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An assignment for you

Dec 11th, 2010 Research

I’ve one final to go before I’m free from the required studying (at least for a few weeks).  I say required studying because during the break I will still study – I will just have control over what I study.  For me it will consist of reviewing all the midwifery materials from the previous semester and a texbook exploring the research on a variety of complementary and alternative therapies.

And then I started wondering about you, my readers.  What would you be choosing to study during the “break?” Did you even realize that you can do evidence based research on your own?  I propose that you take the next few days to complete this little assignment, and let me know what you learn.

Step One:  Pick an article that discusses new scientific information that interests you.  You might find this in a blog, as part of a news article or even from a tweet or facebook post.

Step Two:  Read the article, making a list of the points the article attributes to the research being discussed.  Make a second list of what the “research” is or who did it.

Step Three:  Find the original piece of research the article was referencing.  You may need to search for the title of the report, study or thesis in Pub Med.  Google can give you some information.  For some publications, you may only have access to an abstract.  Don’t forget you can check your local library to see if they give access to online journals.  A local university may have print copies of a journal you can review.

Step Four:  Read the study (or abstract if that is all you can find).  Pay special attention to the results and the conclusions.  Do the conclusions make sense based on the study question and the results?

Step Five: Compare the study (or abstract) to the original article you found. Did the article accurately represent the research?  Did the article make legitimate assumptions from the research?

OK, go have fun. And don’t forget to let me know what you learn.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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