|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 14-17
Research interests in speech, language, and hearing sciences: A scientometric study of master's dissertations
Chief Administrative Officer, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, Karnataka, India
|Date of Submission||25-Jan-2022|
|Date of Decision||14-Apr-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||20-Apr-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||27-Jun-2022|
All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Manasagangothri, Mysore - 570 006, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: The disciplines of audiology and speech-language pathology are fascinating academic domains, with pronounced 'clinical practice' component. The direction of research and coverage of clinical disorders in master's dissertations can serve as a baseline for future research. Method: The dataset covered 1111 master's dissertations from eight institutes in India spanning 2012-2017 and followed a bibliometric and analytical approach. Results: Domain-wise, the pattern was hearing and its disorders (45.82%)>speech and its disorders (29.79%) > language and its disorders (21.42%). In terms of sub- domains of speech, language and hearing, it was observed that voice and its disorders >phonology, articulation and their disorders >fluency and its disorders; child language disorders >adult language disorders. and diagnostic Audiology >rehabilitative Audiology. The clinical topics covered most in audiology were: rehabilitative audiology-hearing aids, cochlear implants; vestibular balance disorders; sensorineural hearing loss; tinnitus and hyperacusis. The five topmost clinical topics in speech-language pathology were: stuttering; cleft lip/palate; aphasia, feeding and swallowing; autism spectrum disorders and intellectual(Learning) disability. Conclusion: More studies on topics with emphasis on rehabilitative aspects could be attempted. The choice of topics covering advocacy and public health in the form of KAP studies is commendable and can bring about behavioral change and awareness about communication disorders. The speech and hearing institutes can initiate plans for synergy and active collaborations between and among the different players. A directed research agenda by the institutes to align with the national/global needs is suggested.
Keywords: Audiology, clinical disorders, communication disorders, research trend, speech and hearing, master's dissertation, speech–language pathology
|How to cite this article:|
Ramkumar S. Research interests in speech, language, and hearing sciences: A scientometric study of master's dissertations. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc 2022;36:14-7
|How to cite this URL:|
Ramkumar S. Research interests in speech, language, and hearing sciences: A scientometric study of master's dissertations. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 12];36:14-7. Available from: https://www.jisha.org/text.asp?2022/36/1/14/348426
| Introduction|| |
The disciplines of audiology and speech–language pathology which form the speech, language, and hearing sciences are fascinating academic domains, with a pronounced “clinical practice” component. The professionals from these disciplines have a holistic approach collaborating with health professionals: otolaryngology, neurology, pediatrics, and other professionals such as, clinical psychologists, linguists, and special educators.
A master's dissertation is a scholastic activity done under the guidance of a faculty as part of fulfillment of the master's program. It exposes the students right from the initial stage of defining the problem, making the problem statement, preparation of a research proposal, presentation of the results of study in a forum, and a viva voce at the time of final submission of the master's dissertation. The dissertation work also affords an opportunity to the student to conduct original research and evidence-based practice. It also acquaints them with research design and methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis, besides scientific writing skills. The evaluation of the dissertation work is done with an external examiner who critically reviews for the originality of the work, the contribution to the discipline, and for appropriateness of the research and statistical methods.
Master's dissertations sow the seeds of research fervor in master's students. An analysis of master's dissertations can provide a meaningful insight into the research interests prevalent in a subject discipline and points to the direction of research. This study attempts to present an overview of the research interests besides exploring the coverage of clinical disorders by analyzing the master's dissertation topics, in speech, language, and hearing sciences in speech and hearing institutions in India.
A review of literature on postgraduate dissertations and theses in health-related disciplines in India revealed a study on master's theses from a university medical college in India, but its objective was to find how many of these theses were published in indexed scientific journals. Another study on scientific production of nursing dissertations and theses had a phenomenological approach. In the field of speech and hearing, Kricos et al. attempted to identify and compare research topics in speech and hearing as published in the research journals and as found in the thesis and dissertations at six Ohio Universities. Pyo had analyzed research trends in speech–language pathology from the total articles published in communication sciences and disorders during the period from 1996 to 2013 and analyzed overall characteristics including subjects, research design, statistical tests used, and general research trends. Lee and Seo analyzed research trends of master's thesis and doctoral dissertations in audiology in Korea for the period from 1999 to 2014 in terms of methods, subjects, and topics of research. There is a paucity of studies on research trend in the disciplines of audiology and speech–language pathology at student dissertation level in Indian context. Further, this study can also provide a perspective of contribution made by student researchers. Hence, this study was conducted.
