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The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh | College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine |
Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences | Usher Institute

Centre for Population Health Sciences

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Photo of Margaret MacDougall

Dr Margaret MacDougall

Medical Statistician and Researcher in Education

Tel: 0131 650 3211
Fax: (0131) 650 6909


I am the statistician at the University of Edinburgh responsible for providing advice on statistical design and analysis to undergraduate medical students involved in Year 4 Student Selected Component (SSC4a) projects. I also lead research projects in medical education and statistics and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research students.

Teaching Responsibilities


Within the MBChB1 curriculum:


  • Member of the Year 4 SSC (Student-Selected Components) Exam Sub-Board
  • Contributor to the Year 3 OSCA (Online System for Clinical Assessment)
  • Director of Studies/Personal Tutor for undergraduate medical students from Years 1 – 5 (September 2006 - August 2015)
  • Following an introductory lecture, my contact hours with students are largely on a one-to-one basis. To assist students outside of contact hours, I have developed comprehensive questionnaire design and statistics resource pages within the Edinburgh Electronic Medical Curriculum (EEMeC).
  • Former marker for Year 3 Student Selected Component


  • External Examiner for the BMedSc programme, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (October 2012 - August 2016)

Undergraduate research project supervision

  • Cardiovascular health measurement scales at our finger-tips: improving the efficiency of clinical decision making through a futuristic Wiki (Liu Zhaobo, summer 2012, funded by Wellcome trust)
  • What should medical educators tell undergraduate medical students about the role of alternative medicine in cancer therapy? - A critical review of published research (Mark Hannen, summer 2013, funded by University of Edinburgh CMVM2)
  • A questionnaire-based survey of undergraduate medical assessments in the UK (Lim Ming Han, October 2013 - January 2014)
  1. At the University of Edinburgh, successful completion of the undergraduate medical degree programme leads to conferment of the professional award of MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery/Chirurgery).
  2. 'CMVM denotes 'College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine'.



  • Module Organizer and Lecturer for the Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology module of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Scottish Oncology Course for SpRs (2005, 2006). One of the venues for this course was the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Postgraduate research project supervision

  • Modern methods for detecting examiner bias in naturalistic assessment data (Jieke Chen, MSc Statistics and Operational Research, Distinction, summer 2013)
  • Comparison of the benefits of Ropinirole or Pramipexole versus those of Entacapone in the management of patients on Levodopa therapy with later intermediate stage Parkinson's disease: A systematic review (Dr Derek Kayanja, MSc Internal Medicine, Distinction, 2014)

Current PhD students: Dr Marisza Hijryana

Research Interests

My principal area of research is Medical Education. However, more specifically, my research interests fall into the categories Promoting the Research-Teaching Nexus in Medical Education, Teaching Statistics to Medical Students, Psychometric Methods for Assessing the Quality of Assessment Practice, Modern Methods for Standard Setting in the Assessment of Undergraduate and Postgraduate Medical Students, Medical Statistics, Mathematical Logic and the Philosophy of Mathematics. In recent years, I have become involved in writing a number of papers and conference or technical reports (which are now at various stages of publication) on the following topics:

  • teaching statistics and research design to undergraduate medical students
  • statistical methods for detecting scientific fraud in clinical research
  • autonomous learning and effective engagement
  • the learning needs of undergraduate medical students with dyslexia and dyscalculia
  • assessing different support and marking procedures used within the MBChB curriculum
  • research communities of practise
  • research-teaching linkages
  • modern approaches to standard setting in the assessment of undergraduate and postgraduate medical students
  • mathematical intuition and the philosophies of mathematics and statistics
  • health measurement scales
  • applications of statistical methods within cardiology, and respiratory medicine
  • comparing different staging systems in predicting mortality for cancer patients
  • the accuracy of serological assays in the diagnosis of Crohn's disease
  • GP involvement and patient outcomes in HIV management
  • using sensitivity analysis to assess model-measurement agreement

PhD opportunities

A wide range of PhD opportunities exist for students with strong statistical skills and an interest in medical education research. Initial expressions of interest should be sent to me by email (

Current Research Involvement

Currently, I am leading a project entitled Beyond the nuts and bolts of standard setting in medical education assessment - where should we go from here? This project is funded by ASME (Association for the Study of Medical Education) I have also been awarded funding under the Principal's Teaching Award Scheme at the University of Edinburgh to lead a project entitled Preparing Medical Students for Self-Directed Learning in Statistics: What Should We Expect of Tomorrow's Doctors?

I supervise student research projects in a range of topics relating to medical education and statistics.

I was awarded funding by the MEDEV subject centre of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to lead a project commencing in 2008, entitled Research-based SSCs: a pragmatic approach to advancing the research-teaching nexus.

In 2007, I was awarded funding by the Maths, Statistics and Operational Research Network to lead a 1-year project entitled Statistics in medicine: a risky business? The project is designed to address the following questions:

  • how can we effectively steer undergraduate medical students through the conceptual maze of statistical concepts on the road to evaluating risk?
  • how can we convince undergraduate medical students that the use and application of statistics is an integral part of good medical practice?
  • can we empower tomorrow's doctors to identify and implement the correct statistical tools for evaluating patient risk so as to make the best choices for their patients?

