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How do raters make judgments in OSCEs: a qualitative exploration

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G Gormley
    Dr J Johnston
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


This educational PhD provides an exciting opportunity to investigate a critical area of healthcare education – how examiners making rating decisions in Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) are a widely used form of assessment in health profession education. Comprising of detailed checklists and global rating scales (GRS), OSCEs set out to facilitate the assessment of candidate’s competencies in what would be espoused to be a highly standardised fashion. In reality, variance within OSCEs is all too common; whether between examiners assessing the same station or between different venues of the same examination. The overall aim of this studentship is to conduct research into how examiners making global rating decision in OSCEs, and how best we can train OSCE examiners in the future. Supervision of this study will draw upon experts in the fields of health profession research, undergraduate education and assessment.

The work plan for this studentship will be as follows:
PHASE 1: A systematic review of the literature will take place - specifically regarding how examiners make rating decisions in OSCEs. It is intended that the successful candidate will perform a scoping review to map the contours of the evidence base of this area, identify evidence gaps and guide lines of scientific enquiry in Phase 2 and 3 of this PhD/MD.

PHASE 2: We plan to conduct a qualitative study that will aim to gain a deeper understanding of how OSCE examiners making rating decision in OSCEs. We intend to apply phenomenology as a theoretical framework to this part of the research. Data capture will include face-face interviews with OSCE examiners who will capture their decision making process in OSCEs using digital videoglasses. This video footage will be used to elicit interviews with OSCE examiners.

PHASE 3: In this phase we propose a design-based research (DBR) project that will explore how we can best modify OSCE examiner training. DBR projects are iterative, starting from an ‘on the ground’ problem with the aim of producing practical solutions, and may involve participants in the field of study as researchers. It is pragmatically orientated towards implementation and adoption. The four stages of the DBR cycle are: analysis, development of solutions, iterative cycles of refining and testing, and reflection. With respect to this studentship Phase 1 and 2 will inform how we pilot an intervention to evaluate how best we train OSCE examiners.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU http://www.qub.ac.uk/tefl/

Funding Notes


Funding provided by the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK or EU resident.


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Medical Education, website for further details about the Centre:


When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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