From Idea to Publication: Building Your Own Research Project

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

This is a Course-based Research Experience (CRE) class that will provide students with the chance to propose, design and conduct their own research projects, working on topics and seeking answers to questions that are currently unknown to science.

Have you ever wanted to publish a research project? That may seem unachievable until you have a PhD, or at least a bachelor’s degree. But that couldn’t be further from the truth; science and research are for everyone, regardless of their background. This course will turn you into a researcher by walking you through the steps of picking a research question, finding and assessing data needed to answer this question, synthesizing that data, creating a paper (among other content), and publishing your results. This class will provide structured time and material to learn and apply research skills as you work through an open-ended research on a project of your choosing. This course will be fast-paced, but highly interactive and project-based with lectures designed to supplement and guide your research process. Most importantly, you will learn that you can generate high quality, meaningful research. At the end, you will be confident in your abilities as a researcher and feel well-prepared to enter the world of college, academia, and research—and you will publish your own research on a real data set!

The backbone of the course is your research project. The first step is finding your data set: you will be to use public-health related data sets that we provide or find other data that you want to research. You will then apply research methods you learn throughout the course to produce a final, high-quality research project that blends written and media components. In order to be a successful researcher, you need to learn how research is conducted and how results are evaluated.

The first week will step you through selecting and refining a research question, fundamentals of research methods, and how to understand, evaluate, and synthesize previous research results and data through a systematic review. This course will be highly interactive and project-based, and the majority of time will be dedicated to helping you pursue your own interests while learning how to collaborate with others, rather than spent listening to lectures. The first week will be the most information-dense. In-class time will be spent building on content you will watch and read outside of class. Homework will consist of a set of brief online courses from the Evidence Synthesis Academy (, assignments geared towards discovering and narrowing your potential research topic and data set, and watching videos or reading articles related to the research process. Specific topics covered in this portion of the class include research design, evaluation of a source credibility, developing a research hypothesis, basic statistical methods, and evidence and source synthesis and analysis skills (see learning outcomes below).

After the first week, class time will largely be spent on your projects via individual work, guest-lectures, mini-presentations, and collaboration/feedback sessions with fellow students. There will be additional lectures on research steps based on your progress, and there will be time for individual or group check-in meetings with the professor. Lecture content will include writing style and citation methods, data collection and parsing, exploratory data analysis, how to calculate and evaluate basic statistics, and tutorials on using data visualization, citation, and other research software (including abstrackr, SRDR+, and OpenMeta[Analyst] found at the bottom of There will also be periodic guest lectures from scientists and researchers that will describe aspects of the research process, funding, research/academic atmospheres, publishing, and career advice. While you will be spending substantial time working on your project in class, you should still expect to dedicate significant time to your project outside of class.

You can expect to understand/attain the following:
Forming a research question and fitting it to available data
Conducting a systematic review of evidence
Understanding, evaluating, and synthesizing published articles/data
Evaluating the trustworthiness and usefulness of a source
Tailoring research to different audiences/publication goals
Basics of statistics, citation methods, hypothesis testing, bias, inference, and data visualization
Creating a research question that builds on existing evidence
Publishing your project and presenting your research
Collaborating with peers

You will be evaluated on:
Completion of online EvSynth Academy modules
Short, open-note quizzes on key aspects of research
Final project
Presentation and publishing research

Prerequisites: Enrollment in this course is by special admission only. Upon acceptance to [email protected] students must then complete a CRE application. This course is open to advanced students 16 years of age and older who are rising juniors, seniors or will have recently graduated. Students will be most successful in this course if they have experience writing paper 8+ pages long, exposure to basic statistics and/or statistical software, and basic experience using word and excel. Technology requirements (firm requirements): Access to a computer running Windows (7 or later) or macOS (preferably El Capitan or later) both during and outside of class, ability to install software on your computer, and internet access outside of class time. Software we need in this class will be free or made free to you for the duration of the class.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPC0904
  • Length: 4 weeks

Program Information

[email protected]

Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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