What NOT to Research

Tue, 2014-02-18 10:29 -- Tim Willett

It's not hard to come up with a research idea or question - but is it worth researching? Here are some dead-ends that might surprise you.

A recent editorial by Geoff Norman, Editor of Advances in Health Sciences Education, and leading thinker and researcher in healthcare eduation, provides some guidance. Dr. Norman reflects on 20 years as editor of the journal and offers some specific insights about what is not needed in education (including simulation) research and what will not be published (at least in his journal).

Here are some dead-ends that might surprise:

  • Any study in which learner self-assessment (perceived changes in competence) is the main outcome - because humans are poor self-assessors;
  • Any study about learning styles, emotional intelligence, or critical thinking/clinical reasoning ability - because recent systematic reviews have shown these concepts to be invalid; and
  • Any study that compares an intervention to no intervention (or addition of an intervention to standard practice) - because, almost universally in education, A+B is better than A.

For the full paper, see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10459-014-9494-8/fulltext.html?wt_mc=alerts:TOCjournals.