During 2005 - 2007, I was awarded three consecutive one-year grants from the University of Edinburgh Principal's e-learning Fund to lead a project focused on addressing retention and motivation issues commonly experienced by undergraduate medical students when they encounter statistics within their curriculum.

Other Responsibilities/Activities

Engagement with Schools

Project provider (summer 2014) for two upper secondary school pupils recruited under UK Nuffield Research Placements Scheme to contribute to research on research-teaching linkages (Project title: Predicting senior undergraduate medical student capacities for higher forms of learning through short-term research)

Further Information


Despite my mathematical background, my leisure interests extend beyond eating.

  • My weekly regime of exercise usually includes callanetics and four visits to the University leisure centre.
  • I play the violin and am a past member of the University of Edinburgh Music Society Sinfonia.

Selected grants

  • Scoping Exercise and Module Development in Statistics for Postgraduate Online Distance Learning Programmes (University of Edinburgh Institute for Academic Development; University of Edinburgh Distance Education Initiative Funding Scheme , 2015-2016) MacDougall M
  • Cardiovascular health measurement scales at our finger-tips: improving the efficiency of clinical decision-making through a futuristic Wiki (Wellcome Trust, 2012-2012) MacDougall M (supervisor), Liu Z (undergraduate medical student)
  • Preparing medical students for self-directed learning in statistics: What should we expect of tomorrow's doctors? (University of Edinburgh Development Trust under Principal's Teaching Award Scheme, 2010-2012) MacDougall M, Maxwell S, Cameron H, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Learning Technology Section
  • Beyond the nuts and bolts of standard setting in medical education assessment - where should we go from here? (Education Research Group of the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME), 2009-2010) MacDougall M
  • Research-based SSCs: a pragmatic approach to advancing the research-teaching nexus (Higher Education Academy MEDEV subject centre, 2008-2009) MacDougall M, Riley SC
  • Statistics in medicine: a risky business? (Maths, Statistics and Operational Research Network, 2007-2008) MacDougall M, Ellaway R, Aim J
  • Principal's e-Learning Project Fund. (University of Edinburgh, 2007-2008) MacDougall M, Ellaway R, Aim J
  • Principal's e-Learning Project Fund. (University of Edinburgh, 2006-2007) MacDougall M, Ellaway R, Aim J
  • Principal's e-Learning Project Fund. (University of Edinburgh, 2005-2006) MacDougall M, Ellaway R, Aim J, Tambyraja A, Adair A

