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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Book Review - Basic Methods of Medical Research

Author(s): Dr. A J Singh

Vol. 31, No. 3 (2006-07 - 2006-09)

Basic Methods of Medical Research by A Indrayan
(AITBS Publishers, New Delhi, 2006; Price 225)

This book will prove to be an asset to the people who need practical tips on medical research. It is conveniently priced at Rs. 225/-. Its size, shape and friendly appearance make it easy to handle. Going by the chapter titles the book promises to have an interactive mode. However, this mode is not uniformly retained in the narrative. (It is interactive only in patches). Many simple things have been clarified by the author in this book with suitable examples eg. differences between a questionnaire, a schedule, and a proforma. Sample size calculation has been described at length. But it should have been more simplified and user friendly. The author has taken the liberty to ignore basic measurements in Epidemiology viz. Incidence and prevalence. Being a statistician it was expected that he knew that researchers still make mistakes while calculating or reporting these rates. The concept of denominator/numerator should have been better explained with the help of simple diagram and formulae (and possibly some examples of common mistakes). Relegating these issues to glossary does not help.

A 15-page index seems to be quite exhaustive in a 376-page book. The author has also made a good effort to give an excellent battery of tips on reporting ethics for researchers. The book also gives guidelines for a good audiovisual presentation. Tables and diagrams add to the quality of book. Good illustrations with examples make a dull subject like statistics amply clear and interesting. Box items also lend a welcome variation to the presentation of the text. Each chapter starts with key terms and concepts. All chapters have list of references, which seem to be upto date. A 40+ page glossary is an added bonus.

However, there seems to be some confusion in authors’ description of ‘skewness’ (P. 171-172) Fig. 7.2 a is labeled as right skewed’ and fig 7.2 b as ‘left-skewed’. This description does not agree with interpretation of skewness by other authors. Definition given in glossary (p.356) is also not clear. Positive and negative skewness may also be clarified in next edition. Type III error has also not been described. Description of null hypothesis of no association’ between before and after treatment on P 238-239 is not clear. (Neither is interpretation of Table 9.2). Print quality is a bit cluttered - more breathing space is required. May be this was because of a compulsion to keep the size of the book small. Cover page is OK though personally I would have liked a better design and color scheme (why red and white + black!). Paper quality of cover page could have been improved. Though he has a passing reference on this issue on page 317-315 more tips on use of computer and statistical packages for medical research should also have been included (along with common errors people make which using such packages).

On the whole this book is worth purchasing by medical researchers, as it is sure to give you good value for your money.

Dr. A J Singh , Professor
Deptt. of Community Medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh
E-mail: [email protected]

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