The objectives of the study include the following:
- To present an overview of the research interests in master's dissertation in terms of the domains and subdomains of speech, language, and hearing sciences in India during 2011–2012 and 2016–2017
- To present an overview of the clinical disorders covered in Master's dissertations in speech, language, and hearing sciences in India during 2011–2012 and 2016-2017.
| Scope and Methodology|| |
The study is confined to the discipline of speech, language, and hearing sciences and has in its scope speech and hearing institutes in India which offered master's program for a period of 7 years continuously and having recognition of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) during 2011–2012 and 2016–2017. This study included such university departments and affiliated colleges which were accredited by NAAC besides RCI recognition and the two national institutes. In all, this study comprised eight institutes as follows: four university departments – School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal; Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore; Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai; and Bharatiya Vidyapeeth, Pune; two affiliated colleges – SRCISH, Bangalore, and NISH, Trivandrum; and two national institutes: AIISH and AYJNISH. Data relating to master's dissertations during the academic terms 2011–2012 and 2016–2017 along with the particulars relating to the topics were compiled from the information published in the Indian Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) (https://www.ishaindia.org.in/research_in_india.html) and the websites of the selected institutions. The data were carefully structured as per the objectives of the study.
The classification of dissertation topics in terms of the domains and subdomains were arrived at based on the syllabus of the master's programs in the RCI website and in consultation with the speech and hearing professionals, which served as the basis for topic-wise analysis. The domains discussed are speech and its disorders, language and its disorders, and hearing and its disorders, besides advocacy. The subdomains considered under speech and its disorders are phonology, articulation and its disorders, fluency and its disorders, and voice and its disorders. The subdomains under language and its disorders included adult language disorders and child language disorders. Under hearing and its disorders, diagnostic audiology and rehabilitative audiology were considered as the subdomains. The screening of titles was done based on keyword analysis. However, a mere keyword analysis did not prove to be sufficient and for resolving titles which overlapped; the classification in terms of the various domains and subdomains was done by examining the titles and placing them in context. This was got verified and validated with the help of speech and hearing professionals belonging to the disciplines of audiology and speech–language pathology.
For analyzing the coverage of the list of clinical disorders, the list was arrived at in keeping with the RCI document: scope of practice in audiology and speech–language pathology (RCI, 2016) and as reflected in the dissertation titles to be consistent with the terminologies used in the Indian context. The list of clinical disorders was got verified and validated by speech and hearing professionals. Wherever the dissertation topics covered more than one clinical condition, they were placed in more than one category. For example, if the dissertation title dealt with language disorder and hearing loss, they were placed under two categories. MS Excel was used for statistical analysis.
| Results|| |
Overview of the master's dissertations in terms of the domains
The quantum of dissertations carried out in speech and hearing institutes in terms of the domains is presented in [Table 1]. The pattern that emerged in terms of the major domains showed that the dissertation topics in hearing and its disorders (45.82%), speech and its disorders (29.79%), and language and its disorders (21.42%) [Table 1].
The quantum of dissertations carried out in terms of the subdomains in speech and hearing institutes is given in [Table 2]. Seven of the dissertation topics which could not be precisely classified into subdomains and the dissertation topics relating to advocacy (33) were not considered for subdomain-wise analysis. The net dissertations considered for subdomain-wise analysis totaled to be 1071.
|Table 2: Quantum of dissertation topics: subdomain-wise, during 2012-2017|
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The overall trend in dissertation topics in subdomains of speech and its disorders revealed a pattern of voice and its disorders > phonology, articulation and their disorders > fluency and its disorders. The trend in dissertation topics in subdomains of language and its disorders showed that child language disorders > adult language disorders. The trend in dissertation topics in subdomains of hearing and its disorders revealed that diagnostic audiology > rehabilitative audiology [Table 2].
The domain advocacy represents health education-related and profession-related topics, which basically comprised knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) studies. The studies included knowledge, attitude of pediatric hearing impairment, hearing rehabilitation in elderly people among medical interns and general physicians, knowledge on the role of speech language pathologists and audiologists among medical professionals, Ayurveda and homeopathy practitioners, parental knowledge about communication problems in preschool children, parental awareness and attitude toward specific learning disability, genetic testing of hearing loss, awareness among mothers of high risk infants on early auditory simulation, KAP among mainstream primary school teachers toward auditory processing orders in children, Teacher's attitudes toward inclusion of children with hearing impairment in schools, attitudes of male and female secondary school teachers toward children with stuttering, awareness of speech, language, and hearing development and disorders in pre and primary school teachers. Studies on attitude toward noise, hearing loss, about audiology profession among college and university students, awareness on noise induced hearing loss and hearing conservation program among mechanical engineering students, KAP in relation to occupational hearing loss in Disc Jockeys, occupational issues of individual with hearing impairment. There were also studies on awareness about ear and hearing health among general public, knowledge on ear and health-care among mothers of young children in a rural community, knowledge, attitude/beliefs toward childhood communication disorders among anganwadi workers in rural areas, awareness and misconceptions in the area of hearing loss: A survey in rural and tribal population.
