One of CEBU’s key roles is to provide a comprehensive range of short courses in the methods of clinical and population health research, including conceptualisation, design and statistical analysis. The courses do not assume any specific prior knowledge, although they are designed for health professionals who are either getting started in research or seeking a modern refresher on key concepts and methods.
Our program includes courses in several categories. Under Research Methods, we have a sequence of three courses on the foundations and basic statistical methods of research, as well as two courses on the practical challenges of data management. Then we have computer-based courses on the key software tools, Stata, R and REDCap.
The core sequence of research methods courses has been redesigned in 2020, beginning with the Foundations of Health Research Methods (formerly Getting Started in Clinical Research), which places a strong emphasis on clarifying the research question, with the understanding that most questions have a fundamentally causal nature. This is followed by Introduction to Biostatistics, which covers the key underlying concepts and most commonly used methods of statistics. Finally, we offer a new course (Modern Concepts and Analytic Methods for Observational Studies) that focuses specifically on the challenges of observational (non-randomised) studies, with a particular emphasis on the challenges of causal inference and an introduction to regression as a tool for addressing causal questions. It is strongly recommended that these three courses be taken in sequence, because they build explicitly on each other: for example, the second and third courses assume familiarity with the language and typology of research questions, while the third course assumes knowledge of simple statistical methods for two-group comparisons.
The courses are very practically oriented, with much of the work done in small groups working on realistic examples. Together with the methodological content of the Research Methods courses, our additional courses in practical data management and recommended software packages are designed to equip researchers with the basic tools needed to conduct a study.