Welcome to HETI’s Research Blog

Dr Suzana Sukovic, Executive Director Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice

Welcome to HETI’s blog dedicated to educational research and evidence based practice. It is exciting for our young portfolio to have this space for sharing research experiences and reflections.

The focus of this blog is research, evaluation and evidence based practice related to the education of a large and diverse health workforce.
Our intended audience is primarily NSW Health, but we are hoping to connect with the communities of practice nationally and internationally. Academics are most welcome as readers and contributors.

We intend to make this blog a collaborative space where we can share news, posts about current developments in the field, results of research and evaluation projects, reflections on educational research and any interesting insights we gain from our daily work.

How can you connect with us?
• Subscribe for blog updates
• Send us a post. Anyone interested in sharing results of their educational research, evaluation and evidence based practice in NSW Health is welcome to submit posts for publishing on the blog. We are also happy to receive articles from academics and professionals outside our organisation.
• Contact: HETI-HEP@health.nsw.gov.au

We are looking forward to your posts and comments!



Health Education in Practice Symposium: keynote and launch speakers. Ms Elizabeth Koff, Professor Pip Pattison, Professor Shirley Alexander

The Health Education in Practice Symposium is proud to announce a line-up of prominent speakers. Join us to hear from Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary, NSW Health who will launch HETI’s journal, Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning, and keynote addresses from Professor Phillipa Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Sydney, and Professor Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education and Students) at the University of Technology, Sydney.

You will also hear from invited speakers, Professor Tim Shaw, Director of Research in Implementation Science and eHealth at the University of Sydney, and Adjunct Professor Annette Solman, Chief Executive, Health Education and Training Institute. Conjoint Associate Professor Amanda Walker will be the symposium MC. Check our Speakers page for their biographical details.

You still have time to register your attendance and submit an abstract on the symposium website.


Research. Collaborate. Translate.

8 May 2018 | Sydney


Health Education in Practice Symposium 2018We invite educators and researchers from NSW Health, universities and the broader professional community to a one-day symposium to discuss current trends in evaluation and research related to health education of the workforce. The event is a rare opportunity to collaborate and learn across different health sectors, focusing on practice-based and academic educational research. On the day, we will also be launching the inaugural issue of the Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning.

As the host, HETI (Health Education and Training Institute), believes this symposium is an important contribution to a diverse and inclusive community of practice. HETI works within the practice-based NSW Health context, and is well connected with academia. As educators, we know the importance of connecting different domains and are always looking for new ways to link bright ideas with strong educational practice.



Paper proposals are invited on the following themes

  • Research in education of the health workforce.
  • Evaluation of health educational programs.
  • Topics related to evidence-based health education, including theoretical considerations.
  • Issues related to conducting educational research and evaluation in practice.

There will be opportunities to prepare presented papers for a special issue of the Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning.



Abstract submission deadline: Monday 26 March 2018 at 10:00am (AEST)
Authors advised of acceptance: Monday 2 April 2018
Registration deadline: Monday 23 April 2018 at 10:00am (AEST)

For more details, abstract submissions and registration, see the symposium site http://www.cvent.com/d/ttq213/1Q.

Dr. Peter William Stubbs, Research Coordinator, Educational Research and Evidence Based Practice

As my previous research utilised quantitative research methods, I had never considered using qualitative research methods until recently. I had felt it was non-generalizable, subjective and anecdotal. This stemmed from a misunderstanding of what constitutes qualitative research. In research and clinical practice in the health professions, there is often a partisan view of qualitative and quantitative research, with an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Although the gap is closing, general discussion in the area suggests that these opposing viewpoints are common. In this post, qualitative research processes will be described and an argument will be provided for the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods in research.


What is qualitative research and anecdotal evidence?

Qualitative research is frequently used in education, nursing and social sciences research and can be useful to shape clinical practice. Koch and Harrington (1998) noted that the common general criticisms of qualitative research are that it is subjective, anecdotal and non-generalizable. If qualitative research was merely anecdotal, scepticism of qualitative research is justified. However, qualitative research is not anecdote. The definitions of qualitative research and anecdotal evidence highlight this difference. Although books have been devoted to defining qualitative research, Guest, Namey and Mitchell (2013, pp. 3) provide a succinct definition:


 Qualitative research

“situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that makes the world visible. These practices transform the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.”

Anecdotal evidence

”informal stories.…individual narratives….any unsystematic accounts.… [with] singularity and limited replication”  (see Nunn, 2011)

Qualitative research is evidence-based and has a systematic methodology. For example, as outlined by Grandheim and Lundman (2004), qualitative content analysis should follow a series of steps, that when followed ensure the validity and reliability of research findings. These steps can differ between research groups and methodologies. Nevertheless, there are systematic and methodological approaches to qualitative research, which is similar to quantitative research. So long as there is transparency and sufficient detail in the methodology, if a qualitative study is deemed trustworthy, the results can be applied (or not-applied) based on the similarity of the studied groups.


