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MS Epi Data Analysis Project

Drexel University and the Dornsife School of Public Health have long-standing commitments to an experiential learning philosophy. Consistent with this, the MS Epidemiology program includes a culminating data analysis Master’s Project performed under the mentorship of a Faculty Mentor from the Epidemiology Department and in some cases with a Preceptor who works in a setting outside the Department. Through this project, our students will come to appreciate how epidemiology is applied in real-world settings. In addition, the student’s faculty mentor will encourage the student to consider how their project, and the discipline of epidemiology in general, connects to broader issues in public health.    

Project Requirements

The curriculum and project requirements are designed to provide and then demonstrate the ability to effectively engage in research. This will include the development of appropriate research questions and aims, the design and conduct of epidemiologic studies, and the appropriate analysis and interpretation and presentation of research data, in order to produce graduates who have a solid understanding of epidemiologic principles and methods and the demonstrated ability and capacity to apply that understanding and skill.

The MS Epidemiology Master's Project includes at a minimum: 

  1. a written proposal identifying and describing testable hypotheses developed from a literature review;
  2. management and analysis of a sufficiently large dataset to permit hypothesis testing using appropriate multivariate techniques;
  3. a written report of the project including standard sections of background, methods, results, discussion and references; 
  4. an oral presentation of the project to department faculty and students.  

The faculty mentor will serve as the supervisor of the Master’s Project, and the project needs to be approved by the faculty mentor in consultation Preceptor if applicable. Via this project, the student shall demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. develop a testable research hypothesis with appropriate research aims based upon a literature review
  2. design and conduct an epidemiology study which is valid and efficient
  3. conduct appropriate statistical analyses of a complex epidemiologic dataset
  4. present research results in a written format consistent with professional standards
  5. describe and demonstrate principles of ethical conduct of human subjects research
  6. communicate the work in a clear and logical report and oral presentation

All Master’s Projects will require approval form the Drexel University Institutional Review Board (IRB). Your project can be reviewed under this category based on data from studies involving human subjects (you will want to receive de-identified data). The data set can include an ID linkable by the owner of the data (your faculty mentor or preceptor) back to personal identifiers - but you should not be able to make that link yourself. Under most circumstances, you should be able to have your data sets created so as to allow the project to be submitted as exempt research. 

Project Proposal

The Master’s Project proposal will be developed in conjunction with the faculty mentor and finalized during the second year. To assure adequate time to properly plan for the placement and to facilitate smooth completion of the project, the student and faculty mentor (involving the preceptor if applicable) need to come to agreement on the project plan by the fifth week of the fall quarter of the second year. If the student will be placed in an outside organization, a placement agreement needs to be completed and signed by this time. 

Project Report

At the end of the Master’s Project, each student shall submit a written report of the project. The report should in general be 30-50 pages long (not including appendices or citations) and consist of competency in the following:

  1. Research question and background
  2. Study design and data structure
  3. Consideration of alternative statistical methods
  4. Statistical methods used and data analyses conducted
  5. Results and interpretation
  6. Discussion and conclusion

The student will be required to present a 25-30 minute talk on the project to the Department, complete with a powerpoint presentation.