The summer has gone by so quickly, as I have been hard at work on a 6000 word evidence-based practice research report. The question of the report was concerned with how nurses can encourage personal care in people with dementia, as it is something that I have occasionally found challenging in my part-time job as a care assistant and as a student nurse. The topic is one that fascinates me greatly, and one that I have enjoyed reading around in detail.
The structure of the research report has been a learning curve, concerned with familiarising myself with established ways of conducting research and literature reviews. After deciding on a topic area, the first thing that I did was to carry out a scope search, just to get an idea of what literature existed, and in what quantities. My topic choice fortuitously had plenty of relevant literature, and I was quickly able to move on to carrying out searches in databases, and refining them down to just 10-20 research papers.
Reading and critically appraising each individual paper was a massive and lengthy task. I utilised the standard CASP tools, but also found some other research design specific tools, which were often useful in different ways. Once all the analyses were complete, I collated my findings for comparison, and started my appraisal and discussion using themed headings.
The process has increased my research vocabulary extensively, and I am now familiar with the main types and features (advantages and disadvantages) of research designs: quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method. I have also adopted new words and phrases such as triangulation, attrition, phenomenology, grounded theory, the Hawthorne effect and bracketing, to name just a few. I will not go into individual explanations of each here, as you may well know them already; or if not, there are some excellent research publications available that can explain them clearly and succinctly. One of the most useful ones, in my opinion, is: Parahoo, K. (2006). Nursing research: principles, process and issues (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Now that my report is just about complete, I can testify that the process was lengthy, repetitive at times, but yet highly interesting and instructive. I am glad that I have learnt about the process of carrying out research, and why it is so important to furthering nursing knowledge.
I am now looking forward to the second placement of the third, and final, year of my training, and also need to start work on another 6000 word report! My new piece of work appears to be more manageable, as it is broken down into three parts, but it is not necessarily any easier than the last. I need to give it my full attention, as it contributes to a weighty chunk of my final degree classification, and will also help me to develop final semester knowledge on leadership and management as a newly qualified nurse.
CASP UK. (2013). Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. Making sense of evidence. Retrieved from http://www.casp-uk.net/