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PSYC624 Evidence-Based Practice for Psychologists

Unit rationale, description and aim

The practice of psychology is based on the scientist-practitioner model, and as such, knowledge and critical analysis of research is essential for evidence-based practice. This is the first of two units, in which the student engages in a significant research investigation/project. This unit supports students to identify research questions and develop the ability to formulate a defensible research proposal based on a review of the most relevant available literature. In this unit, students complete the groundwork for the project including a detailed research proposal and ethics application (as appropriate). The project will address an area of relevance to the specialisation stream (Clinical or Educational & Developmental) in which the student is enrolled.
The unit aims to develop generic and specific skills in students in relation to the formulation of a research proposal in an area of psychology related to the student's specialisation stream (Clinical or Educational & Developmental).

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe knowledge and skills in designing an original, well-designed and ethical research projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO2Assimilate relevant literature, concepts and research method(s) into the research projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO3Develop an evidence-based research project that is communicated effectively in written and oral forms to a specialist audienceGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


This unit involves up to 12 hours of lectures on advanced research topics, which may include:  

  • Planning and conducting an evidence-based project 
  • Systematic literature reviews 
  • Meta analysis 
  • Library search strategies 
  • Qualitative methods. 

 Students will also explore a range of possible topics with Psychology staff, and select a topic of research relevant to the student’s specialisation stream, liaison with the student’s supervisor, production of a written research proposal for approval, presentation of the proposal at a relevant research forum, and completion of appropriate steps to ensure ethics clearance for the project. 

By the end of this stage, students should have completed a detailed written proposal, submitted a relevant ethics application and made adequate progress in their research overall. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Postgraduate students in psychology are provisional psychologists are expected to be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning. As such, a variety of teaching and learning approaches will be used according to the needs of the research project and the student such as: workshops, meetings and seminars. Lectures will delivered in face-to-face mode with up to 12 hours of lectures delivered in weekly or intensive modes.  In addition, regular meetings with the supervisor, research team or other relevant staff members, and research activities will be required as recommended by staff. Contact time and mode are negotiated on an individual basis. Attendance at the School’s research colloquia is expected in order to broaden exposure to a range of research methodologies. Approximately 150 hours of study time is required for this unit including project management, review writing, and associated activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit objectives consistent with University assessment requirements. The written proposal, including a review of the literature, assesses the capacity to understand the research area, conceptualise, design and write up a research proposal at postgraduate level, demonstrating logical organisation of the material and coverage of content. The written proposal will be developed by the student and reviewed by a member of staff. The proposal will also be presented orally to a review panel for assessment in a relevant forum. The processes of writing and presenting the proposal allow the student to demonstrate the ability to plan a viable research project. The ethics application will be assessed by the HREC. This will ensure that the research project adheres to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research with respect to the ethical principles of respect, research merit and integrity, justice, and beneficence. The progress report will be completed by the supervisor and provides an opportunity to assess whether the student is ready to proceed to the final thesis unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Written Research Proposal

Requires students to demonstrate capacity to understand the research area, conceptualise, design a project.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Oral Presentation of Proposal

Requires students to communicate and defend their ideas orally.


LO1, LO3

Submit HREC application



Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2018). Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Sternberg, R. J., & Sternberg, K. (2016). The psychologist’s Companion: A guide to professional success for students, teachers and researchers. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Supervisors/Staff may recommend texts and peer reviewed articles relevant to your topic.

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