Professional Development

Research Guidelines

Issues Related to the Participation of Children in Research

By Teresa Beigay, MA, Research Committee Co-Chair

In order to improve children's health, it is necessary to include children as research subjects. However, children are a vulnerable population, so special efforts must be made to protect their rights. Why is it not possible to simply apply to children the knowledge gained through research in adult populations? The answer is that children are not miniature adults. As we know from treating pre- and post-transplant children and from pediatric donor management, children may respond differently to clinical as well as social-behavioral interventions. Further, from a research standpoint, conclusions from a study cannot be considered relevant to a population unless members of that population were included as research subjects.

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Building a Research Team

by Rebecca Winsett, PhD, Research Committee Member

What is a research team?
Although many times as a researcher you feel alone, research is not performed in a vacuum. You will need a team to assist you in designing and implementing the process. The team is made of professionals and lay persons who have a shared interest in the topic and can bring to the table an area of expertise. Your team consists of the co-investigators (professionals who have participated in developing the design) as well as people who will be instrumental in ensuring that your project can be completed.

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Continuous Quality Improvement as a Research Methodology

by Sheila P. Harms, RN, BS, CCRN, CPTC, Research Committee Member

Quality improvement is a frequently heard term and can successfully drive improved organizational performance. Many institutions have established QI or Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) teams that are evaluating ways to constantly improve the quality of service provided. This article will address the four key elements of a successful quality improvement evaluation and how the CQI methodology applies to conducting an effective research project.

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Evaluative Research

by Rebecca P. Winsett, PhD, Research Committee Co-Chair

Introduction - Evaluation of the impact of a new program is an important aspect of many organizations. Finding that implementing a new way to evaluate donors or whether or not adding a return to work program is successful may be examples of program evaluation.

There is a design methodology called evaluative research that can help guide you as you design studies for future publication. As stated in Weiss (Weiss, 1998), evaluation is the systematic assessment of the operation and/or the outcomes of a program or policy, compared to a set of explicit or implicit standards, as a means of contributing to the improvement of the program or policy (pg 4).

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Forming a Research Question

by Cynthia Russell, PhD, RN, Research Committee Member

It seems like everyone has a great idea for a research study. However, translating an idea into a research question that can be studied scientifically can be a challenging undertaking, especially if an individual is fairly new to research. The goal of this brief fact sheet is to provide guidance on how to get through this important first step in completing a research study.

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How to Prepare an Abstract

by Rebecca Winsett, PhD, Research Committee Co-Chair

Your study is completed. Data analysis shows some interesting findings and it's now time to disseminate your results. Are you new at writing a scientific abstract for presentation at a professional meeting or has your abstract been rejected for presentation before and you're a bit skittish? This guide may help you in preparing an effective abstract.

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Institutional Review Board

by Rebecca Winsett, PhD, Research Committee Co-Chair

What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?
The IRB is a body of professional and lay persons who review all research studies from an institution to assure that the investigator meets the federal guidelines for protection of human subjects. Each institution that performs human subject research conducted, supported or regulated by any federal agency that adheres to the Common Rule must have that research reviewed by a Review Board (Department of Health and Human Services, 1991). The Department of Health and Human Services is one of the 15 agencies that adhere to the Common Rule. The Code of Federal Regulations codified at 45 part 46 is known as the Common Rule. Subpart A of this federal policy describes the function and operations of an institutional review board. In this policy, an institution is required to maintain a review board to ensure the protection and rights of human subjects. The primary function of the IRB is to assist the investigator to meet these protective guidelines. It is necessary for others who are independent of the research to share the responsibility for determining the standards for ethical conduct of research involving human subjects. Investigators, however, carry primary responsibility for assuring that research protocols measure up to standards established by the IRB.

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Sampling Strategies

by Kandace J. Landreneau, RN, PhD, CCTC, Research Committee Member

What is a sample?
A sample is a subset of your population by which you select to be participants in your study.

What is sampling?
Sampling is simply stated as selecting a portion of the population, in your research area, which will be a representation of the whole population.

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Validity and Reliability in Research

by Chris Handley, MS, EMT-P, CPTC, Research Committee Member

Whether you are planning a research project or interpreting the findings of someone else's work, determining the impact of the results is dependent upon two concepts: validity and reliability. Essentially, validity entails the question, does your measurement process, assessment, or project actually measure what you intend it to measure? The related topic of reliability addresses whether repeated measurements or assessments provide a consistent result given the same initial circumstances.

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Vulnerable Subjects

by Cynthia L. Russell, PhD, RN, Research Committee Member

Polit and Beck (2004) define vulnerable subjects as those who may be incapable of giving informed consent (e.g. mentally retarded people) or may be at high risk of unintended side effects because of their circumstances (e.g. pregnant women) (p. 154).

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Managing Citations Using a Bibliography Database Manager

Cynthia L. Russell, PhD, RN, Research Committee Member

A problem that many of us face is how to organize the articles and citations that we want to save in a way that allows future access for development of evidence-based practice protocols, manuscripts, grants, and/or presentations. Many of us are overwhelmed with stacks and stacks of articles, each with a citation. The citation is the article details-author(s), year, article title, journal title, volume, issue, and pages numbers. We probably need to organize our articles in the traditional way-in files with topic labels. However, there are several exciting bibliography database manager software programs available to assist you in organizing the citations including EndNote8, Reference Manager 11, and ProCite. Nicoll (2003) states that these programs: (1) maintain a library of reference citations; (2) allow searching of remote databases from within the program; and (3) with a word processor, format in-text citations and the reference list according to a selected style.

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