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ALHT405 Honours Research Design

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Research skills are important for our society as they facilitate change. They are also critical for the development of evidence-based practice that ensures quality care of individuals, families and communities requiring allied health services. Honours programs provide undergraduate students will the opportunity to learn how to do research, to develop more advanced professional knowledge and skills, and to enter higher degrees by research at Masters and PhD levels.

This is the second of three units in the Allied Health Honours program and includes students from three disciplines: Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Social Work.

In this unit students will commence the implementation phase of their project including data collection, data management and analysis. Students will learn and apply project management skills to ensure the project is effectively and ethically conducted, managed, analysed and presented. Skills in data security, management and analysis will be learned through in-class activities and practical application of individual projects. Students will write a comprehensive literature review that justifies the need for the research project, and will form the first chapter of the final thesis. Students work closely with their supervisor throughout the semester to implement the project and write the literature review. In summary, this unit aims to introduce students to research project implementation and comprehensive literature reviews.

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 - Implement a research project in a timely and ethical manner, using sound professional research and project management skills to recruit participants and collect data, or access a research data base. (GA3, GA4, GA6, GA9)

LO2 - Prepare and maintain high quality research documentation to ensure project activities comply with ethical and university requirements (GA8)

LO3 - Critically review and synthesise prior research to justify and inform the research project in the field of allied health (GA4, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively

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

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian Occupational Therapy Competency Standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1.Professionalism: 1.5, 1.7, 1.11

LO1, LO2,  

2.Knowledge and Learning: 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, 2.6, 2.8,

LO1 LO2, LO3,  

3.Occupational Therapy Process and Practice: 3.5, 3.7, 3.11

LO1 LO2, LO3,  

4.Communication: 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7


Competency Based Occupational Standards for Speech Pathologists (CBOS) 

The Competency Based Occupational Standards for Speech Pathologists (CBOS) developed in this unit will involve one of the following range practice indicators: language speech, swallowing, voice, fluency or multi-modal communication. Additionally, the following generic competencies will be developed: 

Standards/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1. Reasoning 

1.1, 1.2 

LO1, LO2, LO3 

2. Communication 

2.1, 2.2, 2.3,  

LO1, LO2 

3. Lifelong learning 

3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 

LO1, LO2, LO3 

4. Professionalism 

4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 

LO1, LO2 


Topics will include: 


  • Getting the most out of supervision  
  • Synthesis and critique of literature & writing a literature review  
  • Project management  
  • Time management 
  • Resource identification and acquisition 
  • Risk identification and management  
  • Documentation  
  • Ethical implementation of a research plan 
  • Gaining consent & vulnerable populations 
  • Documentation & data security 
  • Maintaining privacy  
  • Data collection & data analysis  
  • Reliable and valid collection of data 
  • Data management strategies and tools 
  • Qualitative data analysis 
  • Quantitative data analysis  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In order to gain research skills, students need to be actively engaged in the learning process; therefore this unit takes a student centred approach. Lectures and tutorials support students to acquire generic theoretical and technical knowledge and skills for research implementation, and explore application to individual projects. Workshop presentations enable students to develop confidence in presenting research and gaining feedback from peers and academic staff.  


A significant portion of time is available in this unit for implementation of students’ individual research projects, including participant recruitment, data collection, or data bank access. Students also work independently to conduct a rigorous literature search and write a literature review. Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning and meet regularly with their honours supervisors who will guide implementation of their project proposal and development of their literature review. This learning and teaching strategy will support students to develop and apply advanced allied health research knowledge and skills to their individual research project with increasing autonomy. 


Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit adopts an authentic assessment approach, requiring students to demonstrate application of research knowledge and skills to their individual research project. Student projects will vary with respect to design and methodology, and in the timing of implementation. Thus progress with project implementation is assessed through presentations in which students will report progress to date and evaluate their progress against expected milestones.  


The rigour of project implementation and compliance with ethical research standards will be assessed by requiring students to provide a portfolio of documented evidence of compliance with ethics and their planned protocol. These assessments of progress and documentation are consistent with the ACU Guidelines for Honours Programs (Item 9. Conduct of the Research Component of an Honours Degree). A comprehensive review of the literature expands the background to the research proposal provided in the pre-requisite unit (ALHT405). The review fully situates the student’s individual research project within the context of current research. This assessment is consistent with the ACU Guidelines for Honours Programs that stipulates that the final thesis submitted for an honours degree must include a literature review (7.1, 11.1).  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral presentation: Enables students to report and evaluate progress with project implementation  



GA3, GA4, GA6, GA9

Written portfolio: Enables students to demonstrate appropriate management of project documentation  




Written assignment: Enables students to write a comprehensive, critical review of the literature



GA4, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association (2010). Mastering APA Style: Student's Workbook and Training Guide (6th ed). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Australian Occupational Therapy (2011). Writing for Publication in an international journal Wiley Blackwell Publishing Asia. Retrieved from

Bowers, D., House, A., & Owens, D. (2011). Getting Started in Health Research. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Bowles, W. (2012). Research for Social Workers: An Introduction to Methods (3rd ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Cone, J.D. & Foster, S.L. (2010), Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish (2nd ed.). Washington DC, USA: American Psychological Association.  

Liamputtong, P. (2016). Research methods in health: Foundations for evidence based practice (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Pallant, J. (2014). SPSS survival guide manual (6th ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Plichta S. B. & Kelvin, E. (2012). Munro’s statistical methods for health care research (5th ed.). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Portney, L., & Watkins, M. (2014). Foundations of clinical research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.

Sharp, J. A., Peters, J., & Howard, K. (2012). Management of a student research project. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Ashgate Publishing Group.

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