Research Read-ables: Library Edition

How in the world does someone actually get to researching something, it seems too complicated! Well, fear not my friends, research comes in all letter shapes and information sizes! For a beginner researcher, an easy and effective start would be to go to a library. The library holds a haven of information, from fictional stories for experience to non fictional magazines, dictionaries and novels. The library is a great place to start looking for answers, the librarians are able to guide anyone to the right factual source of data that will provide good information, and no, they aren’t from the dinosaur era (even though you may think you’re in that era while searching through books).. 

Many educational researchers use books and even textbooks to help with research projects, papers and various journals. I know I can always trust my school librarian, she always gave me the best books and information, even if she didn’t remember my name.

 Even though libraries are ‘so 90s,’ it wouldn’t kill you to walk into one, you definitely will learn something.  

Keep Reading!
Faith Balshin 
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To be, or not to be: what is in a research question?

So you now spend a minimum of an hour a week wearing your shirt with a pocket protector thinking, among other things, about what you can do to speed up your training to become a scientist. Don’t know what I am talking about? Go and see my previous post and come back.(Pocket protector)
Ok. You are now asking questions furiously at all times of the day (and night?) trying to get a handle on how to structure a question in order to best help with finding an answer. Why? It’s all about clarity. Not sure what that is? Listen to Zedd for some instruction: Clarity – Zedd
A great French author Marcel Proust – yes another French author, my first name is Pascal after all – said: “The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing
with new eyes.”
Maybe by asking the right questions we can inch ever so slowly towards the truth that lies right in front of our own eyes! So take a fresh look at what and how you do all things scientific.
Here is what I suggest for formulating your questions:
Use the PICO model (for a little more detail: PICO)
Patient, Population, Problem
Comparison (optional. PIO when absent!)
Essentially in a clinical setting – For a patient with (Problem), how does (Intervention) compare to (Comparison) with regard to (Outcome)?
  • Is MR angiography more effective than a Doppler carotid ultrasound in diagnosing and describing carotid artery disease in obese middle-aged males and females?

or PIO – For a patient with (Problem), does (Intervention) affect (Outcome)?

  • Is a MR angiography effective in diagnosing and describing carotid artery disease in obese middle-aged males and females?
PICO can be applied to most research questions that you may have – yes even outside of Medical Imaging and in the real world (see Scientific thinking in business). 
Just remember that you will most probably want to formulate and test a hypothesis based on your research question. For quantitative statistical analysis you will want your question to be answerable by yes/no or a number. For qualitative analysis your question will typically start with: What is/are…? 
Keep practicing and we will chat about testing hypotheses next post. Stay tuned…
Pascal Tyrrell

Research Gone Wrong – Mishap Madness

With every step taken toward the den of knowledge, there has to be that one click that doesn’t really bring you to where you wanted to go. I’ve had my fair share of research-gone-wrongs, as I like to call them. For instance, I learned the valuable lesson of not to use Twitter as the most accurate research hub, the hard way. Sure, a tweet here or there seems harmless, but birds sometimes do bite. As I innocently went on twitter’s homepage, looking at various tweets from people I follow, a tweet, “OBAMA HAS BEEN KILLED,” caught my attention. Shocked, I immediately text my dad, who then reassures me this catastrophe has not happened, and to check if I put my eye contacts in for that day, because Obama is fine in the oval office, but Osama Bin Laden has been captured and killed by the United States, the headlining news of the hour. Moral of the story? Read the news, from the news, and do not trust any ‘.com’ website that gets into your reach. The difference a letter makes….

Faith Balshin 

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates of the program! @MiVIP_UofT

So you want to be a researcher? Get a pocket protector…

You are a student who wants to pad the resume with extracurricular activities – maybe thinking of a career in healthcare. What could you do? You’ve always heard of your “brainy” friends getting into research. But is it for you….

Faith’s post “Research Behind Research” from yesterday gives us a glimpse into how research may be less of a scary thing than most people think. Go have a quick read and come back.

Ok, why the pocket protector? Because it’s a start. “Fake it until you become it” as states Amy Cuddy from Harvard University in her awesome TED Talk (Cuddy TED talk)

So here is what I suggest to get started on your new research persona:

1- Buy, borrow, or make a pocket protector. Maybe get a shirt with a pocket too.
2- Set aside one hour a week to wear your shirt and pocket protector. 
3- Find somewhere quiet but inviting with as few distractions as possible for your new activity.
4- Listen to John James “I wanna know” to get you motivated (I Wanna Know).

Now for the interesting part – how do I do research?

Research is a structured approach to discovery. You need to organize your thoughts and your methods – always. Use your time to figure out what methods work best for you. What are your preferred search engines? Do you always use Google? Do you Bing every now and again? How do you record your ideas, findings, links, articles… etc. How often are you successful at finding the answer? Do you keep track of what you did when you were?

Though being organized will take you a long way, the most important component of research is the question that you are asking.  Not as easy as you may think. As the well respected French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested: The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”

Start thinking of and asking questions – all the time. Take the time to answer some of them during your research hour. Do you find the way your question is structured helps in finding an answer? How about if your question is answerable by a yes/no? A number (average height for expl)? Any easier than if your question starts with “What are…”?

Stay tuned as we will address all of these interesting challenges in this blog… 




Pascal Tyrrell
Follow us on twitter for the latest updates of the program! @MiVIP_UofT

The Research Behind Research

Research. A powerful word used for recreational purposes, such as finding the right place to eat, and in academic context, to gather information for a doctoral thesis. Such a word that can be used in various conversational contexts must not be taken just at its face value, but rather should be further investigated, because a word with so many uses must have so many purposes. When it comes to this one action, to research, one must wonder what the actual purpose of performing research is, and more importantly, how and why research is conducted. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the noun research is defined as “careful or diligent search, studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts” (Merriam-Webster).  The purpose of research is to gather any type of information and knowledge, fulfilling any unknown facts to become more educated on a topic at hand. A purpose like such is very calculated, intelligent and knowledgable, as someone who conducts research, whether it be a small google search or a large university library search, is someone seeking knowledge to better themselves in the situation they are in. Let me tell you all a little story. Girl walks into clothing store, wants to get the latest designer jeans that are on sale for $299.00. Huge problem: she can’t decide to get them in topaz or caramel! “Such different colours!” she remarks. What does she do to solve this dilemma? Of course, she hits up her iPhone 5 google app, researching which colour is more ‘in style.’ Problem solved, but to this day I don’t think anyone is able to tell the difference, that is only her. See how research is an aspect of practically any goal, task or situation? 
Talk about brains, and beauty!

Yours truly,
Faith Balshin 
Follow us on twitter for the latest updates of the program! @MiVIP_UofT
Next post, I’ll reveal my own experience with research – gone wrong!