BSc Hons Chiro

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BSc Hons Chiro


2009 - 2011



i. Research project timetable

ii. Dissertation recipes

iii. Summary of the research Journey

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Overview of the Research Modules

2.0 Essential steps for completing an M-level dissertation

2.1 Guidance with your research project

3.0 Research design

3.1 Types of study design

3.2 Hypothesis testing

3.3 Qualitative and quantitative methods

3.4 Practical issues in questionnaire design

3.5 Steps in questionnaire development and evaluation

3.6 Sampling and statistical analysis

4.0 Choosing Your Project, Ethics, Data Protection and Health and Safety

5.0 Planning Your Research

6.0 Doing Your Research

7.0 Format of the Research Proposal

7.1 Assessment of your Research Proposal

8.0 Format of the Research Protocol

8.1 Assessment of your Research Protocol

9.0 The Research Dissertation

9.1 Writing up your Dissertation

9.2 How we assess your Dissertation

10.0 Key assessment times and details

10.1 Extensions to deadlines

11.0 Correct Referencing in all your write-ups

12.0 References

13.0 Appendices

I Marking guidelines for the proposal

II Marking guidelines for the protocol

III Research and ethics review form

IV Marking guidelines for the dissertation

V Example of patient information letters and consent forms

VI Guidance for writing up the dissertation

VII Marking criteria for the dissertation

i. Research Project Timetable

Below is a year-by– year guide to help you complete your research project.



  • Talk to your supervisor.

  • Get some preliminary ideas about what you would like to research and see if it/they are reasonable ideas by talking to your supervisor.


  • Talk to your supervisor.

  • Start reviewing the literature and getting your research proposal together

  • Make sure you justify your research and you know how to support your statements with references


  • Talk to your supervisor.

  • Get someone else to read your draft proposal to see if they can see WHY you are proposing the research and whether they think it can be done.


  • Hand in your RESEARCH PROPOSAL



  • Talk to your supervisor!

  • Start firming up your literature review and methods.

  • Think about variables, controls and statistics.


  • Talk to your supervisor!!

  • Decide on a methodology and make sure you can do the statistical tests you have decided will be the most appropriate.

  • Work backwards from the dissertation hand-in date and plan the stages of your project to meet this deadline.

  • Think about what could go wrong- an make plans to avoid this (or have ‘plan B’)


  • Hand in your RESEARCH PROTOCOL (plus the Research & Ethics review form)




  • Make sure you have research and ethics approval to start your project

  • Start collecting data and keep in contact with your supervisor as you do so


  • Show your supervisor your data and discuss the progress of your project


  • Start writing up. Show your supervisor drafts as you do them


  • Aim to finish writing up your thesis. Proof read, proof read and then proof read



ii Dissertation recipes

The following ingredients have been identified as either leading to a good research dissertation or a bad one. Take heed and/or be warned.


  • Talking to your supervisor.

  • Planning well in advance

  • Assuming it’ll all take three times longer than you thought

  • Keeping a couple of back-ups of your work

  • Looking at previous dissertations

  • Asking yourself if what you’ve written makes sense and is justified by evidence

  • Having a clear research question

  • Talking to your supervisor to ensure your methods will enable you to answer your research question

  • Being prepared to modify your methods after discussion with your supervisor

  • Ensuring each part of the dissertation follows on logically from the previous one

  • Being prepared to delete favourite sections that you’ve written if they don’t fit with the overall aim of your project.

  • Being prepared to modify your original introduction and aims to better match your results.

  • Showing your supervisor drafts of work for comment

  • Asking others to proof read


  • Ignoring your supervisor!

  • Not planning

  • Writing lots but not asking yourself (or anyone else) if it makes any sense

  • Making sweeping statements/ not backing things up with evidence

  • Having a vague/ambiguous research question

  • Sticking heroically to ideas or methods when they are clearly not working

  • Starting to gather data a month or two before you have to hand in your dissertation

  • Starting your project without talking to your supervisor or getting Research and Ethics approval (for this you will be shot)

  • Changing your project without talking to your supervisor or getting Research and Ethics approval (for this you will also be shot)

  • Writing up all in one mad rush

  • Failing to discuss your results in the discussion section

  • Handing in without your supervisor commenting on what you’ve written, or without any proof-reading

  • Not following the format guide for writing up

  • Not looking at the marking guidelines and therefore failing to include the stuff you will get marks for!

ii Summary of the Research Journey

1. Introduction

This handbook supports the Research Modules you will attend over the next four years. It is not a substitute for attending the lectures, reading the lecture notes, or participating in the class discussions. It will help you formulate a research question, design a research project and then write-up everything as a Masters level dissertation.

1.1 Overview of the Research Modules

The Research Modules take place over years 2 to 5, inclusive, and you will commence work on your research project in year 3. This may seem like a long period for the research project, but by starting in year 3 you will begin the process of thinking about research and putting together a research project as early as possible. This gives you time to develop your research ideas and become familiar with concepts which will give you the best chance of producing a good BSc level dissertation. The lectures, class discussions and presentations will help you understand how research is done in health care and will point up what is reliable and what is not.

