Category / Research Ethics

Delivering healthcare in prisons

A special event has been arranged at BU that will focus on health care within prisons. The session to be held on 28th May will be led by Jane Senior from the University of Manchester. Jane is a clinician-researcher and Research Project Manager for the Offender Health Research Network. Jane is a qualified mental health nurse with over 20 years of post qualification experience of working in prison and secure mental health settings.

Jane’s session will be of great value to anyone :

  • thinking about undertaking research within UK prisons
  • wanting to know more about health care delivery in prisons
  • thinking of working with or in a prison health care team

During the session Jane will outline findings from her recent prison research projects. These include studies into how to manage the health and wellbeing of older prisoners and her recent work in developing the Older Prisoner Health and Social Care Assessment and Plan (OHSCAP). She will also highlight some of the specific issues that can arise when undertaking research within a prison environment.

Staff and students are welcome to attend the session. If you would like to attend please email Holly Crossen-White (hcrossen@Bournemouth.ac.uk).

Using government administrative data for research?

On the 16th May the Welcome Trust will host a seminar exploring the results of the ESRC/ONS joint Dialogue on Data: Exploring the public’s views on using administrative data (government collected data) for research purposes.

During October and November 2013, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) commissioned IPSOS Mori to undertake a public dialogue in seven UK locations to explore views on using government administrative data for research purposes.

The overall objectives were to explore public understanding and views of administrative data and data linking. The dialogue focused on two uses of administrative data, one that is currently being established and one that may go ahead in future:

  • The new ESRC-funded Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) that was set up in late 2013 
  • The potential use of administrative data linking as one of the options for conducting the 2021 census (alongside an annual survey).

This seminar will present the findings to policy professionals, science communicators and public engagement specialists as well as showcase how they are being used. It will also explore with attendees what further work is needed in this area.

To register for the seminar please email your name, contact number and organisation to events@esrc.ac.uk.

Further information can be found here – Dialogue on Data: Exploring the public’s views on using linked administrative data for research purposes (PDF, 3Mb)

 

Check out the updated Research Ethics website!

The Research Ethics website has been updated to take into account last week’s ethics restructure implementation. The research ethics restructure sees the formation of two Research Ethics Panels which will act on behalf of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC), moving from a School-based to an integrated discipline-based model. The restructure identifies the two Research Ethics Panels as Science, Technology & Health and Social Sciences & Humanities.

The updated Research Ethics website includes sections on:

  • The purpose of ethical approval at BU
  • How to apply for ethical review
  • Explanation of the review and approval process for students and staff (to include ‘above minimal risk’ and expedited review)
  • Research Ethics Panels (REP)
  • University Research Ethics Committee (UREC)
  • NHS Ethical Review
  • Training and Guidance
  • Useful Documents
  • Contact Us

Please get in touch with Julia Hastings Taylor if you have any questions on the updated Research Ethics website or if you’d like to see any additional information.

The Ethics Restructure – Implementation Tomorrow!

As you are already aware, the University recently approved the restructure of our research ethics review process, which will go into effect tomorrow.

As part of the implementation, the Online Ethics Checklist has been upgraded to ensure it is fit for purpose and as such, you may experience slight disruptions to the Online Ethics Checklist tomorrow as the new system is being uploaded. Please be patient with the system and feel free to get in touch with Julia Hastings Taylor if you have any questions.

The research ethics restructure sees the formation of two Research Ethics Panels which will act on behalf of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC), moving from a School-based to an integrated discipline-based model. The restructure identifies the two Research Ethics Panels as Science, Technology & Health and Social Sciences & Humanities.

Regarding the ethical review process, the restructure emphasises the need to identify potential risk and ensures that projects, which reach the threshold of ‘above minimal risk’ (further defined in the School Implementation Plans), receive a thorough ethical review. Please email Julia Hastings Taylor if you would like a copy of your School’s Implementation Plan.

