Curriculum - M.S.

Program location: Davenport campus

The M.S. in Clinical Research curriculum is designed to be completed in two years on the Davenport, Iowa, campus. It consists of a variety of core and elective courses, a development plan and two research practicum projects. In order to graduate, you're required to complete at least two elective courses for a minimum of three credit hours.

View sample schedule of core courses.

View admission requirements

Your development plan

When you enroll in the M.S. Program, Palmer faculty will form a Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) just for you. You'll select a clinical research faculty member as your primary mentor to chair your GAC. Together, you'll choose at least two additional members to serve on your GAC.

The entire committee then guides you in creating a professional development plan. They'll also help in registering for core courses, planning additional coursework to support your research emphasis and developing your research practicum projects.

Research practicum projects

You must successfully complete two practicum projects to earn your degree. These projects are patient-oriented research. They'll be based on your interests and your faculty mentor's expertise.

You'll be directly involved in clinical research and working with patients as you collect, analyze and interpret data. Your Graduate Advisory Committee will approve your projects based on an initial plan and final written and oral reports. Scholarly products, such as publication-quality manuscripts, are desirable.

Your two practicum projects may be:

  • Part of a larger research question being explored by PCCR faculty.
  • A separate exploration altogether.
  • Two studies related to one another as part of an overall project, or two completely unrelated studies.

Learn more

Program overview

Year 1

  • Take required coursework.
  • Create a professional development plan.
  • Begin practicum #1.

Year 2

  • Take elective coursework. You may focus on areas that interest you, including clinical biomechanics, clinical neuroscience or experimental clinical research.
  • Finish practicum #1.
  • Begin and finish practicum #2.

Course descriptions

Davenport Campus

  • Introduction to Clinical Research Method

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course addresses the essentials of research. Focus will be on the formulating and planning stages of a research study, including: framing a research problem; determining the supporting knowledge; identifying a theory base; developing a research question; and selecting an appropriate study design strategy. Participants will also learn the basic components of a research proposal.
  • Biostatistical Thinking and Reasoning

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course includes topics on general statistical concepts such as: terminology; basic probabilistic notions; measurement issues, including sources of variation, types of measurement error (e.g. chance, systematic) and strategies for minimizing measurement error; types of variables; data description and exploration, the importance of appropriately summarizing data; and the role of statistical methods, in general, in the scientific research process.
  • Critical Appraisal of Literature

    • 1 Credit(s)
      Students will develop the skills to find and make sense of research evidence published in the open literature. Course content includes efficient literature search strategies and the application of formal rules of evidence to evaluate clinical research. The aim of the course is to enable students to perform quick but effective reviews of the clinical literature and electronic databases and to educate students in the practice of evidence-based principles.
  • Statistical Computing & Data Management

    • 1 Credit(s)
      Students learn statistical computing skills such as use of the statistical software package SPSS, data entry methods including quality control/assurance issues, creating new data files, accessing/editing existing data files, storing data files (e.g., confidentiality of patient/subject data), dataset cleaning, copying/pasting cross software applications, and conversions of data file types.
  • Bioethics I

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course will provide the student an overview of the issues involved in the modern day bioethical debate. By using a combination of lecture and case-based approaches, students gain knowledge about the multitude of issues they will confront both in clinical practice and in the discharge of duties related to clinical research. The course uses an approach that examines issues that are beyond the general scope of chiropractic practice, but in doing so the student will be able to synthesize information and begin to apply principles of bioethics to his or her daily professional activities.
  • Bioethics II

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course focuses on the ethical issues specific to the practice of clinical research. Students gain knowledge and understanding of the institutional review board and the processes used by it in making determinations about a research project, the development of an appropriate informed consent form, the use of animals in research, the ethics surrounding data management and journal publication, responsible authorship, policies for handling misconduct, data sharing and institutional vs. individual responsibilities for scientific integrity.
  • Scientific Writing

    • 2 Credit(s)
      The elements of scientific writing are presented in an experiential setting. The course covers types of scientific articles, including case reports, review articles of the literature (descriptive and meta-analysis), original data reports, commentaries, and editorials. Emphasis is placed upon writing in a clear and comprehensive manner for particular target audiences. Scientific style is discussed in detail, as are citation methods. Discussions are included on ethical issues surrounding publication and authorship. Students are responsible for preparing their own research report, literature review or case report; and they review and critique each other's work over the course of the term.
  • Scientific Presentation Skills

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course is designed to cover topics related to scientific presentations. It is delivered in an interactive format combining lectures, in-class presentations by students, and hand-on workshops in the computer lab. The goal of this course is to develop the skills needed to effectively convey information at scientific meetings and conferences. Students develop, practice and deliver to an audience both a platform and poster presentation.
  • Statistical Graphics and Data Mgmt II

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course emphasizes the importance of using statistical graphics for exploration as part of data analysis, as well as developing skills in using SPSS to produce appropriate graphics for presentations and manuscripts. Issues in creating, manipulating and storing data files will be further explored, and the use of relational databases will be introduced.
  • Research Proposal Development

