By Hilla Brink, Christa van der Walt
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Extra resources for Fundamentals of Research Methodology for Health-care Professionals
The theory of disengagement is therefore being partially abandoned in favour of the theory of activity. 18 Research and theory Definitions of theory There are many definitions of the term 'theory' in the health sciences literature. Some are narrow and specific; others are broad and generic. Moreover, several concepts are used interchangeably with the term, such as conceptual framework, conceptual model, paradigm, metaparadigm, theoretical framework and theoretical perspective. Consequently, when you read about theories, it is important for you to note the terminology used in the texts and to determine precisely how the author used these terms contextually.
Not everyone has access to a computer, a fact which may lead to selection bias. Moreover, confidentiality and privacy can be violated. The transmission of information and the storage of questionnaires in particular are problematic - hackers can access the researchers' computers and read the data. Many of these issues are currently under investigation. Researchers need to bear them in mind, and develop strategies to protect participants (Struwig & Stead 2001). Ethics review boards and committees In addition to research codes or ethical guidelines (an example of which we provide in Annexure A), most institutions have set up independent committees to review proposed research, and to examine and monitor the ethical standards of ongoing research.
Anonymity' literally means namelessness. The process of ensuring anonymity refers to the researcher's act of keeping the subjects' identities a secret with regard to their participation in the research study. In fact, it is preferable that even the researcher should not be able to link a subject with his/her data. For example, by distributing questionnaires and requiring that they be returned without any identifying details, the researcher ensures that the subjects' responses remain anonymous.