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1 Introduction to the Project Module (EPM500) 2012-13.

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1 1 Introduction to the Project Module (EPM500)

2 The MSc Epi Project What it is and are you ready to start? Key stages and deadlines over the next year, starting with development of your project idea How to avoid a major pitfall - inadvertent plagiarism Contact info, sources of support, and helpful resources throughout the year 2

3 What is the MSc Epi Project? An independent piece of rigorous research on a topic relevant to the course, summarised in a final report of no more than 10,000 words. It is worth 45 credits and required for the MSc degree. Aims: – to apply, deepen and develop epidemiological concepts & skills learned during the course – to gain some ‘real life’ experience of epidemiology Need to show competence in one of the following areas: i) Data analysis ii) Systematic and critical review of epidemiological literature 3

4 Benefits of doing the Project Opportunity to gain specialist knowledge and skills in a self-selected subject area by exploring and analysing an actual health problem, communicating findings and discussing their implications Chance to develop a unique piece of work on a subject of interest to you – self-directed work – rewarding process The Project Module will enable you to demonstrate your methodological, analytical and writing skills 4

5 Are you ready to do the project? Please note that the EPM500 Project Module should be undertaken in the final year(s) of MSc study To ensure that you will have acquired the skills and knowledge to carry out this significant piece of research: You should have completed, or be registered for, all remaining modules needed to complete the MSc. If you register for some modules but do not complete them before June (except EPM201 – see below), you must inform EPProjects before the main supervision period to see if you are allowed to continue with your project. If you are planning to complete EP201 in the same year as your project, then you should ensure you work on this ahead of July to allow you time to focus on the Project over July-September. It would also help to study the optional module EPM304 Advanced Statistical Methods in Epidemiology before doing an analysis project and for a meta analysis within a systematic literature review, however, the EPM304 course materials will be made available to all project students. 5

6 Project Stages 6

7 Key milestones and deadlines Stage 1: Submit Project Outline by 1st November 2012 Stage 2: Submit Combined Academic, Risk Assessment and Ethics (CARE) application form by 1st March 2013 Stage 3: Submit Final Report for Assessment by 30th September

8 Stage 1: Project Outline submission and approval 8

9 How to find a project idea Think about: – disease area or methodological area of interest – geographical area Search the LSHTM internet Remember that your project should reflect new work, and not duplicate work you have already done 9

10 How to find a project idea (cont) Conduct a literature review, e.g., on PubMed Before you start writing your 500-word outline, you must review the relevant literature to learn what is already known about the subject. This will provide you with the evidence-base to include in the background section of your outline. This will help to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area and the need for the project. 10

11 Decide what type of project you will do 1.Analysis of an existing data set You may use your own dataset or one provided by other sources You may also use a dataset that is freely available, for example: o Demographic & Health Surveys: DHS are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health and nutrition. For more details, and lists of countries that have conducted one or more DHS, please see: o Or data made available via the UK Data Archive. Please see archive.ac.uk/find/international-archives?index=0http://www.data- archive.ac.uk/find/international-archives?index=0 o ELSA – England Longitudinal Studies on Ageing o NHANES – US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys o WHO SAGE (Study on global AGEing and adult health) 11

12 1. Analysis of existing data set (cont) Dataset requirements: – Check it provides sufficient opportunity to show your epidemiological skills – Data need to be available within the time constraints of the project – You need written agreement from owner of the dataset, to use it for the purpose of the MSc project, by 1st March 2013 – Data should require minimal cleaning (<5 days) 12 Decide what type of project you will do 12

13 1. Analysis of existing data set (cont) The statistical approach should be based on methods taught during the course. Must demonstrate: - ability to choose & implement appropriate statistical methods - ability to interpret results -awareness of strengths & limitations of study design and quality of data 13 Decide what type of project you will do 13

14 2. Systematic review of epidemiological literature May be disease-related or methodological Make sure there are sufficient data to show skills (at least 5 published studies) Make sure there is not a recent review already published on the same topic Must demonstrate ability to: – Show understanding of epidemiological issues – Carry out a comprehensive systematic, critical review – Conduct a meta analysis if conducive to the data – State clear recommendations for future research 14 Decide what type of project you will do 14

15 It may help to see examples of summer projects from past years: ml ml 15 Decide what type of project you will do 15

16 In exceptional circumstances, if you cannot identify a suitable project idea, it may be possible for the Project Organisers to help. Requests for help should be made to the Project Organisers via by 15th October

