Critical appraisal of medical literature

Presentation iconCourse code: RSDA6115P (Book through MyCampus)

RDF domain: A2.1, A2.2, A2.3, A2.4

Speaker: Mr Chris Patterson, Institute of Health & Wellbeing

Target group: Postgraduate research students in year 1

Credits: 2

Description: This session will provide a practical introduction to critically appraising medical literature, with a particular focus on population health research. Participants will learn to understand and apply universal and method-specific quality criteria; learn how to use different tools to perform rigorous critical appraisals of a range of different research designs.

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Discovering information & developing rigour & validity in literature searches

calendar iconCourse code: RSDA6096P

RDF domain: A1.3, A1.4

Speaker: Mr Paul Cannon, University Library

Target group: All new doctoral students (1 session for each student)

Credit: 1

Description: Doctoral candidates attending this workshop will develop techniques to quickly gain a familiarisation with their field of research and the research skills required to create a rigorous and valid literature search. Doctoral candidates will:

  • understand the various literature review styles available and the methodologies required for each
  • be able to structure a search strategy for effective literature searching
  • utilise advanced search techniques to find relevant, high quality information in their research field in a systematic way
  • be introduced to text mining techniques to improve the precision and sensitivity of their searches
  • be introduced to citation searching and analysis to identify prominent literature and authors within their field

Attendees will be expected to participate in set exercises and discuss their findings.

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Fieldwork safety

calendar iconCourse code: RSDA6004 (Book on MyCampus)

RDF domain: A1.1, A1.2, C1.1

Speaker: Dr Stewart White, School of Life Sciences

Target group: Compulsory for all research students undertaking field work

Credits: 2

Description: This course is compulsory for all field workers. The course will cover a range of topics and is designed to ensure that students are aware of the dangers associated with field work and how they can minimise these risks.

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Formulating a research question: true, new and important!

Ideas iconCourse code: RSDA6097P (Book on MyCampus)

RDF domain: A1, A2, A3, B1

Speaker: Dr Antony Workman, ICAMS

Target group: Students embarking on a postgraduate experimental biomedical research project

Credit: 1

This lecture serves as an introduction, for students embarking on a postgraduate experimental biomedical research project, to the process of formulating a suitable research question. It is intended to help such students identify a scientific question to address, problem to solve, or hypothesis to test, that should maximise your chances of ultimately producing data that are valid ('true') and conclusive, sufficiently novel ('new'), and having sufficient impact ('important') as to be worthy of publication in a high quality peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The specific and general learning objectives are given below. This process should ideally be undertaken by students before starting their project, but would also be useful to students who have just begun. The lecture draws on examples from experimental cardiac electrophysiology - the area of expertise of the lecturer - but the principles involved and the learning objectives should apply to other fields of experimental biomedical research.

Specific learning objectives for 'Formulating a research question: true, new and important!':

  • to learn steps typically involved in generating and modifying a research question
  • to understand the importance of generating valid, conclusive, novel and important data
  • to encourage curiosity-led reading and experimental technique
  • to reiterate how to conduct a literature search and review
  • to emphasise the value of hypothesis-driven research
  • to introduce practical aspects of experimental design and execution
  • to gain basic understanding of cardiac electrophysiology and recording techniques.

 General learning objectives for 'Formulating a research question: true, new and important!':

  • to learn through curiosity and to develop the ability to critically evaluate evidence
  • to encourage self-directed learning
  • to develop familiarity with the scientific method
  • to encourage problem-solving behaviour
  • to provide the student with an opportunity to explore a biomedical research topic in depth
  • to develop generic skills such as report writing and data handling.

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Introduction to the philosophy of science

Presentation iconCourse code: RSDA6044 (Book through MyCampus)

RDF domain: A2.3, A3.1-3.5

Speaker: Prof Neil Spurway, School of Life Sciences

Target group: All postgraduate research students and postdoctoral researchers

Credit: 1

Description: The course aims to outline thinking by philosophers of science from ancient Greece onwards but particularly from the last 60-70 years, about what makes for good research, the relations between theory and observation and what happens when one theory displaces another. The discussions are illustrated by frequent references to the history of the sciences, both physical and biological. Day 2 introduces the concepts of reduction(ism) and emergence, considers the modern status of evolutionary theory and finally looks at the logic of relations between scientific and religious thought-forms. You must attend both days to be counted as present.

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Radiation protection

calendar iconRDF domain: A1.1, A1.2, C1.1

Speaker: Staff from the Radiation Protection Service and SEPA

Target group: Compulsory for students using radiation sources

Credits: 2

Description: It is essential that any researcher working with radioactive sources is aware of the risks and how to work safely with them in a laboratory environment. This is a one-day course covering all aspects of radiation risk/protection and will be assessed. The Radiation Protection Service will also run a Spring and an Autumn Radiation Protection course.

To book a place on this course, please complete the registration form

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Systematic reviews: from protocol to publication

Pen and notepad on a yellow backgroundCourse code: RSDA6185 (Book through MyCampus)

RDF domain: A1.2, A1.3, A1.4, A2.1, A2.2, A2.3, C2.2, D2.3

Speaker: Dr Michele Hilton Boon, Institute of Health & Wellbeing

Target group: Postgraduate research students in years 1 and 2

Credit: 1

Rationale: A systematic review can be a useful component of a PhD project for several reasons. It can demonstrate the research gap that other components of the PhD will fill; it can investigate the variety of approaches and sources of heterogeneity in a research area; it develops a range of research skills; and, given that a systematic review can generate original findings and new knowledge, it can also produce a publishable output with impacts on policy and practice. However, a systematic review is also a resource-intensive endeavour that benefits from careful planning. Even if a full systematic review is not undertaken, the principles and methods can be applied to increase the transparency and rigour of any literature review.

Description: This short course aims to provide doctoral candidates with knowledge of best practices and reporting standards relevant to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The session will help students make the methodological decisions necessary to balance feasibility and rigour.

The learning objectives of the course are to:

  • become familiar with the different systems and standards used in registering a review protocol and reporting a completed review (i.e. PRISMA, PROSPERO, Cochrane MECIR standards)
  • understand when to conduct a meta-analysis and the options available when conducting synthesis without meta-analysis (narrative synthesis)
  • become familiar with the GRADE framework for summarising findings and describing certainty in systematic reviews
  • discuss how to complete a rigorous and (ideally) publishable review within the time and resource constraints of a PhD

Format: 90 minute presentation followed by question and answer session.

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Chemical safety and emergency response

calendar iconCourse code: RSDA6042 (Book on MyCampus)

RDF domain: A1.1, A1.2, C1.1

Speaker: Dr Philip Rodger, Safety & Environmental Protection

Target group: Year 1 research students, early career researchers

Credits: 1

Description: This course is designed to ensure that students are aware of the dangers associated with chemicals, how they can minimise these risks and deal with emergencies should they happen.