PHARM 7521EX - Research Methodology in Addictions

External - Trimester 3 - 2020

This course/module is designed to enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of the different methodological processes underpinning research in the addictions. The research principals involved in hypothesis testing and estimation procedures will be covered as well as the generic skills necessary to analyse data and interpret statistical findings. Basic epidemiological study designs, policy analysis and inferential statistical methods will be explored pertinent to the addictions field.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHARM 7521EX
    Course Research Methodology in Addictions
    Coordinating Unit Medical Sciences
    Term Trimester 3
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s External
    Units 6
    Contact Online
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Restrictions Available to MSciAddictSt, GradCert and Grad Dip in International Addiction studies students only
    Course Description This course/module is designed to enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of the different methodological processes underpinning research in the addictions. The research principals involved in hypothesis testing and estimation procedures will be covered as well as the generic skills necessary to analyse data and interpret statistical findings. Basic epidemiological study designs, policy analysis and inferential statistical methods will be explored pertinent to the addictions field.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Linda Gowing

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    This course is a component of the Masters in Addiction Studies in the International Program of Addiction Studies provided by the University of Adelaide in collaboration with Kings College London (UK) and Virginia Commonwealth University (USA). Courses are offered on a modified semester schedule. This course is scheduled to commence in the first week of September, and run over 14 weeks with 4 one-week study breaks and concluding with an exam.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    • Develop knowledge and understanding of the different ways in which research is conducted in the addictions.
    • Be able to describe the features of, and issues raised by, case-control, cohort and cross-sectional studies and randomised controlled trials.
    • Be able to recognise factors that contribute to bias and confounding in research.
    • Be able to critically appraise research.
    • Explore the principles involved in hypothesis testing.
    • Become familiar with data analysis methods and interpretation of statistical findings.
    • Design a small scale research project.
    • Develop awareness of the ethical issues arising from research with human subjects.

    At the end of this course you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:
    1. steps in the scientific method and the research process;
    2. critical appraisal of research, including consideration of bias and confounding;
    3. different types of research studies and the inferences that can be drawn from them;
    4. the different roles of quantitative and qualitative research;
    5. basic statistical methods; and steps that should be taken to protect human subjects in research.

    Skills and Attitudes
    You will be expected to develop and/or enhance your:
    6. comprehension of different research designs and their application to the addictions;
    7. understanding of epidemiological research methodology;
    8. understanding of the requirements for small scale research;
    9. academic writing and referencing skills;
    10. ability to effectively communicate your intellectual curiosity and knowledge to others in an online discussion;
    11. current ethical issues in human subjects research;
    12. competence in critically reviewing research articles with regard to their study design; and
    13. awareness of statistical methods for data analysis
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    All required resources will be available online, usually through the libraries of the three universities involved in the program.
    Recommended Resources
    Information on recommended resources will be provided online, usually as links to online material.
    Online Learning
    This course is provided totally online. The International Program in Addiction Studies is currently hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University. Course materials are provided on the VCU equivalent of MyUni (MyVCU).
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The online delivery offers flexibility, but students are encouraged to go through the work at the same pace so as to make best use of the online discussion.

    The course is provided as a series of topics. Each study topic comprises:
    • a topic outline describing the components and learning objectives;
    • a concept lecture (or lectures);
    • essential and additional readings;
    • a quiz to test your understanding (not graded); and
    • a discussion forum.

    The discussion forum is used to clarify any issues, practise writing and professional discussions (e.g. using references) and to share experiences. It is not a chat room, but more resembles an open panel discussion. In some courses, depending on interest of the students, wikis or other interactive tools may be used to increase collaboration further.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The expected work load for the course is 20 hours a week. This will be spent on reviewing the video and reading material, doing the revision quizzes, engaging in discussion and preparing for the assessments.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The following topics will be taught:
    • Planning a research project
    • Overview of research methods
    • Epidemiology in the addictions
    • Confounding and bias
    • Case-control studies
    • Qualitative research
    • Randomised controlled trials
    • Understanding and interpreting statistics
    • Planning statistical analyses
    • Ethics of research with human subjects

    Specific Course Requirements
    Not applicable
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due (approx)
    Weighting Learning Outcome
    Online Tests Formative

    Weeks 1-10

    Discussion Board participation Summative Weeks 1-10 10%
    Short Answer Examination Summative Week 7 40%
    Research Project Planning Summative Week 6 10%
    Research Protocol Summative Week 11 40%

    The Host University’s policies and procedures relating to assessment and examinations will apply as governed by an agreement
    with Kings' College London and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Not applicable
    Assessment Detail
    Discussion Board
    Participation in the discussion board forums for each of the topics will be assessed. The discussion board is an opportunity to communicate with others about the course material and prepared for the written assessments.

    Written Assignments 
    There are two assignments. The first is about planning a research project and the second involves preparing a protocol for a research project. 

    Written Examination
    The exam will comprise 10 or 11 short answer questions that relate to the course objectives and the topics. The exam is open book but is available for a limited period of time at the end of the course.
    Specific instructions on the preparation and submission of written assignments will be provided on the VCU equivalent of MyUni (known as MyVCU).
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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