17 Elements of the Project Outline (due 1st Nov) Title of the proposed project, clearly indicating the subject of your study, including specific location (e.g. city, country) if appropriate Background information and justification for the study (i.e., explain what is known already and why your study is needed) Research question that your study aims to answer Aim and objectives of the study Methods – provide specific details of the proposed methods and how these will fulfil your objectives Word limit: 500 words (excluding title). We recommend you dedicate approx half of the 500 words to your Methods section. We will also ask you to list References and describe: Resources required for the project (e.g. published literature, data set) and means of accessing these Ethical considerations 17

18 Aim and objectives Aim What aspect of the ‘problem’ will your project examine? What is the overall contribution of the project? (e.g. to better understand…., to explore…., to review…., to inform) The overall aim should be a clear statement of what you are hoping to investigate, which describes the overall purpose of the project Objectives (what will the project do to meet aim) Should emerge clearly from the background Objectives may be the smaller or more detailed components of your aim and should be in line with your overall aim Keep the objectives concise and restricted (up to 3) Main objectives can be broken down into smaller sub-objectives 18

19 Outline preparation and submission To be completed and submitted to by 1st November (before midnight at the end of that Please use the Project Outline Template to submit your outline. For a copy of the Template, see Projects Webpage of the DL Student website: htm htm To help with your outline preparation, there is a Moodle forum dedicated to Outlines, called ‘EP Project Outline’, where from September you can post and discuss questions with tutors and other students. You can find the EP Project Outline forum under the LSHTM_EPGF_2011 forums listed here: [Once the Moodle environment opens on 1st October, we will transfer this Outlines forum to the EPM500 Project area] 19

20 Review of Project Outlines Once all Project Outlines are submitted by 1st November, they will be reviewed by LSHTM staff members, who will determine whether the outline is – Approved and ready for student to proceed with project supervisor – Approved with recommendations for change (shared with the student and supervisor) – Returned to the student for revisions (before allocation of a supervisor) 20

21 Questions for Project Outline Reviewers Is the proposed project appropriate for this MSc course? Are the aim and objectives clearly stated? Are they well-conceived? Are the methods appropriate and clearly described? Is the project feasible (too big, too difficult) given the time and resources available to the student, and his/her skill-set? Does the proposed project require ethics committee approval? Are there any potentially troublesome ethical issues that you have not considered? Is the project likely to reflect new and original work by the student? 21

22 Common problems with Project Outlines: Background, aim and objectives In your Background section, please provide key citations/references to support the evidence you refer to in this section Please state your research question clearly and in the form of a question After your aim, please note up to 3 specific objectives that clearly meet your overarching aim and can be met with the data/review proposed 22

23 Can the scope of your research be managed within the timeframe and in-line with what is expected of an MSc project? Common problems with Project Outlines: Scope 23

24 Are others in the team involved in helping with this as a broader research project? – If so, then your outline needs to make clear what is your own research contribution to any broader project, what role you take in the research, and what specific contributions others are to make – You should let us know if you intend to submit this work for funding or publication prior to submission Common problems with Project Outlines: Teamwork 24

25 Have you specified which variables you will use (e.g., main exposure and outcome) and how you will measure them? Have you specified the statistical methods you will apply, and whether the data are suitable? Are the methods advanced enough to demonstrate your competence (e.g., drawing from advanced as well as core modules) Have you specified the power calculation from the sample size, and how it was derived? When drafting your Methods, remember that your project supervisor will be available to guide your work, but not to do the work or to teach you the statistical methods skills you need to produce the work Common problems with Project Outlines: Statistical analysis 25

26 Details are required in the Methods section – State specific search terms (MeSH and/or free-text), how you plan to combine these through the use of Boolean operators, what limits (e.g. years, languages) you will set and justifications for doing so, and which databases you will use to search for articles – Briefly detail the inclusion/exclusion criteria, and preferably some evidence that you have conducted a few initial scoping searches to indicate the number of articles that are likely to be relevant/reviewed – State whether you think the data will be conducive to a meta- analysis. If so, specify your approach to the meta analysis. If not, why not? You can seek advice from a librarian about your search strategy, e.g. Hannah Wood at LSHTM (via or the Library Support forum on Moodle… Common problems with Project Outlines: Systematic literature reviews 26

27 Project supervision When your Outline is approved the process of allocating an LSHTM supervisor then commences – this is a complex task of matching student and supervisor interests and skills. From January 2013, the supervisor will provide academic support: approximately 18 hours of supervision including correspondence with you to plan the project and review ideas, tables and text (including one complete draft of your report). You may also have a local/external supervisor, and should specify this on your Outline form. 27

