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Masters Programme. Project handbook ABOUT THIS HANDBOOK


Academic year: 2021

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Masters Programme

Project handbook



All students taking a masters course at LSHTM are required to carry out a project, and to write it up and submit it in the form of a „project report‟ which counts for a major component of your degree.

This handbook is designed to bring together all general guidance from the School and from your course about project work. It consists of two parts –  Part 1 contains School-wide information that applies to all MSc project


Part 2 contains important further course-specific information that applies for your MSc.

Each course‟s specific version of the handbook, along with all forms that you may need to complete, will be available on Moodle (log in at

ble.lshtm.ac.uk) under the course site for your MSc.

Version information:

This handbook has been approved by the Associate Dean of Studies, with specific guidance regarding Risk approved by the Safety Manager, and guidance regarding Ethics by the Chair of the Ethics Committee.

Last updated November 2012.

Note that „School-wide‟ information given in this handbook applies only to projects for LSHTM MSc degrees taught face-to-face in London, under School regulations. Different guidance may apply for Distance Learning courses, or intercollegiate MSc courses taught jointly with other University of London colleges for which projects come under the other college‟s remit.

In the event of any inconsistency between the information in this handbook and any other School document, please contact your Course Director. Where an interpretation may be required, advice should be sought from the Associate Dean of Studies.





1.1 Project lengths and learning times ... 3

1.2 Permitted project types ... 4

1.3 Project objectives as part of your masters degree ... 4

1.4 Stages in the project report process ... 4

1.5 How your project will be assessed ... 6


2.1 Matching you with a project supervisor ... 6

2.2 Different supervisory roles ... 6

2.3 Role of supervisor ... 7

2.4 Frequency of contact with supervisor ... 8

2.5 Role of personal tutor ... 9


3.1 Pre-planning (Stage 1 of planning & approval process) ... 9

3.2 Initial planning (Stage 2 of planning & approval process) ... 9


4.1 Proposal development (Stage 3 of planning & approval process) ... 10

4.2 Starting to complete the CARE form ... 11

4.3 CARE Section 1 – Student and Course information ... 12

4.4 CARE Section 2 – Approval and Submission status ... 12

4.5 CARE Section 3 – Application for Academic Approval ... 13

4.6 Proposal approval (Stage 4 of planning & approval process) ... 15

4.7 Approval deadlines ... 17

4.8 Recording approval and submitting the CARE form ... 18

4.9 Revisions during the approval process... 20

4.10 Revisions after final approval ... 21


5.1 Laboratory work safety requirements ... 22

5.2 Work away from LSHTM... 22

5.3 Arrangements with external institutions ... 24

5.4 Work outside the UK ... 24

5.5 CARE Section 4 – Risk Assessment form ... 26

5.6 Restricted Travel Safety form ... 28


6.1 Ethics policy for MSc students ... 29

6.2 CARE Section 5 – Ethics Approval form ... 30

6.3 Maintaining confidentiality ... 32

6.4 Information Sheets and Consent Forms for study participants ... 33


7.1 Trust Fund Awards ... 34

7.2 Other possible sources of funding ... 35


8.1 Key points to consider before travelling ... 35

8.2 International requirements for visas, passports etc. ... 36


9.1 Preparatory work ... 37

9.2 Main project work ... 38

9.3 Seeking further assistance ... 38


10.1 Copyright and IPR agreements ... 39

10.2 Setting restrictions on access to your work ... 40

10.3 Data Protection principles ... 40

10.4 Publication of project reports... 40


11.1 Length of project report ... 41

11.2 Format of project report ... 41

11.3 Structure of project report – named sections ... 43

11.4 Referencing ... 46

11.5 Plagiarism and assessment irregularities ... 47


12.1 Writing the Acknowledgements section ... 49

12.2 Proof-reading and help with writing or language ... 51


13.1 Deadlines ... 52

13.2 Required formats for both printed and electronic copies ... 53

13.3 Submission of both printed and electronic copies ... 54


14.1 General marking criteria ... 55

14.2 What the examiners will be looking for ... 56



Objectives of the project report ... 58

Identifying a project topic – how the process works for this MSc ... 58

Types of project report permitted for this MSc... 58

Expected time commitment of projects ... 58

Identifying a supervisor – how the process works for this MSc ... 58

Supervisor support ... 58

Key dates and deadlines ... 58

Project marking criteria ... 58

Further course-specific information ... 58


These will be available on Moodle under the course site for your MSc, or on the web/intranet as indicated.

Forms all students are expected to complete:

 Combined Academic, Risk Assessment and Ethics Approval (CARE) form, available at

www.lshtm.ac.uk/edu/taughtcourses/studentforms/careforms.html Forms for those travelling overseas:

 Travel Insurance form, available at

intra.lshtm.ac.uk/safety/travel/travel_insurance_and_general_information. doc

Forms which may be relevant for specific courses only:  ITD Project Choice form

Other general forms which may be of use:

 Agreement template for assigning ownership of Copyright (CR)  Agreement template for assigning Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)



All students taking a masters course at LSHTM are required to undertake a project report – that is, to carry out and write up an independent piece of work on a topic that is relevant to the MSc course or stream that you are studying. The project must be carried out you, but you will have support from a supervisor (who may or may not be your personal tutor), and may also have access to co-supervisors or technical advisors where relevant.

As the outcome of this process, you will submit a project report which is marked and forms a large component of your final degree grade. To do this successfully, it is important to be aware of the deadlines and time

requirements for project work. While specific deadlines may vary between courses, the key phases are:

 From as early as January (if not before), you should be actively thinking about what you will do for your project in the summer.

 In February and March (while still undertaking taught modules), you will need to turn your idea into a formal proposal and get approval to go ahead with it from School staff.

 By the end of April, you should expect to have received all required approvals, and may be able to start doing preparatory work or getting arrangements confirmed.

 During the summer (after the exams are over), you will normally

undertake the main part of your project work – including research or data collection, analysis and writing-up.

 The deadline for submitting your project report will be at the end of the summer (start of September).

1.1 Project lengths and learning times

The topic you wish to address should be specific enough to be answered within the time and resources you have available.

School Regulations set out criteria for a „standard length‟ project, which will apply for the vast majority of MSc students.

