The course consists of eight units of study, all of which you should complete. They make up the following three modules.
Section 1 Research Methods and Design
This module (Units 1–4) is designed to help you develop the skills you require as you begin your project. It is quite important that you spend some time carefully constructing your hypothesis, on which you will base your research project. Therefore the module begins by describing the process of formation and testing of hypotheses. Literature searching is described in detail giving you an opportunity to explore some of the methods described in Unit 2. Being able to critically appraise scientific literature is another important skill, and in Unit 3 of this module a structured framework to assist in critically appraising scientific papers will be presented. The final part of the module focuses on study design and how to plan a research project.
Section 2 Research Management and Implementation
The second module (Units 5 and 6) aims to give you a basic understanding of the processes, methods and terminology used in developing, managing and implementing projects, with particular emphasis on research project management at a practical level. It includes the concepts, processes and details of developing logical frameworks to monitor activity and resource schedules. The methods and the necessary management skills to progress projects in the field and laboratory are described. The module also introduces ‘good laboratory practice’ in project management.
Section 3 Presentation of Results and Writing Grant Applications
The final module (Units 7 and 8) introduces generic skills that are necessary in writing scientific reports and grant applications. The publication of papers and scientific reports is essential to disseminate the results of your project and to enable your work to become known in the scientific field. Scientific writing is introduced with details on how to construct a paper. In the final part of the course the grant application process is described in detail and some useful guidance on how to write a good application is outlined.
By the end of this course you should be able to:
- explain the importance of hypotheses in modern scientific thinking
- attempt a literature search and compile a reference list or bibliography
- critically appraise scientific papers and write a literature review for a thesis or a dissertation
- explain what evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) is and why it is important
- list and explain the main study designs, explain the process of sample size determination and calculate sample size for a basic study design
- describe the research project cycle and illustrate the use of logical frameworks in research project development
- plan and organize the practical execution of your research project and develop time management and necessary organization skills
- describe what is meant by ‘good laboratory practice’ (GLP) and outline its principles and regulatory requirements
- construct a paper from your research
- decide upon the appropriate type of funding to be applied for, based on your research topic and career, and prepare a grant application.
Your work for this course will be assessed by means of a three-hour unseen written examination paper which will take the form of essay questions. In addition, you must submit at least one and up to three TMAs.
The grade awarded will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination (80%) and on the mark for the compulsory TMA (20%).