Select research publications
1. Blood folate status and expression of proteins involved in immune function, inflammation,
and coagulation: biochemical and proteomic changes in the plasma of humans in response
to long-term synthetic folic acid supplementation. Duthie SJ, Horgan G, de Roos B,
Rucklidge G, Reid M, Duncan G, Pirie L, Basten GP, Powers HJ. J Proteome Res. 2010 Apr
5;9(4):1941-50
2. Sensitivity of markers of DNA stability and DNA repair activity to folate supplementation in
healthy volunteers. Basten GP, Duthie SJ, Pirie L, Vaughan N, Hill MH, Powers HJ. Br J Cancer.
2006 Jun 19;94(12):1942-7. Epub 2006 May 30
3. Associations between two common variants C677T and A1298C in the methylenetetrahydrofolate
reductase gene and measures of folate metabolism and DNA stability (strand breaks,
misincorporated uracil, and DNA methylation status) in human lymphocytes in vivo. Narayanan S,
McConnell J, Little J, Sharp L, Piyathilake CJ, Powers H, Basten G, Duthie SJ. Cancer Epidemiol
Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Sep;13(9):1436-43
4. Effect of folic Acid supplementation on the folate status of buccal mucosa and lymphocytes.
Basten GP, Hill MH, Duthie SJ, Powers HJ. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004
Jul;13(7):1244-9
Professional Qualifications and Memberships
x Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and National Teacher Fellow Reviewer
x De Montfort University Teacher Fellow
x Member of the Institute of Biomedical Science
x Member of the Phytochemical Society of Europe
x Science Technology STEM Ambassador
x Member and De Montfort University (DMU) Representative for the Society of Biology
x Member of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust

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Introduction to Scientifi c Research Projects

10

Introduction to Scientifi c Research Projects

Introduction to Scientific Research Projects
Preface
This book is primarily aimed at undergraduate students undertaking scientific research projects as part of a
programme in medicine, nursing and midwifery, subjects allied to health and biological sciences, although
it is generally applicable to all project work. It will also be useful to professionals undergoing continuing
professional development (CPD) or changing to study at MSc masters level and who need revision on
scientific research methods. Since the book uses “example boxes” to explain complex terms in lay
language, it should also be accessible to patients and people with a non-clinical background but an interest
in the subject.
As this book is an introduction to the area, you may be inspired for, or want, further training and reading.
There are many excellent resources within institutes and online, too many to list here, although I would
recommend starting with your own institutes’ library, support or academic teams for further information.
Expert boxes are provided as cues for further reading, as this text is an introductory overview it is not
conducive to all readers to cover all aspects in considerable detail.

Example boxes will provide worked examples or case studies

Disclaimer
This book provides an introduction into the key areas that if addressed comprehensively will ensure a
sound research project. Certain examples given in the example boxes may not be suitable for your Institute
or sponsor and the reader should check local rules specific to your project requirements.

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Introduction to Scientifi c Research Projects

11
What is an undergraduate scientifi c research project?

1. What is an undergraduate scientific research
project?
The undergraduate project allows the student autonomy to design, plan, execute, analyse and finally
disseminate their research ideas. As this autonomous element is usually unique, compared to other
assessment modules with didactic lectures and examinations, the project has significant currency in
scientific employment as it is the foundation of a research career.

1.1 How is it different to other types of assessment?
University assessments fall broadly into two categories “formative” and “summative”. Formative
assessments are to inform learning and to allow you to receive feedback on a piece of work that carriers no
formal mark. Summative assessments are a sum of work to date and feedback is provided with a formal
assessed mark that will usually count towards the overall degree classification.
Most undergraduate scientific research projects are summative and provide a substantial amount of marks
towards the final year and subsequent degree classification. Therefore it is vital that students fully prepare
and plan their project work for maximal effect. Since most projects by definition do not have an unseen
public examination element they can be highly productive source of credits, particularly to candidates who
find examinations difficult.
In addition to the project, undergraduate students are tested by a variety of assessments including unseen
examination, open book examination, essay, presentation and practical classes (table 1). The clear
difference between these assessments and the projects is that of ownership, support and outcomes. The
final outcome of the project is often unknown and it is an opportunity for the student to sample research
and to bring personal ideas and philosophies to the work. Therefore, it is important to think about your
own hopes and expectations and how they relate to the reality of the project which will be further

Data analysis projects are lower risk as the data will already have been obtained from a previous study and
using statistical tests, hypotheses are tested. An example project may be to look at case control data from a
prostatic cancer study of 10,000 men which has data on cancer marker concentration, symptoms and lifestyle.

Power calculation is the minimum number of volunteers or patients needed to make the results statistically
significant.

A cohort is a group of people being investigated in the research.

1.4 What project will best fit my personality?
As a very simple guide you may choose to complete a personality test, many are available, but a basic one
is outlined below. Each box contains a description of a person type, whilst most people have a mixture of
all these types, think about which description colour best fits your personality in a work environment and
then use in table 2 to match a project. This is not meant to be definitive but it should make you question
what type of project best suits your style of learning and working.
Red: Self confident, critical and outspoken, very confident and gets results by any means.
Yellow: Highly organised with a priority for fine detail, a perfectionist.
Green: Very outgoing and friendly and prefer to be part of a team.
Blue: Dependable, practical and paced in a methodical way.

My personality colour is:

Table 2: Matching project type with personality colours
Project Type Typically suits personality colour
Laboratory Blue
Literature Blue
Meta-analysis Yellow
Intervention Red, Green
Questionnaire Red, Green
Data-analysis Yellow, Blue