These courses were developed over a series of years in a variety of biomedical research departments in Brazil. Research output is a key driver in the triennial assessment exercise, so understanding why some research fails to get published is a key issue.

Our analysis showed that although students receive a good disciplinary training, they are taught little about the skills required to do good research suitable for publication in an international journal. So, the courses are designed to address these needs. Key learning points include:


  • Using online literature resources effectively to maintain and update the students’ knowledge of activity in their chosen research field.
  • Being able to recognise the underlying structure of a scientific article and appreciate the differences between strong and weak papers.
  • Understanding how to frame effective hypotheses that leverage the consensus view of a field recognised by the international research community.
  • Being able to design experiments that can distinguish effectively between alternative hypotheses.
  • Selecting an appropriate journal and understanding the publisher’s motives when accepting and rejecting articles.
  • Understanding the assessment processes of major funding agencies.

To find out more about the course content developed to date, visit the links under Research on the menu bar above.


The first courses were exclusively ‘chalk and talk’ affairs, but it rapidly became clear that the most important components were the practical exercises. The students often work from home and naturally form groups connected by email and cell phones. We have tryed to support this approach to learning in the evolution of the course design. Ultimately, the vision is to have the courses loaded onto a platform such as Moodle, where they can be taken by groups of students at times during their Masters/PhD/Post-doc project cycle when specific new skills are needed.