Why I always get an ISBN for my research reports

Mooney-Somers, J, Erick, W, Brockman, D, Scott, R. & Maher, L (2008). Indigenous Resiliency Project Participatory Action Research Component: A report on the Research Training and Development Workshop, Townsville, February 2008. National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW. ISBN: 978 0 7334 2647 6.

See that bit at the end, that’s my first ISBN. I can’t recall where I got the notion from, and I wonder now at my presumptuousness. I don’t think it was standard practice in my research centre to get ISBNs for research reports. But I had just come out of a horrid job that I’d stayed put in to get publications (it didn’t really work). I was in a new job and determined to get as much on my CV as I could. The first output was a report on a training workshop. I was thoroughly engrossed in the methodology we were using (participatory action research) and genuinely interested in how it worked in practice. So writing about our process was something I was into, but it was also a publication. The ISBN though, that was kind of surprising.

I’m now the proud owner of 7 ISBNs.

For those who don’t know, an ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique code assigned to your ‘book’. It is super easy to get one if you know how and a complete mystery if you don’t (typical university*). You don’t need one; I suspect most reports published by academics don’t have one. Let me tell you why you should use them.

An ISBN “makes your book more discoverable” says the Australian provider of ISBNs, Thorpe-Bowker. Unsurprisingly a unique code means no confusion about which title is your book if it also has its own code attached. Well. I’m not entirely convinced this is a big deal for academics (honestly, Google your intended title to make sure it is unique-ish).

The much more compelling reason?

An ISBN means your book exists, it gets listed in registries. In the case of the report above, I got a call out of the blue from a library network asking if they could buy (buy!) several copies. Seriously, how did they even know it existed? It had an ISBN.

And then there’s this…

Copyright Acknowledgement

And this

doc20150115200039_Page_1

You see an ISBN means your work is published and that makes it subject to legal deposit rules (a quick look at Wikipedia suggests this is an international standard).

Legal Deposit is a requirement under the Copyright Act 1968 for publishers and self publishing authors to deposit a copy of works published in Australia with the National Library and when applicable, the deposit libraries in your home state. Legal Deposit ensures that Australian publications are preserved for use now and in the future. National Library of Australia (for more read this http://www.nsla.org.au/legal-deposit-australasia)

In NSW a publisher (e.g. your university if they secure the ISBN) is required to send copies of published material to The National Library of Australia, The State Library of New South Wales and The NSW Parliamentary Library. And because the publisher of my work is The University of Sydney, I have to send a copy to them as well.

That’s an very easy way to get my work into the Parliamentary library.

A major struggle in one of my research area’s (lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health) is the persistent charge that there is no evidence base. The charge is wrong; there is considerable evidence of disparities in health outcomes out there, but it is a hard perception to shake. So getting our biennial reports of the longest running (in the world) survey of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health on to the shelves of policy makers… That’s a win. You never who might stumble across them.**

*Your institution’s library should be able to help or look for the “Legal Deposit Officer”.

*I know, I know, policy-makers Goggle everything. I put them all online too – the University archive, this blog, and often twitter announcements. I’m all about covering the bases.

Putting my argument up front would have made my presentation better

I attended a workshop by Nick Hopwood on presenting qualitative research. It was full of tips and strategies – check out the storify – and useful frameworks; Hammersley’s framework for critical review of ethnography (reminding me again that I need to read Hammerlsey) and Kamler and Thompson’s framework for writing abstracts from their ‘Helping doctoral students write’ book (which I promptly ordered).

‘No’ by JDAC available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdac/15747357176 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0.
‘No’ by JDAC available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdac/15747357176 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0.

I’m a keen reader of Nick’s blog and have used his tips for conference presentations. For my last conference however, I failed to implement one: ‘turn it upside down’; that is, state my argument at the beginning rather than pull it all together at the end. This was because I love a good mystery novel and my co-presenter wasn’t keen.

At the workshop, Nick asked us to review a recent presentation in light of what we’d just learnt. I used this last conference presentation. And funnily enough, I could see how much better it would have been if I had turned it upside down. Here’s why.

The logic for turning the presentation upside down is that it helps you achieve your key motivation for presenting at all – give the audience a clear sense of your key take-home message. If someone pulls the plug on you 10 minutes in (maybe because the previous presenter rambled on), at least they know your argument. And Nick insists the audience is less likely to fall asleep. Luckily, I got the whole 12 minutes allotted at my conference presentation, and as far as I could tell, everyone stayed awake.

After the workshop three compelling reasons to ‘turn it upside down’ occurred to me.

First, if I’d made my big statement upfront then the audience might have been more engaged, curious as to how I’m going to convince them (i.e. the mechanism for ‘the audience is less likely to fall asleep’).