 The notional learning time for a standard length project is suggested as 450 hours, typically consisting of: 50 hours on selection of topic and


preparation of proposal; 300 hours carrying out work involved in project; and 100 hours on writing up the project report.

 The recommended word count for a standard length project report is about 8,500 words (with a minimum of about 7,000 and an absolute maximum of 10,000). Certain courses (at present, MSc Medical Statistics only) set a page limit rather than a word limit, of 50 pages with prescribed formatting.

For specific courses (at present, MSc IID only), regulations also allow for „extended‟ projects to be undertaken. Further details are given in Part 2 of the MSc IID project handbook. Extended projects require additional learning time, with work on the project during both D and E timetable slots, and a word count of 10,000 words (absolute maximum 12,000 words) recommended for the final project report.

1.2 Permitted project types

Project reports may encompass a wide variety of approaches. Individual MSc courses will set criteria on what constitutes a valid project type for that course. Examples of different types of project include:

 Field-based research project – undertaking primary data collection away from LSHTM, followed by analysis of the results. Such projects may cover a spectrum of work; from collecting samples to bring back to the lab, to social research.

 Laboratory research project – which may be based either in LSHTM labs or at institutions elsewhere.

 Analysis of an existing dataset – may be based on work done or data collected by you prior to or during the course; or use data provided by School staff, or others, or which is in the public domain.

 Protocol for new study – an MSc project may consist of designing a detailed proposal for a larger scientific study, addressing all relevant issues.

 Policy report – typically involves reviewing a policy issue using data from grey and other literature and/or from „original sources‟ to draw conclusions and make recommendations for policy.

 Systematic literature review – undertaking a comprehensive and original review of the literature on a relevant subject.

The specific types of project permissible for your MSc are listed in Part 2 of this handbook. You can also see copies of past students‟ project reports for

your MSc on the Library site at


1.3 Project objectives as part of your masters degree

The project report is an essential component of MSc study at LSHTM.

Presenting a project report will enable you to demonstrate your ability to carry out and write up an independent piece of work on a topic that is relevant to your course. The project report provides 25% of the credits for your overall degree. It also contributes towards 30% of your final degree GPA and classification, i.e. playing an even stronger part in indicating how well you have done overall and whether you may obtain a distinction.

Your project report should indicate to the markers that you are able to:  demonstrate understanding of a substantive portion of the body of

knowledge covered by the course curriculum;

 demonstrate the ability to think critically and develop original ideas;  analyse data or literature and form conclusions based on this analysis;  demonstrate independent research skills;

 demonstrate an awareness of the practical aspects of planning and conducting a study, including potential problems and pitfalls;  produce an extended piece of writing that is clear and coherent;  demonstrate the ability to present research findings and/or policy

recommendations in a clear and systematic format;

 where appropriate, reflect on social or ethical issues relating to the research; and

 demonstrate familiarity with either conventional research-reporting or policy-reporting styles, including project layout and referencing. Given the wide variety of projects undertaken at the School, project work should aim to fulfil these objectives in general terms, without necessarily fulfilling each individual statement.

The specific aims of the project for your MSc are listed in Part 2 of this handbook.

1.4 Stages in the project report process

The various stages in preparing and undertaking a project report, including deadlines, may differ from course to course. You will find the specific key dates and deadlines for your MSc in Part 2 of this handbook. However, key stages and milestones are similar across all courses.


The following division into standard major „stages‟ may be helpful:

Stage Tasks (plus suggested timing) Key milestones Deadline



Consider from early Autumn term.

 Choose standard or extended project (where offered).

 Linked to selection of Term 2 and Term 3 modules. Mid-November

2: Initial planning

Consider from late Autumn term, and certainly from early January.

 Start thinking about topics, and discuss ideas with staff.  Consider type of project to carry out (data collection, lab

research, policy report, literature review, etc.)  Identify and approach potential supervisors where


 Identify external placement where appropriate.

 Identification of supervisor.  Identification of project topic.

End January

3: Proposal development

Undertake work in January-February.

 Draft project proposal and discuss with supervisor and/or other staff (incorporate their feedback).

 Initial submission of draft CARE form to supervisor. Mid-End February


Proposal approval

Put forward through approval stages from late February to early March.

 Completion of final project proposal as CARE form.  Obtain academic, risk assessment and ethics approval.


 Obtain supervisor approval then Course Director approval.  Obtain approval from Faculty Safety Supervisor if


 Submit final CARE form to MSc Research Ethics Committee by their absolute deadline.

 Once all approvals received, submit approved form to TSO.

End March (for Ethics) c. End April (final form to TSO) 5: Undertaking project

Last prep work in April; main project work from June to end August.

 Reviewing literature.  Data collection.  Data analysis.  Writing report.

 Finish data collection

 Finish first draft report, for supervisor‟s comments  Submission of final project report.


More specific guidance relating to these stages appears later in this handbook:

 For stages 1 and 2 above, see Section 3 “Starting to plan your project”.  For stages 3 and 4 above, see Section 4 “The project approval process”

(which includes notes on use of the CARE form).

 For stage 5 above, see both Section 9 “Undertaking research for your project report” and Section 11 “Writing up your project report”.

Note that the deadlines indicated above relate to standard project reports, but may differ for extended projects. Specific deadline dates are given in Sections 4.7 and 13.1.

1.5 How your project will be assessed

All MSc project reports are marked by two markers, who jointly agree a grade on the School‟s standard scale from 0 to 5. The specific marking criteria that will apply for your course are given in Part 2 of this handbook; while further general information, including things you can expect the markers to be looking for, is given later in Part 1, under Section 14 “Project assessment”.

Please ensure you understand how your project will be marked from an early stage, as you start planning your proposal.

 You should also particularly pay careful attention to the marking criteria when you reach the writing-up stage.


All students should have a project supervisor, to guide you in planning, undertaking and writing up your project work. This is an important relationship. Supervision arrangements may vary considerably between courses (see Part 2 of this handbook for further specific details relating to your MSc); and the nature of your relationship with your supervisor may also depend on the project type or topic you are undertaking. However the following notes, especially on frequency of meetings and what you can or cannot expect your supervisor to do, should apply for most projects.

2.1 Matching you with a project supervisor

The process by which students are matched with supervisors (and sometimes also with project topics) varies considerably between MSc courses. The particular process for your MSc is spelled out in Part 2 of this handbook.

