For this degree, you are being asked to submit an in-depth/critical literature.
Through the process of searching and critically reviewing literature you will explore a chosen subject area with the view to developing new knowledge which can inform clinical practice or raise further issues or questions about practice. A literature review must contain the following in order to achieve this:
- A clearly defined question to answer
- A preliminary literature search, i.e., background and context of the topic
- Clear identification, critical review and analysis of the selected literature
- Development of in-depth knowledge and understanding of the literature
- Application of that knowledge to the chosen subject/question
- Presentation in the appropriate written format.
a) Decide on the topic and then a focussed research question. The topic can be any aspect connected with your practice but should be relevant to your field of study, specific and very well defined. This can take some time to decide and is often one of the most difficult stages of the work. Choose a topic that is manageable in scope, realistic in terms of the time you have, has material that is reasonably available and is challenging and interesting. You can build onto a topic explored in other modules, but this work needs to be original and significantly different. Once you have chosen your topic, you need to refine this down to a question. This must be a small-scale question. Do not be too ambitious! Discuss your ideas with others, for example, friends, peers, professional tutor, clinical and teaching staff. It will help you to clarify and focus your ideas. Whatever topic and question you choose, the work will require an examination of the literature and to do this you will need to carefully define the terms and scope of your subject. Make sure you check that your research question has not been fully answered in a recent (last five years) literature review. If you are unsure about this, seek advice from your supervisor. It is also helpful to note down other terms/terminology which may relate to your chosen subject so that you compile a list of terms or key words to search under.
b) Prepare a framework for your Dissertation Follow unit 1-7 in the Step by step guide to writing your dissertation in this Guide.
c) Recording Information You are also advised to give some consideration of how you will record, store and code the information you gather while undertaking your study to aid its retrieval when analyzing and discussing your findings as well as keeping a full and accurate record of all your sources. One way is to use a spreadsheet file or a document file and for each paper record: the full reference in the Harvard referencing system, aims and objectives, methods, and findings.
d) Using Literature An important aspect of Dissertation work is that you demonstrate your ability to extract the main points and arguments from literature, analyse and critically review them and present your findings in a logical and coherent piece of work.
e) Storing Information Safely Remember to back up all your records and keep them in a safe place. The recommended storage is the Oxford Brookes Google Drive. Unit 1: Introduction Contents This unit explores: ● What do I have to do in my dissertation? ● Choosing your topic ● Clarifying your question ● Searching the literature ● Writing your Introduction What do I have to do in my dissertation?
Briefly, in your Dissertation you need to:
1. Decide on a workplace issue or topic that interests you, for example smoking in adolescents. This is your topic.
2. Read around your topic area until you feel you have read widely enough to understand your topic. Write about what you have learnt about your topic in the Background section of your introduction section.
3. Once you have written your Background section, you will be able to identify what you intend to study, perhaps the evidence you have read is not clear, indicating that a thorough review of the literature would be appropriate. From this you can then decide on a research question which will guide your research. Remember, your Dissertation is a research project.
4. Once you have decided on a clear research question, you need to search the literature again to identify primary research articles to help you answer your research question. It is very important to remember that these articles must be NEW articles. They must not be articles that you have already discussed in your Background section. It is difficult to state exactly how many articles you need but approximately 6-8 articles are required at under-graduate level. However, it is important that these are the most relevant for answering your research question. We will discuss this in class.
5. Once you have chosen your articles, you need to critique them using an appropriate critiquing framework. You need to do this to ensure that these articles are good research and worthy to be included in your work. You do this in the Results Chapter.
6. Once you are happy with the quality of your 6 – 8 articles, you then need to examine what these articles are telling you. What are the findings of these pieces of research? How do they help you to answer your question? You do this in the Analysis Chapter. We will discuss all of this in much more detail in class, as well as work through all the Chapters of your dissertation together.
Choosing a topic:
The first step in writing your Dissertation is deciding on a topic that you would like to research. This needs to be a topic that interests you and is preferably relevant to your workplace. The following activity will help you to explore the focus for, and the practical benefits of, looking at an issue, concern or problem that has been concerning you about patient care. This activity is the beginning of a series of activities that will help you gain insight into the reality of your problem and the process of doing a literature review to help clarify why it has occurred and how you might resolve it. Remember your topic area is not the same as your research question. You need to fully explore your topic area before you can develop your question. Activity: Identifying and refining your topic/title Initially, you will be able to choose a topic based on a health issue ‘close to your heart’. You will then move on to search the literature. Once you have read widely around your topic you will be able to define a clear question which will guide your dissertation. It will help if you make notes and to take these to the Workshop. Think about what you have seen in your practice or what you have experienced as a user or patient of health care services in Hong Kong. Think about an issue that causes you concern or is of interest to you and your colleagues and that you would benefit from knowing more about. Use these questions as a guide:
- What are some of the areas of interest that you have at work?
