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Unit information: Research Skills in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Research Skills
Unit code VETSM0042
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Rooney
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this unit is to provide students with an advanced training in research methods that will prepare them for their research project (VETSM0040). The unit will introduce (i) how to search for and review the scientific literature, including the use of electronic search engines; (ii) how to read research papers: deciding which papers to focus on and how to take notes and make summaries; (iii) how to source, handle, analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, including the use of statistical software; (iv) how to present results in a clear and unambiguous manner; (v) how to write technical reports and scientific research papers, including citing references and avoiding plagiarism; (vi) how to deliver effective oral presentations to a variety of audiences; (vii) how to conform to Health & Safety principles when carrying our research, including how to prepare a risk assessment. At the end of the unit students will be asked to reflect back on the skills that they have learnt and to consider how these can benefit their future careers.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing this unit students should be able to demonstrate that they have acquired a research skills platform which will allow them to carry out independent research. In particular, they should be able to:

  • articulate research questions
  • design and plan a research project
  • research, digest and critique the scientific literature
  • source, manage and correctly analyse and interpret data
  • structure and write a comprehensive scientific report
  • give a clear and effective oral presentation
  • understand health and safety principles, and ethical considerations

Teaching Information

This unit will involve a mixture of lectures, case studies, plenary discussions and presentations. Practical sessions in a computer laboratory will provide the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience using electronic search engines, bibliographic tools and statistical software. Much of the time allocated to this unit is intended for the student’s independent study (i.e. guided reading and reflection).

Assessment Information

The student’s performance on this unit will be assessed using:

  • a written exercise summarising two scientific papers in the form of abstracts (10%).
  • an oral and poster presentation by each student describing and critiquing the research methodology used to solve a wildlife research problem, sourced from the scientific literature (30%).
  • a written assignment relating to one or more of the learning outcomes of this unit (30%).
  • a written grant proposal introducing and justifying the student's forthcoming independent research project (VETSM0040) (30%)

Reading and References

The following are some examples of basic texts - others will be recommended by the individual tutors during their teaching sessions:

  • Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Davies, W.M. (2008) Study Skills for International Postgraduates. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Dytham, C. (2010) Choosing and Using Statistics: A Biologist’s Guide. (3rd ed.) Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hughes, P. & Ferrett, E. (2011) Introduction to Health and Safety at Work. (5th ed.) Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Pears, R. & Shields, G. (2005) Cite Them Right: The Essential Guide to Referencing and Plagiarism (6th Ed.). Pear Tree Books.
  • Wallace, M. & Wray, A. (2011) Critical reading and writing for postgraduates. Sage Publications Ltd.