Discipline of Occupational and Environmental Health
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Step 2 - Thinking about a research idea

If you are accepted into the research programme and registered, then its time to think about your research idea. You will be asked by your supervisor to revise your concept document . In addition, you will need to complete the following documents: the Student-Supervisor Memorandum of Understanding and a the UKZN Plagiarism Policy. You need to review the following documents as well: the CHS Guidelines for Postgraduate Supervision); the Approved CHS Guidelines for presentation of MMed  and and the UKZN Plagiarism Policy.

Before you start floundering in the wilderness and plucking ideas from the clouds, here are some guidelines to think about:

1. Do you have access to a substantial dataset, such as hygiene monitoring data, medical surveillance data etc? It is always better for a coursework dissertation to use an existing dataset, rather than trying to collect new data, which is time consuming and resource demanding. It is also easier to obtain ethical clearance for working with existing datasets (see later about Ethics).

2. Trying to do something at the place you work may generally be a starting point, providing you are working at a large company or have access to datasets indicated above. If you have an idea that you think may work at your company, then discuss it with the academic staff in the Discipline at your interview. You may also have access to other companies that may be a useful site for research.

3. Chat to the consultants in the Department. They may be working on a large project which could spawn off a masters project for you, or they could have access to a dataset that you could analyse. Generally, this approach is about the best, as it means that the project already has ethical approval, is likely to be funded, and is already well organised. If you choose your own project, you will have to take the lead in all these aspects.

4. Think about who you want to supervise you – and try to develop some research ideas around their areas of interest.

5. Think about something that is of interest to you and discuss this with your potential supervisor.

At this point, you will be expected to undertake advanced training in epidemiology and biostatistics. You will cover the material in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology and Biostatistics module which will be provided to you on a disk or via Moodle. You will be expected to complete the online advanced Biostatistics modules (Biostatistics I and Biostatistics II)

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