- What are some of the areas of your practice that you would like to develop further?
- Where do you have concerns about poor patient care?
- What are some of the factors that inhibit good patient care?
- Where is new technology changing healthcare?
- What are some of the national and local policies that are influencing healthcare?
- What demographic changes are affecting healthcare?
- What assumptions do you have about the reasons for the problem and how it might be resolved?
- What questions are beginning to arise from the thoughts you are having already and where might there be a key research question on which to base your Dissertation?
There is a growing body of literature that highlights the use of “mind-mapping” to aid creation of a concept or topic (Spencer, Anderson and Ellis, 2013). Mind mapping your topic may help develop the breadth of your topic and uncover angles that were previously hidden. To find guidance for mind mapping, head to Oxford Brookes Centre for Academic Development > Online study resources A-Z > Mindmapping Clarifying your question You need to move from a topic area to a clearly defined question before being able to move on with the work. the risk of being too broad in a question (e.g. “what is the best type of catheter”) is that you will be unable to successfully capture all relevant literature and critique in 6000-8000 words and can risk being unable to answer your question in any meaningful way. Make sure you check that your research question has not been fully answered in a recent (last five years) literature review. Literature searching For guidance on searching databases, head to the Oxford Brookes library page > How to > Search catalogues and databases ( There are also health subject specific guides available at Oxford Brookes Library page > Resources and services > Course resource help > Health and Social Work > scroll down the page and look for the section “How To…” Writing your Introduction chapter The introduction chapter should aim to provide an overview of your topic. This chapter clearly states the body of knowledge about your topic and therefore justifies your in-depth research. You may wish to include the following: ● Facts and figures related to your topic e.g., the scope, prevalence, incidence ● Current health policy and strategies related to your topic ● Current clinical interventions and strategies for management ● Importance to nursing practice, patient care, healthcare organization/ management Having completed your Introduction section, you must clearly state your specific Research Question at the end of this section. This section needs to be richly referenced from both books and articles. Unit 2: Methods Contents This unit explores: ● What is a Literature Review? ● Constructing your search strategy ● Selecting your literature ● Critical Appraisal of your literature ● Data Analysis ● Ethical implications of conducting a literature review ● Writing your methods chapter There are many helpful resources on the library website to help you construct your search strategy. Visit the link below: Use this guide to help you plan your database search Step 1: Define your topic Write your search question below: Remember to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. You may consider PICOT to help refine your search question. Population: Intervention/ Issue: Comparison/ Context: Outcome: Time: Step 2: Choose your keywords Look at your search question; what are the keywords? Step 3: Identify alternative terminology Think of alternative terms for your keywords: Think about synonyms, acronyms, American terminology and alternative spellings. Remember, truncation (*) will find alternative word endings; wildcards (?) will find alternative spellings. Step 4: Combining your keywords Use Boolean operators to combine your keywords. Write your Boolean search strategy below: Remember: OR groups all of your synonyms together for each keyword and makes your search broader; AND goes between each different keyword or group of synonyms to make your search narrower Step 5: Limiting Write the ways in which you might limit your search if you retrieve too many results: How far back do you wish to search? Do you only want articles with a UK focus? Can you select a specific age group within the database? Do you only want articles about a specific type of trial e.g. RCT? Step 6: Choose your databases Write a list of all the databases you want to use to obtain your results (the list of databases is at the end of this guide; it is an extensive list – using three databases will be sufficient): Selecting your literature Read Chapter 3. “Which literature will be relevant to my literature review?” by Aveyard H (2018) Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: A Practical Guide. 4 th Edition, London McGraw Hill Education Open University Press It is very important to keep thorough records of your literature searches and your selection process. You may then document this process in a PRISMA FLOW DIAGRAM (2009) Writing the Methods Chapter You will need to describe in detail: ● How did you search the literature? Describe your literature search strategy ● What databases did you use? Give your reasons. ● What search terms did you use? Include the Boolean search tables here. Include search results. ● What inclusion and exclusion criteria did you use? Provide a rationale for each ● How did you screen and select your final studies for inclusion in the review? You should present this process using a PRISMA diagram ● What critical appraisal tool did you use? Give your reasons for this. ● What method did you use to analyse your data? E.g. thematic analysis. ● Discuss the ethical implications of literature review as a research methodology: ● Ethical issues involved in using other people’s research findings. ● The ethical need to