Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


Accepted and enrolled in honours degree program

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is the first of four in the Allied Health Honours program. Honours programs provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to learn how to conduct research, to develop more advanced professional knowledge and skills, and to enter higher degree programs by research at Masters and PhD levels. Research skills are critical for the development of evidence based practice and policy that ensures quality care of individuals, families and communities requiring allied health and social services.
Research requires multiple steps with the first step being to appraise current literature which is addressed in the unit. Appraisal of the literature informs planning, designing, implementing, and interpreting research.
The overall aim of this unit is to develop students' knowledge and skills in exploration and appraisal of the literature to inform the development of a research question. Students will apply skills in acquiring, critical appraisal and synthesis of research literature, academic writing and use of referencing systems in order to present the relevance of key findings, identify gaps in research knowledge and derive implications for clinical practice.
A key outcome of this unit will be a comprehensive literature review that provides a background and rationale for each student's research project and proposes the research aim, question(s) and/or hypotheses as appropriate to be addressed by that project. The literature review will be included in each student's Honours thesis, which they will complete in their final Honours unit. Students will be supported in this unit by working closely with their supervisor(s) throughout the semester.

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 - Identify, critically review and synthesise available research to justify and inform the research project (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO2 - Formulate research question/s, aim/s and/or hypotheses that will be investigated in the honours research project (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Effectively communicate the findings of the literature review and research questions, aims and/or hypotheses in written and oral formats (GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

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 

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


Topics will include:


Understanding and optimising the supervisory process

Self care and time management


Conducting and reporting a literature search

·        Planning and undertaking systematic literature searches

·        Identifying and using relevant electronic data bases


Critically appraising and synthesising the literature

·        Conducting appraisal processes appropriate to research design

·        Synthesising literature findings and identifying research gaps

·        Defining a research question


Communicating research processes and outcomes

·        Writing in a scientific and scholarly manner

·        Presenting in a clear and comprehensive manner in both oral and written modes

·        Understanding thesis guidelines


Research ethical principles

·        Understanding international human rights principles governing research conducted upon human participants

·        Understanding National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines on Research Conducted upon Human Subjects

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit students will acquire theoretical and technical content in lectures and discuss how to use and apply this knowledge in tutorials. Students will work both independently and in collaboration with the LIC, tutors and their supervisor(s). Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning and will be mentored and supported by their supervisor(s) in regular meetings to discuss and clarify development of their literature review. This learning and teaching strategy will support students to develop and apply research knowledge and skills to their individual research project with increasing autonomy.


This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face, online and independent learning activities, and assessment tasks.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit adopts an authentic assessment approach by requiring students to demonstrate application of acquired research knowledge and skills to an individual research project and with high level research communication skills. The assessment strategies for this unit consist of a literature search report, a comprehensive literature review, including critical review, and an oral presentation. First, the literature search report will demonstrate the students’ ability to locate and summarise relevant literature and readiness to write the literature review. The second assessment task is presentation of findings from the literature review and research questions, aims and/or hypotheses provides opportunity for feedback to refine and determine the scope of the research project. The final assessment task is the literature review which will situate students’ individual research projects within the context of current research and knowledge. 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

Written task: Enables student to undertake and report a rigorous data base search strategy for a research topic and summarise 5-10 key articles as an annotated bibliography or in a summative table.




Oral presentation: Enables students to present information about a research gap and research project questions, aims or hypotheses, and gain feedback.


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA9, GA10

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


LO1, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

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

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

Gray, D. E., (2017). Doing research in the real world (4th ed.). SAGE.

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

Portney, L., & Watkins, M. (2014). Foundations of clinical research (3rd ed.). Prentice-Hall.

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

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