Dr. Hannley said that biases can sneak into a study to confound its findings from any number of directions, and the researcher is required to control or eliminate those biases. For example, she said, studies can be biased by the effects of historical events, by the effects of gender or ethnicity, and by the effects of repeated measurements-especially in determining quality of life or psychosocial impacts.
Explore this issue:April 2007
She also said the study could allow bias to slip into the study in the selection of patients or through loss of subjects during the course of the study. Researchers also must be vigilant against the possibility of investigator bias, Dr. Hannley said.
To enhance credibility, she said, the scientist needs to make sure there are appropriate controls, appropriate definitions of operations, appropriate design and analysis, and a balanced perspective.
Cite the work of others, but if there are two camps, make sure that you cite both sides, Dr. Hannley told the audience of about 300 members and would-be members of the society.
Managing the Data
Once the preliminaries are over, Dr. Hannley said, the next task is to manage the data. The researcher must collect the data, maintain quality control, enter the data to a database, store the data, and analyze them.
When writing the thesis, she said, the keys are accuracy, brevity, and clarity. Cover different aspects of the problem and contributing factors in coherent way and logical sequence, she said. Use specific action-oriented verbs such as ‘to verify,’ ‘to compare,’ ‘to establish,’ that correspond with goals and methodology. Objectives should be demonstrably achievable through selected methodology and subjects. State assumptions underlying your project.
Dr. Hannley said it is helpful to dress up the thesis with illustrations, pictures, and charts, especially a flowchart to illustrate how patients were selected and fit into each part of the results of the study.
Dr. Hannley also discussed scientific integrity. She emphasized that researchers need to avoid scientific dishonesty, including:
- Fabrication of data;
- Selective, undisclosed rejection of undesired results;
- Erroneous use of statistical methods to achieve desired outcome;
- Distorted interpretation of results or conclusions;
- Plagiarism of results or writings of other authors;
- Distorted representation of other researchers’ results;
- Wrongful or inappropriate attribution of authorship; and/or
- Omission of recognition of original observations made by other scientists.
Jacquelynne Corey, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Chicago, stated, In order to qualify for membership in the Triological Society, a doctor has to complete a thesis, a research project that is accepted by the society. This session provided the ground rules and hints on how to accomplish that.