Courses & Modules

Research to Publication is a research methodology programme for early career academics in healthcare research, brought to you by BMJ in collaboration with University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The programme, made up of the 6 courses listed below, is focused entirely on medical research. The BMJ's research editors and UCSF's academics guide learners through the entire process from designing a study, to seeing it published in an international journal. Click on a course to see the modules within and start learning.

Our curriculum guides are designed to help you get the best out of Research to Publication. Click on the links below to get started:

Courses & Modules List

How to write & publish a study protocol

Understand different meanings of the term “protocol”; Communicate the value of planned research; Appreciate the characteristics of a good research question

The introduction: presenting the research question

Understand the purpose of the introduction section; Explain what was known, and not known about the study’s topic and about the specific research question; Report the study’s research question clearly

The methods: matching study designs to research questions

Why the methods section is the most important part; How to report study methods accurately and fully; How to report methods to minimise bias and confounding; How to use reporting guidelines for different study types

Ethics aspects of study methods

Why and how ethics issues can affect study methods; How international guidelines on research ethics can affect study methods; How to report ethics aspects in the methods section of a research paper

Reporting statistical methods and analyses

Report statistical methods and analyses clearly; Follow the Statistical Analyses and Methods in the Published Literature (SAMPL) guidelines on reporting statistics; Better understand journal resources and policies on statistical methods

The results: reporting all findings succinctly

Why the results section is less important than you think; How to report study results accurately and fully; Pitfalls of reporting results on associations and risks; How to use reporting guidelines for the results of different study types

The discussion: using structure and balance

Understand the purpose of the discussion section; Understand the elements of a structured discussion; Appreciate the need for a balanced, self critical discussion; Discuss the results of “negative studies” and observational studies

Choosing and citing references

Search published literature for appropriate references; Pick and read relevant references to support key statements; Cite accurately and fully, avoiding plagiarism; Beware of web references

Optimising the abstract and title

Why abstracts of research papers must be accurate and clear; How to use international, evidence based guidelines on preparing abstracts for different study designs; How to report the PICO elements of a study in the abstract

Compliance with journal and ICMJE requirements

Why journals vary widely and have different editorial policies; Core requirements for all medical journals; The Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)

Navigating journal and peer review processes

Key points to consider when choosing a journal; Tips on choosing between local, and national, and international journals; What the term “indexed journal” means; Measures of impact, particularly journal impact factor

Surviving peer review

How to submit an article; Typical author journey through the peer review process; Roles and responsibilities of authors, editors, and reviewers during peer review; Why ORCID (open researcher and contributor ID) is useful

What to do with rejections and appeals

Why journals reject research; Evidence on what might lead to rejection; How to interpret rejection letters; What to do after rejection; Waste in research and how to avoid it

Pre-submission inquiries and cover letters

Why a presubmission inquiry can increase the efficiency and success of peer review for both authors and editors; When to make a presubmission inquiry; Key elements of a presubmission inquiry; How to write the cover letter when submitting research

Good medical writing

How to tell the story of the study using IMRaD format; How to use structure, style, and language to write well; Writing in an evidence based style; “House style” at journals

This module explains the causes of rejection that are very important to know

Patients' consent for publication

Why consent to publication about potentially identifiable living patients matters; Circumstances in which journals need such consent to publication; How journals handle consent, and what they do when consent is unavailable or privacy is breached

Journal rules on authorship

Authorship: how it is defined, and why it matters; How MEDLINE and journals list authors; Journal policies and practices to safeguard authorship; Guest, gift, and ghost authors and other authorship problems

Reporting conflicts of interest

Why it is necessary to declare conflicts of interest (COI); Definitions of COI; Potential COI in health services research; Potential COI in industry-sponsored research; Public reporting of industry payments to health professionals

How to write up industry-sponsored trials

The evidence on misreporting of industry trials; Potential pitfalls of using composite end points in trials; Reporting of authorship for industry studies; How to report industry trials transparently

Scientific transparency: the pitfalls of selective reporting

Why selective reporting of research is wasteful and unethical; How research waste is bad for health; Why clinical trial registration is so important; How to make research reproducible

How and why to avoid plagiarism

How plagiarism and text recycling are defined; How common plagiarism is Factors associated with plagiarism; Use of plagiarism detection tools by publishers; How to avoid plagiarism and how to respond if caught

How journals uncover scientific fraud

Scientific fraud as data fabrication and deliberate falsification; The extent and harms of scientific fraud; Techniques journals may use to uncover fraud; Statistical analysis Image checking Linguistic analysis

How journals act on scientific misconduct

How and why journals respond to suspected misconduct that relates to submitted and published articles; The role of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE); The roles of authors’ institutions and research integrity organisations in investigating possible misconduct

the module is very important because it covers conflicts of interest which we often forget and yet are important

