RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND PROJECT DESIGN

SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMB126400
Module Leader Sadie Gow
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Trimester
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

At least a 2:2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a biomedical or biological science discipline.

Summary of Content

This module prepares the student to carry out a laboratory-based research project in an IBMS- approved, hospital laboratory. The project will be new to the student's workplace and aim to enhance the service to patients or improve service delivery. In reviewing the literature, the student will evaluate research findings and variations in professional practice from UK and international sources. By providing experience in the use of software for data presentation, statistical analysis and interpretation, this module will produce students confident in statistical reasoning and the application of methods commonly used in biomedical laboratory-research and service evaluation. An understanding of appropriate research methods, will equip the student to prepare a biomedical, laboratory-based project proposal under the supervision by University and employing Laboratory senior staff. Students will focus on project planning, the importance of statistical analysis to experimental design, and real-world project organisation including sample collections. A responsible attitude to clinical laboratory research is fostered by the requirement to obtain local NHS R&D and research ethics committee approval if required, in addition to adhering to GCU ethics policy.

Syllabus

Research process and planning principles: Data collection concepts and principles. Generalisation of results. Analysis and critical evaluation of literature; link to the development of a research proposal. Ethical considerations. Exploratory Data Analysis (Descriptive Statistics): Levels of measurement and measurement scales. Techniques of graphical and numerical summary of scientific data. Point and interval estimation. Distribution of data. Reference range calculation. Concepts of accuracy and precision in scientific measurement. Design of Experiments: Research process. Importance of design for gathering relevant scientific information; relation to data analysis. Inference: Statistical inference concepts. Null and experimental hypotheses. Significance level. Studies comparing two samples: Design principles. Diagnostic checking for parametric assumptions. Parametric and non-parametric tests for independent and paired sample studies. Studies comparing more than two samples: Principle of ANOVA. Analysis mechanisms: inferential tests, follow-up analysis. Non-parametric alternative. Method comparison: Correlation; Linear regression analysis; Bland Altman analysis; Diagnostic sensitivity & specificity of a new test (ROC analysis).

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Critically evaluate the use and application of statistical methods within laboratory-based research.2. Perform and interpret parametric and non-parametric tests appropriate to sample data.3. Conduct a detailed literature review for a proposed project topic showing critical understanding of a range of specialised theories, concepts and principles.4. Justify appropriate research methods of statistical analysis at the design stage for a proposed project.5. Plan and organise a variety of disparate factors to permit the conduct of professional scientific research.6. Formulate a project proposal with timetabled milestones in writing of an acceptable scientific standard (on the project proposal form).7.Demonstrate responsible professional practice by completing local R&D and Research Ethics Committee approval processes as required by the workplace and university.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be presented in a blended format using traditional and online delivery approaches within a Virtual Learning Environment (GCULearn) which will suit the students' maturity, and workplace experience and environment. The use of a range of relevant learning resources and appropriate multimedia sources will provide an opportunity for students to structure their learning to suit their developmental needs. Online resources will include exercises involving the use of a suitable statistical package to consolidate the student's software skills and aid their understanding of how to present and summarise practical, laboratory-generated, research data and perform appropriate statistical analysis. The acquisition of these skills will be assessed in a coursework exercise worth 50% of the module mark, using sample data. Students can gauge their understanding by comparing their formative work to model answers made available on GCULearn. Online and class-based discussions will also be used to enhance reflective learning and provide support and group feedback. Individual, written, formative feedback will be provided on an exercise designed to underpin the summative statistics assignment (coursework 1). To complement this theoretical learning, the student will plan a laboratory-based project on a topic agreed with an IBMS-approved health care laboratory and University staff. Problems associated with project development will be discussed in tutorial sessions and by the student with their internal and external supervisors at mutually-convenient regular intervals. The student will be guided to consider potential problems before embarking on bench work and assisted through the relevant Ethical Approval process and COSHH procedures. The student will submit a Project Proposal form; this constitutes 50% of the assessment for the module (Coursework 2). The completed proforma includes a background and introduction section (2000 - 2500 words plus figures), aims and a detailed work plan including the statistical approach and ethical considerations. The project proposal should present a clear, concise, well-referenced account of the background to the topic, the rationale of the investigation and identify factors important for satisfactory completion of the particular research project. The presentation should follow the guidance given in the Module Handbook and use the Harvard referencing system. Formative feedback is provided online by the internal supervisor on the student's first draft proposal submitted as an assignment on GCULearn.

Indicative Reading

Armstrong, R. A. & Hilton, A. C. (2010) Statistical Analysis in Microbiology: StatNotes. Wiley-Blackwell. Blaxter, L. (2010) How to Research, 4th Ed. Open University Press. [eBook] Daniel, W. W. & Cross C.L. (2012) Biostatistics: A Foundation for Analysis in the Health Sciences, 10th Ed. Wiley. DeBrun,C & Pearce-Smith, N, (2014) Searching Skills Toolkit. Oxford: BMJ Field, A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using SPSS , 4th Ed. Sage Publications. Gray, C.D. & Kinnear, P.D. (2012) IBM SPSS Statistics 19 Made Simple. Talyor & Francis. Greenfield, T. (2016): Research Methods for Postgraduates 3 rd Ed. Wiley, London. Greenhalgh, T. (2019) How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence Based Medicine, 6th Ed. Wiley-Blackwell. [eBook] Holmes, D., Moody, P., Dine, D. & Truman, L. (2016) Research Methods for the Biosciences. Oxford University Press. Jones, R. & Payne, B. (1997) Clinical Investigation and Statistics in Laboratory Medicine. ACB Venture Publications. Rose, J. (2012): The Mature Student's Guide to Writing, 3rd Edition. Palgrave, Basingstoke. Shamoo, A. E. & Resnik, D. B. (2015) Responsible Conduct of Research, 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press. [eBook] -3 Walliman, N. (2011): Your Research Project: Designing and Planning Your Work. 3rd Edition. SAGE, London.

Transferrable Skills

Critical thinking and problem-solving. Cognitive/intellectual skills. Time management: organising and planning work. Independent- working. Planning, monitoring, reviewing and evaluating own learning and development. Numeracy and IT skills. The student will also develop communication, information retrieval, literature review and project-planning skills as identified in the Learning Outcomes.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 125.00
Tutorials (FT) 10.00
Assessment (FT) 15.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 45% Project Proposal Form
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 45% Data Analysis Assignment and Report