Overview of the clinical disorders covered in dissertation topics
The clinical disorders covered in dissertation topics at master's level in speech, language, and hearing sciences in India from 2012 to 2017 are given in [Table 3]. The topics were analyzed in terms of the clinical domains of audiology and speech–language pathology. The analysis revealed the following:
|Table 3: Coverage of clinical topics in master's dissertations across institutes during 2012-2017|
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The five topmost clinical topics on which dissertation work was carried out in audiology were (1) rehabilitative audiology–hearing aids (107 studies); (2) rehabilitative audiology-cochlear implants (57 studies); (3) vestibular balance disorders (44 studies); (4) sensorineural hearing loss (27 studies); and (5) tinnitus and hyperacusis (20 studies).
The five topmost clinical topics on which dissertation work was done in speech–language pathology were (1) stuttering (41 studies); (2) cleft lip/palate (24 studies); (3) aphasia (23studies) and feeding and swallowing (23 studies); (4) autism spectrum disorders (20 studies); and (5) intellectual (learning) disability (18 studies).
| Discussion and Conclusion|| |
A master's dissertation is a first step toward instilling research aptitude and attitude among the postgraduate students. Although prescribed as part of the curriculum for fulfillment of academic requirements, dissertation work also aims to imbibe in a student, a systematic and evidence-based approach. As may be seen from the topic-wise analysis, certain topics such as diagnostic audiology and voice and its disorders have caught the student's attention more, while few topics such as fluency and its disorders and adult language disorders have not attracted the students enough during the study period. No doubt, the choice of topics by the students for dissertation work depends on the interest areas of the students and also in turn on the infrastructure and inclination of the guides. The apparent higher percentages in favor of a particular domain is not reflective of the need or opportunities present in one domain, but more a reflection of availability of resources (guides, clinical infrastructure, clinical population, etc.).
The study also revealed several positive aspects. The dissertation topics covered medical/translational research to locally relevant topics. The choice of topics beyond the major domains to advocacy and public education:Health education relating to speech, language, and hearing sciences and its disorders in the form of KAP studies among general physicians, medical professionals, parents, teachers, college students, tribal and rural population is commendable and can bring about appropriate behavioral change and awareness about the communication disorders.
Seen from the perspective of clinical disorders, the student studies involving clinical disorders relating to rehabilitative audiology–hearing aids and cochlear implants, vestibular and balance disorders, sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis in audiology and, studies relating to stuttering, aphasia and intellectual disability in speech–language pathology look promising.
Notwithstanding the above, rehabilitation is as important, if not more than detection and diagnosis. More studies on topics that lay emphasis on therapeutic and rehabilitative aspects could be attempted in the years to come, which would directly impact the quality of life of persons with communication disorders.
A trend study and an analysis of coverage of topics can help identify the research gap. It also helps understand opportunities for research in future. Each institute differs in terms of their strengths, expertise, the student intake, and the clinical population, too. The speech and hearing institutes can initiate plans for synergy and active collaborations between and among the different players on the lines of the Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map. A directed research agenda by the institutes can go a long way and is suggested. The ISHA and RCI can take the lead in shaping up the research agenda. This is essential for a discipline such as speech, language, and hearing sciences, which is at its nascent stage and continues to grow by the day.
The findings of this study shed light on the status of master's dissertation, are pointers to direction of research and such scientometric studies, and can help shape future direction of research. Such studies can also help understand the student interests and whether the topics researched in the various domains and subdomains address the national/global agenda with respect to the field of speech and hearing.
The initiative of the ISHA in publishing the list of dissertation work taken up in various institutes in its website is worthy of mention. ISHA can also develop a comprehensive database on the lines of the national database of theses and dissertations by the Council of Higher Education, Turkey and CRISTIN, Norway. Last, but not the least, the importance of dissemination of research work cannot be overemphasized. ISHA can take the lead in coming out with a compendium of research articles out of the dissertation studies carried out in the various institutes. Studies involving analysis of the master's dissertations from the perspective of scientific dissemination, dissertations becoming part of bigger research grant projects, doctoral dissertations in the disciplines of audiology and speech–language pathology in India with reference to research design, subjects etc., can be attempted and suggested for study in the future.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]