Many people want to improve their self-advocacy skills, but they don’t know how to get started. If you or someone in your family were recently diagnosed with PF, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the information and misinformation available online. You can begin standing up for yourself and your health by learning about the research that’s been published in the field. Familiarizing yourself with research methods and publications can help you understand the causes of and effective treatments for PF.
How to Find Research about PF
There are many scientific journals that have published research about pulmonary wellness. For example, our research on systemic enzymes has been published in scientific journals like MDPI, Medwin Publishers, and Biotechnology Reports.
All of the sources mentioned above make sure that their research is peer-reviewed, which means that the research went through an extensive evaluation process by qualified scientists within the industry. Prior to publication, these scientists or “peers” tested the quality and credibility of the research.
Though it’s tempting to find answers to common PF questions on search engines like Google, it’s difficult to determine the credibility of those results. To have more confidence in the research you’re reading, try searching for news about PF through publishers that review their information thoroughly. That way, you can also trust that the clinical trials were conducted safely because they were supervised and approved by an Ethics Committee or an IRB (an Institutional Review Board).
If you’re hoping to learn about PF in a less formal way, try joining our community forum or attending a support group meetup on Zoom. In these spaces, you can be sure that everyone contributing has personal experience with PF.
How to Understand Research about PF
There is a lot of exciting and uplifting research happening to help people with PF. To stay in the loop and be aware of any progress, you can take time now to understand the structure of a research publication. At first these publications can seem very confusing, but don’t worry – it’s just like watching a movie!
The Structure of a Research Publication
When you first open a research publication (such as our recent publication here), you’ll see this basic information:
- The name of the journal. If this publication were a movie, “journal” would refer to the studio that featured the film.
- The title of the study. If this were a movie, you’d see the title on the big screen and know the show’s about to begin! One of the most respected kinds of research is called a randomized controlled trial. When you see those words in the title, you know you’re about to read something that meets the gold standard of research worldwide.
- The authors. In movie terms, these are the people that came up with the story idea, directed the movie, and the people who are telling the story (such as the writers and narrators).
- The abstract. This is a brief summary of the paper, from start to finish. If all movie trailers contained spoilers about the storyline, then they’d be known as abstracts too!
- Keywords. These words give you hints about the main themes or categories you’re about to explore. If this were a movie, the title would be too long to remember… so you’d want to think of its keywords instead. That way you could find this movie again and maybe even recommend it to a friend.
Now it’s time for the publication to officially begin! Here are each of the sections or scenes you’ll see:
- Introduction: This is the beginning of the story, where the authors (or researchers) explain the problem that the main characters are trying to solve. In our case, we are trying to find ways to fight PF now!
In the introduction, the authors share the questions that were on their mind before they created the research – and they often do it in the form of an if/then statement (also known as a hypothesis). With research related to PF, you might see a hypothesis like, “If we give participants this medicine, then their disease will progress slower” or “If participants try this dietary supplement, then their symptoms will lessen and their quality of life will improve.”
For the introduction, you can imagine a narrator in a movie saying, “Once upon a time…” and then setting the scene. They’d introduce the main characters, show you what their lives look like, and give you a clear sense of the problems these people face. You’d hear the narrator’s perspective on what might help these people, but ultimately you’ll have to watch the whole movie to see if that ends up being true.
- Materials and Methods: This is the approach that the researchers take while conducting their study. If this were a movie, you’d simply be seeing the next scene where the main characters are trying to solve their problems. Since it’s a formal research publication, however, you’ll likely see more complicated terms like double blind and placebo controlled.
In double-blind, placebo controlled studies, neither the researchers nor the participants know who is getting a real treatment and who is getting a lookalike. In cinematic terms, no one knows key details of the story until the very end. Both the narrator and the characters are “blinded,” and this allows everyone to experience the movie without bias or influence from other people’s personal judgements or beliefs.
For a movie, the materials and methods are all the scenes leading up to the climax (or biggest moment of the film). They help us get to know what the characters will go through and what will happen to them throughout the movie.
- Results: This is the outcome of the study. It usually includes diagrams, tables, or other visual depictions of data.
For studies that focus on potential treatments for PF, the results might include information on participants’ blood oxygen levels, overall mental health, or frequency of symptoms (like coughing fits). Results would show what was happening with the participants before and after they received the treatment versus the placebo (or a lookalike, such as a sugar pill instead of the actual medication or supplement).
For a movie, the results are the climax. That is the highly anticipated moment where you get to see what happens to the characters after they try solving their problem. Remember that it’s not necessarily the end of the story; rather, it marks a major moment in the plot.
- Discussion: Now that the results have been shown, the authors of the study help you interpret them. What a relief that you don’t have to comb through all those numbers or memorize any of those charts! Instead, the researchers will point out exactly what you need to know by describing the significance and accuracy of everything that came before.
In our movie analogy, the discussion is when we hear from the narrators once again. They share their perspective on the events that transpired, and they help you understand what it all means. This part is great because the narrator is showing you any important details you may have missed.
- Conclusions: In the final section of the publication, the authors explain the ways that the research applies to you and make suggestions for future research that needs to be done in the field. They make practical suggestions for other researchers, and they may leave you with inspiring advice that you can carry into your daily life.
At this point in the movie example, it’s the final scene. Hopefully the narrators will tie together any loose ends, but they might leave you hanging with a cliffhanger instead! Either way, you’ll be left wanting a sequel.
At the very end of a movie, the credits start rolling. Research publications have something similar in order to recognize those who’ve helped with or inspired the process. These are known as “Acknowledgments” and “References.” While you wait for more research (or the sequel), you can take a look at the References and find a similar study to explore.