In some cases a supervisor may be assigned to you, or will be attached to the project topic that you have been able to select from a list. In other cases, you may need to „find‟ a supervisor yourself, approaching members of academic staff with appropriate expertise, or staff from other institutions or

organisations. It may sometimes be appropriate for your personal tutor to become your project supervisor.

Course Directors will ensure that no student is without a supervisor – please contact your Course Director if you are having any problems in identifying a suitable supervisor.

In the event that you are dissatisfied with supervision arrangements, you should first discuss this with your supervisor and attempt to resolve any problems directly with them. If you are still dissatisfied, you can then speak to your Course Director. It is sometimes possible to change supervisor during the course of a project; indeed this may be appropriate if your plans or project topic change significantly, or if your original supervisor will no longer be available during key stages. However, changes are discouraged unless absolutely necessary because of the disruption they can cause.

2.2 Different supervisory roles

Your supervisor, once identified, is the person who gives you guidance about your project overall, and fulfils the criteria set out in Section 2.3 below on the „role of supervisor‟. Supervisors may be members of LSHTM staff (whether based at the School in London, or at research sites elsewhere); or they may be „external‟ (i.e. based outside the School and not a member of School staff). If a person who is not a member of School staff agrees to act as your

supervisor, they should familiarise themselves with what your course requires for an MSc project (as per Part 2 of this handbook), and be willing to take on the responsibilities outlined in section 2.3 below. In such cases, your Course Director should approve the external supervisor‟s appointment, and ensure that you also have a designated member of LSHTM staff (known as a „School supervisor‟) available to provide guidance from the School‟s perspective. The School supervisor may potentially be your personal tutor, your Course Director, a staff member acting as „Projects Organiser‟ for your course, or someone else.

Other individuals may also be involved in supervising or assisting with your project. They may be closely involved in specific parts of your project – for instance directing you in carrying out specific laboratory procedures, working


with you during fieldwork, or advising you on statistical techniques for a specific part of your analysis – or involved with the project as a whole, though lacking the responsibilities of your „main‟ supervisor. Such staff are referred to as „co-supervisors‟ if they are academics, or as „technical advisors‟ if they are not academics (e.g. staff working for an NGO).

It can be perfectly normal and appropriate for you to have a greater level of direct contact with a co-supervisor or technical advisor (be they external or internal to LSHTM) than with your „main‟ supervisor. Day-to-day advice in the course of fieldwork or lab work may often be primarily given by co-supervisors or technical advisors, while your main supervisor may only need to give advice on the strategic direction of the project.

Note that your main supervisor may also delegate substantive supervisory responsibilities (including responsibilities for approving your project proposal and reading and commenting on your draft final project report) to an internal or external co-supervisor, provided everyone involved agrees to do so.

2.3 Role of supervisor

The role of your supervisor is to provide you with guidance and advice, and to support your learning during the project report. However, the final content of the project report is your responsibility alone; it must be your own work, reflecting your own abilities and the skills and knowledge you have acquired during the course and during the period of supervision.

 In the planning stages, you must write the project outline. In some cases your supervisor may identify the dataset and define the research question for you to investigate, but you are responsible for specifying the analytical approach.

 Similarly during the course of the project, your supervisor will normally provide guidance, but should not tell you what to do or what to write, or carry out specific actions such as writing text/commands or running STATA analyses for you.

 Where you encounter specific challenges, you may find it helpful to have a discussion with your supervisor about situations similar to that which you now face, then apply what you learn from such a

discussion to your project report.

 Sometimes the data you are analysing will belong to your supervisor. However, your supervisor should not direct the analysis beyond your level of ability. In some cases your supervisor may carry out further

analysis after the project report has been submitted, but the project report must be your work alone.

 When writing-up the project, as a general rule your supervisor can be expected to read or criticise one written draft of the project report – so long as the draft is ready with sufficient time to do this (e.g. a minimum of 1 week).

 It is up to you to ensure that meetings are planned to allow adequate reading time; it may be helpful to jointly agree target dates with your supervisor, for when they can expect to receive your draft and when they will be able to give you feedback after this.

 Rather than have your supervisor read through a single final draft of your project just before you submit it, it may be much more helpful to adopting a „write as you go‟ approach and get supervisor feedback on individual chapters as you draft them during the course of the project.  Note that your supervisor is not expected to correct your English

when reading or commenting on your work, though may advise where further improvement is necessary.

You should quite clearly understand that it is not your supervisor‟s

responsibility to make sure that the project report submitted is of at least a „pass‟ standard. Rather, their responsibility is to provide guidance and support to ensure your best efforts can be directed into appropriate work, so that your final project report will be a good example of your ability and knowledge. Checklist – role of the supervisor

Things the supervisor can do –

 The supervisor may identify the dataset.

 The supervisor may define the research question.

 The supervisor can advise on development of the project proposal, including giving feedback and making specific suggestions for how to complete the CARE form.

 The supervisor should give their approval for the final project proposal using the CARE form –including confirming the appropriateness of the risk assessment, and advising the student on seeking ethics approval where required either by the School or locally.

 The supervisor should provide guidance over the course of the project, particularly on overarching elements but also on specific aspects where appropriate.


 The supervisor will usually provide feedback on a penultimate draft of the project report (provided this is given to them in good time, according to a jointly-agreed timetable).

Things the supervisor should not do –

 The supervisor is not expected to correct the student‟s English.  The supervisor is not responsible for deciding the final content of the

project report.

 The supervisor must not write the project outline.

 The supervisor must not specify the analytical approach.  The supervisor should not tell the student what to do.  The supervisor should not tell the student what to write.

 The supervisor should not write text/commands for the student.  The supervisor should not track-change text electronically.  The supervisor should not run STATA analyses for the student.

 The supervisor is not responsible for ensuring that the project is of at least a “pass” standard.

 The supervisor should not rewrite a project report.

If your main supervisor is not a member of School staff, you should clearly establish with them from early on as to what support they will or will not expect to provide – including things like availability and frequency of contact, or what they can arrange for you in terms of facilities and practical support (e.g. travel, accommodation, administrative assistance etc.)


