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You are here : Home / Stories / Intermediate Short Course in Postgraduate Research Methods (PRM 02)

Intermediate Short Course in Postgraduate Research Methods (PRM 02)

Dates: 25th April – 20th May 2016

The Research Support Centre of the College of Medicine (COM) in collaboration with the Helse Nord Tuberculosis Initiative (HNTI) research group, Blantyre, will run a three week “Intermediate Short Course in Postgraduate Research Methods”. The course will be taught by researchers and academics from COM’s affiliates, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University of London – LSHTM, Makerere University and Oxford University – The Ethox Centre. It is designed for postgraduates wishing to improve their research skills with the focus on skills relevant to the intermediate stages of research projects.

Course Outline

The main objective of the course is to teach practical skills and understanding in research methodology. The topics to be covered will include:


  1. Quantitative and data management: Days 1 to 8


A 7.5-day Module, structured into ten 2.5hr (1hr lecture / 1.5hr practical) sessions and aims:

  • To refresh on measures of disease and use of Stata
  • To introduce the concepts of bias, confounding and effect modification and to carry out analyses to investigate potential confounding and effect modification
  • To introduce the concept of logistic regression and odds rations and also aims at enabling students to compute odds ratios, 95% confidence intervals for odds ratios in Stata and meaningfully interpret the logistic regression coefficients
  • To understand the concepts survival data, survival analysis and to be able to perform basic analyses of survival data and Kaplan-Meier graphs
  • To introduce the concepts of correlated data analysis focusing on why standard methods for independent data are not suitable for analysis of correlated data and also introduce some approaches for analysing correlated binary and count data
  • To provide an overview of the importance of systematic reviews and meta-analysis in evidence-based medicine and research. An introduction to the methods for the design, conduct and analysis of data from systematic reviews will be provided
  • To provide an overview of the importance of meta-analysis in evidence-based medicine and research, and familiarize participants with the methods for performing meta-analysis will be given; and
  • To ensure that researchers are able to design high standard data entry screens, and obtain high quality data.



  • Refresher: measures of disease and effect, data types of variables and getting started with Stata.
  • Bias, Confounding and Effect modification
  • Principles and introduction to logistic regression
  • Case control studies
  • Introduction to Survival analysis
  • Clustering (Analysis of correlated data) in epidemiological studies
  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews
  • Introduction to Meta-Analysis of data
  • Refresher on data analysis and presentation
  • Revision/summary of epidemiology and statistics
  • Introduction to Clinical Data Management
  • Data management using Excel
  • Data management using Ms Access/Epi info
  • Data Management using ODK
  • Preparing data for analysis

2.    Professional Support Module: Days 8 & 9

A 1.5 day Module aiming to equip researchers with the basic skills and understanding required for quality research, including ethics, financial management and Information Literacy.


  • Ethics of Health Research
  • Principles of accounting, budgeting and grant management
  • Information Literacy Skills

3.    Biomedical Module: Day 10

A 1 day Module structured into1hr lecture / 1.5hr practical sessions. The aims:

  • to introduce participants to commonly encountered data analysis requirements and GraphPad Prism, a commonly used specialist data analysis programme.


  • Basic Biomedical Research: introduction and overview
  • Laboratory Data analysis and summary using GraphPad Prism (practical)
  • Basic calculations in the lab e.g. making solutions, presenting data with standard errors; simple graphs
  • Checking for outliers and invalid data in biomedical research datsets
  • Analysis of a raw datset: Excel and GraphPad Prism
  • How to complete and use a lab notebook
  • Quality Assurance in medical research


4.    Qualitative module: Days 11 to 15 (16th to 20th May 2016)

A 5 day Module structured to provide an introduction to qualitative approaches, methods and issues looking specifically at their application in health related research. The emphasis will be on practical orientation to the key skills and approaches used, including use of NVivo. The module aims :


  • To introduce students to advanced qualitative research methods and techniques;
  • To review the use of NVIVO as a tool for data management and analysis;
  • To understand the four main approaches to qualitative data analysis, and
  • To take students beyond descriptive coding, using conceptual frameworks in the design and coding of research.


  • Overview of qualitative research design & data collection
  • Introduction to four approaches to qualitative analysis:
  • Thematic content analysis
  • Framework analysis
  • Grounded theory approaches
  • Narrative analysis


Sessions on each approach will cover their application in coding, development of conceptual frameworks and use of NVivo.



Methods of Assessment and credits

No formal assessment.  Attendees will get a certificate of attendance and course materials.


Duration: 3 weeks (no weekend classes)


Venue: ICT Department’s Computer laboratory, College of Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Blantyre, Malawi


Enrolment: Maximum of 30 participants. Only participants with prior research experience or enrolled in advanced training will be eligible.


Tuition: US$ 200.00

All participants are expected to cover their travel and accommodation costs.


Registration: To apply, please request for an application form from the College of Medicine – Research Support Centre.


Email: and


Cell: +265 999 280 538


Application deadline: 13th April 2016 (decision feedback 20th April 2016)

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