Discussing a Teaching Nursing Home Bid

We are discussing a bid for a Teaching Nursing Home at the University of Canberra today.

The discussions are being hosted and facilitated by Laurie Grealish.

Laurie has been working with Leigh Blackall to develop a Wikiversity page for the bid.

What has delighted me about the day has been the use of a Wikiversity open access page and Leigh’s use of UStream to webcast proceedings and MeetingWords to note discussion points..

There are a number of community groups involved in the workshop and it seems to me that the openness of the bid is a great model for community sharing and consumer directed care. This blog post is a contribution to that sharing.

The program for the day is:

13.00 Welcome, introductions 

Overview of the forum


Associate Professor Laurie Grealish, Chair
1315 UC and Engagement with the Capital Region Mr Lewis Jones, Executive Director, Office of Development, University of Canberra 


1330 Ageing and aged care in Australia Professor Diane Gibson, Dean Faculty of Health, University of Canberra 


1350 Preliminary work: Issues in residential aged care & Teaching Nursing Home Models Associate Professor Laurie Grealish 


1410 What could be done in the ACT Capital Region within a formal collaborative framework, known as the Teaching Nursing Home? 


Small group work
1440 Reporting back and discussion 


15.00 Afternoon tea 


15.15 What possible hurdles may exist? How might we address them at this early planning stage? 


Small group work
15.45 Reporting back and discussion 


16.10 Summary of the day: Where to next Associate Professor Laurie Grealish, Chair

Writing Week 2010: Robert Brown Workshop 2

Robert Brown facilitated a writing workshop to launch the University of Canberra Faculty of Health’s 2010 writing week. (Information about the first part of the workshop can be found here.) In his handout material for the workshop, Robert asserts his copyright of his materials. I make explicit mention and acknowledgement of his copyright here.

The second session of the day, after lunch, started with Robert’s discussion of Paper Title. He suggested that:

  • A title is the first opportunity to lose a reader.
  • Make a title a sentence and include in it the main benefit reader.
  • Avoid ‘dead boring titles’ (a table of contents)

Robert identified strategies for conveying benefits for the reader in the title of a paper:

  • A direct statement of outcome (a sentence)
  • Indirect statements of outcome
  • Direct questions (also sentences)
  • Indirect questions
  • Moderately intriguing (some are sentences)
  • Highly intriguing (some are sentences)

Robert discussed these issues with reference to Carmer and Walker’s (1981) paper Baby Bear’s Dilemma: A Statistical Tale 1:

An allegorical and satirical, but also, we hope an accurate and humorous expository look at the problem researchers face in choosing a pairwise multiple comparisons procedure for detecting differences among treatment means. The primary objective is to present, from several points of view, some of the arguments and resulting confusion surrounding the use of the least significant difference vis-a-vis Tukey’s w procedure or honest significant difference, Duncan’s Multiple Range Test, and the Waller-Duncan Bayesian k-ratio t test. Particular emphasis is placed on demonstrating that the concept of comparisonwise error rate is considerably more logical, sound, and useful in pairwise multiple comparisons than the concept of experimentwise error rate. As a consequence, despite what researchers may have read in the statistical Literature or what they may have heard from statistical experts, the least significant difference is appropriate whenever a pairwise multiple comparisons procedure is in order.

Robert discussed Abstracts in the next part of the workshop. An abstract:

  • Is the essence of the paper. (Some journals require a summary rather than ‘abstract’). It is a summarised assertion without proof.
  • Summarises the introduction, methods, results and discussion.
  • May not require additional information on methods if the methods may be sufficiently implicit in the main results.
  • Should focus on the overview not the details.
  • Should avoid following a table of contents approach.
  • Varies from 100 to 450 words.
  • Does not have any citations, the abstract is published separately from the main text.
  • Can be a traditional unstructured narrative or structured according to headings nominated by the journal.

Robert shared Nature’s advice about writing an abstract. He provided examples of abstracts that illustrated the key issues he identified.

