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The University of Southampton

HLTH6042 e-Research Methods

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Provide you with the skills required to identify and select appropriate methodology to prepare and perform a research project in a safe and ethical manner • To provide you with an understanding of critical appraisal of previously published research • To provide you with the skills required for the development and presentation of a research proposal

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Identify the practical issues involved in carrying out research
  • Discuss the value, nature, uses and limitations of a range of research methods
  • Identify the value of different sources of data in drawing conclusions from published literature and justify your conclusions
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Differentiate the value of information from different types of study designs and different sources
  • Critically assess research carried out by others, evaluate its usefulness for your own practice and use it as a starting point for your research.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the appropriate use of quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Search, store, retrieve and integrate citations within your own reports
  • Find and summarise relevant information and develop an evidence based approach to research
  • Organise your own activities to achieve a desired outcome within a limited amount of time
  • Direct your own learning
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility


Introduction • Defining your learning goals • Understanding the culture of research • Defining your prior experience • Exploring the University and the Faculty Getting started as a researcher • The aim of postgraduate research • What is research? • Research paradigms and philosophy • How does data become knowledge? • What does research involve? • Working with your supervisor • What happens to your research? Literature review • How effective are you at searching the literature? • Forms of literature • Resources to search: reliability and quality • Terms for searching • Approaches to your literature review • Critical analysis of the literature • Accurate referencing • Managing your references Choosing your research topic • Concepts of research • Originality and critical analysis • Strategies and models • Research processes • Checklists • Research design • Research questions and titles • Health and safety Project management • Effective organisation & time management • Setting targets & goals • Revising your plan • What to do if something goes wrong • Role of the supervisor • Motivating yourself • Taking responsibility for your progress Collecting data • Selecting data collection methods • Ethical research • Data protection, human subjects & privacy • Following policies (e.g. animal experiments) • Selecting analysis methods • Working in groups/teams • Equal opportunities legislation applied to research • Law applying to research carried out abroad Data analysis • Qualitative vs quantitative research • Questionnaires & sampling • Interviews • Focus groups • Action research • Participant observation • Textual analysis • Descriptive statistics, • Sampling • Keeping records Data handling on computers Analysis tools Modelling Writing your research proposal • Planning • Structure • Writing clearly • Using the feedback on your draft • When to write • Displaying data in graphics & charts

Special Features

The following statements have been added to the module approved in April 2007, for its use within the MSc Clinical Leadership in Cancer, Palliative and End of Life Care. Students taking the MSc Clinical Leadership in Cancer, Palliative and End of Life Care will be supported whilst undertaking this module by a research coach, a member of the Cancer, Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The aims of the research coach role are to: • Support student progress through the e-Research methods module and assist in preparations for the summative assignment. • Situate the learning associated with the module within the student/practitioner’s professional/work context and that of the Programme of study being undertaken. • Help the student to rehearse the research themes, taught within the required e-Research methods module, in relation to the practitioner’s professional/work context. • Expose the student to research practice through discussion. • Encourage students to design a research proposal for their dissertation that contributes to the practitioner’s professional /work context and where appropriate, the wider research activity within the Faculty and/or their place of work. A total of 5 hours of research coach support per student is allocated to this role, to be negotiated between coach and student. In addition to the summative assessment, there are two Specific Learning Activities to be completed with the research coach for which feedback will be provided by the coach. These are: 1. A report of the Search Methods used to identify evidence to support the justification of the project focus/research question and; a synthesis of the findings of those searches. 2. An Executive Summary of a discussion with academic colleagues about the project focus and design (at a purposefully designed Research Group seminar). The discussion will follow the format of a typical research meeting so that students have real-life experience of research practice. Students will be encouraged to take this module concurrently with the core modules. The taught programme of this e-learning module will be rehearsed using cancer, palliative and end of life care examples, and facilitated by research leaders in these fields.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module can be accessed on line at: The module will be taught using a mixture of web-based materials accessed via a VLE, online support from your tutor, directed reading and self study sessions. Learning is primarily activity driven and methods include keeping a reflective log, online quizzes for formative assessment, directed reading, reflective questioning, data analysis exercises, analysis of own practice and personal research.

Project supervision5
Follow-up work195
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Aoun SM and Kristjanson LJ (2005). Challenging the framework for evidence in palliative care research. Palliative Medicine. ,19 , pp.  461-465.

Ellis P, Robinson P, Ciliska D, Armour T, Brouwers M, O'Brien MA, Sussman J and Raina P (2005). A Systematic Review of Studies Evaluating Diffusion and Dissemination of Selected Cancer Control Interventions. Health Psychology. ,24 , pp.  461-465.

Gabbay J and Le May A (2010). Practice-based evidence for healthcare: Clinical mindlines. 

Hopkinson JB, Wright DNM, Corner JL (2005). Seeking new methodology for palliative care research: challenging assumptions about studying people who are approaching the end of life. Palliative Medicine. ,19 , pp. 532-537.

Greenhalgh T (2010). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence based medicine. 

Software Requirements. Internet browser software (e.g. Internet Explorer 6 or Mozilla Firefox 2.0) Microsoft Office 2000 or later with PowerPoint, Word and Excel.

Foxcroft D, Cole N. (2003). Organisational infrastructures to promote evidence based nursing practice. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. , Issue 4. Art. No.: CD00221 .

Jamtvedt G, Young JM, Kristoffersen DT, O'Brien MA, Oxman AD. (2006). Audit and feedback: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. , Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000259 .

Smith TJ and Hillner BE (2001). Ensuring quality cancer care by the use of clinical practice guidelines and critical pathways. Journal of Clinical Oncology. ,19 , pp. 2886-2897.

Computer requirements. A computer capable of running windows 2000 or later with internet connectivity. Note that all AV materials provided with this module are downloadable (not streamed) so a broadband connection, while desirable, is not essential.

Nilsen ES, Myrhaug HT, Johansen M, Oliver S, Oxman AD (2006). Methods of consumer involvement in developing healthcare policy and research, clinical practice guidelines and patient information material. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. ,Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004563 .


Assessment Strategy

Taught online. Five hours of research coaching conducted at Highfield Campus


MethodPercentage contribution
Scientific conference 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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