Second, it would have meant the rest of the content would be more likely to be relevant to that argument and not just self-justifying waffle about methods or demonstrations of how clever and well-read I am (no of course I didn’t do that).

The best reason I could think of? Making my argument up front would have given the audience time to digest it. Usually – and indeed in my case – the key argument is in the last slide or two. That gives them about a minute to catch it and process it before the chair calls for questions. This might be the reason for the measly post-presentation discussion at so many conferences. If I’d put it up front, they would have had a whole 10 or 11 minutes to think about my argument, in context, in relation to my data, and more importantly for engagement, in relation to their experience and knowledge of the phenomena. So I’m convinced by Nick’s advice.

But there is a problem. Putting your argument up front means you have to have one. I’m not being flippant here. How many qual presentations have you been to where the main game seemed to be to describe what participants said? You get to the end and think, well gee people really thought some stuff / felt some stuff / needed some stuff. But it can be a bit meh, you’re not sure what it all means, why it matters. I find this kind of qual research depressing; I am sure I have been guilty of it.

Making an argument is scary (people might disagree with you!). Arguments involve taking a stand, saying, this is how we should think about this phenomena. They require I work to persuade you, generally through presenting evidence, like my data analysis. If you think of it, data interpretation in basically an argument. I am claiming that mine is the best (or at least, most productive) way to understand what this participant means. Moving from description to interpretation can be a difficult things students to accomplish. It requires they develop confidence in their ability to interpret (not easy at all). Some tips I give my students:

Lyn Richards uses a great metaphor in her book ‘How to handle qualitative data’ for understanding the difference between data description and interpretation:

‘Somebody’s dead, they were shot and there’s a gun on the ground’ is the beginning of the detective’s questions. We hardly expect the enquiry to end with the facts of a dead body and discarded gun.

In her book ‘How to write a journal article in 12 weeks‘, Wendy Laura Belcher draws on a similar metaphor when talking about making arguments in papers:

Present evidence that supports your case, cross-examine evidence that doesn’t support your case, ignore evidence that is irrelevant to your case, and make sure the jury always knows whom you are accusing of what and why.

So, write the lawyer’s brief not the detective’s report. Can you imagine a prosecuting barrister standing up on front of the judge and jury and not telling them who they think did it? Or, to return to my topic, holding the punchline for the end? I would speculate that if you give the argument up front the audience starts doing some of the work for you – they know where you’re going so they are looking for the links. Hey’ that’s four reasons to put your argument first.

Last piece of advice from Wendy Laura Belcher to relieve you of some argument making anxiety:

Arguments don’t need to be unassailable or bullet proof, just interesting.

Sexual risk and health care seeking behaviour in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in north Queensland

The Indigenous Resiliency Project was part of the International Collaborative Indigenous Health Research Partnership (ID: 361621), a trilateral partnership between the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. There were parallel projects in Canada and New Zealand; together we aimed to examine the role of resilience in protecting Indigenous populations against sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.

In the qualitative arm we conducted community-based participatory projects with two communities. Check out the findings below:

In 2010 we used the qualitative work as the basis for community surveys. Again, researchers worked closely with community, in this case the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service. The cross-sectional survey covered location of usual residence, recent and past sexual activity, alcohol and other drug use, history of selected health outcomes and health service utilisation. We trained five young local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in research ethics and survey methodology. These peer researchers collected surveys from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 to 24 years at the Townsville Show, sporting events, shopping centres, a health service open day and a NAIDOC parade and community event.

Check out what we found: Scott, R, Foster, R, Oliver, L, Olsen, A, Mooney-Somers, J, Mathers, B, Micallef, J, Kaldor, J and Maher, L (accepted 22/10/2014). Sexual risk and health care seeking behaviour in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in north Queensland. Sexual Health

Note: this is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of the accepted article; I’ll post the link to the definitive publisher-authenticated version as soon as it is released.

The last outing for the Growing Up with Cancer project

In July, my Growing Up with Cancer (GUWC) project colleague Peter and I attend the 8th International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine. It was held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London and what a glorious venue for this project’s last outing!

The conference organisers staged a full exhibition of the Growing Up with Cancer self-portraits (experience all the artworks here) and featured the project in the conference programme.