If you have any specific questions regarding the restructure, please contact Julia Hastings Taylor.

Good start of the year: Early crop of 2014 publications

HSC staff saw the fruit of their hard work in 2013 as a great number of papers have been accepted for publication or actually appeared in print in the first three weeks of January.  

 

 

There are a number of 2014 papers in health care journals, including papers in Nurse Education in Practice, The Practising Midwife, Journal of Clinical Nursing, Birth, ISRN Family Medicine, Perspective in Public Health, an editorial in Midwifery and two in the same issue of Health Science Journal.  There was also an early contribution from our social science colleagues in The Journal of Adult Protection and, last but not least a book chapter in Case Studies in e-Learning Research.

 

  1. Morley, D., 2014. Supporting student nurses in practice with online communication tools. Nurse Education in Practice, 14, 69-75.
  2. Bennett, S and Scammell, J (2014) Midwives caring for asylum-seeking women: research findings.  The Practising Midwife. 17 (1) p9-12
  3. Whitford, H., Aitchison, P., Entwistle V.A., van Teijlingen, E., Davidson, T., Humphrey, T., Tucker, J. Use of a birth plan within woman-held maternity records: a qualitative study with women and staff in northeast Scotland, Birth (accepted).
  4. Norton, E. 2014 The application of humanization theory to health-promoting practice. Perspectives in Public Health, (online first 2013)
  5. Sapkota, T., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2014) Nepalese health workers’ migration to the United Kingdom: A qualitative study.  Health Science Journal 8(1):  57-74.
  6. Hunt, J.A., Hutchings, M. (2014) Innovative group-facilitated peer and educator assessment of nursing students’ group presentations, Health Science Journal 8(1): 22-31.
  7. Harding, A., Sanders, F., Medina Lara, A., van Teijlingen, E., Wood, C., Galpin, D. Baron, S., Crowe, S., Sharma, S. Patient choice for older people in English NHS primary care: theory & practice,  ISRN Family Medicine (accepted).
  8. Norton, E., Holloway, I., Galvin K. 2014. Comfort vs risk: a grounded theory about female adolescent behaviour in the sun. Journal of Clinical Nursing. (online first 2013)
  9. van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Matthews, Z., Lewis, G., Graham, W.J., Campbell, J., ten Hoope-Bender, P., Sheppard, Z.A., Hulton, L. (2014) Millennium Development Goals: All good things must come to an end, so what next? Midwifery 30: 1-2.
  10. Parker, J.,  Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2014) Covert research and adult protection and safeguarding: an ethical dilemma? The Journal of Adult Protection (accepted).
  11. Hutchings, M, Quinney, A., Galvin, K.  Clark, V. book chapter IN: ‘The Yin/Yang of Innovative Technology Enhanced Assessment for Promoting Student Learning’ Case Studies in e-Learning Research.   Book is now available at:  http://www.academic-bookshop.com/ourshop/prod_2915879-Case-Studies-in-eLearning-Research-for-Researchers-teachers-and-Students.html

 

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Don’t delay – today is the deadline to complete the Research Ethics e-module!

The research ethics e-module is available on myBU for all academic staff and for those who supervise students. To access the e-module login to myBU and click on ‘Research Ethics’ in the ‘My Communities’ tab. Please note that the preferred browser to view the course/quiz is either Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.

Why are research ethics important?

It is important to conduct research in line with ethical standards for a number of reasons:

• In order to respect and cause no harm to the participants
• As a sign of respect for other researchers and those who will use the research
• It is a professional requirement particularly in some disciplines and failure to do so may result in disciplinary procedures.
• It is a requirement to obtain funding.
• Failing to conduct research ethically could be embarrassing or result in research (or the researcher) being dismissed or rejected by the research community.
• Research involving human beings, including using questionnaires and focus groups, must be passed by an Ethics Committee whose job it is to confirm that the research conforms to a set of ethical guidelines.

If ethics are considered, this should make sure that the work is acceptable to the research community and other users of the research results.

