SCI07013 2016 Research Skills

General Details

Full Title
Research Skills
Transcript Title
Research Skills
N/A %
Subject Area
SCI - Science
LIFE - Life Sciences
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2016 - Full Academic Year 2016-17
End Term
2020 - Full Academic Year 2020-21
James Brennan, Stephen Daly, Paul Walsh

This module effectively ‘paves the way’ for the BIO511 Project: Applied Biosciences module. The module is designed to give students the conceptual tools they need in order to make informed decisions, both in relation to their choice of Honours project topic and the methodologies to be employed in order to achieve project goals, thereby optimising overall performance.


  1. To make students aware of the broad and varied range of project options available;
  2. To provide students with a choice from a range of different applied biosciences –related project topics, offering assistance in order that they arrive at satisfactory decisions;
  3. To provide students with opportunities to develop writing, planning, interpretation and presentation skills within a research context; and
  4. To promote continuous improvement in students’ work as they move towards the Honours project, through the provision of detailed feedback.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;



K1 Identify sources of key relevance from the existing scientific literature.

K2 Recognise the scope (strengths and limitations) of previously-reported work in the chosen project area.



I1 Analyse, compare and integrate findings from different literature sources.

I2 Produce the current state of knowledge within the chosen area of research.

I3 Formulate the objectives of a project.



P1 Draw up an appropriate overall experimental plan in order to carry out scientific research.

P2 Coherently and concisely present a Project Brief.

P3 Present a concise Literature Review of the chosen area of research.

P4 Select appropriate statistical methods to analyse bioscience data arising from research.



T1 Effectively source and read texts, edit the information, and avoid plagiarism.

T2 Use suitable software packages.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lectures will be used to deliver key concepts on the theory and methodology of research design and statistical analysis as used in the biosciences. These will provide students with an appreciation of the different biostatistical research methodologies and will equip them to choose an appropriate research design for their BSc Honours project. Learning materials for the lectures will be provided within the Virtual Learning Environment Blackboard Learn. Tutorials will guide students on selection of a Project topic, accessing current science publications, planning a project and writing a literature review. Students will be expected to interact with the e-Tutor via online discussion, mail and chat tools within Blackboard Learn. Practical exercises within Blackboard Learn will provide students with experience in the use of MS Excel and SPSS to analyse data arising from a number of bioscience research areas. Students will be directed to read relevant scientific papers as appropriate to their chosen Project topic. The module will be offered fully on-line.




An important part of the Research Skills module will be the Honours Project selection process, which will be completed by the end of week 4. The selection process is illustrated in the diagram below:


Week 1

Discuss Project Selection Option with the Research Skills Module Coordinator


“Work-based” Project “Non-work-based” Project


Staff specified “Project” Student Proposed “Project”

Week 2

Student will discuss in-house

  • A problem to solve
  • An opportunity to pursue

Student will review the list of Projects provided by the Module Coordinator

Student will consider a research area of interest

Week 3

Student will discuss with Module Coordinator if a “Work-based” Project is possible.

If a “Work-based” Project is not possible then indicate preferences (1 to 5) on a “Project” list for the Module Coordinator

If a “Work-based” Project is not possible then a student can discuss an area of interest with the Module Coordinator

Week 4

If a “Work-based” Project is possible, then the Module Coordinator will agree the Title and secure an appropriate Academic Supervisor

Module Coordinator will allocate a project

If the area of interest is suitable, then the Module Coordinator will agree the Project Title and secure an appropriate Academic Supervisor


A requirement for a “Work-based” Project is that the student can provide the contact details of a manager in his/her work place who has knowledge of the topic selected for the Project. The Module Coordinator must be satisfied that the employer will provide the student with the necessary resources to carry out his/her Project. The Module Coordinator must allocate the student a suitable Academic Supervisor who is a staff member within the School of Biomedical Sciences. Examples of past Project Titles include:

  • Comparison of the VITEK® 2 system against what is currently in practice; disk diffusion antibiotic sensitivity testing for defined resistant mechanisms on clinical isolates
  • Stereological evaluation of placentas from mothers with intrahepatic cholestatis of pregnancy
  • Validation of high sensitivity troponin I immuno assay for routine testing in mainline biochemistry laboratory


A number of “Non work-based” Project titles will be specified by Academic staff drawn from the internationally excellent Research Groups within the School of Biomedical Sciences. As this is a fully online course, none of the “Non work-based” Projects specified by the School will be laboratory based, however, all such projects MUST include an element of primary data collection within a bioscience context. Such data collection is characterised as social research involving qualitative and/or quantitative methods. The bioscience context can be in the public or private sector or in the community. The Module Coordinator manages the process of “Non-work based” Project selection by inviting students to rank up to 5 projects from a list in order of preference in week 3 of this module. The Module Coordinator then analyses the responses and makes such “Non-work based” Project allocations in week 4. The staff member who specifies the Project topic is the automatic Academic Supervisor.



