• Class Number 6693
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Bruce Smyth
    • Prof Bruce Smyth
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

Close links exist between policy, practice and research. Yet data is often not available to help inform policy and/or practice. The ability to conduct high quality research in applied settings constitutes a set of skills that continue to be highly sought by government and non-government agencies, industry, and academia more generally.

This course aims to provide students with a solid understanding of each phase in the life of a research project­ (conception, scoping, planning, doing, and finalisation)­ and the way in which the components within each phase fit together. The course is applied in nature, and seeks to complement research methodology courses. It aims to provide the conceptual framework to help students develop and manage their own research projects (for post-graduate research or for use in the workplace) or to be able to commission or manage research by others.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. explain the life cycle of a research project;
  2. frame research questions or testable hypotheses, and define and operationalise key concepts in their research;
  3. propose research designs that are appropriate for their research question(s) or hypotheses;
  4. balance the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis;
  5. identify key ethical principles in the research process;
  6. communicate and present research in a clear, factual manner; and
  7. evaluate the quality of research (including their own).

Research-Led Teaching

This course is based on research-led teaching and problem-based learning.

Required Resources

Neuman, W.L. (2011), Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th edition), Pearson: Boston.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction - Course Overview
2 Clarifying research questions, concepts & variables; research designs
3 Literature searches & reviews; data & method ideas; consulting stakeholders; finding/storing information Concept Brief
4 Ethics I
5 Ethics II Ethics protocol
6 Fixed designs - surveys
7 Flexible designs - interviews, FGD, PO
8 Sampling and recruitment; Mixed-methods
9 Unobtrusive research; Quality of qualitative research
10 Timelines, budgets, gate keeping, politics, quotes, tenders, contracts
11 Research translation / Dissemination / Class presentations Research proposal
12 Course revision Class test

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Concept brief 0 % 18/08/2021
Ethics protocol 30 % 28/09/2021
Research Proposal 40 % 26/10/2021
Class Test 25 % 08/11/2021
Class participation 5 % 26/10/2021 Participation

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


As above: students are expected to contribute to tutorial discussions and to reflect and ask questions about the material covered. Class participation includes both in-class contribution and participation in Wattle forums. Marks will be awarded for evidence of engaging with class material and the prescribed readings.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 18/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Concept brief

The purpose of a concept brief is: (a) to ensure consistency with the strategic direction of an organisation or research program; (b) to provide an early quality check of a proposed project; (c) to provide input to a decision to tender/ not tender for a project or a grant; and (d) to obtain approval to progress the project to the scoping stage. While briefs can vary in length and detail, they force researchers to be clear about what they intend to study, why, how, what resources will be required, and what risks exist to a project and to the researcher’s organisation. In real-world research, concept briefs are critical for gaining buy-in from key stakeholders.

The brief should not exceed 1,000 words. Briefs are normally written on 2-4 pages of A4 – single spaced.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 28/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Ethics protocol

This assignment should be completed using the ONLINE ARIES protocol (PLAY mode) available at: https://aries.anu.edu.au/play/content/ASP/ANULogin.asp


In order to complete this assessment, you are required to attend an ARIES training session. In the event that you are unable to attend the ARIES in-class training, you will need to attend one of the sessions offered by ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

Objectives of this piece of assessment

·      To encourage students to think through the ethical issues of their proposed investigations

·      To increase students’ awareness of the need to engage in careful planning prior to starting any data collection

To provide students with the chance to get feedback before they commit to research strategy.

Again please try to be concise. Aim to write around 2,000-3,000 words, NOT including any attachments. If you are proposing an especially complex research design that is fraught with ethical challenges, please consult with your tutor about the word limit.


Use the headings provided in ARIES Play Mode for your responses. Please also attach any requested documents – including sample survey questions, an interview protocol, and/or consent form(s), recruitment brochure, screening questions; distress protocol, referral numbers.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 26/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Research Proposal

Your proposal should be around 3,000 words. Please try to be concise. If you are proposing an especially complex research design, please consult with me about the word limit.


The main goals of a research proposal are to: provide justification for the proposed project, and demonstrate that the project is doable and that the objectives of the project are achievable. When writing your proposal, bear in mind the following:

a.    The aim of the research is justified, and sufficient evidence is provided to support it.

b.    The research questions address and meet the aims of the research project.

c.    The methods and methodology supports and effectively addresses the research questions. In other words you can answer your research question.

d.    Ethical considerations have been identified and adequately addressed.

Again, there are no hard and fast rules. The main thing is that your proposal is clear, logical, rigorous and sets out the major issues to be considered. Below is a sample structure; however, regardless of how you choose to format your proposal please include aims, research questions, methods and methodology, key ethical considerations, and a project timeline and budget.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 08/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Class Test

The class test (48 hours from when started online) will comprise 5 short answer questions (5 marks each). It should be reasonably straightforward for anyone who has attended all the lectures and tutorials, has done the suggested reading, and made a serious attempt to understand the material. The class test will be open via Zoom from Monday, 8 November for 1 week.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 26/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: Participation

Class participation

Students are expected to contribute to tutorial discussions and to reflect and ask questions about the material covered. Class participation includes both in-class contribution and participation in Wattle forums. Marks will be awarded for evidence of engaging with class material and the prescribed readings.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Bruce Smyth

Research Interests

Research Methods, Human Ethics, Family Studies, Divorce, Family Sociology, Social Psychology

Prof Bruce Smyth

Tuesday By Appointment
By Appointment
Prof Bruce Smyth

Research Interests

Prof Bruce Smyth

Tuesday By Appointment
By Appointment

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