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Occupational Therapy

Quantitative Study Guidelines

Introduction (Level 1 Heading)

In this section you what to tell the reader what problem you found and how you planned to solve it (e.g., justification for the study). The sections opens with a paragraph to "set the stage" and "catch the reader's attention." This is followed by an overview of components or key areas addressed within each section/heading below. 

  • Background and need for the study: 
    • Contains language or theory that suports the need for your study.
    • It is a sumary of the key points found during the perusal of the literature related occupational therapy. 
    • You will also address how your study will benefit your profession and intended populations or groups. 
    • This is where you explain why you chose your topic. 

Literature Review (Level 1 Heading) 

This sections answers the following questions: 

  • What have others found in relation to the topic? 
  • What do others posit?
  • What data have impact on the topic under considerations? 

The review of literature section is an integrated and succinct discussion of most relevant students found in the literature related to the purpose of the study. A mix of levels of evidence based research designs is recommended. Studies need to be current (published with the most current five to eight years), although exceptions are allowed when supported by the preceptor. This section include information regarding the theoretical constructs (theory, model or frame of reference) on which your study is based. There should be strong links between your theory or frame of reference and your study. This can be achieved through the use of research studies and other literature. Keep in mind the literature review is a synthesis of the literature you find, identifying larger themes or patterns within your topic. There are several formats for writing the results of the review of literature. 

Two formats are presented in the following sections: 

  1. Think of the review as a funnel presentation related research and opinion broadly related to your topic and as the section progresses, the relatedness to your topic becomes closer...narrowing to a focus that is close to your own. Answer questions, "Did anyone do what I planned to do?"

Begin the literature review by defining concepts related to your study. Follow this by describing what others have done, and gradually narrow this to where you describe why there is a need for your study. 

Format #1: If there are experimental studies conducted under controlled circumstances, report these first. Theoretical positions set forth by "experts" in the field might follow. Sometimes it makes the most sense to organize these reviews chronically, however, sometimes it makes for a better "flow" to organize them ideologically. Be specific in your critique of studies...What did the researcher (s) do and what were the results? 

Format #2: In a sequential logically structured discussion, usually organized  much the same as the introduction, the author brings together the results of existing research and presents what is currently know about and relate to the problem of being studied. Sample, instrumentation, procedures and findings about the relevent research studies selected are discussed. 

The literature review is followed by the purpose statement and/or research questions/hypotheses: 

  • The purpose of the study: This is a clear concise statement that describes why you are conducting your research. It may start out "The purpose of this study is..." 
  • Research Questions/Hypotheses: This section formally presents the research questions that will guide the study. The questions narrow the focus of the study and define the relationships or differences that the researcher believes exist between the variables being studied. Some studies may use hypotheses versus research questions.  

For either of the above formats, it will flow most easily if you start out with an outline of relevant topics related to your study. It is common to have Level 1, Level 2, and possibly Level 3 headings in a literature review. 

Methodology (Level 1 Heading)

Methodology tells how you accomplished your study in a series of logical steps. This needs to be specific enough to be replicated. Depending on the nature of your study, the methodology section may have the follwing subparts (typically, Level 2 Headings): 

  • Research Design: Design the type of design you chose and why it is appriopate for your study. Is it experminetal, quasi-experimental, correlational, etc? 
  • Participants: 
    • Description of the number and significant characteristics of the research subjects, the population from which they were drawn, and the sample techniques utilized in the reelection of subjects. Describe inclusion and exclusion criteria if used. You may need to stat this section with an explanation of how you gained access to the population. 
    • Discuss briefly how you obtained your participant's informed consent, protected anonymity, and obtained IRB approval is essential.  
  • Instrumentation:
    • Description of the instrument(s) selected for the study. 
    • Test instrument(s) are discussed in detail and the description includes relevant information regarding the format of the assessment (number of times, subtests/domains measured) and reliability and validity of the instrument(s). 
    • If you designed you own instrument describe: 
      • Construction of the instrument 
      • Testing of the instrument for reliability and validity. 
      • Revision of the instrument 
  • Data Collection: 
    • Description of testing procedures 
    • Observational protocols 
    • Observer training techniques  
    • Administration of the instrument(s) includes the following: 
      • How instruments was administered (length of time,  how many times, etc)?
      • Where administered (setting, any events participants were exposed to)? 
      • Methods used to obtain informed consent 
      • Procedural steps taken to ensure that the study had strong internal validity. 
  • Intervention (if applicable):
    • If you provided an intervention for your subjects, describe what you did, when you provided the intervention, how often subjects received the intervention and how long for each session, and any other relevant information. 
  • Data Analysis:
    • Brief description of statistical procedures used for analysis and interpretation of the data. 
    • Computer program used to run data. 

