Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



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 base 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 first 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 are provided with the knowledge and skills to develop a research protocol and ethics application. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to source, read and critique research literature and synthesise findings in order to clearly describe what is currently known, identify gaps in the research and explain implications for clinical practice.

Students will learn about a range of qualitative and quantitative research designs pertinent to research questions by auditing content in a research methods unit (OTHY305, SWTP320 or SPHY306) and be guided in the selection of appropriate methods for the conduct of their project, including sampling, measurement and introduction to analysis. Principles of ethical conduct in research will be applied in the development of a research protocol and meeting ethical requirements.

During this semester, students work with their honours supervisor/s to refine and develop their research protocol. In summary, this unit aims to develop student skills in research design and project planning.

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 - Demonstrate sound knowledge of research designs, methodologies and ethical principles for allied health (GA4)

LO2 - Develop a coherent research protocol that integrates and applies critical appraisal of the literature, relevance to the profession, research design, and ethical principles (GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Justify and apply ethical research principles and processes for research projects (GA3, GA4, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1. Professionalism: 1.6, 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 Entry-Level Speech Pathologists (CBOS, 2011) developed in this unit will involve one of the following range of 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


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

LO2, LO3


Topics will include: 

Human inquiry pertaining to evidence-based practice 

  • The relationship between theory, research and practice  
  • Qualitative and quantitative research paradigms 
  • Research designs for clinical questions 


Issues of methodology in design  

  • Sampling and recruitment 
  • Measurement and data collection methods 
  • Research procedures 
  • Overview of data analysis and interpretation 


Critical analysis and synthesis of the literature 

  • Appraisal processes appropriate to research design 
  • Synthesis of literature findings and identification of research gaps 


  • Guidelines for ethical conduct in human research  
  • Research ethics approval processes 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In order to gain research skills, students need to be actively engaged in the learning process. This unit therefore takes a student centred approach in which students are able to acquire theoretical and technical content in lectures, discuss how to use and apply knowledge in tutorials, and access feedback on their project development in a workshop. Students will audit research methods units for their discipline (OTHY305, SPHY306 or SWTP320) in order to gain knowledge of research methods required for an honours degree. The audit will include attendance and participation in lectures and tutorials, and engagement with online learning materials.  


Students will deliver work in progress presentations and receive feedback from peers and academic staff that will inform their research project development. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and meet regularly with their honours supervisors who will guide development of their project proposal and ethics application. This learning and teaching strategy will support students to develop advanced allied health research knowledge and skills and apply it to their individual research project with increasing autonomy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit adopts a dual approach to assessment: demonstration of knowledge and authentic application of developing knowledge and skills to an individual research project. Knowledge of research design, methods and ethical principles, gained throughout the audited units and in this unit, will be assessed through a set of quizzes. This strategy ensures that students actively engage in learning about a comprehensive range of research designs, methods and ethical principles so that they are equipped to apply this knowledge to a range of research contexts.  


An authentic assessment approach requires students to demonstrate their learning and emerging research competency in developing their individual research project. A presentation provides students with the opportunity to learn how to prepare and deliver an oral presentation describing their research and to gain feedback on their project development. A written assignment is designed for students to demonstrate their ability to write a coherent research proposal which fully justifies the purpose, significance, design, methodology, ethical requirements, management and timeline for the project. Evidence of complying with ethical approval requirements will be required within the project proposal..  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Quizzes: Enables students to demonstrate knowledge of research design, method and ethical principles. 




Oral presentation: Enables students to present their progress to date in developing individual project proposals and gain feedback. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9

Written project proposal: Enables students to write a structured project proposal for their individual research project and provide evidence of acquiring required approvals. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed). American Psychological Association. 

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

Alston, M., & Bowles, W. (2018). Research for Social Workers: An Introduction to Methods (4th ed.). Allen and Unwin. 

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

Fitzgerald, M.H., Phillips, P.A., & Yule, E. (2006). The research ethics review process and ethics review narratives. Ethics and Behaviour, 16(4), 377-395.  

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

Pallant, J. (2020). SPSS survival guide manual (7th ed.). 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.). Prentice-Hall Inc. 

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

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