28 Stage 2: Submit Combined Academic, Risk Assessment and Ethics (CARE) form by 1st March

29 The CARE form Combined Academic, Risk assessment and Ethics The CARE form is a School-wide form to ensure the project will be of academic and ethical merit Needs to be signed off by: - Project Supervisor - LSHTM Ethics Committee For a copy of the form, see Projects Webpage of the DL Student website: 29

30 The CARE form (cont) With your supervisor’s input: Finalise the outline (500 words) and include it in the academic section of the form Consider any ethical issues and compete the ethics section (Note that the risk assessment does not apply to most Epi projects, given there is no original data collection or travel involved) Secure your supervisor’s approval and submit via by 1st March

31 Stage 3: Conduct research and writing, and submit final report by 30th Sept

32 Stage 3 - Research & Writing The majority of your project work will take place between June and September 2013 Further details about this stage, and the requirements for the content and structure of the final report, and how your report will be assessed, are provided in the Student Project Guidelines for , available from the Projects website from Oct

33 Plagiarism – what it is and how to avoid it To be conscious of early on… 33

34 Plagiarism (important!) In the UK one should clearly state which ideas and work are your own and which are other people’s. Otherwise it gives the impression you are trying to gain credit for someone else’s achievements. This is considered plagiarism, a form of intellectual theft and treated as such. You MUST clearly mark in your assignments where you got your information from. 34

35 Plagiarism (important!) The School takes plagiarism very seriously. Details of the School’s policy are given in the Academic Writing Handbook, including a full definition of plagiarism plus extensive further guidance about how to avoid it. The Handbook is available from the EP General Resources website: All MSc projects are run through plagiarism detection software (Turnitin) If plagiarism is identified, range of penalties can be invoked (includes giving a ‘0’ grade for project) 35

36 How to avoid committing plagiarism Always acknowledge anywhere you use other people’s work (including your own past work). Always use a standard referencing style. Quotations should be clearly identified (with “quote” marks), with a reference to the author(s). Paraphrasing (using your own words to express the ideas or judgements of others) must also acknowledge the original author(s). Where you have worked collaboratively, always note the involvement and input of others. 36

37 Plagiarism - Summary Good: Identical text, with quote marks, with citation Re-worded text, no quote marks, with citation  Bad: Identical text, no quote marks (even if a citation is given) Tiny changes to text, no quote marks (even if a citation is given) Identical text, no quote marks, no citation Re-worded text, no quote marks, no citation 37

38 What else must I avoid? In addition to plagiarism, the School defines other ‘assessment irregularities’ you must avoid. These include: Collusion – unacknowledged collaboration with others Personation – someone else doing ‘your’ work Fraud – fabricating, falsifying or omitting information Cheating – any deliberate attempt to deceive in order to gain advantage in assessments 38

39 Project Resources 39

40 Project Resources From 1st October, all important messages about Projects will be posted to the EPM500 Project Notice Board (please make sure you are subscribed to receive these in your account) At any point, you can post questions to EPM500 Moodle forums (described on next slide). You can also more specific questions to the Project Organisers via the projects address: 40

41 There are specialised Moodle forums for DL Epi students, including:  Project Outlines (for help developing your 500-word Project outlines by 1st Nov 2012 and your CARE form by 1 st March 2013). This forum is active from September and described on Slide 19.  Stata support (for help with Stata commands)  Analysis of DHS datasets  Support for meta-analysis And for questions about literature searches and journal access, you can use the LSHTM Library Support forum within Moodle. 41 Project Resources (cont’d) 41

42 Resources available on the Project Webpage: udent/projects.htm udent/projects.htm o More detailed guidance in the Project Student Guidelines (coming in Oct) o Link to past examples of Final Project Reports o Academic Writing Handbook o Resources specific to conducting systematic literature reviews o Support materials for DHS analyses o A data management manual to help with cleaning, coding and preparation of your dataset. 42 Project Resources (cont’d) 42

43 Please note that all online resources for the DL Epi course are moving from the student website to the Moodle VLE for (starting from October) and so some links given on previous slides will change. General resources will need to be accessed from the 'EPM Student Zone' and project resources will need to be accessed from the 'EPM500 Project' area, all within Moodle. 43 Project Resources (cont’d) 43

44 44 Other helpful resources Library help pages on planning and conducting a literature search, and citing and referencing systems: An NHS tutorial on critical appraisal and using the literature: workforce/resources/critical-appraisals-skills-programme workforce/resources/critical-appraisals-skills-programme Resources and advice on good academic writing practice: - from the British Medical Journal – ‘gold standard’ – from the Open University - online tutorials about planning, structuring and writing academic assignments or reports

45 We hope you enjoy working on your project this year! 45


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