You may wish to inform your supervisor if you have a disability or ongoing medical condition – e.g. physical or sensory impairments, learning

disabilities such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, or difficulties affecting emotional or mental well-being. Even if you have already declared a disability to the School, such information is treated confidentially and supervisors will not automatically be advised. Supervisors are likely to be able to support you better if they are aware of your specific circumstances. The Student Advisor can help with any queries about disabilities – please see further information at http://intra.lshtm.ac.uk/studentadvice/disability

2.4 Frequency of contact with supervisor

Your supervisor acts as an advisor, not a collaborator, so you must expect to do most of the work independently.

During the initial planning and proposal development stages, you should seek advice from your supervisor about the general topic and direction of your project. Supervisors will often suggest useful points and ideas you might not otherwise be aware of or have considered. Your supervisor can reasonably be expected to give you feedback on one full draft project proposal during these planning stages, but not more detailed input (e.g. they should not do your literature search for you). Your Course Director can give advice and feedback if no supervisor has yet been appointed.

Moving into the main (summer) period of project work, and particularly during the early stages, the supervisor should normally organise regular sessions with you – e.g. meetings, phone calls, email briefings. It is usually helpful to agree a timetable of work for the project report with your supervisor from early on; and you should agree the plan of analysis and the structure of the report at a relatively early stage, including chapter titles and sub-headings.

The exact amount of contact time will vary according to your needs, the type of project involved, and any particular difficulties or problems that may arise. However the total contact time you can expect between yourself and your supervisor over the summer period is between 6 and 10 hours. This includes all contact, whether by telephone, email or face to face. The one thing that the supervisor can be expected to do in addition to this 6-10 hours contact is to read through and comment on one full draft of your project.  Note that some courses set more prescriptive requirements for how

supervisor contact should be managed – e.g. recommending up to three substantive meetings with the supervisor, corresponding to 3-6 contact hours, topped up to max. 10 hours by additional contacts such as emails.  Lab-based work in particular may often involve students being in contact

with their supervisors on more or less a daily basis. In such scenarios, “technical” contact such as setting up equipment, handling materials and demonstrating or carrying out procedures is not expected to count

towards the max. 10 hours supervision time. However, strategic advice on the project overall or approaches to be taken should count towards the supervisory guidance quota.

 Please see Part 2 of this handbook for more details on how supervisor contact is expected to operate for your MSc.

The primary responsibility for maintaining contact with your supervisor rests with you as the student. You should consult them from early on about your plans, and jointly agree on how they will give input as your work progresses.


There may be periods where your supervisor is unavailable, e.g. if travelling or undertaking their own research; they should let you know when this is the case. If you feel that your supervisor is not sufficiently available to give you necessary support, you should let them know – do not allow this to delay your work. If you are still dissatisfied, you should let your Course Director know.

2.5 Role of personal tutor

In some instances, your personal tutor may also be your project supervisor. This is standard practice for certain MScs. In cases where students have an external co-supervisor who will undertake the majority of supervision, it is also common practice for the personal tutor to act as School-based co-supervisor, with more limited responsibilities (e.g. focused on proposal approval).

If your personal tutor is to act as your project supervisor, you should note the distinct shift in their role and responsibilities at this time. Whilst during the rest of the course your personal tutor will give you as much support as is

reasonably possible, there is a clear limit to the level and amount of supervision they can give for the project – a maximum of 10 hours contact time under any circumstances. The same applies if your MSc Course Director is also your (co-)supervisor.

Such arrangements need to be strictly followed, as the project report counts substantially towards your overall assessment and equality of conditions needs to be ensured.


As the summary table given earlier (under „Overview of the project process‟) indicates, you should work through key stages of “pre-planning”, “initial planning”, and “proposal development” for your project, before seeking all required approvals and then beginning any substantive project work.

The pre-planning and initial planning stages are described below. These early stages should not necessarily require a great deal of work; but the key point to be aware of is that you should start actively thinking about your “summer project” from as early as the Autumn term.

3.1 Pre-planning (Stage 1 of planning & approval process)

Consider from early Autumn term. Deadline for this stage will be approx. mid-November.

This does not apply for all courses, but MSc students on some ITD courses will be asked to make a decision early on about whether they wish to undertake a „standard‟ or „extended‟ project. This decision is linked with the number and type of teaching modules selected, and the deadline for it is the same as that for module selection – around mid-November.

3.2 Initial planning (Stage 2 of planning & approval process)

Consider from late Autumn term, and certainly from early January. Deadline for this stage will be approx. end January.

Initial ideas

All students should find it helpful to begin to think about potential project areas at an early stage in the academic year. It will always be useful to consider what type of work or topic area will best suit you and your expertise, or fit with your career goals for after the course. You may wish to explore a number of different ideas with a variety of staff before coming to a decision.

Your chosen topic must be relevant to your MSc course. Further specific guidance is given in Part 2 of this handbook; but if in any doubt, please speak to your supervisor, tutor or Course Director before spending any time

investigating options that may not be relevant or appropriate. Course-specific approaches

The process by which a possible project topic emerges is a dynamic one, and varies considerably between MScs – please see Part 2 of this handbook for further guidance. Some courses assemble a list of potential projects (e.g. see the ITD Project Choice form for lab-based ITD projects), or a list of potential project supervisors, or both. Others leave it to students to come up with a project idea – usually after discussion with your personal tutor, who may also be your project supervisor.

Type of project

The project idea or topic area you decide on will help determine what type of project you undertake, and vice versa. Each MSc or MSc stream will set and define specific allowed project types – please see Part 2 of this handbook for details.

Identifying a supervisor

Your supervisor should also normally be identified at this stage. As noted previously, on some courses a supervisor will be assigned or may be


responsible for a particular project topic available on a list; but for other courses, you may need to approach staff with relevant expertise to ask them to act as a supervisor or advisor. Specific notes on how this process will work for your MSc are given in Part 2 of this handbook. It is not always necessary to identify a supervisor during initial planning, and your Course Director can provide advice if no supervisor has yet been appointed.

Identifying external placements

Where appropriate (although note that this may not be relevant or even permitted for certain courses), your initial exploration of project ideas may lead you to identify a potential external placement – e.g. in a hospital, college, research institute, NGO headquarters, field station or so on. Sometimes such links may be suggested by your supervisor or Course Director; or this may perhaps be an organisation that you know of or have some previous experience with.

It will usually be appropriate to contact such institutions/organisations at this stage, to find out whether a placement will be possible, and identify a suitable member of staff who can support you while there (e.g. as main supervisor, co-supervisor or technical advisor).

