All posts by Kim

Proposal Example: Assessment of Capacity of Older Adults: A Growing Challenge for Physicians

Dated 2007, Rush University Medical Center proposed a proposal to the Retirement Research Foundation which intended to provide physicians resource to improve their assessment of capacity of older persons. The research aimed to train physicians through an on-line curriculum. The proposal explained that an online curriculum would allow to a quick and easy access. The on-line curriculum also aims to train medical students as well, though the proposal gave the impression that physicians are the main emphasized target. With a total cost of $382,149 for the project, the requested amount came to $302,240 and the proposed length of the project was determined to be 2 years long.

The proposal holds high significance because, at least for the time that the paper was proposed, no training research existed for physicians and medical students for access to in-depth knowledge of legal, medical, psychological, and social work regarding patient capacity. The project would encompass work expertise accumulated from 130 years of experience regarding people with disabilities. The first step in the procedure of the project is to accomplish an “Environmental scan” which, as stated in the name, would scan for existing resources on capacity assessment.

The online resource would include the draft curriculum, video clips, electronic handbook, and laminated reference card. After piloting the draft curriculum, telephone focus groups will be conducted to analyze the feedback given by physicians. The feedback would serve as useful information on aspects of the training that was valued and also possible problems with the training.

The proposal explained the two objectives of the project. The first goal was stated, “Develop training for physicians on the clinical and legal aspects of capacity to improve their ability to assess patient capacity.” The second goal was stated, “Inform the national health care community that capacity training exists and easily accessible. Encourage physicians to access curriculum.” The project not only aims to enhance the assessment ability of the physicians that would take part in the training, the project also aims to expand the awareness that such training exist and that it is available on-line. The encouragement to use this training would hopefully combat the increasing issue to assess patient capacity.

Research Example #6

Published in 1989 in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the article “Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being” evaluated the measures of well-being. Upon the understanding of well-being and happiness, Carol D. Ryff asked the question: what constitutes positive psychological functioning?

The data needed to answer this question are reports of behavior. In order for this study to be workable, aspects of well-being were operationalized. The study consisted of a survey of 321 men and women who rated themselves on self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth. These same people then rated themselves on prior assessment indexes: affect balance, life satisfaction, self-esteem, morale, locus of control, and depression. Using correlation, the result of the study explains that relations with others, autonomy, purpose in life, and personal growth are not statistically correlated to the prior assessment indexes. Ryff concluded that the theoretical key aspects of psychological functioning holds little substance empirically.

For my evaluation of this study, I found it to be very straight forward and that made the claims much easier to understand and evaluate. My criticism of this research on whether or not I found the findings to be respectable was based mostly on construct validity, or how well Ryff operationalized the variables. If this study did not operationalized its variables well, it would fall apart because the claims would not be valid. I found the operationalization of happiness, and the other variables, to be pretty good. Thus, I respect this study and its findings; I think it was well done.

Research Example #5: Subjective Well-Being

Understanding happiness has always been a tricky concept, as examined in the article Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index, conducted by Diener, E. Published in American Psychologist, this research proposed the question: What does previous research show about the concept of happiness and how can the calculation of happiness for a national index be improved?

The data that used to answer this question are findings of previous research regarding happiness. The data was derived from public/private records. Diener analyzed various way in which subjective well-being (SWB) has being defined and measured. By constructive evaluation of previous research and by finding patterns, Diener was able to come up with conclusions. This research proposed a methodological refinement to the national index of subjective well-being. Subjective well-being was defined in the article as “people’s cognitive and affective evaluations of their lives.”

The article concludes that there has been great strides in the knowledge of SWB in the past years and many hold substance to SWB. The knowledge of SWB is, however, still very limited in the psychology community and that a stronger scientific foundation is necessary for providing unambiguous recommendation to improving happiness, whether it be societies or individuals. Being that this article was cited more than 1,000 times gives an initial response that it is substantial. Upon reading the article, Diener provided many respectable claims backed up with an abundance of supporting evidence. Additionally, the use of data that was contrary to claims gave the article more credibility in its propositions.


Research Example #4: Is Happiness Relative?

Is Happiness Relative? An intriguing title to the research by Ruut Veenhoven, published in Social Indicators Research 24, 1-34. In this article Veenhoven, the researcher, explores life-satisfaction and how it is influenced by the circumstances of others. As stated in the title, the research asks and answers the question: is happiness relative?

The data that was used to answer this question were reports of behavior obtained from previously conducted research. Those data were derived from surveys. The method of data analysis used in this study was correlation. Happiness and other factors that may contribute to it were analyzed to see if there were relationships between them to determine if the theory is correct.