Examples of such “Non work-based” past Project Titles include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties of indigenous/European seaweeds and alleviatory affects they create for health spa users in north west Ireland
  • Barrier to uptake of spray vitamin products in Dublin
  • Attitudes to the use of food safety objectives as a risk management tool for pathogens in ready-to-eat foods within the food chain in Northern Ireland

A student can propose to the Module Coordinator a “Non-work based” Project topic of interest to him or her in week 3. The Module Coordinator must be satisfied that the Project topic is suitable from an academic standards point of view and that there is a staff member within the School who has knowledge of the topic. The Module Coordinator will allocate the student a suitable Academic Supervisor who is a staff member within the School of Biomedical Sciences. Examples of such “Non work-based” past Project Titles include:

  • Friar’s Cowl (Arisarium vulgare), a new host for Strawberry anthracnose disease (Colletotrichum acutatum) identified in Malta
  • Bovine Colostrum Peptides, their health benefits, and their addition to whey protein supplements
  • Attitudes to Chlamydia Screening among University of Port Harcourt Students

Once the Project Topic is assigned, each student will receive guidance from the Research Skills module e-tutor and his or her Academic Supervisor. The Academic Supervisor is responsible for ensuring the project is feasible, including ethical considerations. Where ethical approval is required, each student will be responsible for submitting an application so as to put in place such ethical approval before the BIO511 Project: Applied Biosciences module commences.

Module Assessment Strategies

Coursework 1: Analysis of bioscience data set

Students will be provided with one or more data sets from a bioscience research project and a series of questions, which require statistical analysis and interpretation to answer. Written feedback will be provided on a bespoke feedback sheet, giving the breakdown of marks and answers to the questions. This will contribute 20% of the module mark.


Coursework 2: Project brief

Students will write a plan for their chosen Project topic, covering:

  • Working title
  • Student’s name; supervisor’s and e-tutor’s name
  • A concise outline of the background
  • The aims
  • An outline (no detail) of the practical methods to be used;
  • A short description of the statistical methods to be used
  • Any factors that potentially limit the value of the Project’s results
  • Estimated costs

Written feedback will be provided on a bespoke feedback sheet, giving the breakdown of marks and comments based on adherence to the instructions, clarity of expression and presentation, and evidence of understanding the background, aims, methods and limitations. This will contribute 30% of the module mark.


Coursework 3: Literature Review

Students will write a literature review for their chosen Project topic. Written feedback will be provided on a bespoke feedback sheet, giving the breakdown of marks and comments based on presentation and style (abstract, introduction, balance of sections, writing style and standard of English in the main text) and content (focus, quantity/quality of information, citation, coherent integration of information, evidence of understanding, critical evaluation, and suggested areas for further work). This will contribute 50% of the module mark.


100% Coursework

Repeat Assessments


Indicative Syllabus

Literature search. Literature review skills: Guidelines, citation and references.

Project selection (Work-based and Non work-based topics). Project planning. Project log books.

Designing the investigation: Good design. Primary vs secondary data; Survey vs experiment; Research governance and ethics. Health and safety

Interpreting data: Types of data; Central tendency & variability; Significance; Significance & comparisons – ANOVA, correlation and regression analysis.

Social research: Qualitative vs quantitative data; Communication vs observation: Structure; Question types; Tabulating and analysing data; Focus groups.


Computer practicals

1: Creating charts using Microsoft Excel.

2: Use of statistical function in Excel, t–tests and Chi-squared tests.

3: One way analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation and regression.

4: Introduction to SPSS.

5: Questionnaire analysis using SPSS.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Coursework 1 Continuous Assessment Written Report 20 % Week 12 1,2,3,4
2 Coursework 2 Continuous Assessment Individual Project 30 % Week 12 1,2,3,4
3 Coursework 3 Continuous Assessment Written Report 50 % Week 12 1,2,3,4

Online Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Online Online Lecture 1 Weekly 1.00
Independent Learning Not Specified Independent Learning 6 Weekly 6.00
Total Online Learning Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 1.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources


Holmes, D., Moody, P. and Pine, D., 2011, Research Methods for the Biosciences (2nd edition), Oxford University Press.


Dallal, J. E., 2007, The Little Handbook of Statistical Practice, [online] Available at

Field, A. P., 2009, Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd edition), SAGE Publications Ltd.

Pallant, J., 2010, SPSS Survival Manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS (4th edition), Oxford University Press


Online database resources including:

PubMed Central, Web of Knowledge: ISI Proceedings, Web of Knowledge: ISI Web of



Students will also be directed to relevant up-to-date scientific literature.

URL Resources


Other Resources


Additional Information