How is quality qualitative research assessed?

Cope (2014) proposed that qualitative research can be assessed using five measures: credibility, dependability, confirmability, transferability and authenticity. Assessing adherence to this framework ensures the trustworthiness of the underlying conclusions.


Is there a place for qualitative research in health?

Qualitative research serves a different purpose to quantitative research and can answer different questions. Qualitative research can shape practice and provide insights that quantitative research cannot provide. Green and Britten (1998, pp. 1230) state:

Qualitative research can investigate practitioners’ and patients’ attitudes, beliefs, and preferences, and the whole question of how evidence is turned into practice. The value of qualitative methods lies in their ability to pursue systematically the kinds of research questions that are not easily answerable by experimental methods.”

Quantitative research can inform us that one approach is ‘better’ than another approach, to a degree of certainty, however, qualitative research can tell us the opinions and values of people undertaking the different approaches. Both types of information are important, and both types can shape a program to be more effective for learners.

Mixed methods approaches, through the eyes of different healthcare professions and different stakeholder groups are important in shaping healthcare education research. Qualitative and quantitative research are complementary and not competing. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Behavioural trends with corroborating statistical findings can strengthen the conclusions of research. The triangulation of results will lead to a greater understanding and increased effectiveness of healthcare education programs – a goal of all educational research in health.



Cope, D. (2014). Methods and Meanings: Credibility and Trustworthiness of Qualitative Research. Oncology Nursing Forum 41: 89-91.
Guest, G. et al. (2013). Qualitative Research: Defining and Designing. SAGE.
Graneheim, U. & Lundman, B (2004). “Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness.” Nurse Education Today 24: 105-112.
Green, J. & Britten, N. (1998). Qualitative research and evidence based medicine. BMJ 316: 1230-1232.
Koch, T. & Harrington, A. (1998). “Reconceptualizing rigour: the case for reflexivity. Journal of Advanced Nursing 28: 882-890.
Nunn, R. (2011). “Mere anecdote: evidence and stories in medicine. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 17: 920-926.

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice

A Let’s Talk Research event was hosted by the Educational Research and Evidence Based practice portfolio in November on the topic of social media and its role in research and professional communication and publication. The event, Let’s Talk Research: Tweet, Post, Publish! featured a presentation by Dr Suzana Sukovic on the ways that writing professionally for Twitter, blogs, and magazines differs. During the presentation, the HETI Research blog was offered as a platform for those interested in sharing their professional work about health education and participating in blog writing on an established platform. This post is a follow up to the event, to encourage those wanting to write but who haven’t yet for various reasons.

Let's Talk Research Event November 2017

Photo from the HETI Let’s Talk Research: tweet, post, publish! event in November 2017

Blog writing is distinct from other mediums, and a skill that comes with practice. A familiarity with the format, whether as a reader or writer, will improve your knowledge while confidence will come through practice. However, a few things can guide a beginning blogger, which this post will outline. This is not a guide to starting a blog, but rather suggestions based on the profile outlined by the HETI Research blog, which is a professional research blog.

A blog’s purpose

A blog post is a medium distinguished by its specific audience, tone, length, and visual format. Blog posts explore a single idea based on research and evidence using a light and accessible tone. Belle Cooper’s post, How I write research-based posts, provides tips on how to approach idea gathering and online research for blogs. A post’s content should be substantial but still be read in a single sitting, without being theoretically dense or complex. Instead, a blog post should aim to interweave theoretical concepts seamlessly with reflection, critique, and analysis.

S. Sukovic 2015, "blog post - light but substantial"

S. Sukovic 2015, “blog post – light but substantial”

A successful blog post will present a succinct and engaging dissection or exploration of an idea relevant to a specific audience. It will be clearly linked to research or evidence, with hyperlinks if possible, so that a reader can continue with further reading. Hyperlinks can drastically reduce a word count and connect your work to that of colleagues and also relates your research to a wider context

Knowing your audience:

A blog should target a specific audience to be relevant. Understanding your audience/s will also help to develop a blog’s focus. A clear idea of who you are writing for will also help clarify how to approach writing about a concept or idea. In professional and research blogs, this may include reflecting on your own practice and asking the following questions of either yourself, colleagues, or organisationally.

  • What are the audience’s interests?
  • What are the pain points?
  • What am I curious about at the moment?
  • Has anything come up that has sparked interest?

Belle Cooper asserts the magic happens with content when:

What your audience needs plus your unique angle minus the content published by others

What makes a successful blog post as outlined by Belle Beth Cooper (https://blog.ghost.org/research-posts/)

For example, HETI’s Research Blog primarily targets NSW Health, however, it also hopes to connect with communities of practice nationally and internationally. Therefore, the blog’s primary focus will be on research, evaluation and evidence based practice in NSW and Australia but will also consider the education of large and diverse health workforces internationally.


