Essay On Critical Analysis Of Current Methodological Debates/Conversations
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in Health Professions Education Field
In the field of education for the health professions, there are always many topics available for debate and analysis. As technology changes, so does society and adaptations within the industry of health care mandate acceptance by the majority of practitioners both formally and informally. This paper addresses three topics published in health journals within the last four years.
Falco and Freiburger (2013) found that the research performed on the opinions of the general public concerning the death penalty were lacking due to inadequate methodology. James Reswick (2010) published his editorial in the journal produced by the Department of Veteran Affairs in the United States; it discussed the perception of scientific research and the best methods to evaluate results from these studies. Rashid et al. (2010) discussed the history of medical ethics and the need for stringent supervision for current researchers in this area.
All these topics and more are explored in reputable journals worldwide. Through careful examination of the presentations of credible authors it is possible to determine potential solutions to questions concerning research and anticipate the appearance of others. The ability to incorporate the opinions offered through the Internet and other media allows educators to be more informed than ever before.
1. “Public Opinion and the Death Penalty: A Qualitative Approach” by Diana L. Falco and Tina
The death penalty was used in America from the time the colonists arrived from England (Reggio 1997). The practice continues until today largely due to the fact that it remains strongly supported by the general public. However, unlike sentencing to imprisonment, there is strong opposition by sections of the population. For that reason, it is imperative the perception of public support is accurate through the use of research measurements.
Politics plays a large role in the continued use of the death penalty. Influence on legislators, judges, and politicians seeking re-election promotes support for the practice. However, the most important aspect of public opinion for support of the death penalty lies in the Supreme Court’s interpretation of public opinion defining “standards for decency”. If public opinion studies indicated support had swayed to an opposing viewpoint, the altered standards may influence banishing the lethal punishment.
The purpose of the research conducted by Falco and Freiburger was to identify the factors contributing to support or opposition to the death penalty. Traditionally, the use of a methodological approach had not been used. Previously, data was gathered through the use of public opinion polls and the questions did not allow for variance other than a “yes” or “no” answer (Bohm, 2003). But in 1972, Supreme Court Justice Marshall stated that he felt the death penalty was “cruel and unusual punishment” and that the majority of the American public felt the same. If this was found to be true, the death penalty would be determined to be unconstitutional.
The statement gave rise to investigation into the “Marshall Hypothesis”, but problems arose with methodology (Cochran and Chamlin, 2005). Dependent variables included how informed the respondent was about the issue, how much the respondent was required to know to make an informed decision, and how the respondent should learn the necessary information.
Over the last 15 years, researchers have made efforts to change the questioning to allow for degrees of opinion, the ability to answer “no opinion”, options for opinions about different types of punishment, and others in an effort to accurately assess the opinion of the majority of the American public. Falco and Freiburger designed a methodology using qualitative focus groups to gather more pertinent data.
The information gathered from the focus groups was used as a self-contained method to supplement the existing quantitative research. If it was possible to discover limitations on the measures, a more accurate method could be developed. The authors concluded the complexity of the issue of the death penalty and opinions differed based on the situation of the crime. Emotional and demographic factors also exerted a strong influence. In addition, the study by Falco and Freiburger indicated the members of the focus groups were, for the most part, misinformed concerning the consequence of the death penalty. This lack of information would allow for uninformed opinions. Interestingly, proponents of the death penalty demonstrated defensiveness concerning their opinion.
Further research was recommended to investigate the influence of the various components of the views using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.
2. “What Constitutes Research? Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research” by James Reswick
Reswick came from a background of engineering science and states he felt that time he understood the meaning of research validity. His editorial began with a brief overview of the different types of research: qualitative, quantitative, scientific, soft, hard, directed, participatory action, and applied. Reswick clarifies that he feels all research can be scientific and is defined by its replicability.
In direct, applied, and basic research the purpose is more to understand the nature of the process rather than how the information will be used. Reswick feels hard and soft research are not only not scientific, they don’t qualify as research. Participatory Action Research (PAR) only addresses the fact that the participants in the research are included in all the phases of the study. He feels PAR is simply a label addressing a part of qualitative research and doesn’t really deserve to have it’s own designation. He states it has little influence on any research in the physical sciences that don’t use human subjects and only a small relevance when the study uses large numbers of a population.
The bulk of Reswick’s editorial deals with the discussion of qualitative and quantitative research. Although qualitative research deals primarily with the social sciences and quantitative with biomedical and physical sciences, one is not exclusive of the other. It is true that the two types differ in their process, tools, and outcomes. As demonstrated in the earlier part of the article, these are the only two designations Reswick feels qualify as types of research.