Online training got you down? Prefer an alternative face-to-face route to completing the Research Ethics e-module? Two session being held tomorrow!

Don’t fancy the pure online mode of delivery for the Research Ethics training in myBU? Prefer an alternative? We are holding two University-wide sessions where you will get the opportunity to go through the e-module and discuss any aspects of the training with colleagues and then finish by taking a paper quiz, which will confirm your completion of the e-module. These sessions are primarily targeted at those members of staff who have yet to complete the e-module; however, anyone is welcome!

Details of the sessions are below:

Lansdowne – 1 October 1000-1100 EB302

Talbot – 1 October 1500-1600 PG22

If you would like to attend, please email Julia Hastings Taylor. For more information on the Research Ethics e-module, please click here or check out the Training section of the Research Ethics page.

5 exciting upgrades to the Online Ethics Checklist

You spoke and we listened…the release of the updated Online Ethics Checklist is now live! Below is a list of 5 exciting changes to the checklist:

1. Document attachment function – that’s right, rather than emailing your participant information sheet, consent form, questionnaire, risk assessment, etc. to your supervisor/ethics representative, now you’ll be able to attach the documents through the Online Ethics Checklist!

2. PDF of what to expect to see on the checklist – researchers will be able to review this document prior to going through the actual checklist to ensure they are aware of the information they will need to provide in order to speed up the ethical review process!

3. The ability to view Open or Submitted checklists as a PDF prior to approval – researchers will now be able to produce a draft version of the ethics checklist in the instance they are working with multiple partners or multiple schools to ensure all parties are on the same page when it comes to research ethics!

4. A link to the Health Research Authority Decision Tool – researchers who aren’t sure if their research requires external approval (i.e. via a NHS Research Ethics Committee) can use this decision tool to know if they should apply for external approval.

5. Activity trail – supervisors and Ethics Representatives will now be able to see the record of activity between themselves and researchers, which will ensure an audit trail is available in the instance questions arise regarding the ethical review and approval process.

If you have any questions about the above upgrades or anything else regarding the Online Ethics Checklist, please get in touch with Julia Hastings Taylor.

1 Oct is just around the corner – don’t forget to complete the research ethics e-module!

The research ethics e-module is available on myBU for all academic staff and for those who supervise students. If you are a PGR and you would like early access to the e-module, please email Julia Hastings Taylor. Please note that the preferred browser to view the course/quiz is either Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.

Why are research ethics important?

It is important to conduct research in line with ethical standards for a number of reasons:

• In order to respect and cause no harm to the participants
• As a sign of respect for other researchers and those who will use the research
• It is a professional requirement particularly in some disciplines and failure to do so may result in disciplinary procedures.
• It is a requirement to obtain funding.
• Failing to conduct research ethically could be embarrassing or result in research (or the researcher) being dismissed or rejected by the research community.
• Research involving human beings, including using questionnaires and focus groups, must be passed by an Ethics Committee whose job it is to confirm that the research conforms to a set of ethical guidelines.

If ethics are considered, this should make sure that the work is acceptable to the research community and other users of the research results.

HEFCE grants tied to research integrity

The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) recently announced that all UK research institutions must comply with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity in order to be eligible for grants.

HEFCE stated, ‘we are party to a formal agreement or ‘concordat’ about standards and integrity in UK research. This sets out five commitments that assure Government, the wider public and the international community, that the highest standards of rigour and integrity will continue to underpin research in the UK.’

This condition will apply from 2013-14 and follows their consultation earlier in the year on implementing the concordat. HEFCE’s decision was prompted by a consultation on how best to implement the concordat. Of the respondents, 82 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that compliance with the concordat should be a condition of HEFCE grant funding. Only 11 per cent of respondents said that they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the suggestion. The 78 respondents included 59 universities.

The Concordat sets out five commitments:

  • Maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research;
  • Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards;
  • Supporting a research enivironment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity;
  • Using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise;
  • Working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly.

