This module aims to give you the academic skills to access, review and understand the evidence and research which underpins healthcare. It also introduces formal critiquing. You will undertake a literature search and identify two pieces of evidence to critique. The critique is used to make judgements about the quality and applicability of the sources. The skills you acquire in this module will be further developed in the level-6 dissertation module.
Therefore, the content of the module is based around:
- Identification of the main sources of evidence used in healthcare
- Incorporating systematic qualities into the search for evidence
- An introduction to formal critiquing of evidence and development of the ability to make judgements on the quality of research
- Application of evidence based findings to nursing practice
By The End Of This Module You Will Be Able To:
1.Identify and appreciate the main sources of evidence relevant to healthcare, including qualitative, quantitative research and systematic reviews.
2.Utilise critiquing frameworks to assess the quality of healthcare evidence.
3.Apply principles of systematic enquiry to gather evidence.
4.Identify an area of practice and demonstrate literature searching skills to seek research evidence relating to this topic.
5.Make judgements about the quality and applicability of evidence to identify ways to develop practice
Some preliminary areas you may wish to briefly critically discuss:
Who wrote the research papers? Was it a single author or collaboration (more than one author)? Were they experts in the area? To what extent might these things impact the study?
What type of journals do the articles appear in?
What is the impact factor? Why does this matter?
Who were they aimed at? Were they peer-reviewed?
Was the research sponsored (paid for) by a third party? – could this lead to ethical implications?
Latterly, you may wish to consider ethics, bias, lack of diversity considerations, problems applying to nursing practice, etc. Below are some areas of the critique you may wish to discuss.
Whist each critiquing tool is a little different, here are some examples of the things you might choose to critically discuss:
This part of a research paper usually consists of a variety of subsections which can include:
Participants, Design (quantitative) or Methodological Background (qualitative), Materials, Procedure and Analysis. This is an important section and will require some reading about research methodology. You may also refer back to the lecture slides surrounding methods, methodology and research design. Methods sections usually begin with a description of the sample of participants used. You may want to focus on whether the population and sample was clearly described, and whether the sampling strategy was effective.
Was the sample size adequate?
What are the implications for this?
is there any sampling bias?
You will need to show some understanding of the methods and offer critique (remember again that critique can be both positive as well as negative).
What research design or methodology was used? Was it an RCT / experimental design?
Quasi-experiment? Correlational design? Survey?
Longitudinal study? (quants) Or was it a thematic analysis, IPA study, grounded theory?
Framework analysis? (quals). What are the strengths and limitations of the approach used (use additional literature to read about the type of approach that was used?) Was it the most rigorous approach considering the research aims?
What data collection tools were used?
If it is a questionnaire, was it developed by the research team?
Or was it developed elsewhere? Is it valid and reliable? What variables were measured? (quants).
If it was an experiment what were the IV(s) and DV(s)?
Critically Discuss These Areas.
Was the procedure clearly described? Was it appropriate? Was data collected in a manner that minimised bias?
What about ethics? – Are these discussed? Look at the slides from the session you have had on research ethics.
How do the studies describe, analyse and present their results?
This may include you critically discussing the type of statistical tests used, the data characteristics and distributions (quants), or the categories / themes,
theories or models generated from the data (quals). For your quantitative paper, consider what level of data were analysed?
(i.e. nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio) – If it were an experiment/quasi-experiment, what level were the DVs? –
Was the statistical test appropriate? Do you think there was any measurement bias?
If it was more of a survey, how were the results presented? (i.e. graphs, pie charts, tables, box-plots etc). Look at the lecture slides on qualitative and quantitative research. These should help you pick out things to look at. If your quantitative paper uses inferential statistics (i.e. tests of difference, multivariate analysis, correlation or regression), you should discuss the numerical components, including effect sizes, p-values, (were the findings statistically significant?) and the statistical tests used.
Were The Researchers Comparing Scores From Two Groups?
If so, they may have used chi-square (x2) for ordinal level variables (e.g. stages of cancer), or an independent-samples t-test (t) for interval/ratio level data (e.g. weight). If they were comparing scores for more than two groups, they may have used ANOVA (F) for interval/ratio level data, or Kruskal Wallis for ordinal data. Some studies may look for differences in a groups before and after an intervention and use a paired-samples t-test or a mixed ANOVA. MANOVA (F) is more complicated and is for comparing scores on two or more dependent variables between two or more groups.
You may wish to critique the discussion and conclusion sections of the papers. These sections are meant to interpret the results and to put them in context for the reader. How the two papers have done this? Do they refer back to the research question(s) or hypotheses?
Do they relate their research to practice, theory and to the ‘bigger picture’?
It should also indicate the authors thoughts – do they discuss the limitations of their study?
Again, refer back to the lecture on ethics to help you critique this. Discussions should never contain new data/findings. If it does, critique this. Consider why this has been done.
Discuss the strengths and limitations of each and their associated research paradigms (i.e. quantitative and qualitative). Is one approach more suitable for your research area? – Or maybe both approaches are needed to develop understanding in the area. To what extent do the papers provide an answer to your literature search question? Discuss what the findings contribute to current nursing practice in the UK.