As more diabetes educators are encouraged to do research, or are finding it of interest, it is important that we think about the purpose of research. It is also critical that we understand the steps of doing research so that the results are valid and can be shared with the wider community.
So what is research?
It is a process of systematic inquiry to discover new knowledge or to validate present beliefs. Of importance to the new researcher is the recognition of a system of discovery, which requires a basic understanding of the research process. By reading the literature, taking an online class and working with colleagues familiar with the research process, the novice can understand and develop research that will provide data that is meaningful and applicable. Without the basic process in place and without the methods of sharing that information related in a systematic way, the information will not provide useful information even when a considerable amount of time may have been spent (read, wasted time).
How does one start?
The most important part of research is framing the question. What do you want to know? It is important to review the present literature to determine if anyone else has asked the same question, and if there is adequate data to support the answer. If so, perhaps another question should be addressed.
There are different types of research. One approach is quantitative, which assigns numerical significance to the data (objective); the other is qualitative, which poses a series of open ended questions on a planned topic and derives results by looking for themes and patterns (subjective).
The scientific method (5 step) is as follows:
- Ask a question
- Construct a hypothesis
- Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
- Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
- Communicate your findings to others
The final report should be non-biased and include all the data. If the answer is no – it is still an answer and is just as valid.
Research and discovery can be exciting. However, it can also provide frustration when a lot of time is spent but the methodology is not valid. Look to your peers who have been successful in their research, or consider a class to get you up to speed! AADE is always looking for research that applies to the diabetes educator for publications and presentations at the annual conference. With the correct research process in place—you can share important information with your colleagues!
About the Author:
Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 25 years and served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology. Currently she works for providence medical group in Missoula, Montana and consults on diabetes technology nationally.
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