Universities UK developed the concordat with the funding and research councils, the Wellcome Trust and a number of government departments. It was launched on 11 July 2012.

This follows Research Councils UK’s announcement that demonstrating compliance with the concordat will be a condition of further funding for universities.

Now Available: Research Ethics e-module on myBU

The research ethics e-module training course is officially launched TODAY.

Please login to myBU and click on ‘Research Ethics’ under the ‘My Communities’ tab to begin the e-module. Contact Julia Hastings Taylor with any comments/questions regarding the e-module. If ‘Research Ethics’ is not visible on your myBU homepage, contact Julia Hastings Taylor and she will add you to the participant list.

The University Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee (URKEC) recently approved the implementation plan of a mandatory research ethics e-module training course. The research ethics e-module is vital to ensure all academic staff and PGRs at BU are provided with training in research ethics. This will ensure all members of staff who conduct their own research and supervise students are proficient in basic research ethics principles.

In accordance with the recommendations from the BU Research Ethics Review, the University procured two research ethics courses (Ethics 1: Good Research Practice and Ethics 2: Working with Human Subjects). Both courses will be available on myBU.

The first course (Ethics 1: Good Research Practice) covers standard practice and recent changes in universities’ ethics policies related to research that investigates people and their data. This course will be mandatory for all academic staff and PGRs. Successful completion of the course requires a score of 8/10 on the end of course assessment.

  • All academic staff (including all BU employees who supervise students on dissertations, thesis, etc.) will be required to complete the course no later than three months after the release date (1 July 2013) and refresher training will be required every two years thereafter.
  • All new starters will be notified of the requirement to complete the course. They will also be given three months to complete the course.
  • PRGs will be required to complete the course within three months of the start of their first year. This will begin at the start of the 2013/14 academic year. For ease of access, both courses will be available on the Graduate School’s myBU page, which will be available in the coming months.

The second course (Ethics 2: Working with Human Subjects) covers the ethics of involving human participants – directly or indirectly – in research projects. This course is recommended for all academic staff and PGRs and is mandatory if the research project involves working with human participants. Successful completion of the course requires a score of 8/10 on the end of course assessment.

Several engagement initiatives with internal support opportunities will be undertaken to ensure maximum participation with the e-module. For example, Fusion Investment Fund (FIF) applicants will be required to successfully complete the e-module. Additionally, internal development schemes (Grants Academy, EU Academics Development Scheme, etc.) will require that all new members complete the e-module. Due to the potential risks if relevant staff and PGRs are not adequately trained in research ethics, several non-compliance measures will be implemented to ensure they have basic knowledge of research ethics principles and best practice. Please visit the Research Ethics page of the blog for more information on the e-module, to include detail on engagement initiatives and non-compliance measures.

REMINDER – the Research Ethics e-module will be launched on 1 July!

The research ethics e-module training course will be launched on 1 July.

The University Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee (URKEC) recently approved the implementation plan of a mandatory research ethics e-module training course. The research ethics e-module is vital to ensure all academic staff and PGRs at BU are provided with training in research ethics. This will ensure all members of staff who conduct their own research and supervise students are proficient in basic research ethics principles.

In accordance with the recommendations from the BU Research Ethics Review, the University procured two research ethics courses (Ethics 1: Good Research Practice and Ethics 2: Working with Human Subjects). Both courses will be available on myBU.

The first course (Ethics 1: Good Research Practice) covers standard practice and recent changes in universities’ ethics policies related to research that investigates people and their data. This course will be mandatory for all academic staff and PGRs. Successful completion of the course requires a score of 8/10 on the end of course assessment.

  • All academic staff (including all BU employees who supervise students on dissertations, thesis, etc.) will be required to complete the course no later than three months after the release date (1 July 2013) and refresher training will be required every two years thereafter.
  • All new starters will be notified of the requirement to complete the course. They will also be given three months to complete the course.
  • PRGs will be required to complete the course within three months of the start of their first year. This will begin at the start of the 2013/14 academic year. For ease of access, both courses will be available on the Graduate School’s myBU page.

