Nursing Research Report the Structure of a Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Nursing Research Report

The structure of a research report is simple. It is almost the same as the structure of the research itself: the problem, the methodology, the results, the conclusions, and the interpretations. The purpose of the research report is to inform readers about the problem investigated, the methods used to solve the problem, the results of the investigation, and the conclusions inferred from the results (Polit & Beck, 2004). The function of the research report is not, however, to convince the reader of the virtue of the research previously conducted. At all times the report is to be so written that the reader can reach their own conclusions as to the adequacy of the research and the validity of the reported results and conclusions. Research reports must strive to be succinct, objective, and crystalline. The ultimate test of an excellent research report is in its ability to be replicated by those who read it. If this criterion cannot be met then the report is inadequate in terms of knowledge transfer.

Within the field of nursing research is a vital part of providing optimal patient healthcare. With properly executed research, albeit in the area of critical care, ER medicine, pediatrics, or administrative practice the data collected from effective research provides the theoretical and applied sustenance for the improvement of nursing practice. Improved practice not only relates directly to the nurses themselves but also provides the patient, the ultimate benefactor, improved medical care through research expertly conducted. Although a critical evaluation of all possible research in every area of nursing would most definitely go beyond the scope of this assignment, one particular area is worthy of additional investigation; namely, potential changes in the perception of nursing work groups and nursing leaders visa via a selected professional practice model. In order to determine whether or not this area of investigation was fairly evaluated a research article entitled "The Effects of a Professional Practice Model on Staff Nurse Perception of Work Groups and Nurse Leaders" by Ingersoll, Schultz, Hoffart, and Ryan (1996) was put to the critical test. The research endeavor and resulting research report with be critically evaluated and scrutinized following the Polit and Beck (2004) evaluation formula. The Polit and Beck evaluation formula pays close attention to the following: a study's empirical development; supportive literature for the basis upon which the study was designed; the theoretical framework encompassing the research; the study's design, data collection, data quality, and data analysis procedures; maintenance of ethical standards; the representation of results; the strength for knowledge inference based on data interpretation; and finally, a completeness rating and a hierarchical placement position.

Research Problem(s), Research Question, and Hypothesis Research activities, whether clinical trial based, focus group oriented, or historical in design, must exhibit and command interest, enthusiasm, and passionate commitment. To the enthused researcher there must be debate, discussion and even argument if there is to exist intelligent conviction regarding the nature, design, analysis, and inference of the phenomenon under investigation. The introductory phase of the Ingersoll and Beck study fell completely short of giving the reader any indication of passion for what had taken place let alone adhere to the rigors of best-fit research by first stating a research problem and hypothesis. In fact the authors dove right into the inner workings of the study by relating to the reader the intended design and from where the sample was derived: "To determine the effect of and enhanced professional practice model (EPPM)... Two experimental units within the medical center...(p.2)." Before any attempt is made to state a design there must exist an expressed need for the study, a direct statement of the null hypothesis to be tested, and at what probability level of acceptance, and a full definition of the variables being investigated - including a definition of all necessary terms such as perception, work environment, EPPM, urban medical center, rural hospitals, and community hospitals.

The most significant error committed by the investigators in their opening remarks was to state "The study was also expected to clarify...increased staff nurse control over work environment... was expected to produce...(p.3)" totally denies the use of ethical research standards. At no time is a researcher to present biasing or directional statements anywhere within a research report. Doing so introduces investigator bias untold. The investigators should have turned these biasing statements into testable null hypotheses such as: There will exist no statistically significant difference, at the alpha level of 0.01, in the effects of EMMP on a nurses perception of the work environment (work group and ideal) as measured by the Perceived Group Attractiveness and Cohesive Scale and the Leadership Opinion Questionnaire. Form this main effect's null hypothesis the second, third and interaction level null hypothesis could have been formulated. By not fulfilling the aforementioned requirements the authors did little to enforce the rules applied to experimental research.

Notwithstanding the fact that the researchers did state three hypotheses, but positioned within the report wrongly (i.e., after the review of literature instead of before), they were not in null form, which is a requirement in experimental research situations. Additionally, the hypotheses presented (p.5) were not in null form and most decisively directional as can be seen in the following wording: "...is associated with...leaders influence...(p.5)." As a result of the omission of a null hypothesis, a biased direction of the hypothesis presented, and the inappropriate placement of the hypotheses stated, the reviewer was left with an initial feeling of incompleteness and bewilderment with respect from where the research idea even came and for what purpose.

Literature Review The purpose of a literature review is to give credence and support to the investigation that is or has taken place. Unfortunately Ingersoll, et al. had as their review a scant four short paragraphs that cited five supportive documents. The literature review included neither support for their investigation nor did it enlighten the reader. There should have existed ample review material to support the need to conduct the study as well as provide the reader a sense intrigue. In addition, the authors should have discussed previous studies that supported not only the selected independent variable (EPPM) but also the need to include the three types of hospital sample populations. A research investigator should always keep in mind that the research problem is stated first, followed by a research question, testable hypothesis, and definition of terms. After that a review of literature is presented which reinforces the need to research the selected topic.

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework Theoretical frameworks and conceptual designs are a direct result of information gathered through the review of literature in support of a formulated research question and null hypothesis. As there is no cited research problem or null hypothesis there is no theoretical framework upon which to interpret any resulting assessment data.

Even though the researchers have a section entitled "Conceptual Model" (p.4) there exists no reference to the model outlined visa via the review of literature or as an identifiable factor in a research question or hypothesis. Complicating matters further the investigators reference the theoretical model before stating their hypothesis - in effect working backwards.

In addition to formatting a theoretical and conceptual framework there must also be evidence of a direct relationship between the theoretical and the results obtained. Again, the omission of a null hypothesis and research question, plus the lack of historical support, has, for this article produced a situation wherein theoretical interpretations cannot be made. The closest the researchers came in an attempt to lay the groundwork to test a theoretical model in nursing was mainly in the "Description of Study" section wherein a general study purpose was stated. Again, the positioning of the study's purpose should have occurred during the introduction section; i.e., prior to a statement of the research question, null hypothesis, and review of literature (Potts & Beck, p.656).

Research Design and Sampling For all experimental investigative situations the research design section of a study outlines for the reader the basis for the most appropriate way in which to analyze the data. When a research endeavor is introduced as an experimental study (Ingersoll, et al., p.1) it signals to the reader that certain stringent research requirements have been met; namely the precise identification of the independent and dependent variables, the presence of possible nested variables, and the likelihood of orthogonal trends being present. Further, by labeling a study as experimental there must always exist the statement of a testable null hypothesis, the probability level against which the null hypothesis will be accepted or rejected and the type of data the assessment instrument(s) will produce; i.e., nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio. None of the aforementioned concerns were even alluded to in the Ingersoll, et al. study.

Inherent within an experimental design is also the need to define the selected type of statistical data analysis technique in greater depth than simply stating that an Analysis of Variance was used. ANOVA techniques come in many different forms from one-way classifications, to two-way classifications, to covariance…

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