About the Critical Review and Research Project
Allocation of Research Project and preliminary training
Choosing your 6 preferred projects
In October we will set up an on-line database of all available research projects. You will be able to search the database for topics of interest and download descriptions of selected projects. We also advise you to research the scientific literature relevant to your projects of interest.
During the following weeks, we ask you to identify about 8 projects of potential interest to you. We expect you to contact the supervisors of your projects of interest by email before the 19th November 2012 to make appointments for discussing details of the projects with them.
You will be asked to select your course Pathway and your 6 preferred research projects (ranked in order of preference) no later than Friday 30th November at 12.00 Noon All discussions with supervisors must take place before that date.
Some projects will be restricted to specific course Pathways because of their subject areas. To help us allocate you a project and pathway of your choice, we strongly advise you to select projects that are compatible with your pathway choice.
When selecting your preferred project, please also note that some projects will require you to be vaccinated against certain diseases for health and safety reasons.
How we allocate projects
We will try and ensure that every student is allocated one of the 6 projects they selected, but in practice only about 40% of students can be given their first choice. We will favour the choices of students who have discussed projects with the Supervisors and whose preferences are consistent with their chosen pathway.
Please also note that if your choices of projects and Pathway are not fully consistent, we may have to allocate you with either a pathway or a project that you did not request.
The project allocation will be done by Tuesday 4th December 2012.
Preparation and writing of the Critical Review (MED6007)
Before starting any experimental work on the project, you will have to write a critical review of the background literature. This is a supervised task for which you will be expected to have two meetings with your supervisor to receive guidance and feedback from them.
Practical Training for the Project
Training in basic experimental techniques and health & safety in laboratories will be provided in the “Practical Laboratory Training” module (MED6008) in January. You must also prepare for working safely in labs by attending before the project starts a lecture on fire safety and the on-line training on “out of hours work”.
What will your project supervisor expect from you?
- Attendance in the laboratory: This should be the equivalent of 5 full days a week. At the beginning of the project, you should clarify with your supervisor the dates at which you will be able to go on holiday (for a maximum of 10 working days over the period of the project). If you still need to complete coursework for other modules (e.g. for resubmissions) when the project starts, you must inform your supervisor and negotiate with them how much time you can take off the laboratory to work on these assignments. Finally, you must notify both your supervisor and the Course Administrator in case of any unplanned absence from the laboratory
- Contact details: Contact details for the student (email/address/mobile phone number) should be given to the supervisor in case of emergencies, and the supervisor should ensure the student has their email address and phone number so that the students can contact them in case of absence.
Supervisory meetings: Students must meet formally with their supervisors once a month and supervisors should fill in the Supervision Record Form. The students should then stick the records into their lab books.
- Attendance of lab meetings/departmental seminars: Students are required to attend all laboratory meetings and to give progress reports on their projects through lab meeting presentations at least once during the project.
What can you expect from your project supervisor?
- Daily supervision. A named individual must be available every day as first point of contact for the student to provide guidance on experimental problems, Health and safety regulation, lab etiquette etc. This can be either the project supervisor or any competent member of their group. If you are not sure who is taking this role, you should ask your supervisor.
- Monthly formal supervisory meetings with the project supervisor to discuss progress and problems.
- Integration in the laboratory: Support in understanding the background and issues relating to the project; participation in lab meetings and seminars, with opportunities to present your results and receive constructive comments from the group.
- Support in writing the dissertation in the form of a timeline for draft submission and constructive feedback from their drafts, if handed in at agreed times.
- Advice on potential questions you may be asked in viva voce examinations.
Your laboratory notebook
All your experimental work - even unsuccessful attempts - must be recorded in a laboratory notebook. The lab book is an important document that allows your supervisor and your tutor to review the progress of your project. It will contain the experimental details from which your dissertation will be written. Finally, it is a legal document that must be kept according to specific guidelines to protect the University of Sheffield Intellectual property rights on your results.
The lab book is a property of the University and must be returned to your supervisor at the end of the course.
Evaluation of student's progress and support
- Monthly evaluation of scientific progress: Each formal monthly supervision meeting will include an evaluation of the progress of your work in relation to the objectives of the project.
- Interim evaluation of your professional competence and advice for improvement: Two months after the beginning of the project, your Supervisor will provide you with a written evaluation of your professional abilities as a researcher. This will allow you to identify areas where you need to improve in order to achieve better results in the second half of the project.
- Independent evaluation of progress and training: Half-way through the project period, you will meet with your Personal Tutor to evaluate the progress of your work and your supervisor’s assessment of your professional abilities. This meeting will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your research work and the areas where improvements are most needed to make the project successful.
Timetable for writing the dissertation
The dissertation must be completed by Friday 9 August, 2013 (deadline for electronic submission). Your supervisor and you should agree on a timetable for production of drafts of the thesis, within a timeline that would allow the supervisor to provide constructive feedback and to check the final version. The timeline should take in account your supervisor´s absences (e.g. holidays, travels to conferences). As a general guide, "Materials and methods" should be completed by end of June and an outline draft of the full dissertation by end July.
Three professionally bound printed copies of the Dissertation must be handed in by Noon on Wednesday 14 August 2013. To meet this deadline, you should hand in your printed copies to the binders no later than 4.00 pm on 9th August, as you must allow 3 days for the binders to complete the task. We strongly advise you to obtain a "receipt for printed copies" from the binder when you hand in your copies, which will prove timely submission should there be a delay at the binders.
Marking of the Project and viva voce examinations
- Dissertation mark: The dissertation will account for 88% of your total mark for the Laboratory Project Module. It will be marked by two members of academic staff (not your supervisor) and, in some cases, a third member of staff.
- Professional competence mark: The remaining 12% of your Laboratory project Mark will be based on a final assessment of your professional competence as a laboratory researcher. This assessment will be made by your supervisor on the basis of the professional skills you demonstrate during the second half of the project period. The criteria for this assessment will be identical to those of the interim assessment. This assessment will be moderated by a member of staff not connected to your supervisor research team.
- Viva voce examinations: Some students may be examined in an oral examination (viva voce) by an internal and external examiner before their Laboratory mark is finalised.