The second course (Ethics 2: Working with Human Subjects) covers the ethics of involving human participants – directly or indirectly – in research projects. This course is recommended for all academic staff and PGRs and is mandatory if the research project involves working with human participants. Successful completion of the course requires a score of 8/10 on the end of course assessment.

Several engagement initiatives with internal support opportunities will be undertaken to ensure maximum participation with the e-module. For example, Fusion Investment Fund (FIF) applicants will be required to successfully complete the e-module. Additionally, internal development schemes (Grants Academy, EU Academics Development Scheme, etc.) will require that all new members complete the e-module. Due to the potential risks if relevant staff and PGRs are not adequately trained in research ethics, several non-compliance measures will be implemented to ensure they have basic knowledge of research ethics principles and best practice. Please visit the Research Ethics page of the blog for more information on the e-module, to include detail on engagement initiatives and non-compliance measures.

Research Ethics: Insights from the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health and the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy

Ethics contributions

Collage of research ethics contributions

Academics based in HSC have experience in a wide-range of research.  In the process of reflecting on all aspects of the research process several members of HSC have published about ethical issues that they have had to address in their own research.    This BU Blog highlights some of these key HCS papers which may help fellow academics and students across the globe address similar ethical questions.  HSC has a history of publishing on research ethics, Professor Emerita Immy Holloway wrote about the researcher who may have a dual role, or even conflicting role, as researcher and health care professional (1).  More recently, several midwifery researchers in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health wrote about the issues facing practitioners doing research in the field where they work, especially concerning the similarities and differences between professional ethics and research ethics (2-3).  Negotiating ethical paths cleaved by competing concerns between protecting research participants and over-managing the ethical process is tricky.

In her book Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree in the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, addresses the problematic issue of gate-keepers in research together with the ethics of critical observation of abuse (potential or actual), as well as the ethics of advocating on behalf of research participants (4).

The fear that the ethical application process in the UK is becoming more and more cumbersome and bureaucratic has been widely recognised as highlighted by Prof. van Teijlingen and colleagues (5-6).

Research ethics review processes are also considered in terms of access to participants regarded as ‘vulnerable’ in a recently published paper by Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree (7) of ethnographers working in health settings who are seeking to understand the context of care and patient/service user experiences.  She concludes that paternalistic control of participation on the grounds of ethical protection of vulnerable people seriously disenfranchises potential participants in preventing them from being able to share their relevant, lived experiences as recipients of service provision.

Prof. van Teijlingen and BU Visiting Fellow Dr. Padam Simkhada highlighted that the social, cultural and economic contexts in which research is conducted often differ between developing and developed countries.  However they stress that researchers need to apply for research ethics approval to the relevant local authority, if national legislation requires one to do so (8).

A new and challenging area of research is the use of discussion boards as a source of research data.  In their paper Dr. Bond and BU colleagues discuss both practical and ethical dilemmas that arise in using such data (9). In earlier research, Prof. Parker of the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, highlighted some of the benefits and dangers of using email and the Internet for research as the potential for electronic media continues its rapid growth (10).

Obtaining informed consent is something that all researchers need to consider. However, in some research situations obtaining consent can be particularly challenging.  Prof. Hundley and colleagues discuss the ethical challenges involved in conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial, where consent needs to be considered at a number of levels (11).  In a second paper issues of consent during pregnancy, where there is the potential for harm to two participants, are considered (12).

In research into the implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for social research, Prof. Parker explored the contested meanings and difficulties associated with informed consent in social research, highlighting some of the challenges raised by an almost unquestioned acceptance of biomedical research ethics in social research and questioning whether potential ‘harm’ is different in this context (13, 14). This research has led to further explorations of the potential for ethical covert research by Prof. Parker and Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree.