Course introduction and the research question

Identify and describe the characteristics of a good research question; Explain three key ingredients for developing a research question; Name and briefly describe the FINER criteria; Describe several sources from which good research questions arise

Study design

Define cohort studies; Distinguish between prospective and retrospective cohorts; Explain the nested case-control design and strategy; Describe the multiple-cohort design

Data and safety monitoring

Identify potential safety issues related to your study; List at least three important duties of a quality control coordinator and/or data and safety monitor

Subjects and variables

Define sample and population, and describe how sample and population inform all clinical research; Identify criteria for a target population; Compare and contrast approaches to sampling

Ethical considerations in research

Discuss a brief history of research oversight; Review ethical principles and federal regulations; Explain institutional review board (IRB) approval; Define informed consent

Enhancing causal inference

Define and describe box models; Define and describe standard error; Define and describe p-values; Define null hypothesis; Select the appropriate statistical tests for your study.

Sample size and power

List the steps for estimating sample size for an analytic study; Explain other considerations in calculating sample size for analytic studies; List the steps for estimating sample size for descriptive studies


Define and describe box models; Define and describe standard error; Define and describe p-values; Define null hypothesis; Select the appropriate statistical tests for your study.

Questionnaires and qualitative research

Describe steps an investigator can take to ensure that questionnaires and interviews are as valid and reproducible as possible; Define open-ended questions and closed-ended questions and devise several examples of both types of questions

Fantastic module. Very clear and helpful

Introduction and overview of regulations

Identify the key features of the US federal regulations for human subjects research; Identify the types of research that are subject to the Common Rule; List six criteria that must be satisfied for institutional review board approval prior to a study

Informed consent and related issues

Define informed consent; List six information elements researchers must disclose to participants; Describe at least three examples of vulnerable populations or participants

Conflicts of interest

Define conflicts of interest; Discuss the association between conflicts of interest and bias in research projects

Authorship and research misconduct

Describe the purpose of and criteria for authorship; Explain how disputes over authorship might be resolved; Define the federal standards for research misconduct; Describe at least three warning signs of research misconduct

Ethics in big data and "precision medicine"

Discuss potential ethical opportunities and challenges in “precision medicine” and data sharing; Discuss authors’ ethical obligations regarding sharing research materials and data

Research in resource-poor environments

Describe how research in resource-poor countries differs from research in the US; Explain why use of placebos in clinical trials may be unethical in developing countries

Course introduction and trial designs

Define randomized controlled trial Identify three alternative study designs to randomized controlled trials Identify five reasons for not conducting randomized controlled clinical trials

Introduction to randomized blinded trials

Define randomized blinded trials; Explain how to design RBTs; Describe how to choose the intervention and control conditions


Define blinding and identify ways to blind many interventions; Identify three ways that blinding minimizes potential bias for; Identify four types of interventions that cannot be blinded

Adherence and complete follow up

Describe two important reasons for adherence to the protocol; Describe five ways that adherence can be measured; Identify two ways to maximize adherence to the protocol

Regulatory issues

Define regulations that apply to clinical trials; Describe good clinical practice.


Describe the importance of randomization in clinical trials; Describe simple randomization; Describe randomized permuted blocks.

Choosing the interventions and controls

Describe aspects of the experimental intervention that should be defined in the planning stages of a trial; Identify at least three important functions of a control or comparator intervention in a trial

Outcome measures

Describe at least two reasons for using one primary outcome; Identify two types of data that support that a measure is a ‘valid’ surrogate marker for treatment

Ethical issues in clinical trials

Identify ethical issues in clinical trials; Describe factors for acceptability of random assignment to a treatment; Define interim monitoring

Selection of participants

Explain why it is important to develop detailed and specific eligibility criteria in a clinical trial; Describe advantages and disadvantages of defining a broader versus narrower population in a trial


Describe two goals of recruitment; Identify two study design issues; Identify three strategies to recruit appropriately

Assessing safety

Define a serious adverse event; Describe one pro and con of elicited vs volunteered adverse events; Describe reasons for using a formal adjudication process for clinical outcomes

The Programme

Research to Publication is an eLearning programme for early career academics in healthcare research brought to you by BMJ in collaboration with UCSF.

The Research to Publication programme is part of The BMJ's commitment to building medical research capabilities around the world. Created in collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the programme launched in early 2016. It is designed to be modular.

This programme offers a comprehensive set of stand-alone, self-study modules that lets learners choose what to study, and do so at their own pace. Focused entirely on medical research, Research to Publication draws on the expertise of The BMJ's research editors and UCSF's academics to guide learners through the entire process from designing a study, to seeing it published in an international journal.

The courses and modules in this programme are designed to stand alone however we strongly recommend that students taking the following three courses - Designing clinical research; Introduction to clinical trials; and Responsible conduct of research - purchase or otherwise gain access to the textbook Designing Clinical Research as this provides an extra level of detail students will find useful.