Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research

Starting early: introducing secondary school students to meta-research and quality in research reporting  

Wellcome Conference on Reproducibility, Replicability and Trust in Science 2022

7-9 September 2022

Poster presented by the UK EQUATOR Centre:

Starting early: introducing secondary school students to meta-research and quality in research reporting

Patricia Logullo, Jennifer A de Beyer, Michael Maia Schlussel, Paula Dhiman, Natalie Ford


Abstract submitted:


The ability to critically appraise evidence is useful in many aspects of life and professions. The University of Oxford offers Work Experience for 16-18-year-old students to showcase career paths and opportunities. During the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) Work Experience week, students meet basic and translational research professionals working to improve musculoskeletal health and experience elements of their working lives. The UK EQUATOR Centre team, embedded in NDORMS, introduced students on that programme to meta-research (evaluating the quality of medical research practice) and critical appraisal of evidence.


To raise awareness of meta-research, introduce students to career prospects in this field, and help students develop critical appraisal skills.

Hands-on session

In July 2022, we ran 2-hour sessions on evidence synthesis and research-on-research with 22 A-level students visiting NDORMS in two groups. We first asked the students to reflect on their and their families’ experiences with mobility-affecting diseases. Their stories about how doctors decided on treatment recommendations led to lively discussions about how research is produced around the world, how evidence informs clinical practice, and the importance of journal articles in this process.

We ran an exercise simulating data extraction for a meta-research study. We looked for a relatable, relatively nontechnical topic within NDORMS’ research scope and chose two shorter-than-average papers about how music affects walking, with differing levels of detail.

Students worked in groups to find the information asked for in the extraction form, such as who the study participants were, where they were recruited, and whether the students trusted the study conclusions. We discussed how easy it was to find the relevant information and how the papers could be improved.

Student experience

The students identified key issues in evidence synthesis. For example, they realised that it is difficult to compare studies that use different outcomes or participant populations and that not all papers report enough information to allow readers to judge the quality of the study, generated evidence, and conclusions. Students remarked that systematic reviews seemed to be a better way of getting reliable information about research than newspapers and magazines.


Secondary school students can read and critically appraise scientific papers and appreciate issues in evidence synthesis, which are essential skills for applying research findings in their everyday lives. Early engagement with research quality ideas might also help prime these students for formal training in their later studies and careers.



Poster in colour (JPG)

Poster in black and white (JPG)

Link to the YouTube video where the project is explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7UMWcUI6sA



Faulkner M, McNeilly A, Davison G, Rowe D, Hewitt A, Nevill A, Duly E, Trinick T, Murphy M. Music Tempo: A Tool for Regulating Walking Cadence and Physical Activity Intensity in Overweight Adults? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 25;18(15):7855. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18157855. PMID: 34360151; PMCID: PMC8345504.

Roberts BS, Ready EA, Grahn JA. Musical enjoyment does not enhance walking speed in healthy adults during music-based auditory cueing. Gait & Posture. 2021;89:132-138. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.04.008. PMID: 34284333.