Every month, the CTSI Stories Blog will post excerpts from ongoing conversations with the institute’s co-directors.
Below, Harriet Kitzman offers her takeaways from the Mini Summer Research Institute, which was held on June 19.
On the Mini Summer Research Institute:
Overall, I thought it went very well, and many of the presentations were exceptionally good. The morning session covered a significant amount of new methodological information, and it had the grand design in terms of community-centered health, which Nana Bennett covered. Tim Dye addressed new sources of quantitative data — new sources of big data. Sally Norton offered new approaches to qualitative research, unfamiliar to many in the room but increasingly called for by new funding mechanisms. This was combined with the example from Helena Temkin-Greener, that was very helpful to many. And, Sally Thurston, of course, did a very clear job in discussing the challenges of design and analysis.
On why it’s important to involve collaborators early when putting together a study design:
Sally Thurston’s talk contributed to the spirit of collaboration by describing the worst thing that can happen; it occurs when people are working on a grant, and they sit and talk amongst themselves for an entire year. They get this grand design of what they’re going to do, but then they get to the budget and they realize as they’re doing it that they can’t write a budget description, because they haven’t been clear on how they will conduct the work and analyze the data. And then, they go to biostatistics and they hear, “For this to be a credible piece, your sample has to be three times as large as it is,” and they know it is unrealistic to obtain the sample with the funds available. So, the notion of getting those pieces together early and working on the steps in design and implementation collaboratively is really important.
On improvements for next year:
I always think of things in terms of what one could have been done, but during lunch, there was a nice dialogue. So I think the lunch break could have been longer — maybe one less presentation in the afternoon and a little more time for dialogue would have been good. But all in all, it was the first time we’d done this, and I think what it showed is that there are a lot of people interested in the questions about where these fields are going and who might be willing to join in the pursuit.
Previous director’s updates:
June 2014 – Karl Kieburtz gives an overview of the CTSI’s six pillars.