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Final assignment II: Research paper


In this exercise, students apply their knowledge and understanding of gerontology and geriatrics by writing ‘a research article’ based on relevant scientific literature or, if available, original data.
Students can do this final assignment in couples if they wish to, if significant more work and effort is put in the research article. This entails, for instance, screening at least 200 articles independently in case of a review or performing a meta-analysis. In case of original data, they should consult their tutor. Their assessment will be the same unless severe discrepancies occur in the cooperation. In case of severe inconsistencies in the participation or other facets of the assignment, the programme coordinator will be informed who will then take further action. If necessary, the exam commission can be involved in this process.

  1. The students should formulate a relevant research question in geriatrics or gerontology. The method of formulating a research question will be discussed in an introductory session. Students should think about short questions and unripe ideas (note on cards) during the whole trimester.
    1. Based on preliminary ideas, students should try to find material for further review, through Medline/PubMed and other scientific databases. Or seek original data on the question they wish to answer with guide of the tutors.
    2. From the exploration in various databases, the students should translate their research question into a hypothesis. If working with existing literature, a special session provided by the library of the LUMC will help them formulating a search algorithm.
    3. If working with existing literature, based on relevant inclusion and exclusion criteria students should select original a minimum of 4 research papers (papers including data) that fit those criteria. A flow chart that presents this exclusion and inclusion process should be included in the research paper.
      If working from original data, conceptual and theoretical relevant framework should be offered in the research article.
    4. If working with existing literature, students are expected to list the papers in a table containing the relevant study characteristics for the research question posed. Following this they will perform a systematic quantitative or qualitative weighing of the studies they found. Students working with original data are expected to give a clear and logic representation of methods and findings.
    5. If quantitative, they can apply statistical (multivariate) regression techniques or otherwise with the help of statistical software. If qualitative, they should for instance consider factors such as study design, population, number of participants, outcome measures and their own criteria to answer the research question (systematic). The data should be summarised in a table or figure that shows what the result is for the research question posed. If working with original data, students should be able to visualize findings in a conducive way and compare these findings to relevant other studies.
    6. The following step is to write a concise article of their findings and conclusions substantiated with scientific literature. The article should follow the IMRAD-style and should contain at least two tables.

The article should be concise (maximum 5.000 words excluding references). With this assignment students can show their understanding of important ageing concepts for the elderly and at the same time demonstrate their understanding of the principals of clinical research and study design.

The learning targets are:

  • Based on the gerontological and geriatric knowledge acquired the student is able to identify knowledge gaps and pose a research question.

  • The student is able to formulate a solid hypothesis based on logical reasoning that is found in scientific evidence.

  • The student has knowledge of the basic steps to perform a review of the literature on which he or she is able to perform a systematic analysis, or on the basis of original data perform a scientific analysis.

  • The student can integrate, weigh, critically assess and judge scientific evidence based on a scientifically sound quality assessment of published studies.

  • The student can analyse implications of his/her findings and can formulate novel suggestions on the basis of this.

  • The student knows the basic principles of writing a scientific article and is able to exploit this knowledge to write a research paper in IMRAD style.

  • The student is able to present his/her findings in a lucid, well-integrated and critical way.

The format of the systematic review/article should be: – Abstract that summarizes the content of the paper – Introduction that sets the topic and invites the reader to read the article, describes the background of the research and finishes with the student’s own research question or hypothesis. – Methods that includes their own search algorithm, inclusion and exclusion criteria, flow chart of study selection and a summary of the study characteristics in a table in case of an article based on existing literature. If the student is working with original data, the way of collecting and analyzing data should be clearly described in the method section. – Results that describe the findings. These are summarized in a table or figure that gives an assessment of the results in view of the research question. – Discussion that describes the interpretation and analysis of the data and conclusions that encompasses their personal interpretation and possible suggestions for future research

The following points will be used in judging the systematic review:
a. Shape and layout (consistency)
b. Structure of the research paper (following IMRAD as much as possible)
c. Outline of the question or hypothesis at hand (relevance, logic, clear and convincing)
d. Depth of argument (reference to scientific articles and embedding in scientific debates, logical follow-up of relations and arguments)
e. Methods (description, if applicable flow chart and table, clarity and following scientific standards for review)
f. Results (description, tables/figures, assessment)
g. Discussion (clarity, logic and own input)
h. Conclusion (logical, originality and clarity)
i. Complete references and reference list (consistency and clarity)
j. Language and spelling (consistency and clarity)


  • A student will submit a proposal for a research topic with a motivation containing the relevance and interest in the topic chosen (handing in 22nd of January 2016 to the coordinators of the Master programme).

  • The student is appointed one of the core faculty members as a tutor for the research article (in the week after) based on the topic chosen.

  • After being appointed a tutor the student hands in a more elaborate structure plan of the article containing an outline with main research question and search algorithm or hypothesis. The student sends in a draft version of the introduction and methods (handing in on the 3rd of March). The draft version of the review is handed in to the tutor (around the 2nd of April).

  • A student can ask for an additional tutor for reasons of scientific relevance, e.g. another faculty member or external expert is more familiar with the topic chosen. This person then acts as a second tutor following the procedures as set out in the regulations for the tutor.

  • The student will hand in the research paper after the second trimester break on the 6th of May 2016 before midnight.

  • The tutor reviews the paper and another core faculty member will do an independent review of the work. If a second tutor is involved, this second tutor will also review the work.

  • The tutor(s) and second core faculty member will all grade the paper, and will motivate their opinion. If grades differ significantly (more than 0.5 point) then a meeting of the members will take place to discuss. If the tutors can not reach an agreement the Board of Examiners is called upon to seek a solution.

  • Note that in case a tutor cannot fulfill his/her tasks a replacement tutor must be found among the core academic faculty members. This replacement tutor is found in agreement with the involved student and other faculty members.

Review form
Please consult the study guide and/or the Blackboard for a more detailed overview of the review form used to assess the research paper.

Dr. D. van Bodegom
Dr. J. Lindenberg
Dr. L. van Delden
Dr. J. Huijg

Deadlines for research paper
22 January Proposal for topic
4 March Draft version introduction and methods
2 April Full draft version
6 May Handing in