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Original Research

From sea to shining sea: making collaborative rural research work

Submitted: 16 January 2009
Published: 15 June 2009

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Author(s) : Moffitt PM, Mordoch E, Wells C, Martin Misener R, McDonagh MK, Edge DS.

Pertice MoffittElaine MordochCarla WellsRuth Martin MisenerMeg McDonaghDana Edge

Citation: Moffitt PM, Mordoch E, Wells C, Martin Misener R, McDonagh MK, Edge DS.  From sea to shining sea: making collaborative rural research work. Rural and Remote Health 9: 1156. (Online) 2009. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au

ABSTRACT

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Rural researchers collaborate on many levels to collect and analyze data, develop research reports and disseminate findings. While this collaboration is critical, there is a dearth of literature about research team collaboration within all stages of the research process. The purpose of this article is to discuss the research experience of 10 rural researchers scattered across Canada who participated in the study, Health Research: Accessible, Applicable and Useable for Rural Communities and Practitioners. Using focused ethnography, one aim of this study was to discover how research is utilized in rural and remote settings. The necessity of establishing networks to collect and manage data, and jointly analyze 72 qualitative transcripts from different geographical sites led to innovations and unexpected lessons learned. The research design provided significant opportunities to mentor undergraduate, masters and doctoral nursing students and to enhance the development of newly graduated doctoral nurses. These opportunities are crucial in the development of new researchers and in creating ongoing interest in rural health research. In this article, we discuss how the research process evolved, the mentoring process used, the barriers identified related to collaboration across vast distances, and the strategies employed to enhance the study’s trustworthiness. We also consider the advantages and challenges of using ElluminateTM, a web application, as an interactive forum for this qualitative health research.

Key words:  collaboration, qualitative data, reflexivity, rural health research, teamwork.

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