Selected publications

  • MacDougall M, Stone GE (2015) Fortune-tellers or content specialists: challenging the standard setting paradigm in medical education programmes. Journal of Contemporary Medical Education, 3(3): 134-142. Link
  • MacDougall M (2015) Variation in assessment and standard setting practices across UK undergraduate medicine and the need for a benchmark. International Journal of Medical Education, 6:125-135 DOI Link
  • MacDougall M (2014) Research-Based SSCs: A Pragmatic Approach to Advancing the Research-Teaching Nexus in UK Medical Schools. Health & Social Care Education DOI Link Link
  • Crossley S, Reid J, McLatchie R, Hayton J, Clark C, MacDougall M, Andrews JD (2014) A systematic review of therapeutic hypothermia for adult patients following traumatic brain injury. Critical care, 18(2). DOI Link
  • MacDougall M (2014) Predicting supervisor capacities to foster higher forms of learning through undergraduate medical student research. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 14(1); 75-94. Link
  • MacDougall M (2014) Assessing the Integrity of Clinical Data: When is Statistical Evidence Too Good to be True? Topoi, 33(2): 323-337 DOI Link
  • Bruce C M, Reed M J, MacDougall M (2013) Are the public ready for organ donation after out of hospital cardiac arrest? Emergency Medicine Journal 30(3); 226 - 231 DOI Link
  • Crossley J, Harrison C, Stark P, Pead M, MacDougall M (2012) Solving assessment challenges together. Learning and teaching in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, 23: 36 - 37. Link
  • MacDougall M (2012) Diagnostic testing. In Sarah J Greenwald and Jill E Thomley (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society (, pp. 299 - 301, Ipswich, MA: Salem Press. Thanks are due to Salem Press( for granting permission to publish this article here. Link
  • Towler J D, Dhaun N, MacDougall M, Melville V, Goddard J, Webb D J (2012) What is the best method of proteinuria measurement in clinical trials of endothelin receptor antagonists? Life Sciences, in press. DOI Link
  • MacDougall M (2012) Research-teaching linkages: Beyond the divide in undergraduate Medicine. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Vol. 6, No. 2) Link
  • MacDougall M: PoincarĂ©'s Enigmatic Relationship with Logic and the Infinite: New Insights into the Relevance of Intuition to His Anti-Logicist Programme. In: Philosophy of Science. Edited by Samuel Pintuck and Colin Reynolds. New York: Nova Publishers; 2012. Link
  • MacDougall, M (2012) Autonomous learning and effective engagement. In Norbert M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 397 - 400), New York: Springer. Link
  • MacDougall M (2011) Moving beyond the nuts and bolts of score reliability in medical education: Some valuable lessons from measurement theory. Advances and Applications in Statistical Sciences, 6(7): 643 - 664. Thanks are due to Mili Publications( for granting permission to publish this article here. Link
  • Heller R, Fernando I, MacDougall M (2011) Factors associated with a clinician's offer of screening HIV-positive patients for sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis. International Journal of STD & AIDS, 22(6): 351-352 DOI Link
  • MacDougall M (2011) An overview of Preparing Medical Students for Self-Directed Learning in Statistics: What should we expect of tomorrow's doctors? MSOR Connections, Special Issue: Flexible Learning, 11(1): 18 - 22. Link
  • MacDougall M (2010) Threshold concepts in statistics and online discussion as a basis for curriculum innovation in undergraduate medicine. MSOR Connections, Special Issue: Excellent Teaching; 10(3): 21 - 24, 41. Link
  • MacDougall M, Riley SC (2010) Initiating undergraduate medical students into communities of research practise: what do supervisors recommend? BMC Medical Education, 10(83). Link
  • Al-Adhami AS, Simpson AJ, Reid JH, MacDougall M, Murchison JT (2010) Prognostic significance of the lung scintigraphy scan result and corresponding chest X-ray in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism. The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 40: 196-200 DOI Link
  • MacDougall M (2010) Promoting autonomous learning in statistics among undergraduate medical students. In Reading C (Ed), ICOTS-8 Conference Proceedings on CD, "Data and context in statistics education: towards an evidence-based society", New England, Australia: International Association for Statistical Education and International Statistical Institute (ISBN: 978-90-77713-54-9)
  • MacDougall, M (2010) Poincaréan intuition revisited: what can we learn from Kant and Parsons? Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 41: 138 - 147 DOI Link
  • Akram AR, Cowell GW, Logan LJA, MacDougall M, Murchison JT, Simpson AJ (2009) Clinically suspected acute pulmonary embolism: a comparison of presentation, radiological features and outcome in patients with and without PE. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 102(6): 407 - 414 Link
  • Casserly SM, Scott GR, MacDougall M (2009) General practitioner involvement and patient outcomes in HIV management. International Journal of STD & Aids, 20(7): 503 - 505 Link
  • MacDougall M (2009) Dyscalculia, dyslexia, and medical students' needs for learning and using statistics. Medical Education Online, 14(2): 1-8 Link
  • MacDougall M (2008) Statistics in medicine: a risky business? MSOR Connections. MSOR Connections, 8(4): 11-15 Link
  • MacDougall M (2008) Ten tips for promoting autonomous learning and effective engagement in the teaching of statistics to undergraduate medical students involved in short-term research projects. Journal of Applied Quantitative Methods, 3(3): 223-240 Link
  • Russell RK, Ip B, Aldhous MC, MacDougall M, Drummond HE, Arnott IDR, Gillett PM, McGrogan P, Weaver LT, Bisset M, Mahdi G, Wilson DC, Satsangi J (2009) ASCA status is associated with oral involvement and disease severity in Crohn's Disease. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 48(2): 161-167
  • MacDougall, M, Riley, SC, Cameron, HS, McKinstry, B (2008) Halos and horns in the assessment of undergraduate medical students: a consistency based approach. Journal of Applied Quantitative Methods, 3(2): 116-128. Link
  • Kung JWC, MacDougall M, Madhavan KK, Garden OJ, Parks RW (2007) Predicting survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: A UK perspective. European Journal of Surgical Oncology, 33(2): 188-194. DOI Link Link
  • Todd AJ, Leslie SJ, MacDougall M, Denvir MA (2006) "Clinical features important for the diagnosis of infective endocarditis in the modern era", Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 99(1): 23-31. Link
  • Dorward DA, Thompson AAR, Baillie JK, MacDougall M, Hirani N. (2006) "Change in plasma vascular endothelial growth factor during onset and recovery from acute mountain sickness", Respiratory Medicine 101 (3): 587-594. DOI Link Link
  • MacDougall M, Smith R, Scott M. (2005) "Comprehensive sensitivity analysis of an SO2 deposition model for three measurement sites: consequences for SO2 deposition fluxes", Atmospheric Environment 39: 5025-5039. Link
  • Challis N, Cox W, Gibson I, Golden K, MacDougall M, Parsons S, Stirling D. (2004) "Action Research into Effective Student Support in Mathematics", Proceedings of the Thirtieth Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching Conference, 59-72. Link
  • Simpson D, Tuovinen J-P, Ashmore MR, Emberson LD, MacDougall M and Smith RI, "Stomatal ozone uptake over Europe: preliminary results", Technical Report 2002a, in: EMEP MSC-W Report 1&2/2002, Transboundary acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone in Europe. EMEP summary report 2002, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway, 63-71. Link

Last modified: Monday, 16-Nov-2015 16:15:10 BST

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