Please give a brief background: (Employment, interests of study, special honors/certifications etc.)
I am the immediate past president of the Dysphagia Research Society. I am a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and have a joint appointment in the Department of Surgery – Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. I am also the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Policy and Compliance. In the latter role, I am the Institutional Official for the human subjects and animal subjects research programs and oversee the compliance activities (IRB, IACUC, stem cells) in those areas for the campus. I have had federal funding for my research program since 2000.
If you could conduct any research study on any topic/issue (meaning money/funding, time, subjects, IRB, etc. are NOT a problem!), what would it be? In other words, what’s your dream study?!
My dream study would be to investigate mechanisms of disease or disorders in the area of dysphagia–which is what we currently do in my laboratory– but to also apply these studies to behavioral and functional changes with treatment in human subjects. That is, what can we learn in mechanistic and human behavioral studies simultaneously, with results from each avenue leading to clear interpretations and hypotheses that could eventually benefit patient care.😮🤯
If you could change one thing about having to do research, what would it be?
The administrative burden would be the one thing that I change. Data from the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) show that investigators with federal funding spend 44% of their time on administrative matters related to their research programs and this takes them out of the laboratory. This level of administrative effort has changed very little over time.😕 [sidenote–I’ll volunteer assistant so you can give us more evidence!!😉)
What’s one thing you think clinicians should be excited about in our field regarding research?
What’s one thing you think researchers should be excited about in our field regarding clinical practice?
The potential for collaboration with clinicians to learn from those providing clinical care about the most important unknowns in their world, and to have the opportunity to apply their research skills to those gaps in knowledge.👍
I feel the Results section of studies can be the most misunderstood or difficult to navigate through, what tidbits or tips/tricks can you share to help clinicians process these sections?
The results are just part of the story that the author is telling📖. In a research paper, there is a great deal of consistency across papers as to how the story is set up. The results are related to the methods, and of course to the questions that are asked in the introduction. Interpretations of the results are found in the discussion section. This is a very reassuring structure that you can rely on!🤓
I always read the abstract first to gain an overall understanding of the results in a summary fashion. Then, I look at all of the tables and graphs in a paper before I read anything else📈. This helps me to frame the findings within the overall context of the story that is being told.
Could you pick one technical jargon (e.g. “linear regression” “ANOVA” “two-tailed test” etc.) to explain in a relatable and easily understandable way (real-life, simple examples get bonus points😉)?
Statistical thinking is atually something you do every day! For instance, you may predict the likelihood of rain based on how gray the sky looks, and you are assessing this based on your past experience. But, there are ways to quantify this.🤔
Regression is a statistic that quantifies the prediction of a variable (in our example, rainfall) based on other variables. Rainfall is often predicted based on temperature and humidity data. Regression findings (such as the R-squared) are used to show (out of a max of 1.0) how much of the variance is accounted for by your humidity and temperature data.
R-squared is called the “coefficient of determination” and this number tells you how well the regression line corresponds to the real data points. The more variance that is accounted for (that is, closer to 1.0), the better your prediction model is. So if close to 1.0, this means that the temperature and humidity data are strongly predictive of rainfall.
What’s the ONE thing you think is important for practicing clinicians to know/understand when reading research?
That the author is telling a story and it doesn’t have to be scary. Reading research papers is a great way to keep current on information flow in our field and to employ evidence-based practice techniques.😁
What’s ONE thing you think is important for researchers to know/understand about clinical practice?
That our research goals are based on unknowns or gaps in knowledge, which are often identified in clinical practice.😉
What is something you believe researchers could do better to #bridgethegap?
What is something you believe clinicians could do better to #bridgethegap?
I am going to address these two things together. This is a two-way street, despite differences that may exist in culture. Clinicians and researchers must work together to identify goals and priorities and to test hypotheses. This is for the greater good of the care of patients with dysphagia!👍 Research does not always need to have a direct clinical benefit but instead could add to the knowledge base that forms a potential foundation for future clinical benefit. This recognition is important.
Can you provide your contact email if clinicians want to reach out? (Honors system for everyone to be respectful of your time)
I think we are all super appreciative of all Dr. Nadine Connor’s contributions to our field and her time!!❤️