Research Assignment #1
The purpose of this assignment is to get you thinking critically about how to measure a health-related behavior of interest to you.
- Pick a health-related behavior that you think is important to measure in the field, either to improve health research or to create more effective health interventions. Be specific about the behavior. For instance, instead of selecting "exercise," you might consider focusing on "moderate or greater physical activity," "type of activity," "sedentary activity," etc. If you are uncertain about whether your behavior is a good choice, please run the idea by Stephen.
- Conduct a thorough literature search on the measurement of this behavior. You will look for two types of instruments:
- "Traditional" instruments. These are likely to be paper-based instruments. Search for research articles in the medical or psychology literature (see PubMed or PsychInfo databases) where people have needed to the measure the behavior, and then figure out how researchers have done so by finding the citations to the instruments used. Then find the papers that describe the instruments themselves. Gather as much information you can about each instruments. Sometimes you may have to contact the authors of papers to figure out what the actual questions are on a survey. You are likely to find that there is no single instrument for a particular behavior, but rather many that might be used. Try to determine which are most commonly accepted in recent research articles and why. By tracing back in time (and reading key papers), trace the historical development of the measures.
- "Emerging" instruments. These are new instruments that are likely to use new technologies to measure the behavior. Search for research articles in the medical or psychology literature, but also the engineering and computer science literature (e.g., IEEE, ACM Digital Library, and Springer databases). Find examples of new ways of measuring the behavior.
- Make a list of all the research articles you have found and put the articles into the class Mendeley library with appropriate keywords (including one keyword, which is your name). For each article, provide all the reference information for the paper (title, author, journal, pages, etc.) and, if it is available online, a link to the article in the class Dropbox. For articles not available online, provide a hardcopy if possible. Whenever possible, find the actual questions used in the paper surveys. In 1-3 paragraphs for each article's entry in Mendeley, explain why you think the article is important for someone trying to understand the behavior you have selected and the history of how that behavior has been measured, or how the behavior may be measured in the future. (Stephen will email information about how we will use Mendeley and Dropbox).
- You will turn in a document (writing as scientifically as you can and backing up your statements with citations from both the readings so far and papers you find on your own) containing the following:
- One page (11 point font, single spaced) that summarizes the historical "genealogy" of the measurement and the likely future directions. It should include:
- Your name, email, department, and year in school.
- A few sentences on why it is important to measure the behavior/state you picked
and why you picked that behavior/state.
- What is easy and what is difficult about measuring the behavior
- A summary of the historical "genealogy" of the measurement
- One or more pages
- References cited section (references mentioned above that are included in your annotated Mendeley bibliography)
- Your annotated bibliography entries entered in Mendeley
In addition to bringing a hardcopy of your write-up to class, send an email of the PDF to ...@neu.edu. Name the file in this format: [your last name].research1.pdf.