Guidelines on good research practice

At this point, you may find it helpful to read through the School‟s “guidelines on good research practice” at

www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/policies/guidelines_on_good_research_practice.pdf , as well as the guidance in this handbook (especially the course-specific information in Part 2). This may help clarify your thinking about how specific aspects of the project might best be carried out.

Completing initial planning

The initial planning stage has a clear „endpoint‟, by which time you should know the type of project you will be doing, who your supervisor will be, and the likely topic. Although the final title of your project may not emerge until the writing up stage, the broad topic area should normally be decided on now. This stage should usually be completed by the end of January, or a couple of weeks before the hand-in date for your draft project proposal – to allow your supervisor to check the details and for you to make any final amendments. Setting a work schedule

Good project management is key to a successful project – setting a plan and schedule from early on, then following this through.

 You should develop a timetable, prepare a clear project outline/structure you can follow through in main research, and always be conscious of what is or isn‟t feasible.

 It‟s extremely helpful to do as much groundwork and preparation as possible ahead of the project starting „properly‟ in the summer. Once your main research is underway, aim to maintain a steady productive pace. Beware the temptation to think you can cram everything in at the end!  Always plan to set aside specific writing-up time after completing the main

research or data collection.


The next main stages in the project planning process are developing your proposal and getting it approved. These two stages are closely linked; you will want to seek and incorporate feedback from your supervisor (and possibly other staff like your Course Director) as you develop your proposal, then your supervisor and Course Director will then be the first people you need to seek approval from.

You must complete the School‟s Combined Academic, Risk assessment and Ethics approval (CARE) form, to obtain the formal approvals the School requires before you undertake substantive project work. The CARE form is also intended to be a useful tool for project development, helping to give shape to your proposal and acting as a reminder about important areas to consider.

It is vital that you obtain full approval before starting work on your project, so please pay careful attention to the notes below. Further guidance about how proposal development and approval should operate for your MSc specifically is given in Part 2 of this handbook.

4.1 Proposal development (Stage 3 of planning & approval process)

To be done in January-February; deadline for this stage will be approx. mid-February.

Having identified the project type and topic you would like to carry out (as per the previous „initial planning‟ stage), proposal development is where you shape your ideas into a more specific plan. This is likely to include:  Adding more details about the background to this topic, your intended


 Following up to confirm any major aspects like who your supervisor will be (if not previously confirmed) or setting up an off-site placement for the summer (if this is part of your plans).

 Seeking advice and feedback from others – particularly from your

supervisor, but potentially also from other staff such as your personal tutor or Course Director, other students, or past colleagues and personal contacts.

It is recommended that you use the CARE form when you begin to develop specific details of your proposal – this should save you some work later, as you will need to put information into this format for approval purposes. Typically you may produce several drafts of the CARE form, revising them in turn after discussions and feedback from your supervisor or others, before you submit a final version for approval.

Your supervisor can reasonably be expected to give you feedback on one full draft project proposal, or your Course Director can give such feedback if no supervisor has yet been appointed.

The final milestone of the „proposal development‟ stage will be to submit a final project proposal for approval, using the CARE form.

4.2 Starting to complete the CARE form

The Combined Academic, Risk assessment and Ethics (CARE) form is intended as a way to comprehensively summarise the work you intend to do in your project, so that staff have sufficient information to give approval. It will also prompt you on a number of key points you need to think about.

Past example CARE forms

You may find it helpful to look at actual examples of completed CARE forms, based on past students‟ projects, when reading the more general guidance given below. These are available on the web at

www.lshtm.ac.uk/edu/taughtcourses/studentforms/careforms.html Structure of the CARE form

The form is divided into five main sections, covering: (1) basic information about your submission; (2) approval status – including a “student declaration” to be affirmed; (3) academic content of proposal; (4) safety and risk issues; and (5) ethics issues.

You will need to complete at least some information in each of those five main sections. Since not every question will be applicable for all projects, the form has clear labelling and routing to identify the specific further sub-sections and questions you will need to complete within each main section.

Questions in the CARE form have been agreed on behalf of the School‟s Learning & Teaching Committee, Safety Committee and MSc Research Ethics Committee, and may not be altered.

Use of electronic form

The form should be filled in electronically in Microsoft Word format (.doc or .docx files), or in Rich Text Format (.rtf files). It can be downloaded from the Moodle course site for your MSc, which will also have a copy of this handbook and all other forms and information that may be relevant for your course. You can access this by logging in at ble.lshtm.ac.uk using your School username and password.

The template form is saved in an open/normal format. To select a specific tick-box option, simply double-click the relevant box and select „checked‟ from the menu which appears. Alternatively, you can just overtype “X” to replace the relevant box; or delete the other options so just one remains shown. Drafts and versions

Completing the CARE form is an iterative process – you are not expected to get it all done at once, and may need to do several different drafts. You should use CARE to work through the proposal development stage of the process, to eventually come up with a version ready to be approved.

It can be helpful to start work on a first draft of the CARE form as you begin to discuss initial project plans with your tutor, supervisor or Course Director – from January, or even earlier. Alternatively, you can just fill it out „all at once‟ later on, when you have worked out your plans more fully.

Be careful about how you save electronic files of your work. It is very helpful to date or number different versions. Files should ideally be named in the following format (which particularly helps staff like Course Directors or the MSc Research Ethics Committee who have to deal with a great many forms): “[MSc title]_[Year of Submission]_[Surname]_[Forename]_


For example, “PH_2013_Chadwick_Edwin_CARE_v01_Jan19th.doc”

Please ensure you keep an electronic copy of all versions of the form that you submit to staff for approval, and that you can always identify the most recent version – especially where you have had to incorporate amendments based on staff feedback about a previous version.

Any other documentation you need to provide, e.g. consent forms when submitting to the MSc Research Ethics Committee, should be saved in a similar format but changing the word „CARE‟ in this. For example,

“PH_2013_ Chadwick_Edwin_EthicsConsentForm_v01_Jan19th.doc” Who should fill in CARE

The CARE form should normally be filled out by you the student writing in the first person, e.g.

 “I will be based at MRC Fajara, The Gambia…”

However, it may be appropriate for supervisors to edit parts of the CARE applications, or to supply specific or standard text to help answer certain questions. To help distinguish such contributions they should normally be written in the third person, e.g.

