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 Prof. Intille.
- 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 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), do some detective work and 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 Endnote library using the paper documentation strategy.
- Write and turn in a document that summarizes the historical "genealogy" of the measurement and the likely future directions. Write as scientifically as you can and back up any statements you make with citations from both the readings so far and papers you find on your own. Your writup should contain the following:
- On approximately one page (11 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins), include:
- A Title, your name, email, department, and year in school.
- A few sentences on why it is important to measure the behavior/state construct you picked
(backed up with credible sources) and why you picked that behavior/state construct.
- What is easy and what is difficult about measuring the behavior/state construct.
- A summary of the historical "genealogy" of the measurement tools used to measure the behavioral construct and how it was validated.
- On one or more additional pages, the references (included by Endnote, using the class reference format, to be emailed).
In addition to bringing a hardcopy of your write-up to class, email the PDF to ...@neu.edu. Use subject line "AMB: Research 1" and name the PDF file in this format: [your last name].research1.pdf.