The Palmer College of Chiropractic Institutional Review Board (IRB) Human Protections Administrator exempted this survey from full IRB review, and the study was approved as submitted. The authors compiled a list of potential survey respondents that included the research department directors at 18 chiropractic colleges in North America, editors of 17 chiropractic journals, and respected leaders within the profession based upon their current involvement in research and/or regard as a prominent research author. We identified an initial list of 68 chiropractic research leaders.
We developed a web-based survey using Survey Monkey® software and pre-tested it among the authors. Recipients received the survey link via e-mail and cover letter with a short explanation regarding the purpose and methods of the study. Upon linking to the survey, recipients were informed that no personal benefit would be gained through their response and that their response was anonymous. Checking a box “yes” to advance into the survey served as informed consent and was stated as such in the dialogue box. Survey deployment occurred between August and October 2011. Respondents received up to four automated reminder messages, depending on their response status within the software. Demographic data collected included respondents’ age, gender, highest degree earned, primary academic assignment (e.g., research, faculty, clinician, administration), and area of focus.
The survey used qualitative data collection methods as presenting respondents with an exhaustive list of research studies germane to the field of chiropractic in a checklist format was not feasible. Instead, respondents listed the author, title, journal, and year of an article the respondent considered important and one “that every doctor of chiropractic should read”. Respondents then categorized the article as education, research, health care policy, patient education, or other. Each respondent also wrote a short statement indicating why the recommended article was important for the field. Each respondent could list up to six research studies. Quality control checks assured citation accuracy. Citation recommendations were analyzed thematically according to Bogdan and Biklen’s “subjects” ways of thinking about people and objects” . In other words, we were interested in knowing which objects (e.g., published research) the respondent believed were the most critical for chiropractic practitioners and students (e.g., their thoughts on importance).
We performed a secondary analysis to characterize the scholarly impact and accessibility of each recommended article to assist chiropractic professionals in the process of selecting high-quality evidence from among the scholarly literature. Scholarly impact refers to the relative importance of a publication within its field and across disciplines. Google Scholar was selected as the literature search engine over alternate scientific and academic literature repositories (e.g., PubMed, Index of Chiropractic Literature, Scopus, Web of Science) for its no-cost public access, breadth of coverage across disciplines, ability to search multiple databases simultaneously, embedded links to recent and full-text articles, and literature citation metrics. We estimated scholarly impact by counts of the number of times other researchers had cited each article.
Practitioners’ access to scholarly literature is a known barrier to implementation of EBCP across disciplines with many clinicians reporting little to no access to electronic resources in their workplaces [25, 32–34]. Article accessibility was assessed through the ‘All Versions’ feature of Google Scholar. We characterized each article as fully accessible if it was available without cost through open access sources (e.g., PubMed Central [PMC] or the journal/publisher website), limitedly accessible if an article required purchase from the publisher for on-line access, and inaccessible if no link to an on-line source or purchase options was identified.
Statement on ethics
This study was submitted to the Palmer College of Chiropractic Human Protections Administrator in June of 2011, determined exempt according to 45 CFR 46.101(b)(2), and conducted from August of 2011 through October or 2011. A signed copy of IRB assurance # X2011-2-1-S is available upon request.