Robert discussed Introductions next. He suggested an Introduction (between 300-900 words):

  • Shows that a story is worth telling. (Why you studied the problem; the state of knowledge; a defined gap in the literature; informing the reader what you set out to do and give the main finding.)
  • Establishes a compelling question.
  • Has only three or four essential moves.
  • Sets an agenda for the rest of the paper by setting up research question(s) and reminding a reader of your conclusion, answer.

Robert shared examples of Introductions to exemplify these points. He explored ‘moves’ in Introductions. One example used was David Pannell’s (2002) paper Prose, psychopaths and persistence: Personal perspectives on publishing

In the next part of the workshop Robert discussed Methods.

The Methods ‘ section:

  • Is often the best place to start
  • Answers the question ‘what did they do to study this problem?’
  • Provides information on what was investigated, what techniques were used, and what statistical analyses were used.
  • Includes enough details for readers to assess validity of results and to replicate the work.
  • Cites original sources of techniques (and not re-described if well-established)

Robert discussed the Results section next and explored the use of Figures and Tables (use text to highlight the most important parts; do not include a table or graph if they can be replaced by a statement; graphs are often better than tables).  Robert suggested that the Results section:

  • Is the second easiest section to write.
  • Can combine results and discussion.
  • Should be simple and “consistent with keeping readers adequately informed”.

Robert concluded the workshop with consideration of Discussion. The Discussion:

  • Is a place to show the contribution to knowledge.
  • Is a place of no surprises.
  • Steps the reader through each question and lead with your best shot.
  • Delivers the  essentials.
  • Avoids leading with authorities.
  • Makes the significance of results and in the context of the literature.
  • Avoids deep discussions of shortcomings and future research.
  • Concludes with a snappy final paragraph that reminds the reader of the main benefit. As you are leaving, please take these thoughts with you.
  • Conclusions are measured in sentences rather than paragraphs and pages.

Robert finished his look at Discussion with an example from Jones, Gardner and Sinclair (2008) ‘Losing Nemo’: bleaching and collection appear to reduce inshore populations of anemonefishes. He provided a second example of where writing about more work is necessary is acceptable (McCosker et al, 2010)

The day concluded with the group’s thanks to Robert for a fascinating day.

Photo Credit

Old Hermit Roy Ozmer Reading a Book

Views in Sydney and New South wales 1930-1940

Writing Week 2010: Robert Brown Workshop 1

Laurie Grealish has been a key driver for the planning and delivery of writing weeks at the University of Canberra particularly in the Faculty of Health. Today she introduced Robert Brown as the facilitator of a writing workshop to launch the Faculty of Health’s 2010 writing week.

Robert started his writing workshops on 14 March 1987. This is how QUT described Robert’s workshop Writing for Publication: What Books Don’t Teach About Preparing Journal Articles and Theses:

This is a full day workshop given by a distinguished researcher and publisher of material, Dr Robert Brown. He is a prominent consultant who conducts workshops for many different organisations around Australia on writing well in order to get your research published. Don’t let your research be wasted! Many journal articles are rejected because they are poorly written.  Likewise, many published articles go unread and uncited because they are poorly written. This seminar will show you how to avoid those outcomes. It covers issues such as writing an abstract, choosing a title, the key ingredients of any good journal article and writing clearly and coherently. Learn how to analyse your manuscript to ensure that your message comes across clearly.  This seminar caters for both beginners and more experienced writers. The main emphasis is on journal articles but the principles are easily transferred to theses, grant applications, and most other scholarly works.

In his workshop at Canberra, Robert introduced an Author’s Toolkit that included general and specific tools. In his handout material Robert asserts his copyright of this Toolkit. I make explicit mention and acknowledgement of his copyright here.

