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Nursing Research Article Critique

Nursing Research Article Critique

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Introduction

Over the past three decades, nursing practice has undergone significant transformation. One of the changes throughout the world is the need for more and more nurses to adopt evidence-based practice (EBP). Being a practice profession, nurses are expected to understand and conduct research so that their clinical practice is based on scientific evidence. The care that nurses provide must be based on current facts that support the highest standards of patient care delivery. This means that research has been placed in the front position of nursing profession (Polit & Beck, 2008). According to Burns and Groove, research can be defined as the process of systematic investigation or enquiry aimed at the establishing new facts and building knowledge within a discipline. Nursing research is thus a systematic process of investigating observable facts and developing trustworthy evidence that are important to nursing (Burns & Groove, 2007).

The main purpose of research is to refine or validate the existing facts and to create new empirical body of knowledge so as to reach new conclusions within the discipline or profession. For instance, research in nursing has been used to create new opportunities for positive transformation and change within the profession. Specifically, nursing research has been used to radically reform nursing education and to legitimize the profession. This is because evidence from the systematic inquiry leads to quality and cost effective nursing interventions. Consequently, the changes from the research evidence are introduced into the practice to improve patient care, thus benefiting those who are receiving nursing care (Burns & Groove, 2007). According to Tingen et al. (2009), nursing research “has a tremendous influence on current and future professional nursing practice” (pg. 167). They add that nursing research is very vital in health care because it helps in implementing changes for patient care, and developing new treatments to ensure optimum care. Another importance of nursing research is that it leads to informed decisions and accountability within the profession.

It is important to acknowledge the existence of vast methodological approaches or research design used in the field of nursing. Currently, nursing literature is filled with a wide spectrum of research designs including qualitative and quantitative research, case-control studies, cohort studies, ethnography, and randomized and nonrandomized control trials among others. However, all these extensive methodologies serve the function of generating new knowledge that informs nurses (National Health and Medical Research Council, 1999). With nursing research, we can expect significant advances that will lead to more and more transformations which will ultimately lead to better, holistic, and enhanced quality of care for patients.

When it comes to research, a common perception is that any report that has been accepted for publication is a perfect study. However, this is not always true, most researches, even the ones that have been published in journals have their weaknesses. A research critique is therefore important because it helps in identifying both the strengths and limitations of a study. It is not simply a summary of a research but a critical appraisal of the adequacies and inadequacies of the research findings (Polit & Hungler, 1999). This paper is a critique of a study of by Houghton, et al. titled Students’ Experiences of Implementing Clinical Skills in the Real World of Practice. The study was published in the journal of Nursing in 2012.

Article Critique

Houghton C.E., Casey, D., Shaw, D. and Murphy, K. (2012). Student’s experiences of implementing clinical skills in the real world of practice. Journal of Nursing, 22: 1961-1969

Believability of the Study

The believability of a study can be influenced by a researcher’s academic or professional qualifications which are cited in the citation. Readers use the qualifications of the researcher to gauge if he/she has sufficient knowledge in the topic under study (Conkin Dale, 2005). The researchers’ qualifications have been indicated in this study making it easier for readers to believe the findings because they can gauge to what degree the authors have knowledge in this field. It is evident that the authors have authority in the field of nursing because they are all lectures in nursing schools. They are also holders of PhD. Apart from the qualifications; the citation should also include the full title of the journal article, year of publication, volume and number of pages. This ensures easy retrieval of the article. These elements have been achieved in the current article.

Title and Abstract

A research must clearly identify the topic being studied in the citation. According to Meehan (1999), the title should have between 10 to 15 words. Anything longer than this can mislead or confuse the reader. The title should also clearly indicate to the reader the purpose of the study and succinctly suggest the variables in the research. The title in this study is brief (12 words), accurate, unambiguous and clearly indicates the focus of the study. The information provided in the title is enough to inform the reader about the content of the article. However, the title does not indicate which variables will be used in the analysis. After the title, the authors should have an abstract which briefly summarizes the purpose of the study and the main features including research problem, methodology, findings and recommendations of the research (Polit & Hungler, 1999). The major aspects of the article have been succinctly and clearly stated in the abstract. The abstract is a representative of the article because it has stated the aim or purpose of research, research design, methodology, results, findings and conclusions. Another element of the abstract mentioned by Polit and Beck (2008) is the length of an abstract. An abstract should be between 100 and 200 words. The abstract in this article is longer than the recommended length.

