During our professional careers, many of us pursue some kind of research activity, such as
- writing a grant application,
- conducting a clinical trial or
- publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal.
Did you know that these kinds of research activities are eligible for credit in the MOC Program?
In this tip, I’ll show you how to simplify a large research project into several stand-alone Personal Learning Projects (PLPs) for documentation in MAINPORT ePortfolio. To illustrate how this works, I’ll reference examples from a review paper called “Disparity in Cancer Care: a Canadian Perspective,” which I co-authored with Rabia K. Shahid in a peer-reviewed journal a few years ago.
Remember, the bookends of a PLP are your question and your reflection on the outcomes. From framing a research question to knowledge translation, there are many ways to make the most out of your research project.
Log your PLP credits: You will receive two credits for each hour spent on a PLP.
Break down your research activities into several stand-alone PLPs
Project 1: Conduct a literature review
The time you spend accessing, critically-appraising and assimilating current medical literature on your research topic can count towards a PLP.
- During our literature review, we read many international studies and perspectives on health equity. While Canadian statistics and government reports were available, these mostly covered specific topics like tobacco use and the impact of rurality on health. We concluded that a thorough and comprehensive examination of disparities in cancer care in Canada had not been published before.
Project 2: Develop a research question (or questions)
The time you spend considering lines of enquiry, framing a research question and generating a hypothesis can count towards a PLP.
- We reflected that a review paper on Canadian disparities in cancer care would fill a knowledge gap among Canadian health care providers and frame an important national health issue. We decided our review paper would explore the following questions
- What are the concepts and definitions of equity in health and health care?
- What are the health determinants that increase cancer risk in Canada?
- What does cancer care inequity in Canadian high risk groups look like?
- What could a possible conceptual framework to eradicate disparities look like?
Project 3: Manage, synthesize and analyze your data
The time you spend learning basic biostatistics, data management and synthesis, and conducting data analysis for your research project can count towards a PLP.
- Data management and analysis skills are becoming extremely important as the incidence of chronic disease increases. When we wrote our paper, we considered if a systematic review of the literature could be performed to better demonstrate the validity of our research questions. We concluded that with sparse data and heterogeneity of the literature, a systemic review was not feasible. However, we were able to leverage our research findings to develop a conceptual framework to address gaps in cancer care.
Project 4: Recommend ways to advance your conclusions
The time you spend understanding how your research findings can move from a journal article into the hands of people who can put it into practical use can count towards a PLP.
- When we wrote our paper, we considered ways to increase the potential for knowledge translation of our research. We decided to conclude our paper with a section on recommendations for action — including how communities, organizations and health sector partnerships could work together to try to eradicate disparities within the health care system and beyond — and to present our findings and recommendations to various groups.
Project 5: Navigate research ethics
The learning you acquire while navigating ethical review, informed consent and the regulatory approvals process can count towards a PLP.
- Our particular paper did not necessitate a review from a research ethics board; however, research involving human subjects, animals or biological materials requires ethics approval. These approvals protect participants and researchers, and ensure that the conclusions the researcher is advancing are based in strong ethics. Consider setting an objective to strengthen your relationship with your ethics review board during your research project, and document an outcome in MAINPORT ePortfolio on how you engaged them more effectively as a result of your study.
The opportunities don’t end here!
A research project can lead to even more learning activities, including participation in conferences, group discussion, taking a course, and reviewing and reflecting on feedback provided by critiques and reviewers. Good luck with your scholarship venture and remember to use your research activities towards fulfilling your MOC requirements as you go!
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