Lancaster University: MSc students gain experience in scientific writing by co-authoring a paper on SARS-CoV-2

Lancaster students studying in the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences have had their work on SARS-CoV-2 published in a scientific journal.

Postgraduate students on the MSc Biomedicine and final year undergraduate students on the integrated MSci course co-authored the paper with their teacher Dr Muhammad Munir.

Dr Munir is the Module Organizer for Biol435 (Microbes and Disease) which is part of the MSc and MSci programmes. As part of the course, he divided the class into groups and each group was given an assignment. The work carried out by all students was then combined to produce the data for publication.

The resulting paper entitled “Structural Bases of Zoonotic and Zoo anthroponotic Transmission of SARS-CoV-2”is published in a special issue Emerging Zoonotic Viral Diseases of Viruses which has a 5.0+ impact factor (a matrix to assess the value of the work in the scientific community).

Dr Munir said: “This scientific paper exemplifies research-led teaching in biomedicine and is a case study to demonstrate that research conducted by graduate students advances our understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 can jump from animal to human and human to animals. These finding are very valuable especially when SARS-CoV-2 is infecting many animal species and where it can persist even if it is eradicated from the human population.

“All the students are co-authors so this would add value to their CVs and job applications, and this is also timely due to its direct relevance to COVID-19.”

The students describe their findings in the context of existing animal infection-based models to provide a foundation on the possible persistence of the virus in animals and the implications for the future eradication of COVID-19.

Clara Ashton, one of the students of Biol435 course and co-author in the paper said: “It was a fantastic opportunity contributing to this research in such a collaborative way at Lancaster University. I believe it massively helped my own personal academic development and is something I can carry into my future career.”

Jake Carberry, one of the students and author of the publication states; “My understanding of the peer-review process provided me a unique scope into how opportunities in scholarly publications are achieved; working with the whole class on a project was genuinely enjoyable and gave more sense of purpose to the coursework set in the module.”

Dr Paul McKean, Head of the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences said: “While undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in BLS regularly co-author papers in scientific journals with BLS academic staff, this is the first time that all students studying on one of our modules have seen their group work published. This is a testament to Dr Munir’s coursework design that has allowed students to generate data in support of our research-led teaching.”

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