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Research Methodologies in life sciences, nature sciences and engineering (RM)

Organic Unit Institute of Interdisciplinary Research (IIIUC)

Course Type Non-degree course

Type of teaching Distance Learning

Language of instruction English

Edition 3

Duration 135 hours

Number of ECTS 3

Accreditation N/A

Tuition fee 150€

Important Dates

Start date 18.11.2022

End date 05.04.2023

Application deadlines 09.10.2022


An early career researcher, as a PhD or a MSc student, has long-term relevant investment and challenges to succeed. Sometimes, the research process or finishing a thesis work may seem scary or even inhibiting. This course aims to give participants tools and a pragmatic view of the whole scientific research process, in a simple and realistic way, that will help to start and finish a thesis with success, while avoiding false myths. Each phase is presented and explored in detail, from the initial choice of the research subject to the drawing of final conclusions that will be shared with the scientific community and society, in general. Moreover, this course also addresses relevant subjects required for an early researcher to succeed, as ethics and scientific integrity, open science, science communication, management of scientific data, gender equality in research and research assessment.

The objective of this course is to stimulate the skills of decision-making autonomy and self-confidence in the participants and provide the tools to perform and reach top-level research.

Notice of Opening


Target audience

This course is aimed at people with a higher education degree, preferably in the fields of Life Sciences, Nature Sciences or Engineering.

Differentiating characteristics of the course

English language is used in all activities, in order to maximize the accessibility of the research work and also to promote the international diversity of participants. The distance learning method used throughout the whole course ensures total flexibility for students’ geographic location. It also offers considerable freedom for each participant to adopt their most effective learning pace, provided that they comply with the timetable set out for each course activity.

The structure of this course is the result of the vast experience of the teaching team, namely in directing and evaluating academic post-graduate works, as well as “peer reviewing” books and papers published by prestigious international editors; and also acting as experts in advisory panels for the funding of contractual research proposals.

Several practical applications (case studies) are included in the course, most of them the result of real situations experienced by members of the teaching team, thus ensuring realism. Discussion generated by such illustrations is an opportunity for students to interact among themselves and with the teaching team, therefore developing their skills in critical thinking as well as in-person and written communication.

Learning Goals

By the end of this course, the student should have acquired a critical view on:

  • his/her research methodologies;
  • the scientific research process;
  • different forms of dissemination and communication of research outcomes;
  • designing, building and managing convincing research proposals;
  • using and managing scientific data;
  • ethics and integrity in science.


  1. Course Objective
  2. Research: objectives, phases, key players
  3. Initial steps. Starting research
  4. Research strategy
  5. Personal balance
  6. Dissertation / Thesis
  7. The exam: presentation and defense
  8. Dissemination of results
  9. Research contract proposal
  10. Ethics and scientific integrity
  11. Scientific research ecosystems
  12. Open science
  13. Management of scientific data
  14. Gender equality in research
  15. Research assessment

Teaching Methodologies

The methodology of this course is based upon students’ active learning, fostering the deep understanding of contents, promoting the analysis and discussion of real case studies, and also organizing thematic seminars.

Contents will be presented using different formats, such as texts, videos and activities for analysis and discussion, taking advantage of the wide range of tools that are provided by the platform.

Students are requested to send their feedback on: direct questions formulated by the teaching team, their own questions (e.g. need for additional clarification), critical objections, suggestions, perplexities and personal testimonies.

The course is organized following a sequential modular structure, with specific contents, objectives, activities and timings.

The access to the platform is flexible, allowing learners to organize and adjust their working hours according to their availability to manage the proposed activities. However, optional synchronous sessions (with participants communicating online at the same time) are planned, through an online communication tool, at a date/time to be indicated at the beginning of the course.


By the end of Module 10 of the course, each student is invited to elaborate a critical analysis of a PhD thesis. His/her work will be the object of a written report. Students’ participation along the course is also crucial for the present context. Therefore, each student´s final rating for Modules 1 to 10 is based upon their individual work (85%) and also on the student´s active participation along the modules (15%).

Each student will also be assessed at the end of the “Open Science” module, by the preparation of a short video on a scientific topic or a master's/doctoral thesis for non-scientific audiences; at “Scientific data management” module, where each student must prepare a data management plan and at the end of the module “Integrating gender equality in research”, where there will be a set of simple questions to answer.