How should you write it? The tone of a blog should be light and direct. It is not conversational nor is it formal. A way to conceptualise a blog’s tone can be to remember the purpose and audience of a blog. Blogs exist to disseminate knowledge, easily read in a single sitting, in a visually stimulating format. A particularly astute way of describing how to write a blog post is to keep it brief, be vivid, and be connected.

  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short and direct
  • Avoid jargon (especially in health, which is rife with acronyms), by explaining and contextualizing any theoretical terms and providing full names for acronyms


A blog post is not the place for in depth or complex theoretical discussion, as the average blog length doesn’t allow for more than a single idea or concept to be explored. A post shouldn’t be heavy or dense with theory and research, but be grounded in research and evidence. Blog posts present information in a manner that can be reflective, critical, summative, or instructive. A good way to think about blog posts is as an opportunity to be reflective or critical about your own practice, research, and experiences and map it to literature and evidence or vice versa.

For authors of long form pieces, such as journal articles, a blog post is a chance to present your research in a more accessible and condensed format. This can link to a longer piece, and be shared. There are also guides on writing a blog post from your journal article. A blog post, however, is not a journal abstract nor is it a mini-journal article. It may, however, lay the foundations for an idea that you can further and make into an article.


Interested in writing for us? Send us a post.

  • Anyone interested in sharing results of their educational research, evaluation and evidence based practice in NSW Health is welcome to submit posts for publishing on the blog. We are also happy to receive articles from academics and professionals outside our organisation.
  • Contact us at HETI-HEP@health.nsw.gov.au

We are looking forward to your posts!

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice (HETI)

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice (HETI)

Information literacy and research are part of many graduates’ formal education. The transition from using these skills in an academic environment to a professional context, however, may be daunting. Unfamiliarity with the culture of an organisation may see graduates struggle to recognise opportunities to use their skills.

Information literacy manifests as the product of implicit and explicit social activities that are situated and collective. Organisational information literacy is practised in a context and it’s up to the researcher to understand what it is in a specific setting. Graduates streaming into health education and research may have the necessary skills, but what they require is to be enculturated into the organisation.

Unlike at university, information literacy in workplace settings cannot be seen as a goal in itself but a means of achieving goals and without it, one can feel stuck. One can feel as though the norms and values tied to information literacy are not easily accessible, as they are not systematically made explicit.

Participating in a community of practice, however, begins a process of learning where one can acquire the skills needed for full membership to a community. By working directly in a professional context, you can acquire skills by engaging in knowledge processes.

How this process is approached, however, can impact its success. Lave & Wenger advocate for the legitimate peripheral participation model (LPP), where newcomers begin on the peripheral and occupy an observational lookout post, and gradually become more involved to assemble and absorb the culture of the practice. This occurs naturally for many graduates through the process of coming into the workforce at entry-level and working upwards. Nevertheless, transferring across widely different contexts, such as academic to professional organisations, can be disorienting. From my experience, coming from information management to health education research, there a few things that can benefit the transition:

  • Learning the language of a sector
    • Learning what the frame of reference and vocabularies used are helps one learn to speak the language of a sector. For example, is it andragogy or adult learning? Medical data or health data? Digital literacy or e-health capabilities?
    • Knowing the language allows one to communicate effectively and retrieve information accurately
  • Pursue opportunities and experiences that align with your target sector, as suggested by Steven Chang in his presentation, Journeying from health to academic librarianship:
    • Join a professional association committee, volunteer, work on projects
    • Consider your own experiences and take time to document and be reflective

Starting out in an unfamiliar sector, pursuing opportunities to observe and even participate are immeasurably helpful. In my case, I was working at HETI, which as an organisation, has a commitment to contributing to a community of practice through engagement with health educators, researchers, and with the scholarship of teaching and learning. Let’s Talk Research events run monthly at HETI that give staff opportunities to learn about and engage in conversations about research and evaluation. HETI also provides opportunities for internal and external engagement through online publication, which includes this blog and the eJournal, Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning. This environment has allowed me to develop my understanding and practice as a researcher gradually, and encouraged me to reflect on the process.

The practice of writing this blog is an example of my gradual interaction with a community of practice, health education research. By engaging with the HETI online blog platform, I was able to map my experience as a newcomer to the sector to relevant literature. The process facilitated and encouraged reflection on the sector, my own practice, and the community of practice. As an exercise, identifying and writing a piece for a research blog allowed me to participation as a way of learning, where I was absorbing and being absorbed into the culture of practice.

This article was based on these readings:

Chang, S. 2017, Journeying from health to academic librarianship. [online] figshare. Available at: https://figshare.com/articles/Journeying_from_health_to_academic_librarianship/5562262 [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].