 

The way forward

There a plenty of challenges to research ethics in both the health and social care sectors.  Ethical considerations relate to technological developments such conducting research over the Internet or the analysis of tweets.  HSC staff will continue to publish on a range of moral dilemma as well as practical issues related to research ethics.  Moreover, academic from the two centres are planning a Masterclass on research ethics to be held in early 2014.

 

 

References

  1. Holloway, I., Wheeler, S. (1995) Ethical Issues in Qualitative Nursing Research, Nursing Ethics 2: 223-232.   Web address:  http://nej.sagepub.com/content/2/3/223.full.pdf+html
  2. Ryan, K., Brown, B., Wilkins, C., Taylor, A., Arnold, R., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E. (2011) Which hat am I wearing today? Practicing midwives doing research, Evidence-Based Midwifery 9(1): 4-8.
  3. van Teijlingen, E.R., Cheyne, H.L. (2004) Ethics in midwifery research, RCM Midwives Journal 7 (5): 208-10.
  4. Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2012) Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia, London: Whiting & Birch.
  5. van Teijlingen, E., Douglas, F., Torrance, N. (2008) Clinical governance and research ethics as barriers to UK low-risk population-based health research? BMC Public Health 8(396)                            Web address: www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-8-396.pdf
  6. van Teijlingen, E. (2006) Reply to Robert Dingwall’s Plenary ‘Confronting the Anti-Democrats: The unethical Nature of Ethical Regulation in Social Science, MSo (Medical Sociology online) 1: 59-60  Web address:  www.medicalsociologyonline.org/archives/issue1/pdf/reply_rob.pdf
  7. Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2013) Research ethics approval processes and the moral enterprise of ethnography. Ethics & Social Welfare. Advance Access: DOI:10.1080/17496535.2012.703683
  8. van Teijlingen E.R., Simkhada, P.P. (2012) Ethical approval in developing countries is not optional, Journal of Medical Ethics 38 :428-430.
  9. Bond, C.S,  Ahmed, O.H., Hind, M, Thomas, B., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2013) The Conceptual and Practical Ethical Dilemmas of Using Health Discussion Board Posts as Research Data, Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(6):e112)  Web address: http://www.jmir.org/2013/6/e112/
  10. Parker, J.  (2008) Email, ethics and data collection in social work research: some reflections from a research project, Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate & Practice, 4 (1): 75-83.
  11. Hundley, V, Cheyne, HC, Bland, JM, Styles, M, Barnett, CA.. (2010) So you want to conduct a cluster randomised controlled trial? Lessons from a national cluster trial of early labour, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16: 632-638
  12. Helmreich, R.J., Hundley, V., Norman, A., Ighedosa, J., Chow, E. (2007) Research in pregnant women: the challenges of informed consent, Nursing for Women’s Health 11(6):  576-585.
  13. Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D., 2010. Problem or safeguard? Research ethics review in social care research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Social Care & Neurodisability, 1 (2): 22-32.
  14. Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D. (2011) Research ethics review: social care and social science research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Ethics & Social Welfare, 5(4): 380-400.

 

Vanora Hundley, Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, Jonathan Parker & Edwin van Teijlingen

 

 

Festival of Learning – Testament to a Successful Morning (Dr Simon Thompson, DEC Psychology Research Centre)

‘Testamentary Capacity in Dementia’ (03 June 2013 10:00h – 13:00h) – Presentation followed by in-depth plenary session about the complexities of leaving an estate to beneficiaries following a diagnosis of dementia.

‘Dementia’ is an umbrella term used to describe many types of deteriorating diseases – the most common ones are Alzhiemer’s disease, Vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Many married couples own property as ‘joint tenants’. Upon death, ownership automatically passes to the survivor. If property is owned as ‘tenants in common’, one half of the estate belonging to the deceased is dealt with by their Will. Problems arise when there is no Will, when others make a claim, or when another Will is executed.