The researcher addresses the theory that happiness is relative. The theory, summed up, states that how one’s satisfaction of life results from comparison, standards for the comparison change, and that they are arbitrarily constructed. Veenhoven tested for correlation between the data for happiness (obtained from other research) and variables such as wealth and income. For further analysis, he also evaluated happiness of other countries and evaluated as such. The results of the research was the theory is true but limited in its truthfulness. “Standards of comparison do not fully adjust to circumstances,” was explained in the article. Contrary to previous belief, most people report having a happy life as opposed to neutral. Most importantly, happiness being relative does not hold up in the state of hunger, danger, and isolation, regardless if other people are in worse positions.

For my evaluation of this research, I did not expect much from an outdated research. However, I still found it insightful. I am curious to what modern studies of happiness being relative provides. The approach of the research was well done; many concepts were addressed and evidence, as well as counter evidence, was constructively evaluated.


Research Example #3: High-altitude illness

The journal article “High-altitude illness,” published in The Lancet, 361(9373), 1967-1974, Basnyat, B., and Murdoch, D. R. shed some light into high-altitude illness. Being that there is not much knowledge regarding high-altitude illness, Basnyat and Murdoch proposed the question: What patterns can be discovered by analysing reports and articles about high-altitude illness? Using the database accessing search engine PubMed, the researchers collected reports regarding acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral oedema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) and implemented grounded theory to find hidden physiological traits associated with those illnesses. The findings suggest that brain swelling and heightened blood pressure in the lung vasculature play a role in high-altitude illness, a term referring to the effects of any of the three mentioned sickness.


The research has mapped out the physiological traits that lead to brain swelling and ultimately AMS and HACE. Similarly, the researchers proposed a pathophysiology to HAPE. The data collected in this research was qualitative data rather than quantitative data thus numerical analysis serves no use. Instead, searching for patterns was performed as the method of data analysis. By having a collection of literature in the topic of high-altitude illness, the researchers were able to explore recurring conditions pertaining to high-altitude illness. Some of things they discovered were the presence of “increased cerebral blood volume” and “increased cerebral blood flow” that can eventually lead to brain swelling.

This is an interesting research because, unlike many other research, the researchers are not performing experiments or comparisons of variables. I find the results of this research to be useful in the scientific field because it provides knowledge that can be used for future studies since the information about high-altitude illness is limited. As for my own research, this article explains how high elevation may play a role in the well-being of people.

Research Example 2: Relationship between suicide incidents and hours of sunlight

Seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as seasonal depression, is being in a state of depression that occurs at the same time of the year. One of factors that is believed to cause this is the lack of sunlight. “Increased suicide rate in the middle-aged and its association with hours of sunlight,” a study conducted in 2003 by Lambert, G., Reid, C., Kaye, D., Jennings, G., & Esler, M. sheds light into the matter. The article, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(4), 793-5, focuses on the relationship between suicide and sunlight. The study attempts to answer the question: How are suicide and the amount of sunlight associated and what age group is prone to this effect?

The type of data needed to answer the question were reports of acts for the number of suicides and reports of events for the hours of sunlight. For data-gathering, data for suicide incidents and sunlight hours were both from public records. The number of suicide incidents was provided by the Research and Information Coordination Group of the Office of the State Coroner of Victoria and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. The database of the Australian Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology displayed the necessary data for sunlight hours. The method of data analysis used for this study was a comparison using Pearson’s r to evaluate the correlation coefficient between hours of sunlight and number of suicides.

The result of the study was that the incidents of suicide and hours of sunlight were positively correlated. Most suicide occurred during the months of spring and summer. There significant evidence that the more sunlight a place receives, the more likely individuals are to commit suicide. The article also states that, in Victoria, Australia, the rate of suicide for men in the ages of 21 and 60 and women in the ages of 41 and 60 has increased between 1990 and 1996.

The research was simple yet the results were still impressive in my opinion. The findings of the research are contrary to the belief that suicides are more likely to happen during months where there is lack of sunlight. One must not, however, interpret the result of the study as meaning lack of sunlight causes less depression. Although depression and suicide are highly linked, there is evidence that suggested that suicide is more prevalent when individuals are depressed but above the point where they could not make rational decisions. The result of the study supports this idea because it shows that people are more likely to commit suicide when there is more sunlight. When there is more sunlight, people are hypothesized to be happier, which causes people to move above the irrational state in depression making suicide an option for people suffering from depression thus there are more incidents of suicide during months of deprived sunlight.

Research Exercise 1:Happiness

Determining how happy a state or city is can be tricky because the sample must be representative of the population. A research titled “The Geography of Happiness: Connecting Twitter Sentiment and Expression, Demographics, and Objective Characteristics of Place,” published in PLoS ONE 8(5): e64417, approached this problem in a clever way. Designed by Mitchell, L., Frank, M.R., Harries, K.D., Dodds, P.S., & Danforth, C. M., the study asks and tries to find the answer to the question: What do people’s tweets say about the level of happiness across the United States?

