Research Paper Guideline for BCH, CMM, MIC and NSC

MED 5900 - Research Project

Students enrolled in the MSc in epidemiology with research project
must refer to the Research Paper Guidelines for Epidemiology.


MED 5900 is compulsory for all students enrolled in the MSc with Research Project option at the Faculty of Medicine.

The course comprises an 8-month research project in laboratory research and the completion of a research paper evaluated by two professors and the research project supervisor.

Graded: S (Satisfactory)/NS (Not satisfactory).


Like the thesis, the purpose of the research paper is for the student to demonstrate his or her ability to work independently in a scholarly manner. It is a prospective exercise, i.e., a student may not submit work conducted previously.

The research paper does not have to make a significant original contribution to the academic knowledge of the subject, but it must display extensive research and independent analysis. This includes comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the literature relating to the topic.

Expectations and Goals

Students will perform a research project in laboratory over 8 months in which candidates will be expected to develop a research question, develop a research plan, perform well-controlled experiments, analyze findings and produce a research paper. Students are expected to be engaged in research-related activities full-time.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for the Research Project promote the acquisition of discipline-specific knowledge and research skills through experiential learning. The learning objectives are:

  1. To develop detailed knowledge in the research area
  2. To learn the techniques and technologies used in the area of research
  3. To define a scientific question and design testable scientific hypotheses
  4. To efficiently troubleshoot experimental procedures
  5. To generate scientific data of publication quality
  6. To demonstrate the appropriate use of research methodologies
  7. To analyze data using appropriate statistical analysis
  8. To critically evaluate published literature and data
  9. To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge and of techniques used
  10. To evaluate the strengths and limitations of research approaches in relation to their research
  11. To master the ethical standards of conducting research
  12. To understand the importance of identifying and considering possible sex differences in experimental design
  13. To perform scientific experiments safely in a laboratory setting
  14. Communicate complex ideas, issues, arguments and research findings clearly and effectively in both oral and written formats in a manner that appropriate to a variety of audiences

Guidelines for the Research Paper

General style

The research paper should be written in standard 12 point font such as Times New Roman. Text should be 1.5 spaced with 2 cm margins on all sides with pages numbered in the page footer. All new paragraphs should NOT be indented, but rather a buffer space should be included beneath each new paragraph of 10 pt. While there is no strict page limit for the research paper, normally the document excluding figures and references, should not exceed 10 pages.

When writing, use normal prose. Use the present tense to describe facts (“RNA polymerase II is the enzyme required for transcription”) and the past tense to describe experimental results (“RNA polymerase was found bound to the transcriptional start site of the Cebpb gene”). Be precise and avoid any informal wording, hyperbole and vague phrasing. Pay attention to grammar, spelling and clarity. Technical writing should be precise and clear.


(1) Title Page

Include the title of the research paper, your name and program and your supervisor’s name and the date submitted.

(2) Abstract

A summary of the purpose of the study, objectives, hypothesis, model organism or system, major findings and significance of two hundred words or less.

(3) Introduction

The introduction should not exceed 3 pages and should familiarize the reader with the relevant literature in your field of study, the theoretical context for your project and the rationale behind your project objectives.

Specifically, the introduction should describe the state of the field (broader context), specific relevant literature (what is known in your research area), including important findings from your lab, describe the importance of the study undertaken (rationale – what is still unknown and why is it important to fill this knowledge gap), a description and justification of the model organism or system that you have chosen to use (both theoretical and practical), your hypothesis and your research objectives.

(4) Materials and Methods

Describe, with enough detail for someone else to reproduce your experiments, the methods and materials used.

Materials and methods are normally reported under separate subheadings.

Please note, this section is not a step-by-step description of each of your experiments, but rather a description of the methods used, including statistical analysis, that allows the reader to evaluate the scientific merit of your research contributions. Include all materials and equipment that are not commonly found in laboratories or are specific to the experiment described.

For solutions, refer to them by name and describe completely including all reagents, pH, etc. Most authors choose to write this section in the third person passive voice. Be sure to use complete sentences.s.

