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Study Design in Medical Research Discussion
Week 10 Discussion
Weighing the Evidence
When conducting original research, the final step researchers must complete is weighing the evidence and interpreting the meanings of their data, statistics, and analyses. This is the culmination of the research process in which all of the research methods and designs can be synthesized into a meaningful conclusion. In this stage, researchers should formulate explanations for what their data indicates, determine whether the data answers their initial research question, identify areas of uncertainty, and consider directions for further research.
In this Discussion, you focus on one of the research articles that you identified for Part 2 of the Course Project (Literature Review). You then explore the process of how the researchers generated conclusions based on their data, consider other possible interpretations of their data, and formulate ideas for further research.
Review this week’s Learning Resources, focusing on how researchers find meaning in their data and generate sound conclusions. Pay particular attention to Table 2 in the article, “Study Design in Medical Research.”
Revisit the 5 articles that you identified in Part 2 of the Course Project. Select one to consider for the purpose of this Discussion.
Read sections of the chosen article where the data is presented, analyzed, and interpreted for meaning. What reasoning process did the researchers use to formulate their conclusions? What explanation did they give to support their conclusions? Were there any weaknesses in their analysis or conclusions?
Consider possible alternate conclusions that the researchers could have drawn based on their data.
Examine the findings that the article presents and consider how well they addressed the researcher’s initial question(s). What additional research could be done to build on these findings and gain a fuller understanding of the question?
Post on or before Day 3 an APA citation and brief summary of the research article that you selected. Describe the data and the results of any statistical tests or analyses presented in the article. Explain how the researchers formulated their conclusion, any weaknesses in their analysis or conclusions, and offer at least one alternate interpretation of their data. Propose at least one additional research study that could be done to further investigate this research topic.
M E D I C I N E
M edical research studies can be split into fivephases—planning, performance, documenta- tion, analysis, and publication (1, 2). Aside from finan- cial, organizational, logistical and personnel questions, scientific study design is the most important aspect of study planning. The significance of study design for subsequent quality, the relability of the conclusions, and the ability to publish a study are often underestimated (1). Long before the volunteers are recruited, the study design has set the points for fulfilling the study objec- tives. In contrast to errors in the statistical evaluation, errors in design cannot be corrected after the study has been completed. This is why the study design must be laid down carefully before starting and specified in the study protocol.
The term “study design” is not used consistently in the scientific literature. The term is often restricted to the use of a suitable type of study. However, the term can also mean the overall plan for all procedures in- volved in the study. If a study is properly planned, the factors which distort or bias the result of a test procedure can be minimized (3, 4). We will use the term in a comprehensive sense in the present article. This will deal with the following six aspects of study design: the question to be answered, the study population, the type of study, the unit of analysis, the measuring tech- nique, and the calculation of sample size—, on the basis of selected articles from the international litera- ture and our own expertise. This is intended to help the reader to classify and evaluate the results in publi- cations. Those who plan to perform their own studies must occupy themselves intensively with the issue of study design.
Question to be answered The question to be answered by the research is of decisive importance for study planning. The research worker must be clear about the objectives. He must think very carefully about the question(s) to be answered by the study. This question must be opera- tionalized, meaning that it must be converted into a measurable and evaluable form. This demands an adequate design and suitable measurement parameters. A distinction must be made between the main questions to be answered and secondary questions. The result of the study should be that open questions are answered
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