Frequently Asked Questions



How should I keep track of my sources?
What statistical software should I use?
What statistical test should I use for my data?
Is there any recommended reading for learning more about pharmacy research?
How do I calculate a sample size?
Where can I find advice about qualitative methods?
Is there software that can help me with qualitative analysis?
What should I use to create a survey or data collection form?
Do I need to get IRB approval or training? How?
Could someone walk me through how to submit an IRB application at the University of Utah?
Where can I present a poster about my project?


How should I keep track of my sources?

We strongly recommend the use of an electronic citation manager. It will save you time and headaches down the road by keeping your sources organized and allowing for easy reformatting. Some of the common options are listed below.

Endnote can store citation information, pdfs of the articles, and your own notes. You can search databases like PubMed directly within Endnote, and it usually can find the full pdf of the article for you. It also interfaces with Word for citations and bibliography formatting. There is a free version available (Endnote Basic) that runs in your web browser, and the Eccles Library offers good support for Endnote.

Mendeley has a free version that works similarly to Endnote. I prefer Endnote’s searching and finding full text features, but you may like Mendeley, and it is free to try.

Papers is a Mac-only program that also has similar functionality as Endnote, and its interface looks similar to iTunes. Read More about Papers.


What statistical software should I use?

If you are only planning to report descriptive statistics, such as means and percentages, then you will likely be able to do all of your analysis in Excel. However, if you want to run statistical tests to compare groups or any other inferential statistics, then you will likely need to use a dedicated statistics program. If you or your mentor already have a program that you plan to use, then that is likely your best option. If not, this page offers a description of different options and their availability at the University.

The University's library offers many statistical programs for free, including SPSS, MATLAB, R, SAS, Stata, and others. You can use them at the library or via remote access, which emulates the library's computer on your own device over the internet. Remote access works anywhere, but the programs will not run quite as well as they do when natively installed on a computer. R is free to download and install, but it has a steeper learning curve than most other programs. The Office of Software Licensing also has discounts on several programs, if you would rather purchase software for your own computer. You can apply for PharmD Project funds to purchase software, but the expense will require some justification.

Library’s Software

Remote Access

Office of Software Licensing: JMP, MATLAB, SAS, and SPSS available for purchase through the university.

Comparisons of features: Some of the programs, such as JMP and SPSS, primarily use a graphical user interface that make them more beginner friendly. GraphPad is another easy to use option that is more limited for statistics, but it also has good graphing capabilities. Other programs, such as R, SAS, and STATA, require more use of a command-line interface or programming language. These tend to have steeper learning curves, but they are also able to do more advanced, complex analysis.

NYU overview of popular options

More comprehensive comparison

Online User guides and tutorials:

GraphPad

  • This guide also provides clear, concise explanations of basic statistical concepts and advice about what tests to perform.

JMP

MATLAB

R

SAS

STATA

SPSS


What statistical test should I use for my data?

As a starting point, you can identify the recommended test or analysis based on your goal and data type by using the table below. Other tests may be appropriate or even preferred based on the unique features of your project, and while this covers some of the most common forms of analysis, it is not exhaustive. More information about tests is available under the questions about recommended reading and statistical software.

 

 

Type of Data

Goal

Measurement from a gaussian population

Rank, Score, or Measurement from non-gaussian population

Binomial (two possible outcomes)

Survival Time

Compare two unpaired groups

Unpaired t test

Mann-Whitney test

Fisher’s test (chi-square for large samples)

Log-rank test or Mantel-Haenszel

Compare two paired groups

Paired t test

Wilcoxon test

McNemar’s test

Conditional proportional hazards regression

Compare three or more unmatched groups

One-way ANOVA

Kruskal-Wallis test

Chi-square test

Cox proportional hazard regression

Compare three or more matched groups

Repeated-measures ANOVA

Friedman test

Cochrane Q

Conditional proportional hazards regression

Quantify association between two variables

Pearson correlation

Spearman correlation

Contingency coefficients

 

Predict value from another measured variable

Simple linear or nonlinear regression

Nonparametric regression

Simple logistic regression

Cox proportional hazard regression

Predict value from several measured or binomial variables

Multiple linear or nonlinear regression

 

Multiple logistic regression

Cox proportional hazard regression


Is there any recommended reading for learning more about pharmacy research?

Below is a list of recommended reading and resources.

  • Basic & Clinical Biostatistics , 4e, Beth Dawson, Robert G. Trapp (Access Pharmacy)
  • Health Science Research: A handbook of quantitative methods, 2002, Jennifer Peat (5 copies on reserve at Eccles Health Sciences Library; used copies available online from various sources for minimal cost)
  • Pharmacy Research: A how-to guide for students, residents, and new practitioners, 2015, Rosalyn Vellurattil (5 copies on reserve at Eccles Health Sciences Library. Can also purchase online)
  • How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 8th , Barbara Gastel and Robert Day (3 copies on reserve at Eccles Health Sciences; copies available online both new/used, Kindle, and rental)
  • Understanding Clinical Research , Renato D. Lopes & Robert Harrington, Eds. (Access Medicine)
  • Drug Information: A Guide for Pharmacists , 5e, Patrick M. Malone, PharmD, FASHP, Karen L. Kier, PhD, MSc, RPh, BCPS, BCACP, John E. Stanovich, RPh, Meghan J. Malone, PharmD, BCPS, CACP (Access Pharmacy) Chapters: 8-9
  • Research Administration Training Series Online Classes (requires uNID sign in)
  • Study Design & Biostatistics Center (SDBC)

How do I calculate a sample size?

