Importance Of Meta-analysis In Medical research

Writing articles related to medical research today has to follow certain well-accepted forms of research in order to be accepted. Of the various types of medical research articles, studies based on metadata analysis is one of the most well-accepted forms.

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The concept of meta-analysis stems from the field of statistics. Meta-analysis is a process of combining the results of multiple scientific research related to the same field. Statistically, if there are multiple experiments on the same lines, the results of each are prone to certain degrees of error (for example, the most commonly occurring errors are Type 1 errors related to false-positives or Type 2 errors of false-negatives). However, if all those studies are pooled together, the net derivative result is less likely to have any of such errors and will yield a more definitive result. The key to the aggregation of data is higher statistical power and thereby more robust point estimates than any individual scientific research.

Meta-analysis based medical research started in the 70s and has gained immense popularity ever since. In fact, statistics suggest that meta-analysis based medical articles are the most cited articles in the field.

While meta-analysis generally refers to quantitative studies, there exists another form of studies called statistical meta-synthesis pertaining to integrating results from multiple but related qualitative studies. The approach to statistical meta-synthesis is more interpretive than aggregative and thereby have a different approach altogether. Before embarking on your work, you need to first determine whether you want to go for meta-analysis or statistical meta-synthesis, based on the type of field you are working on.

How to Approach Writing a meta-analysis medical research paper?

Meta-analysis is conducted to assess the strength of evidence, usually on the efficacy of any specific disease or particular treatment. Meta-analysis seeks to collate multiple pieces of evidence to arrive at a conclusion; whether any direct or indirect effect exists, and/or whether such effect is positive or negative (particularly pertaining to a specific type of treatment). This assumes importance as heterogeneity is vital for the development of any new hypothesis.

Key to such study is developing the metadata pool, based on a thorough filing and coding system, proper categorization of data, and thereby identifying the key analytical data- crunching exercise that is expected to yield the best results.

The key to a good meta-analysis exercise is proper identification of the different methods adopted in each exercise and thereby identifying how they may have affected the findings of those exercises. Identifying and mapping methods is also critical given not all methods are comparable and therefore all data may not be compatible.

Tools for meta-analysis

Needless to say, the main tools for such analysis are hardcore statistical tools, mostly software like SAS, STRATA, R. The data is usually pooled from recognized medical research sources like PubMed, Embase, or CENTRAL.

Reporting of results is usually done via the form of Preferred Reporting Items for Systemic Reviews and Meta-analysis or PRISMA.

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Conceptual Research: Analytics for Researchers

Scientific research is often classified as conceptual or empirical research. Conceptual research is often considered as research of pen and paper, which basically deals with concepts and theories. Whereas empirical research deals with direct observation or experimentation. The modern scientific method presents a combination of both the research types.

What does conceptual research offer?

Conceptual research is the preferred method for analysis in the field of social sciences, psychology and philosophy. However, this kind of research also plays a significant role in scientific research fields by providing theoretical support to practical findings. It describes the studied phenomena and provides answers to many scientific queries: What causes a particular disease? Which are the causative organisms? How can we describe planetary motions?

For answering these queries, there is no need of experiments; rather, a researcher collates previous researches to find a solution to these problems.

Benefits of conceptual research

This is the initial phase of a research and involves the development of research ideas. During this time period, a researcher spends time critiquing existing literature and identifying the knowledge gap that needs to be addressed by the current research. This enables the researcher to understand the scope of the research problem, state of the science and the literature gap. A researcher can easily break down a theorem or concept into its constituent parts to gain a better understanding of the deeper philosophical issue concerning the theorem. Through this, a general framework for data analysis can be built, which can be used by the researcher to devise an appropriate outline of the possible courses of action.

Conceptual research is a comparatively broad idea representing the conceptual context on which the study is based. It explains how various terms have been used in the research. In a nutshell, this kind of research is mainly used in qualitative studies and takes the researcher closer toward empirical research.

How to Get Your Research Published

Writing is the most important aspect of scientific research. There is no doubt about it. But, do not think that your goal is accomplished after you are done with this onerous task. In fact, you have to cross yet another important hurdle. After writing, you need to think of how to get your research published in some journal in order to share your research ideas and results with the scientific community. Your scientific achievement is measured in terms of the articles you have published. Most of the researchers falter in this step and end up in making some wrong decisions. Here are a few tips on how to get your research published, which might help in making things easier for you.

Tips on How to Get Your Research Published

  • Most of the researchers think about where to publish their paper after writing it. But, it is always better to first decide the journal in which you want your paper to be published, and then start writing. It saves a lot of time in terms of post-writing formatting.
  • When choosing a journal, do not choose the one with a very high impact factor unless you are fully confident about the quality of your paper. High-impact factor journals have high rejection rates.
  • Check whether your research topic comes under the aims and scope of the chosen journal. After putting in all the hard work, you would never want your paper to be rejected only because you chose the wrong journal.
  • Publishers are always impressed if you have cited articles of the chosen journal in your paper.
  • Do not submit your article simultaneously to various journals, which is unethical. Wait till you get a proper response from one particular journal before proceeding on to another.
  • Ensure that all the formatting guidelines specified by the target journal have been properly followed.
  • The cover letter is the first thing that the journal editor goes through. Address it to the Journal’s Editor/Editor-in-Chief. Keep the tone informal. Give a short gist of your work. And, include your contact details at the end.
  • Last, but not the least, do not get discouraged if your paper gets rejected. Many of the best research papers had to deal with initial rejection. If the journal has sent reviews, ponder them carefully and make the necessary changes in your paper before resubmitting. Write a proper response letter highlighting the reviewer’s comments and your responses. The original content and the revised content should be clearly distinguishable so that the reviewer can easily see what changes you have made to your paper. And, ensure that you re-submit within the stipulated time frame. If the journal has rejected your paper outrightly, then consider submitting to another journal.

The above tips on how to get your research published will surely be handy for you. But, remember that following these tips alone will not get your paper published. Your research should be well written and your ideas should have been strongly presented. If you are still unsure of how to proceed, there are professionals out there who will be happy to help you. So, go ahead, Research, Get Published, and Get Read…