The organization and content of informatics doctoral dissertations

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This article offers suggested guidelines for graduate students who are embarking on informatics doctoral studies and anticipating the dissertation research and its documentation. Much of the guidance is pertinent for writing dissertations in other disciplines as well. The messages are largely directed at doctoral students, but some elements are also pertinent for master’s students. All are relevant for faculty research advisors. The value of the dissertation is often underestimated. Too often it is seen as a hurdle to be overcome rather than an opportunity to gain insight into one’s own research and to learn how to communicate effectively about it. Ideas that have been ill-formed often do not gel effectively until one tries to write about them. The main lesson is that the preparation of a carefully crafted, rigorous, logically evidence-based, and influential dissertation can be remarkably rewarding, both personally and professionally.

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... HIT is a heterogenous field where many professional backgrounds are represented, 8 yet there are distinct new trends in HIT where there are tracks toward hands-on technical skills and clinicians involved with translational and population studies. 9 Even at the research degree level, dissertations become specialized toward technical or clinical applications, 10 while both groups must understand integrative concepts to collaborate. 11 The Topol report estimates that 90% of all jobs in healthcare will require some element of digital skills. ...
... Develop data-driven soluƟons to improve paƟent health 10 Assessments teach students to understand, define and describe concepts, and recognize healthcare problems that can benefit from data science solutions. ...
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Objective There is a growing need for innovation to prepare a well-trained health informatics workforce with data science and digital technology skills. To meet the workforce demands and prepare students for a career in health informatics, a Health Data Science (HDS) concentration was added to the Master’s in Health Informatics (MSHI) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Methods Four levels of learning were incorporated into the curriculum to prepare students for highly complex jobs in health informatics. Leader interviews, advisory board meetings, and mixed faculty expertise were utilized as inputs to survey and analyze the skills employers seek in the job market. An innovative rapid infusion approach was used to design assessments across the levels of learning that simulate real-world scenarios where these competencies are used. Results Course evaluation surveys revealed strong satisfaction with the quality of the course and agreed that the course was intellectually challenging and stimulating. Students reported the 3 most beneficial aspects were: the live lectures, hands-on data research and manipulation, and simulated real-world situations. Conclusions This article discusses using a rapid infusion approach to developing active learning assignments designed to build competencies employers are seeking. These competencies also develop creative, divergent thinking with flexible, student-defined solutions. Survey data validates the approach to active learning put into context and made relevant to the learner. The benefit of the concentration is to provide students with the preparation for a successful entry into the Health Informatics field, one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare.
... I was concerned that many doctoral dissertations in our field were more focused on a specific application and its description than on the underlying novelty and scientific contributions of their work. One way to increase awareness of my concern was to publish a paper about the philosophy, goals, and content of informatics PhD dissertations [7]. Thereafter I joined with others to propose and fund an annual doctoral dissertation award to be bestowed by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). ...
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The evolution of the informatics field, now with a well-accepted and crucial role in modern biomedicine and health care delivery, is the result of creative research over seven decades. The success is due in part to recognition that, throughout the process, investigators have documented not only what they have done but what they have learned, stimulating and guiding the next generation of projects. Such iterative experimentation, learning, sharing, and progressing is typical of all scientific disciplines. Yet progress depends on identifying key lessons, insights, and methods so that others can use them. This paper addresses the nature of scientific progress in informatics, recognizing that while the field is motivated by applications that can improve biomedicine and health, the scientific underpinnings must be identified and shared with others if the field is to progress optimally.
... Pautasso (2013) has also enumerated ten (10) rules of a comprehensive literature review as: appropriately defining the topic for audience (examiners, panel, public, supervisors, etc.) to read, examine or benefit from the literature; continuous searching for the materials to be reviewed; preparation for and making of notes while reading the sorted literature; selecting the suitable type of review to be carried out; making sure that the review is centred on the topic but with a wider perspective; being consistent and critical in the review process; making a logical structure of the review to ensure organisation of the review; making use of feedback so as to ensure accuracy and exactness; inclusion of the reviewers own objective contributions; and using current literature materials to ensure relevance and validity. Similarly, review writing especially at postgraduate level and publication purposes should very much avoid grammatical, typographical errors and other communication impediments as this degrades the author and portrays a bad image of the work (Shortliffe, 2016). The literature review should also not be limited to ordinary sense, but how, when and where something is written; the methods used in examining the research problem and writing; the specific theorisations in the study; sources of the used literatures and acknowledgements; presentations of other data such as figures and charts. ...