be sure that information used in a literature review is collected ethically. ● The need to be transparent in not claiming the work of others as the literature review author’s own work. Unit 4: Analysis Content This unit consists of how you need to use your results section to ● present your themes and subthemes ● make the connections between them To help you answer your research question. The analysis involves combining the articles and organising them into themes and subthemes. It then involves discovering and explaining the relationship between the themes and linking them to the research question. You need to show how you developed themes from your result section for example, using a mind map to demonstrate how you arrived at the themes. To be a theme, it needs to appear in more than one of your selected articles as shown in the table below where the frequency of the themes in the articles have been identified. Varying criteria including the importance of some issues over others, may guide the order and composition of the analysis. For example, identifying the major themes (e.g. Theme 1 found in 5 articles) and minor ones (Theme 4 which is discussed in only 3 articles). Unit 6: Conclusions and recommendations Here, you simply focus down again and say what you can be sure of. This is a contrast to the quite speculative nature of the Discussion. You need to give the key findings of your research including recommendations for change. – The broad conclusions, drawing together your discussions and focussing on the themes you identified. – Key findings of your research – a brief statement about the themes you identified in the Analysis Chapter. – List your Recommendations: in an ideal world, in the real world. These should be supported with references if possible. – What would you like to see done as a result of your research and your findings? – How realistic are these ideas? Think about the culture of your workplace, resources and so on. – How practical are your ideas? How would you prioritise your recommendations? Don’t just give a bullet point list – these need to be discussed with supporting literature such as professional guidance, policy and statistical evidence. Unit 5: Discussion Content In this unit, you need to critically examine the interrelated materials in your analysis to ● synthesise the findings including contrary ones and alternative interpretations ● discuss the implications of your study for nursing practice in HK ● make recommendations for practice in HK guided at all times by your research question. You need to attempt to answer ● how you can use your findings in your practice. ● what would be the benefits for patients, relatives, professionals and the organisation. ● the implications for further research. In this chapter you need to build a reasoned and articulate argument while considering the ethical implications of your study, its limitations on how successfully you have addressed your research question in formulating a sound understanding of the research problem you have investigated. It needs to clearly highlight your ability to ● to think critically as a researcher about an issue in your practice. ● to answer the research question in recommending possible creative solutions to the problems you have identified in practice. ● Interpret evidence-based literature you have reviewed. You also need to reflect on your learning experience as a researcher on ● what you have learnt about yourself as a researcher. ● your topic. ● how the learning would change your practice in critically reviewing the literature for the issue you have identified in practice. Unit 3: Results Content This unit will consider: · Data extraction · Summary of Critical Appraisal Data Extraction · Provide an overview of the studies selected for inclusion. E.g. number of studies, types of designs, location of studies etc. Unit 7: Final organisation Abstract A brief (fewer than 2 pages) summary of your research study giving: – Aim of the Dissertation – Methods – Critical Literature Review. – Results – the main themes. – Discussion. – Conclusion. This is given at the beginning of your Dissertation, but you do not write it until you have completed your Dissertation. Title Now that you have completed your dissertation, you can finally decide on your title. Thinking about the topic we have used throughout this LSM, the title of this Dissertation would be: “Smoking cessation strategies to reduce smoking amongst adolescents in Hong Kong: a Critical Literature Review” References All references given in your Dissertation must be listed here according to the Harvard protocol. This must be a perfect match with the literature discussed in the body of your dissertation, that is, all the references used in the main dissertation need to be in the reference list, and all the references in the reference list need to be referred to in the dissertation. Appendices – Copy of the critiquing framework(s) you used. – Your detailed critiques of all of the articles. – Items in the appendix should be clearly linked to the main text by a summary or a comment in your paper. Remember, the Appendices are optional to the reader so do not put anything here that is essential to your paper and for which you want to gain marks List of Databases AMED: allied health including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, and palliative care. ASSIA: Applied Social Sciences Indexes and Abstracts. Autism Data: open access database of over 18,500 published research papers, books, articles, and videos on Autism. British Nursing Index: information about nursing, midwifery and community health care, mainly from UK journals. Campbell Collaboration: systematic reviews of the effects of social interventions, such as education, crime and justic.
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