Clarke, S. & Thomas, Z. 2011. Health librarians: developing professional competence through a ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ model. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 28, 326-330.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Lloyd, A. 2011. Trapped between a Rock and a Hard Place: What Counts as Information Literacy in the Workplace and How Is It Conceptualized? Library Trends, 60, 277-296.

Lundh, A. H., Limberg, L. & Lloyd, A. 2013. Swapping settings: researching information literacy in workplace and in educational contexts. Information Research [Online], 18. Available: http://InformationR.net/ir/18-3/colis/paperC05.html.

Dr Suzana Sukovic

In the previous blog post we invited our readers to tell us how they think about the relationship between evaluation and research. If you wish to participate in the poll, please refer to our previous post or go straight to the poll (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HETIBlog_ResearchEval)

In this post, I will consider the main similarities and differences, and potential audience to communicate evaluation and research results.

The main connection between evaluation and research is that both aim to answer some questions in a systematic way. Both contribute to our learning and enhance our knowledge.

The main point of difference between the two, is their purpose. Evaluation is a program-oriented assessment. It is making judgments about value, effectiveness, relationships between programs and so on. Research, on the other hand, is problem and enquiry-oriented. Original research is about the creation of new knowledge.

Let’s look at some definitions.

Definition of evaluation:

  1. An evaluation is an assessment, conducted as systematically and impartially as possible, of an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme, sector, operational area or institutional performance. It analyses the level of achievement of both expected and unexpected results by examining the results chain, processes, contextual factors and causality using appropriate criteria such as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. An evaluation should provide credible, useful evidence-based information that enables the timely incorporation of its findings, recommendations and lessons into the decision-making processes of organizations and stakeholders.
  2. The purposes of evaluation are to promote accountability and learning. Evaluation aims to understand why — and to what extent — intended and unintended results were achieved and to analyse the implications of the results. Evaluation can inform planning, programming, budgeting, implementation and reporting and can contribute to evidence-based policymaking, development effectiveness and organizational effectiveness.

United Nations Evaluation Group Norms and Standards for Evaluation (2016, p. 10)

Definition of research

“Research is defined as the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it leads to new and creative outcomes.” (2016 HERDC Specifications for the collection of 2015 data p. 6)

Both evaluation and research investigate something we don’t know. The ways of knowing are essentially the same, so evaluation and research share the same research methods and techniques. For this reason, it makes sense to say that we do research whenever we do evaluation (but not the other way round).

Participants, on the other hand, are a point of difference. In evaluation, participants are people involved in or related to the program. In research, participants can be anyone whose participation is relevant for the study.

It is important to remember that evaluation and research can merge almost seamlessly. For example, evaluation findings may reveal issues which require an investigative research approach. Also, research often leads to the creation of new programs, which may be evaluated to provide additional and practice-based data for research. It is important to communicate the results of evaluation and research because they provide evidence-based answers.

But, who is the audience? It depends on the context and nature of the project. Evaluation always has purpose and audience in its local context – organisation, community, governing or funding body. Evaluation results may also be of interest to a broader professional community to inform their practice. Results of research projects, on the other hand, need to be reported locally, may provide answers for local purposes, and may inform practice, but the main audience is usually the broader scholarly community. An understanding of who may be interested in the findings of evaluation and research will inform decisions about the dissemination of results.

Evaluation & research: similarities & differences

Evalation And Research Table

Evaluation And Research Table

Dr Suzana Sukovic

The question about similarities and differences between evaluation and research comes up quite often at HETI, especially as we work on establishing some new practices. The blog post Ways of framing the difference between research and evaluation  is a useful place to start conversations about a possible answer. The post summarises different ways of conceptualising a relationship between research and evaluation. It considers the main reasons for thinking about research and evaluation in terms of dichotomy, overlap, evaluation as subset of research or research as subset of evaluation.


What is the relationship between evaluation and research in your opinion? Let’s us know what you think by completing this poll.

Better Evaluation and we are interested to see whether there is any difference between answers now and four years ago.

Health Education in Practice Tile

HEP: Health Education in Practice

HETI is delighted to invite submissions for the inaugural issue of Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning an electronic journal dedicated to research and evaluation within health education in practice.

Articles on the results of research into and evaluation of practice-based education of the workforce in health, including discussions of theoretical issues related to health education are sought, with the aim of:

• enhancing education and training of the workforce by sharing best available evidence from practice-based and academic research

• contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly in health

• fostering communication and connections between communities of practice with similar interests

• promoting innovation in health education and communication of findings.

Education-in-practice papers will be selected on the basis of editorial assessment and all research and evaluation articles will be submitted for double-blind peer review.

Articles will be published periodically throughout the year and compiled in two issues a year.

Due date for submissions for the first issue is Friday 22 January 2018.

For further details and online submissions visit:  https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/HEP

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