Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Health sciences research underpins the generation and translation of new knowledge into health policy and practice. This unit addresses the scope of health-related research and the range of research methods available to undertake research in the health professions. As an introductory level unit, it will outline the diverse approaches that can be taken in qualitative and quantitative research design. The steps in developing health-related research questions, selecting appropriate research methods for those questions and identifying, appraising and synthesising existing research findings underpinning those questions will be examined. This unit aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop the practical research skills and an ability to critically assess the quality of health science research.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Critically discuss ethical principles that underpin health research; (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Demonstrate a critical understanding of systematic review methodology (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10)

LO3 - Critically appraise research methods in health-related research; (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • Basic terms in research
  • Inductive and deductive reasoning in health sciences research
  • The ethics process and ethical considerations in research practice
  • Quantitative research paradigm
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the quantitative research paradigm
  • Qualitative research paradigm
  • Strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research paradigm
  • Introduction to the use of mixed methods
  • Levels of evidence in quantitative and qualitative research
  • Systematic reviews (e.g., PICO and SMART principles; inclusion/exclusion criteria; following PRISMA guidelines; using referencing software; searching use key terms etc.)
  • List of useful and relevant electronic databases
  • How to ask qualitative and quantitative research questions
  • Critiquing the components of quantitative research methodology
  • Critiquing the components of qualitative research methodology
  • Associations between variables (e.g. exposure and outcome variables)
  • Evaluation of research
  • Research translation

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

HLSC641 is offered in either multi-mode or online mode.


Multi- mode

In multi-mode, this unit is delivered primarily via face-to-face sessions on campus. It comprises lectures and tutorials during the semester, using student-centred teaching and an active learning approach, to support students in the exploration of theoretical and practical knowledge of research methods. Lectures are used to teach essential theory and concepts. This learning is then reinforced through facilitated tutorial activities involving reading, writing, discussion, and problem solving, which provides students with  the opportunity to apply lecture content to particular public health contexts/scenarios, and progressively develop their ability to apply research methods to contemporary health issues.


Online mode

In online mode, students acquire essential theoretical and practical knowledge of research methods in a flexible online learning environment, which involves a series of specifically designed learning activities. This learning is extended and reinforced through readings, online discussion forums and other interactive activities to develop understanding of research methods.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Please note assessment is the same for students undertaking either multi-mode or online mode.

A range of assessment will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to obtain an aggregate mark of equal to or greater than 50%.


Three assessment tasks have been designed for this unit. Assessment task 1 is a critical reflection on the role of ethics in health research. This assessment will enable students to acquire advanced knowledge of the fundamental importance of the ethics process before conducting research and/or ethical conduct as a part of the research. Assessment 2 will enable students to acquire advanced knowledge on systematic review methodology and justifying all decisions made therein (e.g., defining a research question). Assessment 2 will also enable students to acquire essential practical skills in using appropriate referencing software. Assessment 3 is a critical appraisal of research studies which will enable students to deepen their understanding by providing a critique on the components of research methodology and assess relative strengths and weaknesses of particular research methods and techniques.


All assessment will be submitted electronically.


The assessment strategy allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills.. In order to develop the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students first acquire knowledge through a literature review, further deepen their understanding by critically appraising published research, and then apply their understanding in an authentic way by writing personal reflections of new concepts learned and how they extend their practice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1:

Written task: Critically discuss ethics in association with health research, which will enable students to reflect on why ethics is fundamentally important to health research.



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment 2:

Multi-media task: Critically develop a systematic review plan for a research question, which will enable students the opportunity to acquire research skills and an advanced critical understanding of systematic review methodology. 



GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10

Assessment 3:

Multi-media task: Critically appraise a quantitative or qualitative research study and a systematic review which will enable students the opportunity to critically analyse the components of research methodology.



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA6, GA8, GA10

Should this unit be offered in multiple modes then this overview of assessments table is required for each mode of delivery.

Representative texts and references

Barnett, D. W., Barnett, A., Nathan, A., Van Cauwenberg, J., & Cerin, E. (2017). Built environmental correlates of older adults’ total physical activity and walking: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity14(1), 103.

Bowling, A., & Ebrahim, S. (2014). Research methods in health: Investigating health and health services. Berkshire, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Elwood, M. (2017). Critical appraisal of epidemiological studies and clinical trials (4th ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (Eds). (2017). An introduction to systematic reviews (2nd ed.)London, United KingdomSage Publications.

Higgins, J. P. T., & Green, S. (Eds). (2019). Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions (2nd ed.)Chichester, United Kingdom. Wiley-Blackwell.

Liamputtong, P. (Ed). (2017). Research methods in health: Foundations for evidence-based practice (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., Altman, D. G., & Prisma Group. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Medicine6(7), e1000097.

Richards, L. (2014). Handling qualitative data: A practical guide (3rd ed.). London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications.

Shore, A. R., & Carfora, J. M. (2011). The art of funding and implementing ideas: A guide to proposal development and project management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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