PUB HLTH 7300OL - Developing a Research Proposal

Online - Semester 1 - 2017

This research preparedness course will review and reinforce student learning on the research process and enable students to produce a research proposal ready for implementation. In a series of modules, the course focuses on specific aspects of doing research including: literature searching and critical appraisal; reference management; framing the research question and determining research approaches; and ethical issues. Students will develop competence in assessing the validity of the published literature, determining the gaps in the evidence and developing a feasible study design that complies with the principles underpinning responsible research practice.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7300OL
    Course Developing a Research Proposal
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Online
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week online plus 3 hours per week preparation
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Assessment Online quizzes, written reports
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Paul Rothmore

    Course Coordinator: Paul Rothmore
    Phone: +61 8313 3568
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace

    Student & Program Support Services Hub
    Phone: +61 8313 0273

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Identify a public health problem suitable for scientific investigation
    2 Situate that problem within the relevant literature and existing evidence and identify gaps in the evidence about that problem (i.e. things worthy of further research)
    3 Develop a (structured) research question which addresses a gap in the evidence about the problem
    4 Plan an appropriate research design to investigate the research question
    5 Use appropriate online databases of research evidence and reference management software
    6 Apply ethical principles of research to shape or modify the research proposal
    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
    O’Leary Z. The essential guide to doing your research project. 2nd Ed, Sage Publications 2014. ISBN 978-1-4462-5897-2

    Other resources will be available via MyUni and will include: journal articles; government reports; video resources; online data bases; web-based tutorials and activities.

    Recommended Resources
    John W. Creswell. A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. Sage Publications 2014, ISBN-13: 978-1483359045

    Online Learning
    This course will be offered completely online.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be offered completely online.

    Online learning modules
    Online learning modules will cover discrete aspects of the development of a research protocol. Modules will consist of a topic overview  (and associated diagnostic quiz – see below), and a portfolio of various resources designed to broaden the students’  understanding of the topic and any relevant technology.  Student learning will be self-directed. Students will undertake a diagnostic quiz to assess their baseline understanding of the subject matter, and complete a formative quiz at the end of each module.

    Online discussion boards
    Students will be able to post questions and answers to a discussion board associated with each of the modules. This will  be monitored by the course coordinator but students will be encouraged to answer each other’s questions.

    Peer assessment & feedback
    Students will join/be allocated to groups to discuss and provide feedback about each other’s proposed research question.  Online asynchronous or synchronous discussion will be facilitated through MyUni using discussion boards, Blackboard Collaborate or similar.

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

    Up to 6 hours per week online plus 3 hours per week preparation
    Learning Activities Summary
    There is a series of modules for students to progress through over the duration of the course.

    Each module is preceded by a topic overview and diagnostic quiz. The module consists of a package of resources relevant to  all aspects of the topic. 

    Topics will include:

    1. Identifying topics for research

    2. Searching the literature

    3. Managing the search yield

    4. Interpreting and assessing the quality of the literature in the context of the topic

    5. Presenting and synthesizing evidence

    6. Developing a research question

    7. Matching the purpose, aims, question and hypothesis with study design and methodology

    8. Collecting and managing data

    9. Data analysis

    10.Ethical considerations and processes
    Specific Course Requirements
    Students will be allocated to an advisor and research topic prior to the commencement of the course.

    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • 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 Assessment Type Weighting Learning course objective(s) being addressed
    Module diagnostic quizzes Formative 0% 1-6
    Module assessment quizzes Formative 0% 1-6
    Proposal Part 1 Summative 40% 1, 2, 3, 5
    Presentation of Proposal Part 1 Summative 15% 1, 2, 3, 5
    Proposal Part 2 Summative 40% 1-6
    Reflection on advisor feedback Formative 0% 1-6
    Participation Summative 5% 1-6
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Assessment Detail
    Formative diagnostic and assessment quizzes for each module (Nil loading) There will be an online diagnostic quiz at the beginning of each module. The subsequent assessment quiz for each module can be taken as soon as students have worked through the relevant parts of the module. The questions will typically be multiple choice and will cover core concepts addressed in provided resources.

    Study Proposal Part 1 40% (3000 words)
    This assignment should be attempted after successful completion of Modules 1-6 at approximately half way through the course.  Students will complete the aims, objectives, background and justification for their proposed study. The report will include a literature review of 2,500 words (incorporating the search strategy and yield) which situates the proposed study within the existing evidence base and identifies the research gap that the study will fill. The work should include the correct use of
    reference management software in its production.

    Presentation of Proposal Part 1 (15%)
    Students will participate in the online group activity of presentation, peer review and feedback of their proposed research question. They will present an overview of their study proposal Part 1 and accompanying research question in a virtual classroom, discussion board (or equivalent). As part of this assessment, students will be required to provide feedback on the presentation of at least three other students on a dedicated discussion board.

    Study Proposal Part 2 (incorporating Part 1) 40% (1500 words) This assessment should be attempted after all of the modules have been completed. Students will complete the rest of their proposal, using, where appropriate, a suitable reporting guideline for their study type. The document will address study design, participants, recruitment and sampling, outcomes to be measured, proposed analysis plan and data management. Students will  also discuss ethical issues involved. The work should include the correct use of reference management software in its production. Students should submit the entire proposal incorporating Parts 1 & 2 with any modifications made as a result of feedback from Part  1. The marking rubric will weight the two parts appropriately so that students are not marked twice for Part 1 but the incorporation of feedback is recognised in the marking scheme. 

    Participation (5%)
    This will be based on the extent of provision of peer-feedback, and the number (and quality) of contributions to discussion boards or virtual classrooms (if scheduled).

    Assignments will be submitted electronically via MyUni.


    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.   Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds. Supporting documentation must be  provided at the time a student requests an extension. Without documentation, extensions will not be granted. Late requests for extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the  student’s situation. The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student. Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances. Extensions for the Presentation of Proposal Part 1 and associated peer feedback will not normally be granted, as this is a critical time period for student interaction.

    Late submission
    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits. In the case of late assignments where no  extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted.  If an assignment that is 2  days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%. If that same  assignment is 4 days late, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.

    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination  period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the Student Grievance Resolution Process  <>.  Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance. This must be done within 10 business days of the  date of notification of the result. Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and  will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.
    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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