 “The student’s CV will be submitted to the Scientific

Co-ordinating Committee at MRC Fajara, to inform them of her visit during this project and participation in the broader study into which this fits as a component and for which ethics approval has already been given from the MRC and Gambian Government.” A note about abbreviations

You should be careful to ensure that any abbreviations you mention in your proposal are defined in full the first time they appear in the CARE form. Even if you think the term is so obvious that it can simply be given as an abbreviation and doesn't need an explanation, please bear in mind that your form may be considered by staff other than your supervisor or Course Director – it may be unintelligible or difficult to understand if it is not defined. In

particular, the Ethics Committee membership consists of about half

biologists/medics, and half in law, social science or lay positions; one group may know quite well what an undefined abbreviation stands for, but the other may not. Writing your application clearly and spelling out or defining

abbreviations is helpful and reduces the potential for delays in approval.

4.3 CARE Section 1 – Student and Course information

Section 1 of the CARE form constitutes a “cover sheet” of important basic information about your proposal or submission.

 Deadlines relevant to each MSc will be confirmed by Course Directors. Specific versions of the form with these dates already filled in may be made available for certain courses.

 The form asks for your name and email contact details, so that staff (e.g. reviewers from the Ethics Committee) can contact you with any queries. You should not give your candidate number anywhere on the CARE form.  The form also asks you to confirm supervisor details. You may not have

had your project supervisor’s name fully confirmed by the time you submit the form for approval; if so, you can tick the „provisional‟ or „still to be identified‟ boxes. Where no supervisor has yet been identified, you should also supply the name of your personal tutor. All these details can be updated again if they are confirmed or changed later in the course of the CARE approval process.

 If you haven‟t had a supervisor confirmed but you still know what you intend to do for your project, this shouldn‟t delay you completing the form. Personal tutors or Course Directors may approve proposals when the supervisor is still to be confirmed.

 However, if there are difficulties in identifying or confirming a supervisor, and the nature of your project is likely to depend on who they are, you should speak to your Course Director and personal tutor to ensure that you can develop a proposal and get it approved within the deadlines. There may be some flexibility with course-level deadlines, but you should not miss the School-wide deadline for submission of proposals to the MSc Research Ethics Committee if their approval will be required for your project.

4.4 CARE Section 2 – Approval and Submission status

Section 2 of CARE will need to be updated as the form receives different approvals in turn.

 The first item is a “Student Declaration” for you to fill in. This should always be completed before you submit any version of CARE for approval by staff. You need to tick to confirm that you will carry out the project as stated on the form, particularly with regard to safety and ethics


before submitting it to a member of staff will be regarded as the equivalent of a signature, which you agree to abide by.

 The next items are boxes to indicate approvals as they are received in turn from your Supervisor, Course Director, and where appropriate the Faculty Safety Supervisor and the MSc Research Ethics Committee. Further guidance on the process of submitting the form for approval is given in Section 4.6 of this handbook.

Please be aware that approval does not signify that a report which sticks rigidly to the proposal is guaranteed to pass.

4.5 CARE Section 3 – Application for Academic Approval

This section of the CARE form allows you to describe the main features of what you intend to cover in your project, with a general project outline plus points about general feasibility and other topics like intellectual property. You are likely to benefit from discussing this section of the form with your supervisor, tutor or Course Director, and may need to go through several drafts and revisions before it is finished. Once you‟ve got this section reasonably complete, you should be in a better position to answer the questions in the next two main sections about risk assessment and ethics – though be aware that questions and answers on those topics may also prompt you to come back and revise academic elements in this section.

Project Outline

Academic requirements for projects, i.e. what you summarise in a „project outline‟, will differ between courses – further details and guidance are given in Part 2 of this handbook.

 Some suggested section lengths or word limits are indicated in this part of the CARE form. These are reasonably flexible, and depending on your proposal you may wish to write a fair amount for one question and much less for another. Some courses may give more specific guidance on this – please see Part 2 of this handbook if so. Normally the project outline should not exceed 750 words total. The form is only intended to sketch out your project plan, not the project itself, so there should be no need to go into comprehensive detail.

 The CARE form is designed so that you do not have to duplicate information. Please remember that sections such as the project outline serve a variety of purposes – e.g. as a basis for the Course Director to

give academic approval, and for other staff to understand your proposal and give ethics or risk assessment approval.

To give further guidance on some of the specific questions asked:  Project title: You will need to come up with a draftproject title for the

purposes of the CARE form. This doesn‟t have to be the final title you use for the actual project report you end up writing; for now, it can just be a working title for the type of work you intend to carry out. If you already know precisely what your project will focus on, that‟s great and you can say so; but otherwise, it‟s fine to give a fairly generic title – typically, saying what kind of project you will be doing in what subject area and perhaps in relation to a specific location or data source. For example, “Data analysis of factors associated with vaccination coverage and timing of vaccination in young Tanzanian children”.

Project type: Details about permitted „project types‟ for your MSc are given in Part 2 of this handbook. Some courses are quite flexible about allowed project types, including the use of hybrid approaches. However other courses have very defined criteria for the type of work permitted, e.g. not allowing projects that require collection of new data.

Hypothesis: Not every project will need a specific hypothesis; this depends on project type.

Aim: The overall aim of the project may simply be to investigate the hypothesis, if one is put forward.

Specific objectives: While these don‟t necessarily have to be highly specific at the proposal stage, setting out sensible objectives now helps demonstrate that your project has been properly thought out.

 It can be helpful to check how your objectives meet „SMART‟ criteria: are they Specific, rather than too woolly or general? Are they

Measurable, to help allow you to reach a conclusion about what your work has found? Are they Achievable, given the limited resources you will have for your project (just you doing the work)? Are they Relevant to the project topic, and to the criteria your project will be marked on? And are they Time-bound, i.e. achievable within the limited time you will have to carry out the project (it may be helpful to start drawing up a project time-plan even at this proposal stage)?

 Equally however, it is often fine to give quite generic objectives like “Reviewing the literature and making policy recommendations as


appropriate based on the weight of evidence” – simply to indicate that this is one of the things you are setting out to do.

Proposed methods: These should cover both data collection and data analysis. It is good to include a provisional data analysis plan, e.g. listing statistical techniques to be used.


