Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit




HLSC401 Fundamental Research Skills in Biomedical and Health Sciences , HLSC641 Introduction to Health Sciences Research

Unit rationale, description and aim

Rigorous science is the foundation of evidence-based practice. It contributes to the academic, clinical, and/or industry-related development of policy and practice in health care across all Biomedical and Health Science disciplines. This unit introduces students to the scope and range of research methods available in biomedical and health professions. The unit will assist students in understanding the research process, levels of evidence, qualitative and quantitative research design, the steps taken for development of biomedical and health-related research questions, selection of appropriate research methods to address those questions, and identifying, appraising and synthesising existing research studies that underpin those questions. Students will learn to consider all aspects of research design through an ethical lens, with particular regard to the role culture plays in the design and conduct of an ethical research program. This unit aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop practical research skills and an ability to critically assess the quality of biomedical and health science research. Further, students will apply the above-mentioned skills to a food and nutrition-related problem through the development of a research question and proposal suitable research methods to address the problem in a practice setting.

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 - Develop and critically assess strategies to search and retrieve relevant scientific literature (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO2 - Critically reflect on the ethical principles that underpin biomedical and health science research (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO3 - Critically reflect on the ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples (GA1, GA2, GA3)

LO4 - Critically appraise research methods in biomedical and health science research from a scientific and ethical perspective (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10)

LO5 - Formulate a research question and method to address a food and nutrition problem in practice (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

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 

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.


This unit includes topics related to the development and demonstration of professional dietetic practice and competence according to the Accreditation Standards of Dietitians Australia. These are described under the heading ‘Building professional dietetic practice’ in each unit outline and build on topics delivered synchronously and progressively throughout the degree. Those in bold reflect ‘new’ topics addressed in this unit. Students will have opportunities for collecting evidence of competence in these, and in other areas (italics).

Building professional dietetic practice 

  • reflection and evaluation of practice 
  • acknowledges, reflects and understands own values, beliefs, attitudes, biases and assumptions and their influence on practice
  • scope of practice and standards of care, codes of conduct
  • continuing professional development 
  • attributes (empathy, flexibility, adaptability, resilience, ethical, respectful, demonstrates integrity, honesty, fairness, critical thinker)
  • time management in research
  • role of the dietitian in research
  • collaboration and communication skills with stakeholders

This unit requires the completion of 5 days of research placement. Content delivery is arranged as required to support these placements and the underpinning theoretical components.

Topics will include:

Research in dietetic practice

  • Food and nutrition research problems
  • Formulating a research question
  • Selecting appropriate methods to answer a research question

Both professional practice and performance will be directed by the university and the appointed placement supervisor at the host organisation, through a pre-defined and monitored set of criteria which encompass:

  • completion of defined project or project element/s
  • professional practices/attributes to be demonstrated whilst undertaking the experience 
  • ability to seek, respond to and provide feedback from supervisors
  • overall student performance throughout the placement

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

NUTR505 is offered in multi-mode.

Essential theory and concepts will be delivered via online modules with face to face activity, using an evidence-based, student-centred teaching and active

learning approach to support students in exploring theoretical and practical knowledge of research design in a biomedical and health science context. Learning is reinforced

through facilitated tutorial activities involving reading, writing, discussion, and problem solving, which provides students with the opportunity to apply lecture content to

specifc biomedical and health contexts/scenarios, and progressively develop their ability to apply research methods to contemporary health issues.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessments will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. To 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 will require students to demonstrate the advanced knowledge and practical skills needed to effectively search library databases and use appropriate referencing software. Assessment Task 2 is a critical reflection on the role of ethics in biomedical and health science research. This assessment will require students to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the fundamental importance of the ethics process before conducting research and/or ethical conduct as a part of the research. Assessment Task 3 is a critical appraisal of research studies that requires students to demonstrate an advanced understanding and demonstration of research design by critiquing the components of research methodology and assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of particular research methods and techniques. A component to this task allows Master of Dietetic Practice students apply their learning to research in food and nutrition setting.

All assessment will be submitted electronically. The assessment strategy allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills. 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 develop a comprehensive literature search strategy to address a

research question.



GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment 2

Multimedia task:

Requires students to critically discuss ethical issues in biomedical and

health science research.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 3

Multimedia task:

Requires students to critically appraise a quantitative or qualitative

research study or a systematic review and construct a research question/method to investigate a food and nutrition problem.


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Ungraded hurdle

Completion of 5 days of placement

Ungraded Hurdle



GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Bowling, A., & Ebrahim, S. (2014). Research methods in health: Investigating health and health services (4th ed.) Berkshire, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (3rd 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.

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

Van Horn, L. & Beto, J. (2019). Research: Successful Approaches In Nutrition and Dietetics (4th ed). Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

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