Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


Completion of all second year units

Unit rationale, description and aim

Physiotherapists may choose to undertake research in their clinical practice or pursue a research career pathway. In this second unit of the Physiotherapy honours program students will extend their knowledge of research design and methods, building on knowledge and skills gained in PHTY211, understanding of research ethics in PHTY4XX Preparation for Physiotherapy Honours and gain new knowledge regarding research methodologies and statistical analyses. Students will be guided in the development of a clear and cogent research proposal that builds on the critical appraisal and literature review skills developed in PHTY4XX Preparation for Physiotherapy Honours. This aim of this unit aims is to develop students' knowledge and skills in research methodology and preparation of a research proposal appropriate to honours 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 - Describe, discuss and evaluate research methodologies and designs including ethical and legal issues (GA3; GA4)

LO2 - Develop and justify a research proposal appropriate to the aims and scope of their individual research project, (GA3; GA4; GA8)

LO3 - Effectively communicate a research proposal using a variety of methods appropriate for a scientific audience (GA4; GA8; GA9). 

Graduate attributes

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 

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

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


Topics will include: 

Research methods pertaining to physiotherapy  

  • Qualitative and quantitative research paradigms 
  • Research designs for clinical questions 


Methodological considerations 

  • Sampling and recruitment 
  • External validity  
  • Measurement and data collection methods 
  • Questionnaires 
  • Interviewing techniques 
  • Observation  
  • Measurement  


Ethics and Research 

Clinical Trials eLearning Modules 

There are three modules available: 


Data management and statistical analysis 

  • Quantitative analyses and interpretation 
  • Introduction to SPSS 
  • Inferential statistics including Student t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), Chi-square test, correlation and simple regression 
  • Qualitative analyses and interpretation 
  • Introduction to qualitative analysis software e.g. NVivo, Leximancer 
  • Analysis – coding, content, thematic, narrative 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face, online and other directed independent learning activities, and regular meetings with the student’s supervisor(s). The lectures and online resources will provide students with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the ethical, legal and methodological requirements for research. Tutorials will provide students with the opportunity to discuss their understanding and application of ethical and methodological requirements for research. Supervisor(s) will provide students with guidance towards the development of a research proposal and the preparation of a research ethics application or systematic review protocol to be submitted for approval. Supervisors will demonstrate respect for, and encourage the student as an independent learner.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategies for this unit consist of a written examination, an oral and a written assessment piece. These strategies have been chosen as they allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge of research methods appropriate for qualitative and quantitative research paradigms and applying this knowledge into the development of a research proposal appropriate and an application to the Human Research Ethics Committee or systematic review protocol to conduct a project based on their individual research proposal.  


Research Methods Appraisal 

Students are required to present a concise justification for their selected methodology to answer their research question. Possible research designs and methodology will be presented and appraised with justification provided for their selected methodology (including design, procedures, measures, analyses and ethical considerations) to answer their research question. Students can choose to present this information as an oral poster or oral conference presentation.  


Written Research Project Proposal 

When designing a research study, the most appropriate research methodology is required to answer the research question. This assessment task requires students to demonstrate their ability to write the research methods suitable to answer a research question and will include a clear statement of research aims, research hypotheses, detailed anticipated experimental design, methods, data management and planned analyses.  


For study designs where ethical clearance is required, students will also be required to demonstrate their ability to write an ethical clearance application for their selected research methods. If students are undertaking a systematic review, students will be required to demonstrate their ability to complete a protocol for a systematic review suitable for registration.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written examination (mid-semester) 



GA3, GA4, GA5

Oral poster/ oral seminar - Research methods appraisal  


LO1 – LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Written Research Project Proposal including an ethics application or systematic review protocol: 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2007). Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007), Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. 

National Health and Medical Research Council Good Clinical Practice available at: 

Barton, B., & Peat, J. (2014). Medical statistics: A guide to SPSS, data analysis and critical appraisal (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Blackwell Publishing 

Beauchamp, T., & Childress, J. (2009). Principles of biomedical ethics (6th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. 

Carter, R.E., & Lubinsky, J. (2016). Rehabilitation research: principles and applications (5th ed.) St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Saunders 

Catholic Health Australia. (2001). Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care. Retrieved from

Hickson, M. (2008). Research handbook for health care professionals (1st ed.). United Kingdom: Wiley. 

Hulley, S., Cummings, S., Browner W.S., Grady, D.G., & Newman, T.B., (2013). Designing clinical research (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 

Jenkins, S., Price, C.J., & Straker, L. (1998). The researching therapist: A practical guide to planning, performing and communicating research. New York: Churchill Livingstone. 

Polgar, S., & Thomas, S. (2013). Introduction to research in the health sciences (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. 

Portney, L.G., & Watkins, M.P. (2009). Foundations of clinical research: Applications to practice (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall Health. 

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