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BHI Research Methods

MEBI 537, Winter 2014

Instructor: Neil Abernethy
Class location: Health Sciences E-214
Class times: Mon/Wed, 2pm - 3:50pm (a 4-credit course)
Office hours: Wed 4-5pm

Course description:

Biomedical and Health Informatics is a broad, multi-disciplinary field. To propose, carry out, and report on research in this field, what are the appropriate methodologies that we apply?

In this course, we will cover the breadth of research methodologies used in our field. The course covers topics including epistemology, causality, study design, qualitative/quantitative research methods, and research ethics.  Recognizing the rapidly changing nature of the information sciences, we also introduce modeling, simulation, and statistical challenges presented by high-throughput experimental methods. 

One important theme for the course is that research methods for BHI draws on diverse fields such as computer science, information science, biology, and medicine.  Students will become more familiar with the contrasts between research carried out in different traditions, for example a randomized controlled trial in a clinical setting versus usability research that examines how people interact with technology and information from a qualitative perspective.

Another important theme centers around the importance of evaluation -- how do we know that our work is good, and successfully answers the research questions that we care about?  We review different approaches to evaluation of information systems, algorithms, and other information resources.

Because of the breadth of methodologies covered, this course will not be sufficient to provide the depth needed to carry out Ph.D. research. However, it should provide you with the breadth of knowledge to (a) understand the types research methods you might employ, (b) understand how different research methodologies may answer different research questions, and (c) appreciate and understand the BHI literature, which uses this wide variety of research methodologies. Thus, the readings for the course will include a wide variety of examples from the recent scientific literature.

A high-level course objective is to improve a student's ability to recognize high-quality research from a variety of scholarly traditions.

Last Updated:
Jan, 2014

Contact the instructor at: neilaAT <REMOVE> uw.edu