Introduction

An introduction is very important because it is supposed to draw the reader’s interest and attention to the article content. A good introduction should provide a direction or an idea of where the author is going with their report. It should be enticing enough for the reader to want to read more. After reading the introduction, the readers should be able to understand the rationale or purpose of study. The rationale is a brief explanation of why the topic is worthy of study. The introduction should outline the problem statement, significance of the research, and the research question(s). The key concepts to be used can also be defined in the introduction (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010).

The purpose of this study is briefly stated in the abstract and elaborated further in the introduction. In their abstract, the authors state that the aim of this study is “to examine the factors that impact on students’ implementation of clinical skills in the practice setting” (p.1961). The introduction further elaborates the rationale of conducting the study. The authors argue that identifying and discussing the challenges that students face in the clinical practice can help Clinical Skills Laboratory (CSL) adequately prepare the students. However, that is as far as the introduction goes. The problem statement is unambiguous and not easy to identify, there are no assumptions, and no hypothesis or research questions stated in the abstract or introduction. The researcher has also not explained the research design to be used in the study. In spite of these shortcomings and the fact that the introduction is very brief, this has not hindered the authors from providing the direction the paper will take, and capturing the reader’s interest.

Literature Review

Literature review is described as a “detailed and justified analysis and commentary of the merits and faults of the literature within a chosen area, which demonstrate familiarity with what is already known about the research topic” (Saunders, Lewis & Adrian, 2009, p.31). Burns and Groove (1997) discusses several characteristics and functions of literature review. One of the characteristics of literature review is that it should begin with an introduction which shows the areas to be covered, the source of literatures discussed and key words that were used to conduct research. Secondly, the review should have a comparison of studies which are not older than five years ideally. Finally, the literature review should be based on primary sources, show the researchers’ in depth reading around the research problem and provide a solid base for the current study. The function of literature review is mainly to identify and/or develop the appropriate research question and to identify gaps in literature. Literature review should provide an objective account of other studies on similar topic and what is needed to fill the gaps that are there. By identifying the gaps in literature, a researcher is able to justify the need for their study (Saunders et al., 2009).

The authors in the current study reviewed the literature before beginning this quantitative study thus acknowledging the existence of the body of knowledge on the topic. They drew on pre-existing research to formulate the purpose of their own study and to provide a synthesis of the required relevant information. Even though the literature review in this study does not have all the characteristics mentioned by Burns and Groove (1997) such as identifying sources of literature and key concepts, the review seems comprehensive enough. Generally, the authors have drawn on a comprehensive list of sources which are pertinent to the research problem throughout the study. The articles used in the literature review are mostly from journals and other primary sources with major topics being reviewed relating to students’ experiences in clinical practice. The literature review has also been used to identify the variables in the study which include reality shock, staff and peer support, supervision, student’s confidence, provision of learning opportunities, communication skills, and previous experience.

However, the researchers did not identify the research gaps in this area so as to show the need for more studies. Another problem with the literature review is that it is not so much up-to-date. According to Burns and Grove (1997), articles used in literature review should ideally not be older than five years. Although the article includes a well organized reference list of 26 studies, a substantial number (18) of the references used were published more than five years ago. Only eight of the articles 8 are current studies published during or after 2007.

Theoretical Framework

According to Major and Savin-Baden (2010), literature review should be used to describe the theoretical framework that will guide the study. Theoretical framework is important because it helps to strengthen the findings. A conceptual framework is important because it identifies the concepts being studies and how they are related. It should be identified and explained clearly to the audience (Burns & Grove, 1997). The conceptual or theoretical framework is used as a guideline to the different stages of the research including the literature review, methodology, research design, collection and analysis. The framework also provides the boundaries for the study. However, Robson (2002) argues that not all studies must have a defined theoretical framework. Themes in literature review can be mapped and used as boundaries for a study as in the case in the current research under critique. The conceptual framework of this study is socialization theory and has been described in the literature review. It is this theory that has been used by the authors to guide the methodology, findings, discussion and conclusion.

