Research methods – Tacistm http://tacistm.org/ Tue, 11 Jan 2022 20:35:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.3 https://tacistm.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/icon-2022-01-11T145759.409-150x150.png Research methods – Tacistm http://tacistm.org/ 32 32 How To Write About Research Methods – University Affairs https://tacistm.org/how-to-write-about-research-methods-university-affairs/ Tue, 02 Nov 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://tacistm.org/how-to-write-about-research-methods-university-affairs/ Make sure to present your methods in a logical order and, if you can, try to paint a verbal picture. Question: I know I need to write a section on clear methods to have a chance to get published, but I’m having a hard time understanding what this looks like in practice. How to write […]]]>

Make sure to present your methods in a logical order and, if you can, try to paint a verbal picture.

Question:

I know I need to write a section on clear methods to have a chance to get published, but I’m having a hard time understanding what this looks like in practice. How to write a good section on methods?

– Anonymous, Genomics

Response from Dr Editor:

‘Bad methods’ and ‘bad method reviews’ are regularly cited by peer reviewers as the main reasons for rejecting a manuscript (eg. Griffiths & Norman 2016, Hesterman et al. 2018). If your study design is unclear, readers will not be able to assess the validity of your work or replicate your procedures. These things are well known.

Yet what is not mentioned as often is that a poorly drafted methods section can subtly influence a peer reviewer’s decision making, exploiting the cognitive bias that makes information difficult to find. read is more likely to be wrong than easy-to-read information. (Alter & Oppenheimer 2009). An imprecise or difficult to read method section can lead a reviewer to believe – consciously or subconsciously – that your methods themselves were flawed.

Beyond the imprecise suggestion to “write clearly”, what steps can you take to ensure that poor quality writing does not obscure high quality design, techniques and study tools? To answer this question, I spoke with Cath Ennis, a science writer and editor with a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology.

1. Create a logical order

Your examiners, notes Dr. Ennis, should be able to “easily follow the logical flow of your methods.” For the most part, that means describing your preparations, measurements, and protocol in chronological order, while also highlighting how your method was used to achieve your goal.

My favorite strategy for making the flow clear and logical: watch the topics of your sentences. The subject of your sentence should be short (less than six words, if possible) and consistent throughout a single paragraph. If the topics of your sentence change regularly within a single paragraph, your writing will seem choppy at best and inconsistent at worst.

Confused about what to put in the subject position in each sentence? As I describe in my analysis of sentence structures in a shark skin article (Li et al. 2014), the subject and verb of each sentence should focus on the information you most want your readers to understand. The point you are trying to make is at the beginning of your sentence. Think of it this way: your methods section tells a little story. What is the story about? If the story is about sharkskin, then sharks, sharkskin and its characteristics belong to the subject’s position in most sentences.

2. Provide structural parallels

When Dr Ennis edits manuscripts for publications, one of the things she looks for is structural parallels between the methods section and the discussion and results that follow.

“Each method you used to generate the data presented in your article should be described or cited, preferably in more or less the same order, or at least with corresponding captions. I need to be able to look at every figure or table in the paper and quickly and easily find the corresponding section in the methods.

What is sometimes loosely described as a “bad report on methods” could be explained, in part, by this lack of internal alignment: when the subheadings in the methods, the results and the discussion are not parallel in the wording and order, the methods sentence may seem unclear or incomplete. As with the topics of your sentences, consistency is better than variety.

3. Paint a verbal picture – or create a video

Finally, use concrete language rather than abstract to help your reader to mentally visualize your methods. Sometimes the use of physical or sensory details helps; other times you’ll want to use verbs that convey clear actions (rather than the hard-to-imagine “is” and “was”).

But creating a verbal image using words isn’t your only option. As Dr. Ennis notes: “If your methods are particularly unusual or capricious, consider making a video to supplement the methods section of your manuscript; many journals now allow short videos as additional material. People who want to reproduce (then quote) your article will thank you.

If your university has a do-it-yourself media space such as One Button Studio at UBC, then enjoy their high-quality camera, microphones, and lighting rather than having your graduate student film you on their phone.

By creating a logical order, providing structural parallels, and painting a verbal picture (or including a video), you will improve the clarity of your methods section and thus increase the likelihood that your article will be accepted – as long as your clarity is The writing reflects the relevance and relevance of the methods you have chosen.