GUWC self-portraits on show at the International Conference on Cancer in Teenagers and Young Adults
GUWC self-portraits on show at the International Conference on Cancer in Teenagers and Young Adults
GUWC self-portraits on show at the International Conference on Cancer in Teenagers and Young Adults
GUWC self-portraits on show at the International Conference on Cancer in Teenagers and Young Adults

We also presented three conference posters on the research process and the project findings. (If you’d like to quote or use these posters – please acknowledge them correctly)

What healthy young people think about youth cancer – Mooney-Somers, J & Lewis, P. “Little Annabel Harvey and her fight with cancer”: healthy young people’s representations of youth cancer. 8th International conference on teenage and young adult cancer medicine, London July 2104

Using creative methods in research with young people – Mooney-Somers, J & Smith, K. Beyond the Illustration of Research Data: Using professionally facilitated image making techniques to enable participants to describe, enhance and extend data originally captured using traditional text-based methods of research. 8th International conference on teenage and young adult cancer medicine, London July 2104 

Telling friends and partners that you had cancer – Lewis, P & Mooney-Somers, J. Becoming a survivor – young people disclosing cancer to new acquaintances and romantic partners. 8th International conference on teenage and young adult cancer medicine, London July 2104

 

Thinking about chlamydia management at Australian family planning clinics

Very pleased to be able to share the Chlamydia testing and management – FINAL REPORT. This is the outcome of a project that assessed chlamydia testing, contact management and re-testing practices of clinicians at Australian family planning clinics. The project was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Program Grant, and run by The Kirby Institute, UNSW. But the project could not have happened without the support of the management and senior staff of Family Planning organisations. We used a mixed methods approach – a survey of 168 clinicians (run by Joanne Micallef) and 11 focus groups with 70 clinicians (run by me).

Family planning organisations in Australia are state-based non-government organisations and clinics offering a variety of sexual and reproductive health services. There are 29 family planning clinics located across all Australian states and territories. These clinics have high case loads of young, sexually active women (primarily) and men at risk of chlamydia infection.

We’ve presented some findings at the Sexual Health conference in Darwin last year and we’re working on manuscripts. But here are the headlines:

TESTING

  • Screening for chlamydia was perceived by clinicians as routine and a priority.
  • Chlamydia screening facilitators:
    • high community awareness of chlamydia;
    • communicating to clients that chlamydia testing is normal;
    • good relationship between FPC/clinicians and client;
    • providing easy access to screening; and
    • the ability to offer screening without a physical examination.
  • Evaluating the success of chlamydia screening:
    • clinicians felt confident that chlamydia screening was going well at both the individual and FPC level;
    • clients widely accept the offer to be screened for chlamydia;
    • informal review of clinic notes by clinicians reassured them that screening was occurring; and
    • formal reviews through audits challenged the clinicians’ perception of chlamydia screening rates.
  • Challenges of chlamydia screening:
    • clients being considered low or no risk;
    • refusal by clients and dealing with decliners;
    • clinicians worrying that clients may be offended by screening offer so not offering.
  • Clinicians raised concerns about over-testing for chlamydia.

MANAGEMENT

  • Three quarters of clinicians suggested contact tracing the sexual partner(s) of clients in the 6 months prior to the chlamydia diagnosis.
  • Family planning clinicians were proactive in managing contacts of their clients:
    • almost all clinicians would encourage clients to tell partner(s)
    • three quarters would assist clients by providing a brochure containing information on chlamydia.
  • The Let Them Know website has become an important partner notification tool for family planning clinicians.
  • The Let Them Know website is a part of routine practice for many clinicians.
  • Use of the website varied between jurisdictions.
  • For clinicians not using the website, there is a desire to have access to this resource.
  • Contact managementfacilitators:
    • preparing clients for a positive test result;
    • low level of stigma associated with chlamydia; and
    • easy access to chlamydia screening for partners of clients.
  • Evaluating the success of contact management:
    • it is difficult to determine if clients notified their partner(s) and if partner(s) are tested and treated; and
    • there are few indicators for determining the success of contact management.
  • Challenges of contact management:
    • uncertainty around what is expected from clinicians; and
    • clinicians’ doubt around the importance of contact management for chlamydia.
  • The majority of clinicians acknowledged the benefits of patient delivered partner therapy although only 35% of clinicians ever used it. Most clinicians had concerns about using PDPT and its legal status was a major impediment to the uptake of the strategy.

RETESTING

  • Only 22% of clinicians recommend annual testing to all clients.
  • The majority (88%) of clinicians recommend clients return for retesting three months after a diagnosis of chlamydia.
  • The most common strategies for chlamydia retesting included recommending retesting at the time of initial treatment, explaining the importance of retesting after treatment and explaining the risk of repeat infection.
  • Most retesting was opportunistic; that is, a clinician noticed a recent positive chlamydia test recorded in a file and suggested a retest.
  • Evaluating the success of retesting:
    • it is difficult to determine the number of clients who return for retesting; and
    • clinicians were confident that new reminder systems were successful in getting clients to return for retesting.
  • Challenges to retesting:
    • clients often don’t return for retesting;
    • clinicians rely on opportunistic screening as retesting when clients return to the clinic;
    • uncertainty around the value of retesting for chlamydia; and
    • clinicians’ view that proactive retesting reminders undermine client responsibility.
  • ‘Proactive’ client reminder systems had mixed support from clinicians

At the intersection of marginalised identities – paper on LGBT injecting drug users with hepatitis c

