Research Methodology in the Medical and Biological Sciences - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123738745, 9780080552897

Research Methodology in the Medical and Biological Sciences

1st Edition

Editors: Petter Laake Haakon Benestad Bjorn R. Olsen
eBook ISBN: 9780080552897
Paperback ISBN: 9780123738745
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 19th September 2007
Page Count: 512
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Providing easy-to-access information, this unique sourcebook covers the wide range of topics that a researcher must be familiar with in order to become a successful experimental scientist. Perfect for aspiring as well as practicing professionals in the medical and biological sciences it discusses a broad range of topics that are common, yet not traditionally considered part of formal curricula. The information presented also facilitates communication across conventional disciplinary boundaries, in line with the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of modern research projects.

Key Features

  • Perfect for students with various professional backgrounds providing a broad scientific perspective
  • Easily accessible, concise material makes learning about diverse methods achievable in today's fast-paced world


Postgraduate researchers in basic life science and clinical research, postdocs, researchers and clinical researchers.

Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations and Symbols

Chapter 1 Philosophy of Science

1.1 Philosophy of the Natural Sciences

1.2 Philosophy of The Social Sciences

Chapter 2 Ethics and Scientific Conduct

2.1 A Brief Introduction to Ethics

2.2 Scientific Conduct and Misconduct

2.3 Misconduct and Why It Occurs

2.4 Fabrication and Other Forms of Misconduct Affecting the Truth Claims of Scientific Findings

2.5 Authorship Issues

2.6 Salami, Imalas and Duplicate Publication

2.7 The Investigation and Punishment of Scientific Misconduct

Appendix 1

Chapter 3 Ethics in Human and Animal Studies

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Basic Principles of Human Research Ethics

3.3 International Regulation

3.4 The Ethics of Animal Research

Appendix 1 World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects

Appendix 2 Oviedo Convention (Council of Europe, European Treaty Series 164)

Appendix 3 Oviedo Convention – Additional Protocol Concerning Biomedical Research, Chapter I–IX (Council of Europe, European Treaty Series 195)

Chapter 4 Research Methodology: Strategies, Planning and Analysis

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Your Scientific Problem

4.3 More On Scientific Problems

4.4 Literature, Methods and Techniques

4.5 Research Conditions

4.6 Data Types

4.7 Techniques

4.8 Repeatability, Reproducibility and Reliability

4.9 Validity, Effect Measure and Choice of Statistical Test

4.10 Experimental Protocol

4.11 Experimental Routine

Chapter 5 Literature Search and Personal Reference Databases

5.1 Information Literacy

5.2 Systematic Literature Search

5.3 How to Formulate a Query: PICO

5.4 Search Technique

5.5 Methodology Filters

5.6 Quality: Critical Appraisal

5.7 Impact Factor

5.8 Principal Bibliographic Databases

5.9 Staying Up to Date

5.10 Medical and Scientific Internet Search Engines

5.11 Personal Reference Databases

Chapter 6 Methods in Molecular Biology

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Recombinant DNA Technology

6.3 DNA and RNA: Isolation, Identification, Synthesis and Analysis

6.4 Practical Applications of DNA/RNA Technology

6.5 Protein Analyses

6.6 Bioinformatics

Chapter 7 Strategies and Methods of Basic Medical Research

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Long-Term Goals and Specific Aims