‘Testamentary capacity’ is a person’s legal and mental ability to make a
valid Will. There are three premises: Presumption of capacity; Requirements; Proof of testamentary capacity.

It is proposed that the law should allow testators alternative means of satisfying the testamentary capacity standard such as an option to validate a testator’s capacity during their lifetime through forensic assessment measuring cognitive elements of testamentary capacity.

It does not remove the difficulty of knowing the status of person at a specific time line. However, it goes some way to describing a person during their lifetime in terms of mental ability and capacity.

Thompson, SBN (2006). Dementia and memory: a handbook for students and professionals. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Thompson, SBN (2012). Dementia. In SBN Thompson (Ed), Psychology of trauma: clinical reviews, case histories, research (pp169-202). Portsmouth: Blackwell-Harvard-Academic.

Publish empirical or experimental data early whilst letting theory mature?

My colleagues and I have written several papers to help budding researchers about the process of writing and publishing academic papers (Hundley, & van Teijlingen 2002; van Teijlingen 2004; Pitchforth et al. 2005; van Teijlingen et al. 2012; Simkhada et al. 2013). For all researchers – students and staff alike publishing research findings is important as new insights will add to the existing knowledge base, advance the academic discipline and, in the case of applied research, perhaps improve something in the lives of others such as, well-being, the economy or the environment. Apart from this general/altruistic drive to add to knowledge, the advice academics give our postgraduate students is: to get your study published as soon as possible. The two main reasons for publishing early are: (a) getting into print to potentially help your careers; and (b) staking once claim as an authority in the field and/or publishing your findings before someone else does.
As always there are exceptions to the rule. As academics we agree that trying to get into print early is a good personal strategy for an early researcher or a postgraduate student especially for those working with empirical or experimental data. However, occasionally it is better to wait and give the underlying idea in the paper time to develop and mature. The kind of paper that often improves with time is one based on theory. Let me share a personal example: a theoretical paper from my PhD (awarded by the University of Aberdeen in 1994). This paper started life as a theory chapter in my PhD thesis (van Teijlingen 1994). This chapter on models of maternity care was not the strongest part of my thesis and it took me another decade of fine-tuning to get it into a state worth publishing. The paper ‘A Critical Analysis of the Medical Model as used in the Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth’ was finally published in Sociological Research Online, the original online-only Sociology journal in the world (van Teijlingen 2005). The wait was worthwhile as the paper is today (May 2013), eight year after publication, the seventh ‘most viewed articles during the past eight weeks’ in the journal (see: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/stats/top20.html).
In conclusion, it is generally sound advice to new researchers and postgraduate students to publish early. Occasionally though, waiting and giving your paper time to improve through discussion with colleagues, presenting the ideas at conferences and on blogs may lead to a better final product.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health
School of Health & Social Care

References
Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) How to decide where to send an article for publication? Nursing Standard 16(36): 21.
van Teijlingen (1994) A social or medical comparison of childbirth? : comparing the arguments in Grampian (Scotland) and the Netherlands (PhD thesis), Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen. Available online in the British Library (search for: uk.bl.ethos.387237 ).
Teijlingen van, E. (2004) Why I can’t get any academic writing done, Medical Sociology News 30 (3): 62-6.
van Teijlingen, E. (2005) A Critical Analysis of the Medical Model as used in the Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Sociological Research Online 10(2) Freely available online at: www.socresonline.org.uk/10/2/teijlingen.html.
Pitchforth, E., Porter, M., Teijlingen van, E.R., Forrest Keenan, K. (2005) Writing up and presenting qualitative research in family planning and reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31 (2): 132-135.
Teijlingen van, E., Simkhada. P.P., Simkhada, B., Ireland, J. (2012) The long and winding road to publication, Nepal Journal Epidemiology 2(4): 213-215. http://nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/7093
Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V. (2013) Writing an academic paper for publication, Health Renaissance 11 (1): 1-5. www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Pp_1_5_Guest_Editorial.pdf