    • 2 Credit(s)
      The course provides instruction and iterative feedback for each phase of proposal development, from framing the specific aims and developing appropriate methodology to preparing the personnel justification, project summary, and relevance for a grant application. Examples of successful proposals will be used. The key ingredients for this course are to provide iterative feedback and encourage constructive criticism for grant proposals. Students review and provide feedback for their colleagues during several phases of proposal development.
  • Collaboration & Team Building in Clinic

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course is offered in a two-day workshop format. The importance and essential features of effective interdisciplinary collaboration will be presented and participants will gain experience in building the team approach necessary for accomplishing clinical research projects, particularly in chiropractic research where team members have diverse professional and academic backgrounds. This course will explore the theory and practice of team leadership and development in the organizational context of clinical research. Special emphasis will be placed developing the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to facilitate and lead high-performance teams.
  • Grant Writing Skills

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course includes several workshops covering the nature of a strong grant proposal, grant structure and formatting, preparing National Institutes of Health (NIH) biosketches, budget and budget justification, grant application revision and resubmission issues, and the NIH grant review process.
  • Survey of Chiropractic Research

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course will assist students in identifying non-trivial research questions as well as in developing and defining their own good researchable questions, the answers to which would contribute to chiropractic science.
  • Survey Methodologies

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course is designed to educate students about the development and administration of survey instruments, and the evaluation and writing-up of basic psychometric properties of data gathered. It is expected that the student will develop a level of higher order knowledge, comprehension, and understanding of quality assurance with regard to survey methodology (survey development, administration, and post-collection data assessment).
  • Biostatistics I

    • 3 Credit(s)
      This course covers general statistical concepts; study designs and sampling schemes; numerical descriptive statistics; statistical methods (both estimation and hypothesis testing; parametric and non-parametric) for one-group, two-group and multi-group designs; and sample size and power considerations for designed experimental studies. Homework and exams are take-home format; each includes the critical review of research articles as well as analysis of real datasets using SPSS, followed by written, tabular and graphical presentation of the results with interpretation.
  • Biostatistics II: Linear Regression

    • 1 Credit(s)
      This course uses lecture and illustration of the methods of the statistical computing and modeling process on real datasets. Course content includes: notation and terminology; correlation, simple linear regression techniques and diagnostics, and the ability to interpret the results of regression analysis. Homework is take-home format and involves analysis of real datasets, followed by written, tabular and graphical presentation of the results with interpretation, and critical review of articles that use correlation and simple linear regression for data analysis.
  • Biostatistics II: ANOVA & Regression Mo

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course uses lecture and illustration of the methods of the statistical computing and modeling process on real datasets. Course content includes multiple linear regression, simple and multiple logistic regression, and two-way and multi-way analysis of variance. Other topics to be covered may include statistical methods for repeated measures and methods of handling missing values.
  • Clinical Biomechanics

    • 3 Credit(s)
      This course is taught in two hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory each week. It focuses on clinical biomechanics associated with the human body. Students learn the concepts and instrumentation to measure forces, motions and electrical activity of muscles as related to human body. Course topics include biomechanics of manual therapy, electromyography of muscle, biomechanics of spine, postural balance, human response to unexpected loads, and human gait.
  • Ergonomics

    • 2 Credit(s)
      This course is taught in one hour of lecture and two hours of laboratory each week. It focuses on the occupational biomechanics associated with the ergonomics of humans in their work place setting, in particular the physiological and biomechanical aspects of human performance. Principles of physical work and human anthropometry are studied to enable the student to systematically design work places, processes, and systems that are consistent with human capabilities and limitations. Topics include repetitive motion disorders, manual materials handling, hand tool design and selection, and job analysis.
  • Independent Study: Clinical Studies

    • 1 Credit(s)
      Independent Study courses are offered with the approval of the Graduate Program Oversight Committee. These courses permit the student to explore a narrow area of clinical research, which are not normally offered as part of the curriculum.
  • Independent Study: Neuroscience

    • 1 Credit(s)
      Independent Study courses are offered with the approval of the Graduate Program Oversight Committee. These courses permit the student to explore a narrow area of clinical research, which are not normally offered as part of the curriculum.
  • Independent Study: Biomechanics

    • 1 Credit(s)
      Independent Study courses are offered with the approval of the Graduate Program Oversight Committee. These courses permit the student to explore a narrow area of clinical research, which are not normally offered as part of the curriculum.
  • Research Practicum I

    • 1 Credit(s)
      The practicum project provides a mentored research experience for the student. Practicum experiences involve direct participation in clinical research, including working with research participants and patients and conducting data collection, analysis and interpretation. The student's graduate advisory committee approves the Practicum I project plan and the final written and oral reports of the project. Scholarly deliverables, such as publishable-quality manuscripts, are desirable.
  • Research Practicum II

    • 1 Credit(s)
      The practicum project provides a mentored research experience for the student. Practicum experiences involve direct participation in clinical research, including working with research participants and patients and conducting data collection, analysis and interpretation. The project for Practicum II can involve research on a completely different topic than Practicum I or can be an extension of that project. The student's graduate advisory committee approves the Practicum II project plan and the final written and oral reports of the project. Scholarly deliverables, such as publishable-quality manuscripts or grant applications, are desirable.

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