A paper based on work we presented at the Social Research Conference on HIV, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases, Sydney, last year. Email me for a copy of find it here:

Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J, Treloar, C, & Maher, L. (2013) At the intersection of marginalised identities: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s experiences of injecting drug use and hepatitis C seroconversion Health and Social Care in the Community. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12026. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract: While the levels of injecting drug use among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations are high we know little about their experiences of injecting drugs or living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The loss of traditional family and cultural ties means connection to community is important to the wellbeing of LGBT populations. While some kinds of drug-use are normalised within many LGBT communities, injecting drug use continues to be stigmatised. This exploratory qualitative study of people with newly acquired HCV used semi-structured interviews to explore participants’ understandings and awareness of HCV, seroconversion, testing, diagnosis and treatment. We present a secondary thematic analysis of eight LGBT participants of the experience of injecting drugs, living with HCV and having a marginalised sexual or gender identity.

Community was central to the participants’ accounts. Drug-use facilitated connection to a chosen community by suppressing sexual or gender desires allows them to fit in to the mainstream; enacting LGBT community norms of behaviour; and connection through shared drug-use. Participants also described feeling afraid to come out about their drug-use to LGBT peers because of the associated stigma of HCV. They described a similar stigma associated with HIV within the PWID community. Thus the combination of being LBGT/living with HIV (a “gay” disease) and injecting drugs/living with HCV (a “junkie’s” disease) left them in a kind of no man’s land. Health professionals working in drug and HCV care services need to develop capacity in providing culturally appropriate health care for LGBT people who inject drugs.

Growing Up with Cancer self-portrait exhibition at Federation Square

This week the Growing Up with Cancer self-portraits are spending a week at Federation Square, Melbourne. This amazing venue gave the exhibition a whole new audience as school groups, tourists and lunching office workers made their way through the Fed Sq complex or to the Ian Potter Museum.

Two of the artist-participants (with proud mums and dads and kids) attended the Tuesday launch. We heard speeches from Michael Carr-Gregg (adolescent psychologist and long-time CanTeen supporter), Lachlan Korvin (CanTeen patient member and board member), Melia Bartholomeusz (GUWC participant and artist) and Peter Lewis (on behalf of GUWC team).

   GUWC at Fed Sq   GUWC at Fed Sq    GUWC at Fed SqGUWC at Fed Sq

The exhibition is now at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (in time for the “Bridging the Gap: Meeting the needs of adolescents and young adults (AYA) wherever they receive Treatment” conference). It will be back in Sydney in May for a month at the Downing Centre.

An electronic copy of the exhibition catalogue is available here; or email me for a printed version.

Special thanks to Sandy Bliim who flew back from Nauru to set things up!

 

At the intersection of two marginalised identities – conference paper

At the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases, Sydney today, watching my colleague Rachel Deacon presented our paper “At the intersection of two marginalised identities: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s experiences of injecting drug use and hepatitis C seroconversion”

Abstract:

Introduction: Although international research shows higher levels of injecting drug use and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations, there is limited social research on the experiences of LGBT people who inject drugs (PWID) or live with HCV.

Approach: An Australian qualitative study of understandings and experiences of HCV in people provided an unexpected data set of 8 LGBT injectors living with hepatitis C. This paper presents findings of an opportunistic thematic analysis of these data.

Findings: We argue that same-sex relationships as a social context for injecting has important implications for health promotion and health provision around risk reduction practices, understanding initiation to injecting, injecting as a relationship practice in creating intimacy, and relationships as a source of support during HCV or drug treatment. Many of our participants described tensions around their place in two communities, an LGBT community and a community of people who injects drugs. The loss of connection to a chosen community means the absence of vital support networks, which may place additional stressors on those considering HCV or drug treatment.

Implications: We argue that meeting the needs of this population involves health professionals developing relationships with LGBT community health organisations, and developing capacity in providing LGBT health care, while LGBT community organizations must raise awareness of hepatitis C in LGBT communities. It is vital that we reduce stigma and potentially negative consequences for people whose experiences exist at the intersection of these two marginalised identities.

Why LBQ women don’t use dental dams: Australian research on LBQ women’s sexual health

I had the pleasure of presenting at ACON’s Big Day In. ACON is NSW’s largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation; Big Day In is their annual staff development day. I turned up early to see the L Panel – several of the organisation’s fierce women who work across programs on lesbian and same-sex attracted women health. It was led by the lovely Alan Brotherton – who chairs ACON’s Lesbian Advisory Committee. My role for the day was to give a presentation on some of the work I’ve been doing in LBQ women’s health. I wanted to talk about: What we know about sexual behaviour and sexual health in LBQ women and women’s perceptions of STI risk, and then facilitate a discussion about what these research findings mean for health promotion.

Check out the slides