Practical Course in Health Research Methods

Please note

The 2021 dates for this course have yet to be announced. Please check back at a later date for more details.


This week-long course, hosted by the RCSI Department of General Practice and the Division of Population Health Sciences, covers topics such as: 

  • Fundamentals of study design
  • Measuring health and health outcomes
  • Data management
  • Basic biostatistics
  • Further biostatistics with Stata
  • Searching biomedical literature and reference management
  • Ethics, governance and data protection
  • Protocol development and standardised reporting
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis
  • Peer review publishing, grant writing and dissemination of research

Teaching comprises 30 hours of lectures, practical exercises, revision sessions and group work.


The aim of the course is to provide students with methodological training, facilitating the development of competencies appropriate for health research. By the end of this short course you should be able to:

  • Understand the principles, strengths and weaknesses of research study design and how they relate to appraisal and conduct of research.
  • Appreciate health outcomes including, mortality, morbidity, pain, health status and quality of life assessment.
  • Use Stata for data entry and management of datasets.
  • Carry out a number of functions in Stata including: tabulation and generation of descriptive statistics, graphing categorical and continuous variables and generation of measures of effect size.
  • Conduct regression analysis, including simple regression with a binary or continuous predictor, multiple regression, simple logistic regression, understand measures of performance of diagnostic and screening tests.
  • Calculate sample size for common research designs.
  • Search biomedical literature using electronic databases and manage references using EndNote.
  • Understand the ethics of research, governance and data protection.
  • Develop a protocol for different study designs using appropriate standardised reporting guidelines.
  • Understand importance of systematic reviews, identify and critically appraise relevant studies and conduct meta-analysis using Stata, generating graphical displays (forest plots).
  • Understand the process of peer review publishing, grant writing and dissemination of research findings.

Teaching staff

Prof. Tom Fahey, Prof. Susan Smith, Prof. David Smith, Dr Fiona Boland, Dr Barbara Clyne, Dr Frank Moriarty, Dr Mary Clarke, Prof. Ronán Conroy, Dr Gráinne Cousins, Dr Frank Doyle, Dr Caroline Kelleher, Dr Mary Walsh, Patrick Dicker.