Writing the MMed report (based on the sessions of September 2014, April 2015 and September 2015)

Introductory remarks

Please make sure which type of report is required in your department/College: mini-dissertation or journal article. The format/structure of both is broadly the same but the mini-dissertation is usually longer, more comprehensive, contains all results, and has appendices. If you do the write up in the form of a journal article, choose an appropriate journal and follow their Instructions for authors closely.

The guidelines given below are specifically aimed at the write up of a research project (not a case report). Read journal articles to become familiar with the format.
The Faculty documents given to assessors state that the report should prove that the candidate is able to do scientific research and report on such research in an academic manner.

Assessors may choose to consider whether the work is publishable: Criteria for this could include

  • Sound methodology as planned
  • Sufficient numbers to draw valid conclusions
  • Literature as current as available, comprehensive, relevant
  • Thorough insightful discussion of findings and shortcomings, with useful recommendations

General writing guidelines

  • Use clear and direct language, avoid unnecessary words.
  • Use correct spelling and sentence construction, keep sentences short. Start sentence with capital letter, end with full stop or appropriate punctuation mark. Sentences should not start with numbers such as 75.6%. (Rather write as: Approximately three quarters of participants (75.6%) ….)
  • Avoid informal language (“don’t”, “isn’t”).
  • Use only standard abbreviations. Write abbreviations out in full when used for the first time in text. Avoid abbreviations in title or aim of study.
  • Be objective, avoid emotional  language and exclamation marks.
  • Place information in a logical order.

From Protocol to Report

Be thankful for the scrutiny of your protocol by the ethics committee/study leader and/or biostatistician, the protocol forms the basis for the write up.

Ensure that you use the final version of the protocol as your starting point. Read the protocol critically so as to improve on it for the write up (content, flow, spelling, punctuation, grammar, layout).

The items in italics in the Protocol outline below do not appear in the final write up. The items in italics in the Report/article outline below are sections which have to be written new.

Protocol outline 

1.         Title  
2.         Researchers       
3.         Introduction 
4.         Aim / Question
5.         Methodology
                         Study design 
                         Errors in methodology
                         Pilot  study

6.         Analysis of data      
7.         Implementation / Recommendations    
8.         Budget (delete)                    
9.         Time schedule(delete)        
10.       Ethical aspects                         
11.       References                                                       
12.       Appendices (possibly delete)                              


 Report/article outline
Title page
Abstract (add)
Study design
Pilot study
Analysis of data

Ethical considerations
Results (add)
Discussion (add)      
Conclusion and -
recommendations (add)
Acknowledgements (add)

Appendices (not in article) 

Guidelines for specific sections of the report


The Abstract should be structured under subheadings, for example:

Introduction and aim:

An abstract is usually 250–300 words. No references, no tables, no graphs, no bullets are used in an abstract.

The assessors need to determine whether the abstract is an accurate reflection of the key aspects of the study.


  • Use the Introduction of the protocol, but expand if possible with newer literature.
  • Remove some of the information for use in the Discussion.
  • Your findings and how you want to present them can influence your Introduction and Discussion.
  • Indicate references in text using correct consistent style.
  • Make sure that you convey the information from literature factually correctly.

The assessors will be looking at the following:

  • Problem/background accurately described
  • Research motivation acceptable
  • Referencing of published literature (need not be separate chapter/section): is it relevant, key, recent literature correctly documented and interpreted
  • Is the candidate’s knowledge of related literature and scientific sources satisfactory


The Methods section of the report contains all components of the protocol (not just the Methods section of the protocol) except the Introduction, time frame, budget and methodological errors.

The Methods section in the report is written in the past tense  (be careful of just cutting and pasting from the protocol into the report).

If Methods describe certain measurements, the results of these measurements must be reported in Results (and vice versa).

If you deviated from the protocol, describe what was actually done (In Discussion you discuss why study did not proceed as planned).

The assessors will be looking for Satisfactory description of the following:

  • study design,
  • study population and sampling,
  • measurement procedures,
  • pilot study,
  • statistical analysis and
  • ethical aspects


Start the Results section with the response rate if appropriate. The number of participants/specimens etc must be clear throughout, for example indicated in the heading of any figure or table.
Present results in tables and/or figures (but do not present the same result in both ways). Use figures sparingly and creatively, highlighting what needs to be highlighted/is worth highlighting. Each table/figure must have a number and a title. In words you must refer to each table/figure and summarise the most important results, do not repeat all the results of the table or figure in the text (see example in Table X below).

The results of each question/measurement should not be in a separate table/figure, items which belong together should be grouped together. 

Some results can be presented in words only.

Percentages need to be reported for categorical variables, and rounded to at most one decimal.

Write in full sentences, avoid bullets (if you want to use bullets, rather make a table).

Do not use too many subheadings.

Here is an example of a  well constructed table, and the paragraph referring to the table.

Table x: Gender and age of patients (n=2000)

Age group
    <10 years        
    10–19 years     
    20–29 years   
    30–39 years  
    40–49 years     
    50+ years         

Table x shows the gender and age group of patients. Patients were predominantly female (65%) and in the age group 30–39 years (51%). Only 3% of patients were in the age group 50 years and older. The median age was 33 years.

Check that you have transferred all results correctly from the computer output.

The assessors will be looking whether Results are presented clearly in logical progression with the appropriate tables and figures.


Do not repeat the results and do not give new results here, discuss the results which have been reported in the Results section: are they as expected or not, give possible reasons for the findings, compare with other studies.

The Discussion usually does not contain tables or figures. The only tables/figures  given in the Discussion would contain summaries of findings from the literature to compare to your findings. 

An approach is to present Discussion in the same order as Results.

Discuss the limitations of the study and problems experienced (also methodological errors), and point out any specific strengths of the study.

The assessors will be looking for the following in Discussion:

Key findings are highlighted
Findings are interpreted correctly against relevant literature
Limitations of study, and problems experienced are discussed

Conclusion and recommendations
Come to a clear conclusion (not woolly, vague) on the basis of the study findings, referring back to the aim of the study.

Make recommendations for further research or practice.


Check and re-check that references are correct and consistent in presentation in the reference list and in the report.  Assessors often scrutinize the reference list as a measure of the thoroughness of a researcher.



Good luck and do publish your research!


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