Education: E-learning virtual
Course C1: Health Research Skills
The course modules take the student sequentially through the research process:
from formulating a health-related research question to the stage of preparing
a research protocol.
Who is this course designed for?
This course is suitable for:
- All professionals from the health services;
- Professionals based in academic or research departments who wish to undertake
research in health-related fields.
The course is of particular relevance to professionals who are trained (or
are still training) in medicine, nursing, and the professions allied to medicine.
What are the entry requirements?
There are no formal entry requirements for this course. Please note that the
number of students who can register for each course is limited by the availability
of tutor support. Interested students are, therefore, encouraged to apply early.
To enable students to:
- Extend their knowledge of and skills in health-related research;
- Understand the essential processes that are required to develop and refine
a research question;
- Design a health-related research project. This will include defining and
refining the research question; critically evaluating relevant literature;
selecting the study design and the methods of data collection and analysis;
- Be aware of some of the problems of health-related research, including bias,
confound, chance and post-hoc analysis.
- Be aware of the wider issues of health-related research, including the ethical
and legal requirements of research, such as informed consent and data protection.
By the end of this course students should be able to:
- Develop and refine a research question;
- Carry out a comprehensive literature search;
- Identify and critically evaluate relevant literature;
- Understand the importance of the choice of an appropriate study design;
- Appreciate the statistical issues that are relevant, both in study design
and in the analysis of data;
- Be aware of the importance of ethical, legal and economic issues in human
- Prepare a protocol for a health-related research project. This is presented
by the student at the end of the course in poster format.
The course is divided into twelve modules:
- Module 1: Develop and Refine a Research Question: How to choose
a research topic, develop and define a research question and set aims and
- Module 2: Search the Literature: how to carry out a comprehensive
literature search using relevant online facilities.
- Module 3: Critically Evaluate the Literature: an introduction to
the process of critical evaluation of published original research papers and
the preparation of a critical literature review.
- Module 4: Overview of Qualitative and Quantitative Research, and Research
Design Issues: the definition and goals of qualitative and quantitative
research, types of study design and their advantages and limitations.
- Module 5: Statistics in the Research Process: the statistical issues
that are relevant when designing a study: (1) sampling from populations, (2)
reducing the potential for bias, (3) choosing an outcome measure, (4) planning
the analyses and (5) determining a sample size.
- Module 6: Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes: definitions
of the terms used, and the main methods of evaluation, cost-effectiveness
analysis, cost–utility analysis and cost-benefit analysis.
- Module 7: Questionnaire Design and Survey Methods: the basic principles
of questionnaire design, how to design a survey, the advantages and disadvantages
of mailing questionnaires and interviews, and techniques for increasing response
- Module 8: An Introduction to Interviewing: a comprehensive introduction
to the process of interviewing, including the strengths and weaknesses of
the approach, the types of interviews that can be conducted and many of the
practicalities involved in conducting research interviews.
- Module 9: Ethics, Data Management and Research Governance: ethical
issues in research, research governance, data collection, properties of data,
and legal requirements of the Data Protection Act.
- Module 10: Statistics Issues in Data Analysis 1: Probability and
distribution, objectives of inference, standard error and standard deviation,
- Module 11: Statistics Issues in Data Analysis 2
Hypothesis tests, type I and type II errors, power and sample size.
- Module 12: Prepare a Research Protocol and Conduct a Pilot Study:
guidance for writing a research protocol and conducting a pilot study.
Most of the teaching material is published on the CIREM website. This allows
students to choose where and when they study. Each student will also receive
a course manual, which provides supportive material, details of the course content,
guidance notes on the course assignment and contact information for the research
and administrative support that are available.
Tuition and student support
Each student will be assigned to a resident tutor for the duration of the course.
The tutors are postdoctoral researchers. They can be contacted by students for
discussion of the course content and its application to the student's own research
A number of individual tasks have been prepared that are linked to the course
modules. The main assignment of the course, however, is to develop a research
protocol. This will be presented by the student in poster format at the end
of the course. Practical guidelines and support for poster preparation are provided.
Duration and attendance
This course runs for eight months. Students will be expected to attend three
meetings with course tutors and staff. These meetings will provide students
with the opportunity to meet their tutor and other students, to discuss the
course, and to familiarise themselves with the structure and navigation of the
Students who wish to register for the course need to complete the registration
form, which is available from the Course Programme Manager. Passwords for access
to the online resources will be provided to registered students only. Students
will be required to complete a Security Agreement to protect the use of the
copyrighted course materials.
For further details and registration forms, contact
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