Appendices will be referred to throughout the methodology section of your manuscript. Simply refer to them in-text chronically and include them in the Appendices section(s) at the end of your manuscript. They will be displayed in the order in which they were presented in the manuscript. Appendices may include a copy of the Informed Consent, a copy of the instrument used, or any other deemed appropriate by your preceptor. Examples of Appendices formatting are included later in this guide. 

Results (Level 1 Heading)

This section tells the reader what was found (objective findings). Presentation is in a statistical terms and is concerned with only the findings of the research study (numbers and details, but not the meaning and impact). Depending on journal submissions requirements, you may begin with a concise summary of the purpose of the study and then follow the sequence listed below:  

  • Restate the first research question (as presented in Introduction).
  • Present statistical data and findings and state the answer to your research question. 
  • Continue with the remaining research questions and maintain the same reporting pattern. Each research question has its own statistical test and resultant statistical finding(s). 
  • You may also report additional findings that are non-statistical (anecdotal, for example). 

Generally speaking, a table, a figure or a graph will support the text. Often, it makes sense to order the data in terms of your research questions. It is important to: 

  • Summarize the data collected 
  • Summarize statistical or data analytic treatment used.
  • Report data in sufficient detail to justify conclusion. 

Two major principles guide the structure of the results section: 

  • Tables and Figures do NOT duplicate the narrative. The reader needs to be able to understand results without refferring to tables and needs to be able to understand tables without referring to the text. Tables and Figures need to complement but be independent of the text. 
  • Author(s) need not discuss meaning of results in this section. Statements related to how this information could be applied to practice or interpretation of outcomes are left to the discussion.

Discussion (Level 1 Heading) 

The discussion section is the heart of a research article. It reflects the researchers; interpretation of the results in terms of the purpose of the study and the outside world. In this part of the paper the author(s) express opinions, make inferences, and use literature to support their inferences made. The discussion section commonly has Level 2 headings for the limitations of the study, suggestions for future research, and implication to practice. 

The commentary about the importance of results does not reiterate the results section, but focuses on alternative explanations of the outcomes, emphasizing how they either support or refute previous work of clinical theories. Results reported in the "Results" section need to be addressed, including those that were not significant. This is where you describe your thoughts on the results, why you got these results, and hope the results relate to previous research. Author(s) need to provide perspective on how the results apply to practice and further study. 

Limitations of the study, including possible extraneous variables that could have affected the outcomes, need to be identified before the study began and others will have become evident during the course of data collection or analysis. These may include small sample size, attrition of importance of these limitations to the interpretation of results. It is essential that authors delineate all major extraneous factors so that the reader can examine the results realistically. 

Most research endeavor leads to further questions. Sometimes these questions arose out the expressed limitation of a study and the need to clarify extraneous factors. In clinical research, alternatives methods exist for studying the same or similar research questions and these may need to be examined. given the results of a study, authors may want to reconsider a particular theory and how it may be applied. Suggestions for future research will develop from these ideas ans should be expressed.  

The implications to practice should be acknowledged by authors. Their perspectives on theory, applied science, or service effectiveness. Commonly, this section of a directed study contains the following sections: 

  • Interpretations of statistical outcomes (author's expected rational for the conclusions. 
  • Discussion of significance of outcomes 
  • Comparison of results with work of others. 
  • How results support or conflict with theory. 
  • Critique of limitations and strengths of the study. 
  • Recommendations (Choose one or all of the following based on purpose and results of study) 
    • For action or implementation 
    • For policy development 
    • For further study or replication of this study 
  • Implications to practice 
    • Implications of the research conclusions on the profession or on practice. 

Conclusion (Level 1 or 2 Heading) 

The conclusion is typically brief but provides the reader with conise summary of your findings, and what you want the reader to take away from the study.