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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... 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.
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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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