Through the use of discussion and diagrams, Reswick suggests that quantitative research operates in a unidirectional and linear manner. It is possible for the research to separate the system, set parameters through definition, and measure selected variables with accuracy and preciseness. Quantitative research uses deductive reasoning after the original creative process of developing the hypothesis. Conversely, qualitative research does not use the system definition and variable recognition in the same manner as quantitative research. The initial actions of the study are to create the hypothesis, gather data with selected tools, and use comparative analysis at that point to change the design of the study by redefining the model. At this point, the concept of PAR is essential to the process of qualitative research in a feedback capacity.
In terms of the use of tools, quantitative research employs laboratories and measuring instruments. On the other hand, qualitative research utilizes interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, observations, and personal participation.
Outcomes for quantitative research deal with testing a hypothesis for accuracy. The result of a study using qualitative research is more focused on starting with a theory developed through experience and intuition and progressing to one based on analyzed data. If the data is replicable, reliable, and valid then the theory is credible.
Reswick states that his purpose was to suggest that there are numerous types of research with none being more scientific than the others. In order to be categorized as scientific research, a project must meet the criteria of scientific method.
3. “Research Ethics Need Consideration” by Abdul Rashid, Muhammad Ayub, and Mohammad
The editorial submitted to the Journal of Ayub Medical College Abbottabad in 2010 by Rashid, Ayub, and Wazir directs attention to possible exploitation of human subjects in the process of conducting research. The World Medical Code was established in 1947 following the Nuremburg trials when the atrocities the Nazi party used in the name of research came to light. Using state approval without the consent of other institutions, the physicians conducted experiments that were often physically brutal on prisoners in the concentration camps. The Hippocratic Oath was updated for 20th century application in 1948 and has been revised several times since then to keep currently with changes in technology and society. This Oath is the basis for most considerations by Boards receiving applications for ethical approval.
Today, scientific research using human subjects are required to obtain approval from the Institutional Ethical Review Board in all institutions. Funding agencies and medical journals are also required to submit application for approval. Some researchers consider the acquisition of signed consent forms to be adequate application of ethics. Privacy, confidentiality, and the creation of benchmarks at specific levels during the research indicate adequate respect for the individuals involved and the study community at large.
The principals of medical ethics include justice, beneficence, autonomy, and non-malfeasance. In that light, Institutional Ethical Review Boards worldwide evaluate studies during the levels of planning, implementation, and reporting. Developing companies are especially attentive to these standards. This may be due to the increased surveillance place on them during this phase. Unfortunately, medical journals do not have policies on ethics concerning research. Rashid et al. state that journals have a responsibility to create guidelines for articles submitted and included in their publications. In addition, they believe the magazines should be held accountable to the same Boards as researchers. This may be redundant processes, but it would serve to discover researchers that had somehow slipped through without necessary approvals.
When the previously reviewed articles are considered, there are several conclusions possible concerning the field of health professions education. They are the same conclusions possible from the analysis of most editorials and commentaries from credible contributors in recent years. The conclusion is that researchers are always looking for ways to develop more accurate results in their studies. This promotes a positive outlook for ethical and technical approaches in advances in research. In order for advances to continue in all types of research, opinions expressed from the scientific community through publications and electronic means allow an ethical and coordinated progress toward new discoveries.
Bohm, R. (2003). American death penalty opinion: Past, present, and future. In J. Acker, R.
Bohm & C. Lanier, America’s experiment with capital punishment: Reflections on the
past, present, and future of the ultimate penal sanction (1st ed., pp. 27-54). Durham,
North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press.
Cochran, J., & Chamlin, M. (2005). Can information change public opinion? Another test of the
Marshall hypotheses. Journal Of Criminal Justice, 33(6), 573-584.
Falco, D., & Freiberger, T. (May 2011). Public Opinion and the Death Penalty: A Qualitative
Approach. The Qualitative Report, 16(3), 830-847.
Rashid, A., Ayub, M., & Wazir, M. (2010). Research Ethics Need Consideration. J Ayub Med
Coll Abbottabad, 22(4).
Reggio, M. (1997). Readings - History Of The Death Penalty | The Execution | FRONTLINE |
PBS. Pbs.org. Retrieved 31 January 2015, from
Reswick, J. (2013). Guest Editorial/Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD).
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Retrieved 30 January 2015, from
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