Robert’s General Tools include:

  • Anticipate your reader’s needs at every stage of your journey
  • Respect your reader’s time
  • Separate writing from editing
  • Speak your text comfortably

His Specific Tools include:

  • Question and Answer
  • IMRaD
  • Reverse engineer your text
  • Strategic repetition: macro and micro patterning
  • Eliminate table of contents
  • Give every sentence an obvious link
  • Weed out redundant/implicit information
  • Put authorities in brackets
  • Learn to count adjectives and potential adjectives
  • Do not play hide and seek with verbs
  • Use no secret codes

I liked Robert’s discussion of writing a paper as “intellectually streaking”. I liked too his discussion of three digit writing output per day (c. 200-250 words). He explored how each author might manage their writing time and considered how one might produce four digit output per day.

Robert looked at Specific Tools in the second part of his introduction. He argued that 50 words can summarise the ‘guts of the paper’ and the remaining words available are  ‘proof’.

Questions and Answers (two sorts of questions, closed and open. Iterate from closed to open questions when possible. Ensure that answer does answer the question! Make aims of research explicit so that they can be answered.) Clear answer to clear question can be framed at the end of the research (20/20 hindsight) and select the question to lead the paper.

IMRaD: Introduction (what? why? research question and answer); Methods (what yo need to know about how I went about it); Results (here is the relevant evidence, data); and Discussion (here is how the results answer the question). Robert indicated that reading papers can focus on the IMRaD process as well as the content.

Reverse engineer your text: write a summary of what each paragraph will say. What is the overall point being made? Introductions and Discussion are three or four points each, make your moves! Settle out the simplicity of your question and answer. Work back through the text to confirm the clarity of argument. Two step approach to document: summary and expansion. Title (20 words), abstract (250), text, headings, sub-headings (6-8). Make use of sub-headings to guide the reader. Use of Figures and Tables (200 words available) as a text advantage.

Strategic repetition: macro and micro patterning. Be very cautious about repetition. At a macro level, repeat the sense of what is being said not the same words. Avoid saying something only once. The title of the paper is the destination, it is available in the abstract, it is included in the introduction where there is a question and an answer, the discussion is a reminder about the journey and there are places in the results and methods to keep a reader involved and on track. At the micro level you are involved in comparison as an author. Readers pick up on the sequence of words and start to work on text and argument. Robert provided examples of legs in an argument as the patterns provided for readers. Robert discussed the nesting of ideas and parallelism.

Eliminate a ‘table of contents’: authors establish in a table of contents an agenda for delivery (and then do not deliver). Robert advocated outcomes in the title of a paper and an abstract. He exemplified this approach with reference to Landes’ (1951) Scrutiny of the Abstract.

Give every sentence an obvious link: sentences are linear freight trains! Wagons contain goods, locomotives are delivery systems. In a sentence a reader is guided as to how the information fits in. The writer adjusts throughout text. Sentences position and guide a reader to understand ‘how does this sentence fit in to the argument?’.  Robert discussed the power of putting authorities in brackets in a text rather than leading directly with authorities.

Weed out redundant/implicit information: unless you signal to the contrary (… in summary, … therefore) readers will assume they are receiving new information. This raises important issues about disclosure … would the reader assume and understand?

Learn to count adjectives and potential adjectives: the English language has similar spellings for nouns, verbs and adjectives. A dilemma is that adjectives can refer to a noun or another adjective. A reader has to work through combinations of possibilities. Two adjectives together are acceptable (depending on the similarity of either to an adjective to a noun). Three adjectives together are questionable, and four not recommended. A writer can use – (hyphen) to lock words together or, alternatively, make extra phrases.

Do not play hide and seek with verbs: Robert noted the importance of a verb in a sentence (avoiding a verb becoming a noun, avoiding the separation of subject and verb). Readers are looking for continuity: actor, action relationship helps a reader (‘the guts of a sentence’). Robert encourages writers to make the real verb as easy as possible to find.

Use no secret codes: be cautious about the use of acronyms in a text. If you are certain that all your audience will understand the acronym then use it … otherwise exercise extreme caution.

The morning session ended at 12.40 for lunch … and extended discussion.