This research attempted to estimate the average happiness of states and cities by evaluating geolocated messages in Twitter constructed by individuals in the area at the time. The concept of happiness was operationalized by attaching numbers to certain words used in the tweet. The researchers used the Language Assessment by Mechanical Turk (LabMT) word list. In the word list, 10,000 of the words have been rated ranging from 1 (sad) to 9 (happy). Neutral words such as “the” scored in the middle of the scale. This method allows one to quantify happiness. The average happiness for a given text (havg(T)) was calculated using a mathematical equation which also takes into account others factors of the tweet.

The type of data used to answer the question was the levels of happiness expressed numerically. The data-gathering method used in this article was examining geotagged tweets. The method of analysis is interpreting havg(T) in the context of the location. Using the proposed operational definition of happiness, the study was able to rank the states from happiest to saddest with the three happiest states: Hawaii, Maine, and Nevada (in that order). The study also found association between happiness and obesity rate and education.

This research has cleverly evaluated happiness. Using tweets as a means of tracking happiness and sadness is different from surveying people because tweets are more immediate response for the current situation and tweets are usually intended for one’s friends or followers. Though I am not experienced enough in math to critic the equation of calculating havg(T), the equation holds much validity. This was demonstrated by showing that there is very strong correlation between the happiness score calculated in the research and Gallup well-being, Peace Index, AHR score, and Gun violence. This study approached the concept of happiness in an unorthodox fashion but proves to provide valuable information.

Journal Entry 2: Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters wood production, wood quality and wood strength of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L) after three years of enrichment

Conducted by Ceulemans R., Jach M. E., Van De Velde R., Lin J. X., and Stevens M. in 2002, a study attempts to attain further knowledge on the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on trees. In the article published in Global Change Biology, 8, 153–162, titled “Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters wood production, wood quality and wood strength of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L) after three years of enrichment,” the research aims to answer the question: will elevated CO2 alter the wood anatomy and wood quality of Scots pine trees?

In a world rising CO2, understanding the physiological change of forest woods due to enhanced CO2 would provide knowledge to their expected properties in the future. In the study, Scots pine trees placed in open top chambers were observed under current atmospheric CO2 levels and elevated atmospheric CO2 levels. The research concluded that the exposure to elevated atmospheric CO2, in a span of 3 years, led to an increase in the volume and stem biomass of the trees while wood strength decreased and density remained the same. ANOVA was used to test for significant effects of the groups.

The type of data that was obtained to answer the question were physiological measurements, specifically growth ring width, wood density, stem diameter, and strength. The data was attained through the means of directly observing the species and recording the measurements. The data was analyzed by comparing the trees exposed to elevated CO2 to the trees exposed to current CO2 and statistically testing for significant differences.

The research demonstrated great validity. Because the physiology of trees can be influenced by stress, animals interacting with the tree for example, the isolation of the trees virtually eliminated the potential error of measuring stress responses. The research was also knowledgeable of its limitation, empathizing that the study only involved juvenile wood and that the results cannot be generalized to mature wood because the two have different anatomical structures. In this study, neither nutrients nor water was applied. As a suggestion, future research involving the same circumstances with the addition of grouping the trees – where one group is treated with nutrients and water, the other not – would provide insight to the influence of nutrients and water to wood production under elevated CO2.

Journal 1: More efficient plants: a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2?

An article published in Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, 48, 609–639, titled “More efficient plants: a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2?” attempts to answer that question by using various data gathered from previous studies. Conducted by Drake B.G., Gonzàlez-Meler M.A., and Long S.P., the research aims to analyze the collected data with conclusions made from other literature to give explanation to the questions: Why does the rise of CO2 level increase resource-use efficiency for plants and what are the implications of this increased efficiency?

The effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide (Ca) on plants gives knowledge to what is expected in the future if the trend of rising CO2 continues. The article concludes that rising Ca, in general, causes plants to use resources more efficiently. Increase in photosynthesis, light-use efficiency, water use efficiency, and nutrient-use efficiency were all present in an environment of elevated Ca. It also reduces transpiration and stomatal conductance. There more efficient plants as a consequence of elevated atmospheric CO2, in terms of higher carbon assimilation per unit of water lost, per unit nitrogen content, and per unit absorb light.


The type of data the was obtained to answer the questions was physiological traits. The research surveyed studies as a means to collect physiological traits of plants exposed to elevated Ca and with those that were not exposed to elevated Ca. With the collected data, species with its given environment were able to be compared with each other to draw physiological differences.

The research approached “efficiency” of plants in many angles and provided meaningful information. Efficiency was evaluated in terms of water, nutrient, and light. Limitation of the study were discussed which gave a more thorough insight. An example of this is the research’s response to situation where there was a lack of response to elevated Ca. and that it states that is was unclear whether it was caused by specific genes of the plants or because of the effects of high humidity on the stomata. The research presented unanswered questions and that some statements lacked evidence conclude. Suggestions to future studies to answer these questions would have been a good addition to the paper. Overall, however, the research was executed very well. The analysis of multiple studies and the reasoning of the use of data give very substantial information to the effects of Ca on plants.