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Literature review and writing form the basis of every academic research and writing, and it is most significant and indispensable to every academic research work. Its systematic process of writing has, however, been mysterious, complex, messy and boring, especially to inexperienced researchers and postgraduate students. This study explored the mysteries and ease with academic literature, writing and review. The study used secondary source to gather data and for the analysis, and found that academic literature writing and review comprise of different patterns and systems, dependent upon the nature and character of the research, the writing in contexts and its specific objectives; there are different types of literature and writing in academics, and while no one way is universally accepted by all at the same time, different approaches are required for different types of review and writings. The difficulty in understanding, reviewing and writing of literature mainly emanates from failure right from the inception to clearly identify what precisely the reviewer wants and how to go about looking for it in a systematic and comprehensive manner. Reviewing and writing of academic literature is a herculean task and for it to be successful there must be focus, specific objectives, adequate and timely provision and access to relevant materials. With proper understanding, it can be mastered and made easy. The study is essential for academics and post graduate students who must undergo literature review and writing at varying stages, especially at critical, stipulated and limited times.
Research impact goes beyond academia and exists in the multiplicity of digital platforms that we use to read, share, and discuss knowledge. Computing education research (CER) is no exception: it is created in academia and typical research institutions but is talked about widely on social media, blogs, and news websites. The aim of this study is to have a comprehensive analysis of how research in CER has been received, talked about in social media, discussed on blogs, and spread to the news and media. In addition to common analysis of trends of growth, we analyze trends of usage of social media and quantitative analysis of platforms, articles, and venues. The analysis also includes which articles and in which subfields had a wide impact, and for whom (i.e., which platforms had more impact). The results show that Altmetrics adoption is weak, yet increasingly growing fast. Gender and diversity issues made it to popular news sites, e.g., Scientific American, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor, while articles about ethics, programming education, introductory courses as well as computational thinking and inclusion have captured the attention of social media users. There was weak—or no—correlation between article, author or topic impact and the traditional impact measures, e.g., citation count.KeywordsTwitterAltmetricsComputing educationScientometricsSocial media
Introduction The assessment of the medical doctoral dissertation is a preliminary step in the promoting of scientific writing. this study aimed to describe the research topics, study designs and quality writing of Preventive and Community Medicine academic dissertations in Tunisia. Material and Methods It’s a bibliometric study covering the Preventive and Community Medicine doctoral dissertations performed in the faculties of medicine of Tunisia over forty years (1980-2019). The research topics were determined from the descriptors, grouped into major descriptors and thematic groups. The types of studies were classified according to the Evidence-Based Medicine pyramid. The editorial quality assessment was based on a 20-item grid, deduced from the International Committee of Editors of Medical Journals repository, and applied to the abstracts of thesis. It was considered satisfactory if the score was ≥ 75/100 points. Results In total 595 PCM doctoral dissertations were performed in 40 years. Themes of dissertations were studied through 2580 index lines and 1030 descriptors. Healthcare-associated infections, maternal health, smoking, and high blood pressure accounted for 25.4% among major descriptors. The major research category evolved from "family medicine and primary care" (40.9%) before 2000 to management of health facilities” (26.7%) after 2000. The study designs were population studies or synthesis research, respectively in 259 (43.5%) and 22 (3.7%) doctoral dissertations. The quality of scientific writing was satisfactory in 34.6% of doctoral dissertations globally. Conclusion Preventive and Community Medicine doctoral dissertations suffered from methodological and editorial shortcomings, which required their reform based on bibliometric assessment, capacity building and structural reform.