The Feasibility sub-section of the CARE form asks about things that might prevent you from carrying out a successful project, and back-up plans for such scenarios. This will be relevant for all students to answer, no matter what type of project you are doing. While projects that involve fieldwork and data collection may have higher risks or more things to go wrong, desk-based projects also have the potential to encounter problems – e.g. for literature reviews, if too many or too few articles are identified in the search, or if comparisons across articles are difficult due to the use of different measures or concepts.

Some examples of the kind of feasibility issues to consider, drawn from actual project proposals by past students, include:

 “Dangers of getting insufficient numbers of clients entered into study, or a large number of participants withdrawing from the study part-way through.”

 “Failure to access/obtain appropriate interviews with former WHO senior staff.”

 “The project is planned to take place from June - August, which coincides with lower seasonal peaks of mosquitoes in the area and may affect results.”

 “Incorrect storage of net samples prior to chemical assay could affect analysis.”

 “Potential difficulties dealing with the advanced statistical methods required.”

 “Frequency of outcome variables being insufficiently high to warrant further investigation.”

 “Supervisor will be based on another continent and if contact is difficult this may pose problems.”

Some further examples of how to sketch out a potential back-up plan include:  “If the literature search produces insufficient information on the

specific topic of HIV transmission among sex workers in

Cambodia, to widen the scope of the project to become a

broad-based review of gender violence and inequality in Cambodia and whether these issues may be partly responsible for driving the HIV epidemic.”

 “If there are problems with the ABI3130xl machine (genetic analyser) the planned processing of samples could be delayed or prevented, in which case alternative genotyping methods would be applied to undertake a parallel approach within the time frame of the summer project.”

 “If the data for analysis is not available, I would do a policy review of health rights in Costa Rica for undocumented and immigrant communities.”

You should also consider what you would do if there are delays with permissions – in particular, what you would do if ethics approval is required but not initially granted. For example:

 “If ethics approval is not granted for the collection of primary data, then as outlined above the emphasis of the project will be on undertaking a cost-effectiveness model using available estimates and carrying out probabilistic sensitivity analysis.”  “If ethics approval is not initially granted, I would expect to

confer further with the LSHTM MSc Research Ethics Committee and revise my proposal based on their feedback in order to gain approval. If there is a problem with obtaining local approval, I may need to abandon the human data collection element and switch to a pure literature review on the same topic.”

Your answers in this section may also link up with details you give in the later Risk Assessment section. This may also be an opportunity to give contextual information on possibilities like natural phenomena or transport issues – e.g. whether travel may be affected during a monsoon season.

Data sources, intellectual property and permissions

At this stage of project planning, you should also consider whether any issues around data sources, intellectual property rights, copyright or other permissions may apply for your project. It is each student‟s

responsibility to seek and gain any requisite permissions. Please don‟t simply assume that this is not relevant – if you are unfamiliar with these issues, further notes are given in Section 10 “Copyright and Intellectual Property” later in this handbook, and extensive guidance and resources are available on the


School website/intranet. Speak to your supervisor in the first instance if anything is still unclear.

 If you expect to use existing data previously collected by others, you should explain how you intend to gain permission to use it, think about methods by which you are likely to be able to access it, and consider what kind of restrictions may apply to your access or what your can write or publish about it (e.g. data usage limitations to prevent identification of individuals).

 If you intend to use public domain data, for purposes of ethics approval it is important to make clear that this is fully public domain – i.e. available to any member of the public, without any restrictions or requirement for special permission, and does not enable the identification of living people.  The form also prompts you to indicate whether any data rights

permissions or usage limitations will apply to data collected or used in the project – e.g. if the body granting permission needs you to ensure that no personally identifying information appears in your final report (this is a very standard requirement); or if the owner of the dataset you will be using will only grant you permission to use it for the specified purpose of your LSHTM project report. For example:

 “Data will belong to the MRC Unit in The Gambia. I will be permitted to analyse and present the data in my MSc project report, but not to make the results available to others. The right to incorporate my project data together with other existing data into a future publication will be retained by my supervisors at MRC The Gambia, with the assurance that I would be appropriately credited.”

 In many cases you may be working with data that belongs to LSHTM, for example a dataset provided by your supervisor. If so, you should discuss whether it is necessary to sign any specific agreements in advance about intellectual property rights or copyright. Standard forms are available for this (in the same place as the CARE form, on the Moodle site for your course) which may be adapted to suit specific requirements.

 You should tick the appropriate box to indicate which type of agreement may be applicable, if any – including with external parties. Copies of forms and agreements should also be supplied where possible, even if they are still in draft, when the CARE form is submitted for approval.

Later sections of the CARE form

Detailed guidance about filling in the later sections of the CARE form (Section 4 about Safety & Risk Assessment and Section 5 about Ethics Approval) is given later in this handbook. NB that you must in absolutely all cases fill out CARE sub-sections 4.1 about Risk and 5.1 & 5.2 about Ethics. These will confirm whether you will be required to do a more substantive risk

assessment or seek specific approval from the LSHTM MSc Research Ethics Committee, and if so which further sub-sections you may also need to answer.

4.6 Proposal approval (Stage 4 of planning & approval process)

To be put through approval stages from late February to early March. For most courses, key date of this stage will be to submit CARE form for Ethics approval by late March, with subsequent deadline for lodging final approved CARE form with TSO by approx. end April.

The School requires that all students obtain appropriate approvals for intended projects before starting work.

Academic approval (from your supervisor and Course Director) is necessary to ensure you do not work on a project which would be unsuitable for the MSc you are studying.

Risk assessment approval (from your supervisor and Course Director, and possibly from further staff such as the Faculty Safety Supervisor) is a requirement of the School.

Ethics approval is another very important aspect. Not all projects will need ethics approval, but you should pay very careful attention to the requirements to be sure whether or not it will be necessary for your project. You should also investigate, and make clear in your CARE form, whether you are likely to need any forms of local approval for work you may be doing away from LSHTM. Please be aware that any work in breach of ethics requirements is liable to be disqualified and given an automatic fail grade.

Key steps in the approval process

Approvals should be obtained in a specific order – first from your supervisor, then your Course Director, then the Faculty Safety Supervisor if necessary, and finally the MSc Research Ethics Committee. A final copy of the CARE form should be submitted to TSO once fully approved.


