PG Dip Online Global Health Module Review: Research Methods in Global Health
by Fiona O’Meara
I was looking forward to this final subject of the taught course work to learn about the different research methods available and their applications to provide a sound platform from which to base my research proposal for the final dissertation.
As always, the taught material was constructed over 8 sessions starting off with Session 1 : Qualitative Methods: Positioning, Questions & Design which session gave me insight into the variety of methods used in qualitative research and how data can be analysed, collected and presented. I found myself reflecting quite a bit on some of the qualitative methodology techniques studied in SALC77000 Risk, Resilience and Vulnerability with regard to the use of surveys, and questionnaires and considerations to how to eliminate bias and also the thought process behind what type of research is best for what situation and the research question being posed.
Session 2: Qualitative Methods: Which Methods? Gave more in depth information about how to apply the different methods with consideration of ethics, how to recruit subjects for a study and other considerations with regards to time and space and researching hidden populations and how these factors can influence the data collected.
Session 3: Qualitative Methods: Data Analysis and Presentation focused on how to analyse and appraise qualitative studies which I found interesting having come from a scientific background where I was much more at ease and familiar with appraising quantitative research. Good examples were given in the readings of both good quality and poor qualitative studies and I now will have much more confidence when analysing this type of research in the future.
Session 4 Quantitative Methods: Sampling, Validity, and Reliability. This topic was more familiar to me and again reinforced learnings from previous courses with explanations of validity and reliability and how to make sure your sampling will reflect the population you are wishing to study.
Session 5: Quantitative Methods: Interpreting Statistical Results brought back many (not so pleasant) memories of statistical subjects in undergraduate days always have found it hard to get excited about p values but the subject matter was presented really well I thought this week and gave the skills to make more critical appraisals when reading research papers in the future.
Session 6: Writing Up Research gave insight into the actual writing process which I’m sure will be invaluable and referred back to many times for the upcoming dissertation with lots of good reference sources for future use.
Session 7: Doing Field Research highlighted some of the many practical considerations and challenges that need to be taken into account when travelling abroad to conduct fieldwork, many of which I would have considered as a natural part of travelling but many that I hadn’t previously thought about and which were good to have highlighted. Again this will be very useful to refer back to in the future.
And finally Session 8: Ethics in Global Health Research made me consider some of the ethical dilemmas of conducting health research particularly in low and middle income countries with ill-informed and less educated populations.
The summative assessment for this subject was a 100% essay, with a good range of topics to choose from ranging from more theoretical to very practical and creative. The tutor for this subject was also very available, supportive and interactive which certainly helped and turned what I thought might be quite a dry subject into one that made me interested in the applications of the how what where when and why questions for global health.