2019 EONS Research Proposal Workshop
Dr Grigorios Kotronoulas, University of Glasgow
Dr Melanie Charalambous, Cyprus Ministry of Health
Prof Elisabeth Patiraki, University of Athens
Dr Constantina Papadopoulou, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Stelios Katsaragakis, University of Athens
Dr Dafni Kaitelidou, University of Athens
The 6th EONS Research Proposal Workshop took place from 5 to 7 June 2019 at Golden Age Athens Hotel, Athens, Greece. Ten cancer nurses from eight European countries joint the faculty and guest speakers. Here, Research Working Group Member, Grigorios Kotronoulas, reports:
The aim of the workshop was to provide a supportive, constructive and interactive learning environment for participants to begin to develop their clinical ideas into a research proposal. With that in mind, the faculty prepared a programme that aimed to enable participants to:
- Critically discuss key components of a research proposal,
- Critically discuss elements of the research process,
- Articulate the value of team-work and peer-review when preparing a research proposal,
- Perform targeted risk assessments and projections, and
- Articulate the importance of clarity, co-production and impact.
An ice-breaker welcome session led by Dr Kotronoulas was followed by a comprehensive lecture by Prof Patiraki, introducing participants to the fundamentals of a research proposal.
Four interactive taught sessions, led by Dr Kotronoulas, Dr Charalambous and Dr Papadopoulou, allowed participants to explore and expand (as a whole class, in groups and in pairs) their skills and knowledge around:
- Formulating and fine-tuning research questions,
- Systematically reviewing gaps in the literature,
- Choosing the study design most suitable to a research question, and
- Articulating the significant and likely impact of their proposed research.
The afternoon sessions focussed on participants’ own research ideas. Participants paired up and worked with their “buddy” on each other’s research proposal in preparation for the subsequent 3-Minute Presentation (3MP) session. The 3MP gave the participants an opportunity to not only pitch their research using knowledge gained from the morning sessions, but also to engage in a peer-review process whereby they offered and received constructive comments on ways to further develop their ideas. A great variety of contemporary and clinically relevant topics was presented, involving experimental and non-experimental approaches, and a mix of diverse study designs. The closing Q&A session allowed participants to reflect on their feedback and engage in further discussion.
Day 2 began with Dr Charalambous revealing the secrets of establishing good research collaborations and setting up an effective team. The two interactive sessions that followed invited participants to consider the different procedures and practical aspects of research that are usually linked to decisions that have to be made that often lead to minor or major modifications to a research proposal. Practical aspects may range from selecting a setting or a study population to considering the ethical implications and risks associated with research. In that respect, Dr Katsaragakis introduced participants to the importance of translation and linguistic adaptation of questionnaires for data collection. The morning sessions concluded with a hands-on session, whereby participants were supported by the faculty to work in pairs to outline their potential procedures, also providing peer feedback to each other.
The afternoon sessions kicked off with a comprehensive overview by Dr Kaitelidou on funding opportunities that provided participants with details of available agencies and organisations in Europe. Subsequently, participants were invited to critically explore general aspects of ethical conduct in research and specific ethical issues raised by their very own research, and consider ways to address these issues. An important aspect of preparing a research proposal is to clearly outline all relevant procedures and associated timelines, carefully examining the potential risks and devising a contingency plan. Participants worked individually and in groups to start to develop a project timetable (Gantt chart) and perform a risk assessment. In this process, were guided by the faculty and provided and received feedback from their peers.
A full day came to its end with an evening visit at the Zappeion Hall and Gardens in the heart of Athens.
Involvement of patients and the public in research is key in identifying and shaping research ideas that can be translated into impactful research projects. Dr Kotronoulas and Dr Papadopoulou introduced participants to the benefits of working with patients and the public in order to conduct meaningful research. The highlight of the session was when an actual member of the public, Mr Jeremy Dearling, delivered an inspiring, video-recorded talk to the participants on the true benefits of co-production and the difference it can make to the quality of research.
For the rest of the day, the group critically reflected on reducing research jargon and using plain language to effectively communicate their research. As part of a whole class activity, the faculty used participants’ summaries of their research proposals to provide examples of how plain language could be used to make research proposals easily understood by everyone, regardless of whether a researcher, scientist or member of the public. Before the workshop came to an end, participants took part in a reflective exercise and discussion of queries and learning achievements.
The faculty and guest speakers had a great pleasure meeting and working with such an enthusiastic group of cancer nurses. We wish everyone best of luck for the future and invite them to keep EONS up-to-date about the progress of their proposals and about how their research is making a positive impact on clinical practice and patient care.
What participants said
An anonymous course evaluation took place that aimed to help improve future EONS research events.
The participants provided positive feedback, particularly appreciating the critical thinking, peer-work, interactive learning and practical knowledge that the workshop provided. Here’s below some indicative quotes:
“I would like to congrats the faculty. You are very pleasant people to work with. It was an honour to learn from you and the team. And of course the group rocks.”
“I liked all tools we got (Gantt chart, Readability test…), inspiring video from Mr. Jeremy Dearling… I liked we have worked together in workshops and also we spent nice time outside of the box (hotel).”
“I loved how we all worked together in groups! When everyone presented their projects and the discussions with the teachers were so useful. But the most moving: the PPI, Jeremy”
“I liked when we worked together, and I liked when the teachers came back and helped us. […] They have managed to combine theoretical and practical very well.”
“When I had my presentation and faculty helped me to think about more options about research…”
“The interaction during and between sessions was fantastic. Thanks to the great facilitators You Were all amazing!”
“The interactions with the facilitators that were always available to help and give advice. Even now with the workshop finished!”
“Amazing facilitators. Thank you for the great input but also to the great participants! It was a fantastic learning experience! Lots to take home!”