Finding Our Way Through Shades of Gray: 6 Virtues to Guide Researchers in Planning, Conducting, and Writing Up Research.

O’Brien BC, Balmer DF, Maggio LA. J Grad Med Educ. 2017 Oct;9(5):555-559.
 An article in a previous blog post offered a checklist of recommended practices that can help researchers to avoid the consequences associated with the ‘‘7 deadly sins’’ in medical research.  However, authors of this article felt that decisions in research are not always straightforward and also require consideration for uncertainty, complexity, circumstances, competing priorities, and values.  Hence,  they offer a set of six guiding principles to complement the recommendations on ‘‘7 deadly sins.’’

1.Thoughtfully convening a research team: 

While selecting team members a researcher should be clear about the goals of the research project and select only those people who can help in achieving these goals.

2. Prudently setting the scope and timeline of the research project:

The scope of the research project includes the type of study, perspective, data collection tools etc. which bring clarity in research work.  Along with the scope it is also important to assign a timeline to different components of research. While deciding the timeline it is essential to consider the capacity and commitment of team members, as well as resources available with them.

3. Carefully considering all data and interpretations:

Even after setting goals and the scope of research, while research is going on a researcher may discover some unexpected findings which are outside the scope. Hence, he must be ready for revision and rethinking on the research question at every stage.

4. Mindfully checking assumptions:

Researchers should form some assumptions for research and must be vigilant about checking them throughout the entire research process.  Along with that researchers should always record all important decisions taken during research on different aspects of research work.

5. Cautiously chunking data to tell a story:

It is suggested that researchers should formulate a story and construct a paper around it. This story telling is very important for the introduction and discussion section of a paper. In telling a story, a researcher should pay attention towards whose voice will suit the story.  So whether you want to show a researcher or a research participant as a main character of the story is an important detail.

6. Cohesively telling a story:

It is important to bring a logical flow in every section of a research report. There must be uniformity in terminology used throughout the report and effort must be taken to avoid distraction and confusion of users. Every new concept must be explained so that it is helpful for readers.

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