(5) Results

The page length of this section is determined by the amount of data to be reported.

Use figures and tables to present your research findings clearly. Ensure that figure and table legends are complete, and can, independent of the Results section text, allow the reader to understand the experiments performed.

The purpose of a results section is to present your findings, not interpret them and thus, this section should be completely objective. As such, the text should fully describe your results and indicate to the reader the observations that are most relevant.

The descriptions of findings are grouped together by providing context as to why the next experiment was performed. Do not forget to describe experimental controls. Use the past tense for this section and describe your findings in a logical order. This may not be the order in which you performed the experiments, but rather in the order in which the story is most easily understood. In the text, refer to your figures as Fig.1, Fig. 2, etc. and if you include sub-panels, Fig. 1A, Fig. 1B.

You may place your figures at the end of the document (after your references) of if you prefer, appropriately within the text of your results section.


The Discussion should be approximately 4 pages in length.

In this section, you are expected to interpret your data. You must explain your observations while focusing on mechanisms.

Decide if your hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if it is impossible to decide, and in which case, which experiments should be conducted to solidify the position.

If your results do not match your expectations, explain what you think may have occurred by considering other reasons or explanations why your data did not agree. Decide if your experimental design was adequate to address your hypothesis (was it properly controlled? Did the design allow for multiple observations?). Offer alternative explanations. Suggest future directions. What questions remain?

Do not restate the results or make the error of being to superficial in your interpretation, even if your results are in line with your expectations.


List all literature cited in your research paper, using the reference style for the journal Nature.


  1. The student must identify a research project supervisor prior to initial registration from the home program.
  2. Guided by supervisor(s), the student develops a research project proposal (in the context of MED5301) and performs the in laboratory component of the project. The project does not require external approvals.
  3. It is expected that the supervisor will review at least one draft of the research paper as it is being prepared, and offer feedback to be considered in finalizing the final paper. The student and supervisor(s) should negotiate expectations and timing in this regard at an early stage of writing. The external evaluators will be instructed to assume that this review and feedback has taken place.

Submission of the Research Paper

Deadlines for submission of the research paper are listed below.

Students must remain enrolled until the final grade is submitted to the university.

To submit your Research paper, please use the Service Request application in uoZone and select the Research type/Major Research paper supr. type with the completed Research paper submission Form (includes the research paper title and the names of two nominated evaluators) and a .doc version of your research paper in attachment.

The research paper is evaluated by two professors, not including your supervisor. The Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office forwards the research paper and the original protocol to the evaluators, with the firm expectation that their recommendations will be returned in no more than two weeks.

The research paper is evaluated as S/NS, with no possibility for revisions (see EVALUATION). Enrolment must be maintained continuously until completion of evaluation and submission of the final grade.


The evaluation is divided into three parts:

(i) laboratory performance assessed by the research director (20%)

(ii) evaluation of the research report by two Faculty of Medicine professors (50%)

(iii) presentation of a research poster evaluated by two Faculty of Medicine professors (30%)

The research paper will be evaluated by two professors (with supervisory privileges). Using the protocol for reference, the research paper will be assessed for quality and accuracy of the analysis, logical organization, extent of research conducted for the paper, the relevance of the material used, and clarity and correctness of expression.

Each evaluator indicates one of two possible recommendations:

  • The research paper is graded SATISFACTORY.
  • The research paper is graded NOT SATISFACTORY.

Discordant recommendations will be resolved in a timely manner with the input of a third examiner appointed by the director of graduate studies.

A result of NOT SATISFACTORY will result in a failure for the course MED5900. Students have the opportunity to revise the research paper, while maintaining registration in the program and resubmit.

Note that a passing grade (S) is obtained with an total combined score from 2 examiners of 65 or greater out of 100.

Research paper evaluation form (PDF)


2020-2021 Cohort

Submission deadline To be determined
Evaluation deadline To be determined

Cohort affected by pandemic shutdown (Fall submission)

Submission deadline December 9, 2020
Evaluation deadline December 22, 2020
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