Tagged / research methodology

Pilot studies paper reaches 90,000 reads

Today ResearchGate informed Prof. Vanora Hundley and I that our paper in the Nursing Standard of 2002 had reached 90,000 reads.  This short methods paper called ‘The Importance of Pilot Studies’ [1] was one of our earlier attempts, nearly two decades ago, to publish more of our work in practitioners journals.  This approach has been highly successful in terms of reaching a wider audience.  We have written longer, more sophisticated research methods papers on pilot studies over the years, including in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Social Research Update, and the SAGE encyclopedia on research methods [2-6], but none of these has been read or cited as often as our short paper in the Nursing Standard. 

The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instrument such as a questionnaire or interview schedule. Pilot studies are a crucial element of good study design. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies fulfill a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of pilot studies.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
  2. van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
  3. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web:  http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
  4. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74
  5. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
  6. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.), Oregon, Sage: 823-24.

Planning health promotion programmes: an Intervention Mapping approach

For those of you interested in health education, applied psychology or physical activity promotion, read on.

Last week I attended the annual Intervention Mapping course at Maastricht University, which provides a framework for decision-making when planning, conducting and evaluating complex interventions. As a physiologist and early career researcher the course introduced me to using a theory-led, systematic approach when devising multidisciplinary interventions. From my perspective, what to consider when planning an exercise/physical activity programme to improve mobility (and holistically quality of life) for frail older adults living in care home residences. Intervention Mapping comprises the following steps:

  1. Needs assessments (or logic model of the problem)
  2. Specifying the ‘change objectives’
  3. Programme design
  • themes and components
  • theory- and evidence-based methods for change
  • practical application
  1. Programme production
  2. Implementation plan
  3. Evaluation plan

It should be noted that this framework relates mainly to collaborative healthcare projects, involving multidisciplinary team-working with individuals that may include: behavioural scientists, physiologists, Allied health professionals, care home staff and council officials.

As a ‘cog in a wheel’ (i.e. physiologist working within healthcare teams), personally Intervention Mapping has influenced my methodological perspective and will inform my long-term research, but will have little impact in the short-term for laboratory-based studies. For the behavioural scientist or applied psychologist interested in health promotion, the course would be a great benefit. For everyone else considering healthcare projects incorporating behaviour change I wholeheartedly recommend. Plus, Maastricht is a cultural and gastronomical delight.

If you would like further information on the course and framework, let me know.

Dr James Gavin

Department of Sport and Physical Activity

Bournemouth University

Email: jgavin@bournemouth.ac.uk

Reporting back from the BSA Auto/Biography Christmas Conference!

“I say tomato, You say tomato”. Is Autoethnography Auto/Biography by any other name?

Prior to our holiday break, Dr Judith Chapman and Dr Sarah Collard presented their research at the recent British Sociological Association (BSA) Auto/Biography Conference in London. This was a novel presentation, not limited to following a power point, but involving discussions with one other and the audience about the differences between the two research methods of autoethnography and auto/biography.

As they recently presented on this topic at the Centre for Qualitative Research lunchtime seminar, Judith and Sarah felt warmed up for the conversation and debates that occurred when presenting and discussing the topic in front of an audience of methodological experts within this area! After each shared their own experiences of conducting either authethnography or auto/biography, they opened it up to the audience to debate the merits of the two methods. An exciting and interesting dialogue with the audience ensued, with the ethical considerations of each method being fervently discussed, as well as the challenges of deciding what can be classified as autoethnography or auto/biography. There was no lull in the exchange of views and conference members applauded the informative and interactive element of our presentation.

After our presentation, we were able to forge links with others at the conference and were requested to share our work even more! It was very exciting to be so well received and have such a positive response to the presentation. However, there was no overall consensus and we agreed to differ on the syllabic emphasis of “tomato”!

Impact, outcome and research methods – HSC PhD student on LSE Impact Blog

With working at a university and the rise of the REF, you would have almost certainly come across the terms ‘impact’ and ‘outcomes’. Whilst there might be a great deal of similarity and overlap in the use of these terms, it is important to discuss the sometime subtle differences between ‘impact’ and ‘outcome’. What consequences might this have for the design of social research?

The health and social care literature uses these terms in a rather haphazard manner. The differences are rarely discussed and it can be suggested that many use the wrong terminology. In this blog post on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, relating to the field of information and advice on welfare issues, I briefly discuss and propose that there are fundamental differences between what an impact refers to and what an outcome refers to. Furthermore, I suggest that these differences are significant and profound enough to align each to opposing research methodologies.

These thoughts relate to the key areas of my PhD project with Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in London. EAC coordinates the FirstStop service which provides information and advice to older people (and other stakeholders) on housing and care issues. My research is focused on how older people use information and advice on housing and the wider impact that this has.

If anyone has an interest in this area, do get in touch!