As the Research Modules progress, you will be encouraged to keep an open mind when receiving information, while at the same time critically evaluating information and the views you already hold. The method that you should use when evaluating information is a scientific one (i.e. not using a belief system or similar). This is actually very difficult to do, but we expect to see evidence of this process in all your activities in this module.

The Research Modules will help you develop and implement a research project that is judged to be at the correct level. The marking guidelines and marking criteria for this level of research are shown in Appendices I to VII, and you should refer to them constantly. You will also find it helpful to visit the College library and look at the final year dissertations that were assessed as being the best in the year, especially those that were the basis of subsequent published articles.

2. Essential steps for completing a BSc (level 6) dissertation

To produce a good BSc (level 6) dissertation by the end of year 5, you will have completed the following:

  1. Proposed a research question. This is done early in year 3 and will clearly identify a gap in knowledge about chiropractic.

  2. Devised a method to obtain answers to the research question. This is done in year 3 and refined early in year 4. Some students stumble at this point. Sometimes the method devised will obtain answers to a quite different research question. Sometimes the data obtained is in a form that cannot be analysed scientifically (i.e. cannot be used to look at things like reliability, confidence intervals, descriptive or inferential statistics, control of variables and so on). Sometimes there is nothing wrong with the method but it is just not feasible due for example to lack of time, funds, subjects or availability of equipment.

  3. Implemented the research project. This is done in year 5. Some students underestimate how long this will take. Sufficient time is needed to obtain the necessary ethical and research committee approvals, gather together the materials (e.g. obtain equipment, recruit subjects, devise, validate, distribute and collect surveys etc). Good strategic planning is vital.

  4. Met the BSc (level 6) marking criteria in the dissertation. The research project is written up near the end of year 5. Most students fail to look again at the marking criteria. Ensuring that your dissertation meets the marking criteria is the best way to get good marks. Your tutor will have guided you with respect to these marking criteria from the start of your project, as it is easier to make small changes to your approach at the design stage, than making massive, contrived ones near the end.

    You will receive help and guidance from the College staff, but in the end the dissertation must be your own work and it must demonstrate that you can propose, implement and critically evaluate a piece of research that is judged to be at the correct level.

    Descriptors are given in Appendices I,II,IV and VI. You will be encouraged to look at these and it will be in your interests to make it very clear in your write up where you have met or demonstrated these descriptors. For example if you have critically evaluated a lot of articles in the literature and then synthesised a lot of complex information to make a new point - say so. Similarly if your research requires you to devise a novel method and validate it, rather than relying on existing methods - say so. If you hit a problem with the research and had to think on your feet and came up with a clever solution - say so. Finally emphasise any results that are new and any conclusions that are novel. If you look at any scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal you will see that all authors do this with various degrees of subtlety - emulate this in your write -up.

2.1 Guidance with your research project

You will be guided at several steps on the way to producing your final write-up. The overall process takes place over years 3 to 5 inclusive. It can be summarised as follows:

  1. Help with research question formulation. At the beginning of your third year you will be encouraged to formulate a research question. This will be encouraged by ‘brainstorming’ sessions with tutors and your peers. Tutors will also post suggestions for research. Your initial research question will probably be much modified over the following years as you formalise it in a research proposal and present it to others for discussion.

  2. Feedback on your research proposal. Early in year 3, you will be required to submit a short research proposal. In it you will explain what you propose to do and why. The marking guidelines for the research proposal are given in Appendix I. In preparation for this you will give a short presentation of your research question to students and staff. In this you need to show how the question you have posed identifies a gap in our knowledge about chiropractic. You will also be expected to justify why your research should be carried out at all. For the latter you will usually need to show how the results you hope to obtain will improve patient care or advance the profession. Constructive feedback will be given along with peer and preceptor evaluation of your oral and written submissions. All this will enable you to refine your research proposal for the next stage (see below).

  3. Feedback on your research protocol. Early in year 4 you will be required to submit a research protocol. You will also be required to submit a research and ethics form that is signed by your supervisor for consideration by the College Research and Ethics Committee. The marking guidelines for the research protocol are given in Appendix II. The research protocol will expand on your research proposal and will have incorporated the feedback you will have received. It will:

    • show clearly why you are going to do the research
      how you have crucially evaluated existing information relating to your research question

    • define what new primary data is needed to help answer this question

    • explain how you will obtain this data.

This protocol is very structured - do not ignore its headings. Its overall purpose is to enable you to present a scientific argument for your study, to think through your methodology and to anticipate the outcomes (good and bad). You will receive feedback on your protocol and you should use this to modify your project so that it has the best chance of succeeding within the required timescale, and so that it meets the Masters level marking criteria. This is an iterative process and you may well modify your original research question and justification as a result.

  1. Help with research implementation. After going through the processes above you will be in a good position to implement your research project in year 5. You will be required to provide your research supervisor with regular updates about your progress and they will help with queries or if you run into unforeseen difficulties. They will not do the research for you.

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