Semester Project Guide
The purpose of the semester project is to apply the epidemiological methods you are learning in this course to develop a research plan. In this exercise, each student will conduct in-depth literature research and will complete a study design on a topic. Each project will take the form of an online presentation (a blog) to the class regarding an occupational/environmental health/safety issue of your choice. Each project blog will be reviewed and commented on by the classmates and the instructor. Grading will be based on depth and breadth of understanding of the subject, and quality of the study design. Peer and instructor evaluations will be weighed equally (each worth 50% of the grade).
General guidelines are as follows:
- You must read widely on your research topic, and then identify relevant reviews and original research papers from scientific literature (supplemental web resources should be used sparingly).
- While it is OK to use the occasional web resource (make sure it is from a reputable agency), most of your references should be drawn from updated, peer-reviewed and published scientific papers.
- All references must be properly cited in the text.
- Internet citations are okay, but the full web site address must be cited.
- All assignments must be posted on D2L and on Blogs@UWW by the due date.
Required contents of semester project
- Topic, 1 page (double spaced), due 2/15
- Introduction, 3-5 pages (double spaced), due 3/15
- Research hypothesis and methods, 3-5 pages (double spaced), due 4/19
- References, 1-2 pages (double spaced), in APA format (see http://libguides.uww.edu/citing-resources for more details), due 4/26
- Abstract, 1 page (double spaced), 4/26
- Complete project (title, abstract, and 2-4) on Blogs@UWW, due 4/26
Selection of your topic
Select a specific topic of your interest, and find at least 3 relevant peer-reviewed and published scientific papers. The topic must include an occupational/environmental health/safety hazard in a specific environment/population. You are strongly recommended to find a topic that is related to your work. Have an identified context or place. In other words, consider a particular institution, city, industry, or country when choosing your topic. You should aim to be as specific as possible, but if your topic is too narrow, it will be difficult for you to find relevant information through the literature search. Write a 1-2 paragraph description about why you selected that topic, and list the relevant papers. You will use those references to research the problem. All topics must be approved by the instructor.
You can (and should) use the electronic databases on the Andersen Library website (http://library.uww.edu/databases-by-title) to find the scientific journal articles that are relevant to your topic. ScienceDirect (Elsevier Books & Journals Online) is an excellent source for scientific, technical, and medical research. It is one of the largest online collections of published scientific research in the world. You can also search scientific journals by using the Journal Holdings on the Andersen Library website List (http://sfx.wisconsin.edu/uww/az).
Examples of suitable topics are:
- Formaldehyde in health care settings
- Radon in mines
- Lead in battery manufacturing
- Fall hazards to structural steel iron workers
Instruction should include a substantive literature review of the topic and include the following contents (but not all are necessary):
- Description of the hazard (chemical, physical properties, etc.)
- Description of the environment and where the hazard exists in that environment
- Description of adverse health effects, psycho-social effects, etc.
- Relevant epidemiology of environmental risk and health outcome(s) of interest
- Relevant toxicology of environmental risk
- Route(s) of exposure, including source, fate and relevant exposure scenario(s)
- Data representing the degree of exposure
- Description of the exposure characterization including time/activity patterns
- Data showing the number of workers who are at risk and the number (or rate) of injuries or illnesses that are associated with the hazard
You should try to describe the quantitative aspects of your problem and to compare them with the safe exposure levels. Draw general conclusions from the information – your overall health/safety impact assessment should be based on the information described in your project. You should describe the data gaps where further research is needed.
Research hypothesis and methods
Your goal is to find a research hypothesis that you want to investigate. Find a specific topic that needs more information to test a causal relationship between a health/safety exposure and the adverse health effect(s). The following contents should be included:
- A research hypothesis that is testable and a well-defined statement to explain the observations you described in the introduction.
- Design an experiment/research plan to test the hypothesis. Describe the details of your experimental design. What type of study design will be used? What are the explanatory (exposure) and outcome (illness/injury) variables? How would you gather data (for both the explanatory and outcome variables) and analyze data? You usually need to use statistics. What kind of statistical analysis you would use? If you don’t need to use statistics, what other techniques/methods may be employed?
- Predicted outcomes. What results would you get if your experiment/research plan went as you planned?
- What would your conclusion be with respect to the hypothesis?
Grading system for executive summary/abstract & presentation file
|Score 0 – 10|
|Strength of the abstract||Is it well written?
Does it appropriately summarize the project’s main points?
|Strength of the background information (Introduction)||Is the background information well researched?
Are the key papers or other background documents searched?
Are the quantitative aspects of the problem described and interpreted appropriately?
Are the data gaps identified and described?
|Strength of the hypothesis||Is the hypothesis well defined to explain the observations you described in the introduction?
Is the hypothesis testable?
|Strength of the overall analysis proposed on the subject matter||Are the concepts in this class proposed to be used appropriately to analyze the problem?
Are the gaps in information and uncertainties appropriately described?
Are the type and details of the experimental design described?
Are predicted outcomes and potential conclusion mentioned?
|Organization/Style||Is the blog well-organized and written in a clear manner with smooth transitions from section to section?
Are there figures, tables, or other tools used that make it easier to understand the material?
Are scientific facts and studies properly credited?
|Comments (by the instructor only)||Are observations or constructive comments made in response to all the other participants’ blogs?|
Outstanding 10 Fair 7
Good 9 Poor 6
Average 8 No-show 0