There are many free online programs that will calculate the sample size you need based on what you expect the data to look like. The sources below explain how sample size calculations work and recommend some online calculators. 

Guides:

How to Calculate Sample Size and Why – This article contains explanations and links to online sample size calculators for different designs.

Basic & Clinical Biostatistics, 4e, Beth Dawson, Robert G. Trapp (Access Pharmacy) – This textbook also covers power analysis and sample size calculations for each test type in their respective chapters. 

Online Calculators:

University of British Columbia

DSS Research

Harvard

Survey Confidence Intervals


Where can I find advice about qualitative methods?

Guides and Advice:

Pharmacy specific qualitative research recommendations

National Science Foundation Handbook

Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research: A Synthesis of Recommendations

 


Is there software that can help me with qualitative analysis?

Qualitative Analysis Software Options

There are a few programs that can help you analyze textual data from surveys, interviews, or focus groups. They allow you to code responses as fitting certain themes and facilitate analysis after coding them. For smaller data sets they may be unnecessary, but they can be useful if you have a lot of text to analyze. Both of these options are available through the library, and both are available remotely. https://www.lib.utah.edu/services/labs/software.php

Transcription Services

If you are conducting interviews or focus groups you may need to record and transcribe the responses. Some faculty in the College have found Rev to be a quick and affordable transcription service. There are many other online options if you search for transcription services. You should be aware that many of the cheapest options use automated voice to text software that is not checked by an actual person. These tend to be faster and cheaper, but you will likely have to check the transcription against the recording for errors yourself. Transcription is an expense for which you can request PharmD project funding.


What should I use to create a survey or data collection form?

As a University of Utah College of Pharmacy student, you have access to two robust online survey platforms: REDcap and Qualtrics.

REDcap was designed for collecting and storing data in clinical research. It allows you to create data collection forms for study team members and surveys for study participants that will populate a secure database. Using REDcap for data collection can reduce the likelihood of accidently deleting or corrupting your data, which is easy to do in a standard spreadsheet. The University has a wiki that explains how to use REDcap and how to become a REDcap user.

Qualtrics offers a user-friendly way for creating surveys that has slightly more options than REDcap for question types, survey distribution, skip/display logic, and reporting. You should be familiar with taking Qualtrics surveys from the College, such as the Student Year End Survey. Qualtrics is not designed to have more than one form or survey populating the same database in connection to the same subject/patient, however, which likely makes REDcap better for data collection forms and longitudinal studies. For one-time surveys, I have found Qualtrics to be preferable, but both work well. To get access to Qualtrics, simply email me: Craig Henchey and I can set up an account for you. The online user guide ( Research Core version) is quite helpful for figuring out how to use it as well.


Do I need to get IRB approval or training? How?

If your project is working with identifiable information about living humans, then your project should go through an IRB, and you should complete the CITI human subjects research training. This includes surveys, focus groups, interviews, chart reviews, and other analyses of existing databases. In many cases, your project will not need to go through a full IRB review, even though you should apply to the IRB. This can happen, if the IRB determines that your project is not actually “human subjects research” or that it falls into one of the categories of human subjects’ research that is exempt from a full review. However, the IRB should be the one that decides your project fits into one of these categories, and many conference and journals will require an IRB review, even if the purpose is to confirm that the project is not actually human subjects research. That said, if you are doing a meta-analysis, chemistry, or animal research, you clearly do not need to submit to the IRB or complete CITI training for your project, and if your mentor is certain that your project does not require the IRB to review it, he or she likely knows best. When in doubt, you can ask the University of Utah’s IRB staff for advice about what you should do in your specific case. They are usually helpful, and they do not want to reject your project’s application.

IRB Contact Information

Human Subject Research Training (CITI)

This training needs to be completed before you can submit an IRB application. University of Utah’s IRB accepts a few forms of training, but CITI is the most widely used across the country. The IRB’s website has instructions on how to complete the training and links to the training website.  Please note that you will need to complete the biomedical version of the training and the Good Clinical Practice component.

IRB Applications

If the mentor is at an institution with their own IRB, then the project can be reviewed by that IRB instead of the University’s, but any project can go through the University of Utah’s IRB, because a student is working on the project. All applications through the University of Utah’s IRB do require a tenure-line, clinical, or research-track faculty member to be listed as the PI or as a faculty sponsor on the project. Your college faculty liaison can serve as the faculty sponsor, if needed. More information about who can submit an application is available: https://irb.utah.edu/submit-application/new-studies/who-can-submit.php  

The University of Utah’s IRB uses an online application system called ERICA. It will determine which sections you need to fill out based on your earlier answers, so that you automatically skip over sections that do not apply. You should be in a good position to submit an IRB application around the end of the P3 Fall semester. Please see the IRB’s website to access ERICA and learn more about how the application works. https://irb.utah.edu/submit-application/


Could someone walk me through how to submit an IRB application at the University of Utah?

Aubrey Jones was generous enough to create a video walk-through of how to submit an IRB application in ERICA, the University of Utah’s IRB application system. Her video will talk you through each step with advice that is tailored to the types of projects that are most typical. We can offer more help in person if needed, but please watch this video and look through the resources in the previous question to see if they answer your question.


Where can I present a poster about my project?

If you are not sure where you can present your project, this is a list of Pharmacy organizations that have meetings every year. There may also be more specialized meetings that would be a better fit for your topic, and many of those can be found in the extended list at the bottom.

National

Utah

Extended List of medical and pharmacy organizations: http://pharmacyservices.utah.edu/education/organizations.php

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