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Navigating digital research methods: key principles to consider https://tacistm.org/navigating-digital-research-methods-key-principles-to-consider/ Tue, 13 Jul 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://tacistm.org/navigating-digital-research-methods-key-principles-to-consider/ I was approached by Epigeum to review their existing research methods courses and explore the possibility of helping to develop a new course that would provide an introduction to research methods. In particular, they were interested in updating existing courses and providing new material to cover digital research methods. It was an intriguing prospect: I […]]]>

I was approached by Epigeum to review their existing research methods courses and explore the possibility of helping to develop a new course that would provide an introduction to research methods. In particular, they were interested in updating existing courses and providing new material to cover digital research methods.

It was an intriguing prospect: I taught research methods courses at university for a number of years and wrote books on research methods and teaching research methods. My last book was specifically about digital research methods.

We liaised and the ideas developed. Yes, it was a great idea to develop a course that introduced research methods, and yes, it was extremely important to include digital research methods. Will I be able to write the course? Yes!

The new course developed gradually: it had to cover the principles of research methods. I had to go back to basics: what exactly should learners know when introduced to research methods? Do learners from all disciplines need to know the same things? What would go in the course: what would be left out? How would digital research methods be integrated? Ten principles emerged from these questions.

What are these principles?

  1. Study the nature of human knowledge and how it is acquired. Understand the nature and structure of the world and how it can be articulated. Relate these questions to the design and objectives of the research, the choice of methodology, the type of theory generation and the way in which knowledge is constructed.
  2. Develop a clear, concise, and well-worded question around which to focus research. Generate goals and objectives. Avoid personal biases, assumptions or prejudices when producing a research question and goals and objectives.
  3. Know and choose an appropriate research methodology (the guideline system or the research framework). Understand the difference between methodology and method. Justify and defend the chosen methodology.
  4. Know a variety of qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods and numerical research methods. Understand how the choice of research method is framed and guided by the methodology.
  5. Understand sampling techniques and procedures, choose sample sizes and overcome sampling problems and dilemmas.
  6. Know and choose the methods of analyzing qualitative, quantitative or mixed data. Choose and use data analysis software and tools.
  7. Reflect on the different types of links that can be established between and between disciplines (interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, for example).
  8. Know how to identify and meet data protection and security challenges and produce a data management plan.
  9. Communicate research using a variety of methods, platforms and channels of communication, dissemination and publication. Identify and address potential challenges when communicating research.
  10. Produce and submit a successful research proposal.

It was summer 2019: we had no idea of ​​the importance of digital research methods and online work, nor of the relevance and timeliness of the course content.

For example, I thought it would be very helpful for learners to follow three examples of researchers working on each principle. One of these researchers is researching tools that can be used to trace contact for a respiratory infection. These tools include a survey (questionnaires filled out by an individual, covering who they come into contact with) and wearables, in the form of a badge or bracelet (with built-in sensors that record levels and time of contact. ). At the time of developing this character, the new coronavirus in humans had not been identified.

The numerical search methods provided in this example, and other examples given in the course, illustrate that there are many possibilities for searching, despite the limitations of face-to-face contact. However, with these new possibilities come increased ethical implications.

Informed consent

  • In social network analysis, what does a researcher do when the person identifying their social network has given consent, but others within the network have not given their consent?
  • In research based on wearable devices, what happens if the wearer registers other people who are not in the study?
  • How can researchers resolve informed consent issues when data is collected by methods that participants are not aware of (data tracking and mining, for example)?

Confidentiality and privacy

  • When using cell phone interviews, how can researchers maintain confidentiality and privacy when participants choose to conduct their conversations in public places?
  • How can researchers ensure confidentiality and privacy when participants may not have the same concerns (when they are used to sharing mobile data with friends, family, and organizations, for example)?
  • Do software companies have a clear and strong privacy policy regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personally identifiable information?

Anonymity and online identities

  • How can researchers cite information found online (from blogs and social networks, for example) while respecting anonymity and identities online?
  • How can individuals present themselves differently in public and private online spaces?
  • Did the identity and online presence of the researcher influence the investigation?

The inevitable shift to online study and digital research in the face of limited contact and travel opens up enormous possibilities. Digital methods allow us to reach large audiences, across geographic boundaries and in hard-to-reach places. They can be cheaper, faster and more efficient than traditional face-to-face methods.

However, not all data is freely and also available in the digital environment. Individuals can produce public and / or private data, and commercial organizations can restrict access or provide only partial access to the data.

We all need to be familiar with the rules and regulations on what, when and how digital data can be used for research purposes. We also need to think about how partial, restricted, or limited accessibility might affect our design and research methods. And, most importantly, we must ensure that all ethical implications are identified and addressed, and that issues of integrity and scholarship are at the forefront of our digital research and studies.

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