Research Methodology

Leedy and Ormrod define research methodology as “the general approach researcher takes in carrying out the research projects (2001, p. 14). Design in quantitative research has a wide range of approaches including case studies, interviews, and observations. The purpose of this qualitative research study is to examine the factors that impact on students’ implementation of clinical skills in the practice setting.

Research Design

The study intent was to collect and record the responses of the participants without the researchers influence or interpretation. The use of semi-structured interviews and non-participant observation was therefore a good choice. Semi-structured interviews are useful when there is a broad list of topic to be covered. This method can also help in identifying non-verbal behaviors (Polit & Beck, 2008). The non-participant observation helped to reinforce the answers from the interviews.

Research Questions or Hypothesis

There are no hypotheses or research questions indicated in this research. However, this is not a problem because according to Silverman (2013), qualitative research, unlike quantitative is not a critical requirement and may not be needed at all depending on the research goals and methodology.

Sampling

Participants in a qualitative study are recruited because of their experience or exposure to the topic of study. That is why purposive sampling is used. The researchers have used purposive sampling to recruit their participants who included clinical staff, newly qualified nurse staff, and undergraduate students. The sample is clearly described and information about their setting also included. The data collection procedures is also clearly stated and it can be easily be replicated by other researchers. Data analysis is also described. The authors state that they Morse’s analysis framework. However, more information on data analysis method could have been included.

Ethical Considerations

It is important for every researcher to adhere to ethical considerations in research so as not to violate the rights of their participants. Some of the important ethical issues that the authors have managed to consider include informed consent, anonymity, privacy, and confidentiality of the participants.

Findings

Findings were stated although the results were not lengthy. The researchers frequently used quotes from the interviews which support the themes. The themes express the factors or variables that influence the student nurses’ experience in clinical setting. From the quotes, it is easier for the readers to understand the viewpoint of the student nurses. In addition, they provide some good insight to the outlined variables.

Discussion and Conclusions

The discussion of any research must be related back to the literature review. Generally, the discussion of this article takes the ideas presented in the results section and makes value statements based upon them. For the most part, the discussion is related to previous research studies making the study more valid. The researchers have also managed to explain how the findings of the study can be incorporated into our practice. However, the authors have made no recommendations for future research on this specific subject. I believe the researchers have managed to accomplish the purpose of study because they have identified the factors that affect student’s experiences in clinical practice. Finally, the authors finished their article with an accurate and credible list of all the references used in their research.

Summary Assessment

The research is well written, well organized and grammatically correct. The authors did not use jargon in their writing. The steps of a research article were also followed in a logical manner beginning with the abstract, introduction, literature review, research methods, results, discussion, conclusion and recommendation showing that the researchers are experienced. The findings can be easily accessed by nurses. Even with the few limitations of the research, the interpretation can be considered to be valid and trustworthy especially because it relates to similar findings from literature review.

References

Burns N. and Groove S. (1997). The practice of nursing research: Conduct, critique and utilization. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company.

Burns, N. and Grove, S.K. (2010). Understanding nursing research: Building an evidence-based practice. Netherlands: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Leedy, P. and Ormrod, J.(2001). Practical research: Planning and design (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merril Prentice Hall.

Major, C.H. and Savin-Baden, M. (2010). An introduction to qualitative research synthesis: Managing the information explosion in social science research. Australia: Routledge.

National Health and Medical Research Council (1999) A Guide to the Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Clinical Practice Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

Parahoo, (2006). Polit D. and Beck C. (2006).Essentials of nursing care: Methods, appraisals and utilization. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Polit, D.E. and Beck, C.T. (2008). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &. Wilkins

Polit, D.F. and Hungler, B.P. (1999). Nursing research, principles and methods. New York: Lippincott.

Robson C. (2002). Real world research. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Saunders M., Lewis P. and Adrian T. (2009). Research Methods for Business Students. UK: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Silverman, D. (2013). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. New York: SAGE. Tingen M.S., Burnett, A.H., Murchison, R.B. and Zhu, H. (2009). The importance of nursing research. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(3): 167-170.


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