The assessment of this module is by a written assignment. You will be asked to write a report about a study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, which is linked to an area of interest in your professional practice. You are required to demonstrate you are able to do the following:
- conduct a systematic search of the library databases to find an appropriate paper,
- choose an appropriate appraisal framework to help guide your critique of the paper, in order to help you evaluate its strengths and weaknesses
- contextualise the study findings by relating them to a current guideline, protocol or systematic review
- discuss the strength of evidence relation to your chosen paper in the context of the hierarchy of evidence
- suggest what further evidence from an alternative research approach might have added to understanding this topic area
- consider how research findings your chosen paper might implemented in professional practice
Component A - 2500 word assignment
Imagine that you have been asked to explore an area of professional practice for a manager or other senior colleague, and to produce a report that looks in depth at a piece of primary research relating to this area. The report should focus on an area of your practice where 6 you think practice could be challenged in some way or which raises questions for you. You will need to search for and locate, a suitable piece of primary research (a journal article) and undertake a critique of the research design and methods. You will then discuss the findings in the context of current guidance from a protocol, systematic review or guideline and with reference to the hierarchy of evidence. You should also refer to the potential of additional evidence in this topic area from an alternative research methodology, giving reasons why you consider this might be important. For example if you have selected a piece of primary research which is qualitative to critique, you will consider what a quantitative study might be able to add to the evidence; conversely, if you have chosen a paper reporting a quantitative study, you will discuss what a qualitative approach could contribute to further understanding of the topic. Finally, you should sum up the strength of evidence offered in the chosen paper and make suggestions to your manager about future practice and education.
Guidelines for completing the report
To help you produce the report, follow the guidelines below. Please note the suggested word limits for each section. You should use the emboldened words as sub-headings to organise your text.
Background [Approximately 200 words]
The report should focus on an area of your practice where you think practice could be challenged in some way or which raises questions for you. In this section, you should introduce the topic and explain your reasons for your choice, its relevance to your role, citing policy or other references (no more than four) which justify its importance.
Search strategy [Approximately 200 words)
You will need to formulate a research question and key words to undertake a literature search on this topic to find one primary research article. You must email the research article, or a link to it, to a member of the module team to make sure it is suitable for the purposes of the assessment. Keep a log of your search strategy to include as an appendix or you can save your search history and include this. In this section of your report, summarise the search including your reasons for selecting the article. Make sure you include:
- which databases were used and why you selected these;
- which search words were entered;
- the limits applied to your search such as dates language other inclusion/exclusion criteria, and justification of these parameters.
- Your reasons for selecting the chosen article.
Research critique [Approximately 1200 words]
Present a critique of the design and methods of your article, structured using a suitable critical appraisal framework. At the start, identify the framework you are using, your reasons for choosing it, and give a reference (you should also check the framework with a member of the module team). Remember that you are producing a report for your manager who may not have detailed knowledge of research so you need to explain the study and define key terms, and analyse the pros and cons of the methodology used, with supporting references to justify your statements. Careful use of the framework will help you do this but as a minimum you should critique the aims, design, sampling, ethics, data collection and analysis. It is important that this section of the report explains the potential sources of error and bias in the design and methods, and evaluates the study to reach a conclusion about its rigour and trustworthiness.
Research context (500 words)
In a following section you should compare the findings from your chosen paper to a current guideline, protocol or systematic review to contextualise the strength of evidence reported. You should also consider what an alternative research approach (either qualitative or quantitative) might add to the strength of evidence; you are expected to demonstrate knowledge of key issues relevant to that approach. You are also expected to refer to the hierarchy of evidence in your discussion of the research context. Overall, this part of the assignment should demonstrate you have an accurate and detailed knowledge of research methods supported by up-to-date literature.
Summary of key points and suggestions [Approximately 300 words].
Summarise the main points of the previous sections so that your manager can cut to the important points and get a quick overview. To help you, imagine she/he has asked you to sum up the main strengths and weaknesses at a meeting, what would you include?
Finally, explain for your manager what you think the research suggests for your area of practice. Include as a minimum:
- suggestions you would make to your manager about areas where change could be considered;
- the implications for training staff or other forms of education;
- suggestions arising from the critique, for further research on this topic.
Conclusion [Approximately 100 words]
Finally you need to write a concluding paragraph summing up the issue you have examined, what you have found and the outcomes. You should not include any new material or new points at this stage.
Reading Draft Work
In order to support student learning, members of the module team can read a draft extract of your assignment but in line with Faculty rules, this should amount to no more than 20% of the word count, ie. around 500 words. Alternatively you may ask for feedback on a plan of your assignment.
If you would like a draft of your assignment to be read you should raise it in your tutorial session and discuss it with the tutor before emailing them a copy. It is not possible to read drafts of work within 10 days of the submission date. You should receive an acknowledgement from the tutor of receipt of the draft within 3 days, and a date when feedback will be available.
Use the checklist below to ensure you are ready to submit your assignment:
- Have you conformed to the presentation requirements (see below) and checked spelling/grammar?
- Have you checked the word limit?
- Have references been listed and all citations included in this?
- Is a log or print out of search history attached as an appendix?
- Is a copy of the article attached?