The final classification of the whole Course will be given in a numerical scale, between 0 and 20 points. Relative weight of Modules 1 to 10: 60% (meaning 12/20 points); relative weight of the remaining Modules of the Course: 40% (meaning 8/20 points).


Students who pass the course may request a certificate issued by the University of Coimbra. Fees will apply. More information at https://www.uc.pt/academicos/propinas/emolumento.


Cláudia Cavadas


Claudia Cavadas (CC) is Vice-Rector of the University of Coimbra, in charge of Research and Doctoral Programs; CC is Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research - University of Coimbra (UC). CC has a Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Coimbra, Masters' Degree in Cellular Biology, Doctorate in Pharmacy, specialty of Pharmacology, from UC. At the Faculty of Pharmacy, CC is professor of Pharmacology and coordinates the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Care. CC develops her scientific activity in the Centre for Neurosciences and Cell Biology - UC (CNC), where she leads the Group "Neuroendocrinology and Aging" and has 80 articles published in international journals. CC has been responsible for twenty research projects funded by national and international funding agencies, and supervised nearly two dozen of graduate students. Former President of the Portuguese Society of Pharmacology.

Luis Adriano Oliveira

Luis Adriano Oliveira was born in Coimbra, Portugal (1952). He is presently a visiting full professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Coimbra (retired January 2014), where he has supervised several PhD and MSc students. Qualified as "Docteur Ingénieur" at the University of Poitiers, France (1981); PhD (1986) and "Agregação" (1998) at the University of Coimbra. Author and co-author of numerous research publications in the areas: Computational Fluid Mechanics; Aerodynamics; Particle Transport in Fluid Flows; and Forest Fires. Author of the books: "Escrita Científica: da Folha em Branco à Versão Final" (2018, LIDEL); "Dissertação e Tese em Ciência e Tecnologia" (2014, 3.th ed., LIDEL); "Ética em Investigação Científica" (2013, LIDEL). Co-author of the books: "Mecânica dos Fluidos" (2020, 6.th ed., LIDEL); and "Mecânica dos Fluidos – Fundamentos de Física e Matemática" (2016, LIDEL).

Ana Santos Carvalho

Ana Santos-Carvalho has a PhD in Pharmacy. She is Researcher and Science Communication Coordinator at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Coimbra (UC) and Invited Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy, UC. She coordinates European Researchers' Night at Coimbra and SoapBox Science Coimbra. She is also Local Representative of EIT Health Alumni, Member of the Organizing Committee of PubHD Coimbra and Pint of Science Coimbra. She is board member of AMONET, Portuguese Association of Women Scientist and an active member of Toastmasters.

Licínia Rodrigues Ferreira

Licínia Rodrigues Ferreira, PhD in Art Studies (Univ Lisbon). She has a degree in Philosophy and a postgraduation in Documental Sciences (Univ Coimbra). Librarian with experience in academic libraries in Coimbra and Lisbon, particularly in the areas of research data, curriculum managers, bibliometrics, scientific publishing and open science. She is also a researcher at the Centre for Theatre Studies of the University of Lisbon.

Mónica Lopes

Mónica Lopes, PhD in Sociology, is a Researcher and Vice-Director of the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (CES-UC), and lecturer in post-graduate programs in the fields of Gender Studies and Social Economy. Since 2002, she has participated in a number of (action) research projects and evaluation studies exploring gender norms and relations and assessing the implementation and impact of public (gender) policies, as well as providing tools and instruments for mainstreaming gender in different areas. She led the Portuguese team of the H2020 project "SUPERA - Supporting the Promotion of Equality in Research and Academia" (2010-2022) and currently, is responsible for the scientific review of the Gender Equal Research@UC, and co-PI of the national project "ENGENDER - Gender mainstreaming in curricula and pedagogical practices in Portuguese Public Universities.

Paulo Gama Mota

Paulo Gama Mota, PhD in Biology (Univ Coimbra), is Associated professor at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, and was the first Director of the Science Museum at the University of Coimbra and Director of the National Museum of Science and Technology. He coordinated more than a dozen scientific exhibitions and many dozens of science communication projects. He coordinated the activity of the partner Museum of Science, in the European project SOCIENTIZE, which produced the white paper on citizen science for the EU.

Admission Requirements

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