7.3 Background and Significance

7.4 Experimental Strategies and Methods

7.5 Pilot Studies

7.6 Rules for Basic Medical Research Projects

Chapter 8 Clinical Research

8.1 Controlled Clinical Trials

8.2 Publication Bias

8.3 Estimating Sample Size

8.4 ‘Non-Inferiority’ Studies

8.5 Generalization

Chapter 9 Epidemiology: Concepts and Methods

9.1 Introduction

9.2 Definitions

9.3 The Role of Epidemiology

9.4 Population and Sample

9.5 Measures of Disease Occurrence, Association, Risk and Implications

9.6 Vital Statistics

9.7 Study Designs of Epidemiological Studies

9.8 Effect Measures in Epidemiological Studies

9.9 Experimental Studies and Randomized Control Trials

9.10 Measurement Error and Sources of Error

9.11 Tests and Validity

9.12 Causes of Disease

9.13 Association Versus Causality

Chapter 10 Qualitative Research

10.1 Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research

10.2 Using Qualitative Research

10.3 What Qualitative Research Cannot be Used for

10.4 Samples in Qualitative Studies

10.5 Reliability and Validity

10.6 Ethical Challenges in Qualitative Research

10.7 Qualitative Data Collection

10.8 Triangulation

10.9 Analyses of Qualitative Data

10.10 Releasing Qualitative Data

Chapter 11 Statistical Issues

11.1 Introduction

11.2 Effect Measure, Hypothesis Testing and Confidence Interval

11.3 Bernoulli Trial

11.4 Comparing Two Proportions

11.5 Measures of Association in 2 x 2 Tables

11.6 Normal Distribution

11.7 Comparison of Means

11.8 Non-Parametric Methods

11.9 Regression Analysis

Chapter 12 Evidence-Based Practice and Critical Appraisal of Systematic Reviews

12.1 Introduction

12.2 Systematic Reviews

12.3 Critical Appraisal of a Systematic Review: One Example

12.4 Summary

Chapter 13 Scientific Communication

13.1 Introduction

13.2 The Scientific Paper

13.3 Posters

Chapter 14 Successful Lecturing

14.1 Introduction

14.2 Preparing the Lecture

14.3 Lecture Content and Form

14.4 Manuscript

14.5 Delivering a Lecture

Chapter 15 Guide to Grant Applications

15.1 Introduction

15.2 Getting Started

15.3 The Postdoctoral Fellow and Junior Scientist

15.4 What Goes into a Successful Grant Application?

15.5 The Investigator-Initiated Research Grant

15.6 Multiproject Grants

15.7 International Research Collaborations

15.8 The European Union's Seventh Framework Program

15.9 Summary and Perspective



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About the Editor

Petter Laake

Petter Laake

Professor, PhD Petter Laake has since 1989 been a staff member of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Department of Biostatistics, University of Oslo. He has 20 years of experience in lecturing, communicating and advising in statistics, at all levels and for various target groups. Since 2001, he has worked with the postgraduate studies programme at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, and has been in charge of the mandatory basic course in research methods. He has written and edited several text books in research methodology and statistics.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Oslo, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Dept of Biostatistics, Norway

Haakon Benestad

Haakon Benestad

Professor, MD Haakon Breien Benestad has since 1968 been a staff member of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Department of Physiology, University of Oslo. He has lectured students of medicine, odontology, nutrition and physiotherapy and has been an advisor for master and postgraduate students. He has held various basic courses for postgraduate students, compiled compendia for these courses and written a textbook of anatomy, physiology and immunology for social and health studies in upper secondary schools.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Oslo, Institute of Medical Sciences, Department of Physiology, Norway

Bjorn R. Olsen

Bjorn R. Olsen

Dr. Bjorn R. Olsen, Hersey Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Developmental Biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, received his MD and PhD degrees in 1967 from the University of Oslo, Norway. In 1971, he moved to the United States and joined the faculty at Rutgers Medical School, now Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he was Professor of Biochemistry from 1976 until he moved to Harvard Medical School in 1985 as Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology. Research in his laboratory has uncovered fundamental roles of collagens, transcription factors and receptors that affect skeletal development and homeostasis, angiogenesis and blood vessel morphogenesis. Work on the roles of extracellular proteins in tissue development led to discovery of several novel families of non-fibrillar collagens and uncovered disease mechanisms in many collagen-based osteochondrodysplasias and other disorders. Other studies identified mutations in the transcription factors HOXD13 and RUNX2 in polysyndactyly and cleidocranial dysplasia. Mapping of the genes for craniofacial disorders, such as cherubism and craniometaphyseal dysplasia led to identification of causative mutations in the siganling regulator SH3BP2, and the pyrophosphate transporter ANK. In research on pathogenetic mechanisms of vascular anomalies, the Olsen laboratory discovered that activating mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase TIE2 cause venous malformations and identified mutations/ polymorphisms and signqling mechanisms associated with the rapid growth of infantile hemangioma, the most common tumor of infancy. By addressing questions related to skeletal development and vascular disease, the Olsen laboratory has been able to characterize complex developmental and disease mechanisms at the intersection between skeletal and vascular biology. This has recently led to new insights into unexpected intracellular mechanisms by which vascular endothelial growth factor A controls differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to osteoblasts and adipocytes during bone development and postnatal repair. Dr. Olsen has received many awards and honors, including Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University of Oslo, Norway, Okayama University, Japan, and Oulu University, Finland; Research Prizes and Awards from American Association of Anatomists, American Society of Matrix Biology, International Association of Dental Research, International Society of Matrix Biology and British Society for Matrix Biology. He is Fellow of American Association of Anatomists and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he has been the elected organizer and chair of three different Gordon Research Conferences.

Affiliations and Expertise

Harvard Medical School, Department of Cell Biology, Boston, MA, USA

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