• Class Number 3789
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Bruce Smyth
    • Prof Bruce Smyth
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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 problem-based learning and research led teaching. It draws heavily on the day-to-day research and ethical problems faced by Smyth (the Course convenor/Lecturer). Real-world examples are used to help students apply methods and ethics first principles. The course is extremely applied.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Required Resources

Neuman, W.L. (2014). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th edition). Pearson.

Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: Course overview
2 Clarifying research questions & concepts; research designs
3 Literature searches & reviews; data & method ideas
4 Human Research Ethics & Integrity - I
5 Human Research Ethics & Integrity - II
6 Flexible designs: Interviews
7 Fixed designs: Surveys
8 Sampling and recruitment; Mixed-methods
9 Unobtrusive research; Quality of qualitative research
10 Timelines, budgets, gate keeping, politics, quotes, tenders, contracts
11 Dissemination / Class presentations
12 Data archiving; capturing lessons learned

Tutorial Registration

No need to register for tutorials

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Concept Brief (No marks attached) 0 % 26/03/2024 Concept Brief: see syllabus
Human Research Ethics Protocol (40%) 40 % 30/04/2024 Ethics Protocol: see syllabus
Research Proposal (25%) 25 % 14/05/2024 Research Proposal: see syllabus
Class Participation (10%) 10 % 30/05/2024 Participation: see syllabus
Class test (25%) 25 % 27/05/2024 Class test: see syllabus

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


All students are expected to read the suggested material each week, contribute to tutorial discussions, and to reflect and ask questions about the material covered. Class participation includes in-class contribution and participation in Wattle forums. Marks will be awarded for evidence of engaging with class material and the prescribed readings.


There are no examinations but there is a class test at the end of the semester.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 26/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: Concept Brief: see syllabus

Concept Brief (No marks attached)

The first piece of work to be submitted is a concept brief (the “pitch”) – please note the word “brief”. While it will not be assessed, feedback will nonetheless be provided, which will be critical to success in subsequent assessments. This piece of work should be submitted via Wattle.


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. The following structure is suggested but you are welcome to adapt:


1.    Project title (< 20="">

2.    Background [optional]

3.    Statement of the ‘problem’

4.    Rationale for the study (Why the research is important)

5.    Aim(s) / Objective(s)

6.    Research questions

7.    Methodology

8.    Timeline and resources

9.    Potential Risks

10. Stakeholder/Colleague feedback [optional]

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 30/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: Ethics Protocol: see syllabus

Human Research Ethics Protocol (40%)

The first piece of summative assessment is an ethics protocol. This assignment should be completed using the ANU Ethics online system.


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

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.


Please try to be concise. Aim to write around 3,000-5,000 words, excluding 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.


Please also attach any required documents to your assignment and label them clearly with the protocol number and Appendix number in the header/filename. These documents should include a Participant Information Sheet and consent/forms plus sample survey questions/interview guide, recruitment brochure, screening questions; distress protocol, confidentiality agreement etc.

Assessment criteria

Assessment of the ethics protocol will be based on the above objectives, with marks awarded as follows:

Basic summary of ethical considerations: Pass

Good identification of ethical implications: Credit

Basic critique and address of ethical considerations: Distinction

Deep critique and address of practical implications: High distinction 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 14/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: Research Proposal: see syllabus

Research Proposal (25%)

The second piece of summative assessment is a research proposal. Your proposal should be around 3,000-4,000 words. Please try to be concise. If you are proposing an especially complex research design, please consult with the Course Convenor about the word limit.


Objectives of this piece of assessment

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.


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.


Proposal title

2.    Introduction/Background/Context/The problem: Here’s where you explain the background to your topic and describe the general area of inquiry in which your work is situated. Why is the problem you have selected a problem? What are your key concepts?

3.    Rationale/Significance: Why do the study? What will it add or contribute to knowledge, policy and/or practice? Describe how the research is significant and whether the research addresses an important problem. Describe how the anticipated outcomes will advance the knowledge base of the discipline. Detail what new methodologies or technologies will be developed in the course of the project

4.    Brief literature review: What is known about your topic? Are there any debates? What’s the quality of the evidence base? Do any substantive/methodological gaps exist? Are lines of inquiry suggested for future research (e.g., your project)? Where possible, include an appendix table summarising the key attributes of the literature you’ve reviewed (examples will be supplied on Wattle). This review should be a critical analysis and synthesis of prior relevant work. Include information about recent national and international progress in the field of the research and the relationship of this proposal to the work in the field generally. Refer only to refereed papers that are widely available to national and international research communities

5.    Specific aims and research questions: Identify the aims of your project, and the particular research questions you will be trying to answer. The latter may be formal hypotheses, working hypotheses or, most likely, research questions that your research will seek to answer. (This section may be short but it is the most important section in your proposal.) Note the funnel design of 1 through 5.

6.    Method and approach: How do you plan to find answers to the research questions you have posed? Outline the conceptual framework, design and methods, and demonstrate that these are adequately developed, well integrated and appropriate to the aims of the proposal.

7.    Timelines: Identify the key areas of your research plan, and provide a statement of how long each of the activities will take and when each will need to have been completed.

8.    Budget/Resources: What will you need to carry out your research? This exercise will help you to check on the scope of your proposed project – does it need to be scaled down? Is there room to increase its scope? Budget items might include data collection costs, printing, postage, travel, purchase of documents/books, visits to remote libraries, payments to respondents in focus groups and so on.

9.    References: List the key sources you’ve cited under the points above with full bibliographic details just as you would in an essay.

Assessment criteria

This piece of work will be assessed on substance, clarity of thought, strength of argument and critique of existing work. You will be assessed on how well you meet the items above, in addition to the academic rigour of your piece. Marks will be assigned as follows:


Basic presentation of the research: Pass

Defined core aspects of the research: Credit

Carefully considered and developed project: Distinction

Highly developed and well-articulated project: High distinction

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 30/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: Participation: see syllabus

Class Participation (10%)

This assessment is based on class/forum participation. All students are expected to contribute to tutorial discussions and to reflect and ask questions about the material covered. Class participation includes in-class contribution as well as participation in Wattle forums. Marks will be awarded for evidence of engaging with class material and the prescribed readings.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 27/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: Class test: see syllabus

Class test (25%)

The class test will comprise 5 short answer questions (5 marks each). The test should be reasonably straightforward for anyone who has attended all the lectures and tutorials, has done the suggested reading, and has made a serious attempt to understand the material.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

My intention is to try to have each assignment returned within 1-2 weeks.

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

The Concept Brief can be resubmitted at any point during the course. Re-submission of other work is generally not possible.

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

Human Research Ethics & Integrity; Research methods; Family studies

Prof Bruce Smyth

By Appointment
Prof Bruce Smyth

Research Interests

Prof Bruce Smyth

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions