UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Research Methods and Introduction to Statistics (CLNEG023)

(15 credits)

Module Conveners: Dr Caroline Selai


This module has two components: (1) Research Methods, including Critical Appraisal of published research and (2) Introduction to Statistics.


The aim of the module component (1) Research Methods, including Critical Appraisal skills, is to provide students with both an understanding of and the basic skills required to:

  • Critically appraise a published research paper
  • Understand the principles of evidence-based medicine
  • Acquire introductory generic research skills including (a) refining a research question, (b) formulating hypotheses and designing a study, (c) writing skills, etc.

The aim of the module component (2): Introduction to statistics, is to give the students a grounding in fundamental statistical concepts and an introduction to the use of basic statistical tests.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module the students will have an understanding of:

  • Research Methods including formulating a research question and study design
  • The range of research methods available and be able to make an informed choice as to the most appropriate method(s) to answer the research question
  • The principles of evidence-based medicine, including an understanding of the ‘hierarchy of evidence’
  • An introduction to generic research skills
  • An introduction to basic statistics

Assessment criteria

2 hour examination under timed conditions with two components:

(1) An open-book exam where a published paper (journal article) will have been circulated 3 weeks in advance along with a check-list for critical appraisal; candidates, having prepared in advance, are required to critically appraise the paper under timed exam conditions;

(2)  Unseen statistics exam (short-answer format)

Lectures & Interactive workshops

(1)    Research Methods, including Critical Appraisal skills

  • Introduction to critical appraisal, introduction to evidence-based medicine + introduction to study-design (including e.g. awareness of confounding variables)
  • Critical appraisal of a selected paper – circulated for homework and then discussed in class the following week’. CS to lead with some IoN postdocs as guest presenters.

(the above sessions, with discussion of papers, are spread over a number of weeks)

  • Writing skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Project-management skills
  • Inter-personal skills & teamwork
  • Clinical Research Ethical issues
  • Applying for jobs (1/3): Overview of the process / published academic literature
  • Applying for jobs (2/3): Job description; Person Specification; letters of reference
  • Applying for jobs (3/3): Preparing for interviews (sample interview questions)

(2)    Introduction to Statistics

  • Introduction to data-analysis
  • Estimation & hypothesis testing
  • Design of randomised trials
  • Basics of study design & observational studies
  • Groups of categorical data (1)
  • Groups of categorical data (2)
  • Groups of continuous data
  • Analysis of trialsSample size calculations
  • Linear regression

Please note: Titles of lectures may change from year to year