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The health informatics field continues to evolve and grow. The adoption of electronic health records has increased dramatically. Integrated medical devices, telemedicine, consumer-directed apps, and precision medicine are mainstream. There are continued developments in genomics data mining and pattern recognition. The reimbursement models are rapidly changing and require detailed accountability via measurement and high-quality, integrated data. The data that are collected in the continuum of care can prove truly helpful in evidence-based decision-making and in the sciences, to verify or disprove existing models or theories. The rapid changes in health IT, along with an increasing growth in the reliance on IT in health care, has resulted in an increasing demand for trained workers. A survey by Hoffman and Ash 1 and a later study by Hersh 2 indicated that the most important skills for health informaticians include knowledge of the following: the use of information in clinical care, change management, rela-tional databases, interoperability standards, and project management and best practices for IT use in the health care setting. The ability to analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data has also become a requirement for future informaticians. It is indeed challenging to educate the future wave of informaticians and the health professionals who interact with these technologies. This special focus issue highlights different curricula needed to train informa-ticians. We note that informatics is an interdisciplinary field and is relevant in multiple disciplines. Existing and future programs will train health informaticians who will both directly and indirectly touch thousands to millions of lives. We highlight innovative pedagogical frameworks that share best practices for health informat-ics education. We are also pleased to include papers that cover a wide range of education levels and disciplines. The case report from Unertl et al. provides an overview of the development and the initial implementation of the American Medical Informatics Association high school scholars. This program is very exciting, as it primes the informatics– professional pipeline. Programs such as this one will help AMIA identify budding informaticians and bring them into the field at an earlier age for long, hopefully very productive and innovative, careers. Longhurst et al. provide a case report on the collective experiences of the first 4 accredited clinical informatics fellowships. The lessons learned in developing new fellowship programs in this novel medical subspecialty will hopefully help to improve training for all clinical informatics fellows. A perspective by Valenta et al. 5 describes the process of identifying new core competencies 3 needed for clinical and translational scientists. In addition to providing context and background for the current version of the competen-cies, their work can serve as a model for revision of competencies over time. In a perspective, Shortliffe one of the founders of academic informatics in the United States, gives helpful pointers to graduate students embarking on the journey of writing their dissertations in informatics PhD programs. The methods used by Berner et al. 7 for curriculum improvement can help all educators ensure their graduates have the competencies and skills required by key constituencies. Their insights will prove helpful in the design and evaluation of training programs. In the case report by Tremblay et al. 8 we see a description of the political struggles, lessons, and successes in designing and offering an interdisciplinary in-formatics program focused on leadership, and practical applications of health in-formatics, information systems, and data analytics skills. The perspective by Breeden et al. 9 shows us an adaptable model for selected or comprehensive adoption and integration of a multitiered health infor-matics program at a college of pharmacy in the United States. Their multitiered approach is structured to ensure that all graduating pharmacists possess core competencies in health informatics. Their novel approach ensures that specialized and advanced training opportunities exist for pharmacy students and students enrolled in other programs pursuing career paths in informatics. Taken together, the articles published in this special focus issue on education show the variety and depth of medical, health, and biomedical informatics education. They add to our knowledge about how to best deliver this education.
This book gives you the confidence, tools and techniques to produce a first-class undergraduate or Masters level dissertation. It offers practical guidelines to planning realistic timetables and structuring every aspect of your work. Find out how to avoid common mistakes and the best way to present your work, and even how to assess your dissertation in the same way as a tutor.
The article-based thesis is becoming increasingly common, especially in the 'hard' sciences such as biology, medicine and technology, and is beginning to replace the traditional monograph. Format guidelines vary among universities. This is the first book to summarise the main features, showing the PhD student how to prepare a thesis in such a format. The suggestions are highly practical; both its good and bad examples from published theses support the author's wise advice on all aspects of such theses. Poor figures are not only scrutinised in detail but also redrawn for comparison. Guidance also covers the issues of reprint permissions and copyright. This informative and accessible book, from the author of How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper, has been developed through the author's extensive teaching experience in scientific writing and also his experience as a journal editor. It is therefore an indispensable guide to article-based thesis success.
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Davis BD, Parker CA, Detmar WS. Writing the Doctoral Dissertation. A Systematic Approach (3 rd edition). Barron's Educational Series, 2012.
Writing the Doctoral Dissertation. A Systematic Approach
  • B D Davis
  • Parker
  • W S Detmar
Davis BD, Parker CA, Detmar WS. Writing the Doctoral Dissertation. A Systematic Approach (3 rd edition). Barron's Educational Series, 2012.