/Citation/Bibliography) You need the following 10: • Author(s)`s name • Title of article /chapter • Name of journal or book • Edition (if applicable) • Publisher's name • Place of publication (for book) • Year of publication • Volume number (for journal) • Issue number (for journal) • Page numbers.
Quoting referencesReferencing/Citation/Bibliography)) For an article • Author(s)` (surname followed by initials). Title of the article. Name of the journal,year,volume number: page numbers of article. Example: Ali KA ,Ibrahim B & Yousif S .Assessment of nutritional status in pregnancy .Sudan Medical Journal,1985; 3 :193-196
Quoting references(Referencing/Citation/Bibliography) For a book • Author(s)` (surname followed by intials).Title the book .Place: Publisher, year,Edition. Example: Abramson JH .Survey methods in community medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone,1990,4thed.
For a chapter in a book, the reference can include: Author(s) of chapter (Surname(s) followed by initials). Chapter title. In: Editor(s) of book, (Surname(s) followed by initials). (eds). Title of book. Place: Publisher, year: page numbers of chapter. Example: • Todd J and Barongo L. Epidemiological methods. In: Ng’weshemi J, Boerma T, Bennett J and Schapink D (eds). HIV prevention and AIDS care in Africa; A district level approach . Amsterdam: KIT Press, 1997: 51-68.
Systems used: • Vancouver system • Harvard system
Vancouver system • You will use consecutive numbers in the text to indicate your references. At the end of your report you will then list your references in that order, using the format described above
Harvard system • You will refer to the references more fully in the text, putting the surname of the author, year of publication and number(s) of page(s) referred to between brackets, e.g., (Shiva 1998:15-17). If this system of citation is used, the references at the end of the report should be listed in alphabetical order.
USING A REFERENCE MANAGER Various computer software packages are available which allow references to: • be readily recovered from databases, • easily inserted into your document, and • automatically adjusted whenever any other alterations are made. • known as „reference management‟ packages or „reference managers‟. Examples of well known packages: • EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero.
Bias in literature review Definition • Distortion (alteration) of the available information in such a way it reflects opinions or conclusions that do not represent the real situation.
Examples of bias • Restricting references to those that support the point of view of the author. • Drawing conclusions from shaky (doubtful) results. • Making generalization from just one case or small study.
Ethical considerations in literature review Ethical problems include: • Bias • Careless presentation of data • Presentation of research results or scientific publications of other authors without quoting them. (This can take to court).
Key Requirements for citing references; • Acknowledge the work of others wherever you make use of it. • Present such acknowledgements in a consistent way using a recognized citation system. • Give a well-presented reference list at the end of your work. • You are also encouraged to make use of reference manager software.
Plagiarism • Is the copying or use of the work of others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as if it were your own. • Such work may come from any source whether published or unpublished, in print or online – including words, images, audio recordings, diagrams, formulae, computer code, performances, ideas, judgments, discoveries and results. You should demonstrate rigorous and respectful academic practice at all times
Other Assessment Irregularities • Cheating: deliberate attempt to deceive in order to gain advantage in an assessed work • Fraud: the submission of any work which may cause others to regard as true that which is not true. • Collusion :any form of collaboration with another • person, including another student, which has not been permitted. • Personation : the deliberate submission of work done by another person.
Penalties Ranging from; • Grade reduction, • Outright fail and resubmit, OR • Termination of student registration as per university regulations. Students will be presumed innocent unless the contrary can be established.