Approval step Instructions

Proposal development

Complete the CARE form, get feedback from your supervisor or tutor, and edit or re-draft as required. You may need to go through several drafts before this is ready. You should attempt to fill in all sections at this stage, including for risk assessment and ethics.

 When ready, forward to supervisor. Supervisor


Supervisor scrutinises the form, particularly for academic content and risk issues. They may wish to speak to you about specific points.

* Course Directors or personal tutors can give approval if your supervisor is still to be identified or confirmed.  If approved, the supervisor will inform you – and may

also have further comments. You should incorporate their feedback (see notes on revising the form), then forward to Course Director.

 If not approved, the supervisor will inform you and should give feedback about what you need to change or improve. You should go back to the proposal development stage, and make changes incorporating their feedback.

Course Director approval

Course Director (CD) scrutinises the form, to confirm it is academically suitable for the MSc and that any key risks have been identified. They may wish to speak to you about specific points. * For courses with more than one Course Director, only one needs to give approval.  If approved, the CD will inform you – and may also

have further comments. You should incorporate their feedback (see notes on revising the form), then forward to Faculty Safety Supervisor (if relevant) and MSc Research Ethics Committee (if required).  If not approved, the CD will inform you and should

give feedback about what you need to change or improve. You should go back to the proposal development stage to make changes incorporating their feedback and put a revised form through for supervisor and CD approval.

Approval step Instructions

(Faculty Safety Supervisor approval) * where relevant – esp. as indicated by answers to Section 4.4 of CARE

In certain cases only, relating to work with hazardous substances as clearly indicated on the form, you will need to seek specific approval from the Faculty Safety

Supervisor (FSS).

* This step is only likely to be required for ITD courses.  If approved, the FSS will inform you – and may also

have further comments. You should incorporate their feedback (see notes on revising the form); then forward to MSc Research Ethics Committee if this is required and has not already been done, or else pass to TSO.

 If not approved, the FSS will inform you and should give feedback about what you need to change or improve. You may be able to simply re-submit for FSS approval if changes will not require fresh approval from your supervisor and CD. Ethics approval * where required – as indicated by answers to Section 5.1 of CARE

For work involving non-public-domain human data, as clearly indicated by the form, you will need to seek LSHTM ethics approval via MScEthics@lshtm.ac.uk . Your form will be scrutinised by a member of a sub-group of the MSc Research Ethics Committee, who may also wish to contact you with queries or to clarify any specific matters.

* Please also include any other relevant documentation, inc. copies of information sheet and consent form for collecting data from human subjects, confirmation of local ethics approval received, etc.

 If approved, the MSc Research Ethics Committee will inform you – and may also have further comments. You should then submit the final approved form to TSO.

 If not approved, the MSc Research Ethics Committee will inform you and should give feedback. This may include cases where they simply need you to revise the proposal based on their input before it can be approved. You can re-submit for ethics approval if changes will not require fresh approval from your supervisor and CD (see notes on revising the form).


Approval step Instructions

More substantial revisions may need you to go back to the proposal development stage.

Submission to TSO

When all required approvals have been obtained, you should submit a final copy of the CARE form to the

Teaching Support Office by email – see section 4.8 below for full instructions including email addresses to use. Please also retain an electronic copy as you will need to include it (without the front sheet) in your final project report.

Please also see Section 4.9 “Revisions during the approval process” later in this handbook for details about reasons why staff may not approve proposals at certain stages, and what to do if so.

Other approval steps – peer review of proposals

PHP courses use an additional „staff peer review‟ sub-stage in the approval process, which comes between proposal development and formal supervisor approval. In this, the draft CARE form is sent to two tutors, neither of whom are the designated supervisor, who provide brief written comments on the draft project proposal. The comments are returned to the student, who should discuss further with the supervisor and revise their draft form accordingly before submitting it for formal supervisor approval.

Other approval steps – local ethics approval

If approval is required from an external body (e.g. local ethics approval, NHS research governance approval), then this must be followed up and obtained separately – see more detailed guidance later in this handbook, under Section 6 “Ethics Approval”. Such approval does not have to be obtained prior to getting the CARE form approved; but it should always be in place before you commence the local work in question.

Other approval steps – restricted travel

In the very rare case that you wish to undertake a project in a country or region to which the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against travel, you will also be required to complete a separate Restricted Travel Safety form, get it endorsed by your supervisor and Course Director, and then put forward for approval by the Safety Manager and Secretary & Registrar to the School. Such approval is not normally given, and may only be granted in

exceptional circumstances. Further guidance about this is given in Section 5.7 of this handbook.

4.7 Approval deadlines

School-level project deadlines (covering submissions to the MSc Research Ethics Committee and lodging approved CARE forms with TSO) are set out below. Please also take careful note of the specific course-level deadlines for obtaining supervisor and Course Director approval, as given in Part 2 of this handbook. For extended projects (MSc IID only), please be aware that different deadlines will apply; those mentioned below are for standard-length projects.

Any students having problems finalising their proposal or obtaining approval should ensure their Course Director is aware before the deadline is reached. The most critical School-level deadline is for Ethics approval. For 2012-13, the standard deadline for students to submit a completed CARE form to the MSc Research Ethics Committee is Friday 05 April 2013 (two weeks after the end of Term 2).

 Course deadlines should have been set to allow you to submit the form to your supervisor, Course Director, and where relevant Faculty Safety Supervisor, in sufficient time to get it approved and incorporate their feedback ahead of the Ethics deadline. Staff may be away over Easter just ahead of the Ethics deadline, and it‟s important to get their input at as early a stage as possible.

 The MSc Research Ethics Committee submission deadline has been set to enable the Committee to deal with the substantial workload of

reviewing a very large number of student projects in time for work to commence in the summer. It should be strictly adhered to, and applies across the School (with the exception of two MScs where projects are almost all undertaken overseas, and an extra two weeks are allowed to confirm local ethics approval).

Note that two MScs (PHEC and TMIH) have a slightly later MSc Research Ethics Committee submission deadline of Friday 19 April 2013. This has been specially agreed for these courses only.

Ethics approval will typically take 4 to 5 weeks from the point of submission, though this can be longer if the project is particularly complex. Normally, you should expect to have all approval in place by around the beginning of May, i.e. early in Term 3.


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