PSYCHOL 6601OL - Understanding & Synthesising Psychological Evidence

Online - Online Teaching 1 - 2022

Psychology graduates working in industry, government, research and private practice often need to know and comment on the 'evidence base' for a psychological treatment, intervention or theory. This course provides students with the technical knowledge to construct and understand different kinds of reviews and repositories of evidence, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, met-syntheses, and open datasets. Processes and challenges underlying evidence-based psychological practice will also be discussed.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 6601OL
    Course Understanding & Synthesising Psychological Evidence
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Online Teaching 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Online
    Units 3
    Contact 1 to 2 hour online tutorial
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Restrictions Available to Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Advanced) (OL) students only
    Course Description Psychology graduates working in industry, government, research and private practice often need to know and comment on the 'evidence base' for a psychological treatment, intervention or theory. This course provides students with the technical knowledge to construct and understand different kinds of reviews and repositories of evidence, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, met-syntheses, and open datasets. Processes and challenges underlying evidence-based psychological practice will also be discussed.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Anastasia Ejova

    Course Timetable

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

    Full details of each week's activities can be found in MyUni.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Explain different approaches to summarising, evaluating and publishing psychological evidence.
    2 Execute a systematic literature search using electronic databases.
    3 Critique findings from meta-analyses and meta-syntheses.
    4 Communicate the implications of psychological evidence for public policy and psychological practice.
    5 Generate research questions that effectively address gaps in an evidence base.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 3, 4

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    2, 5

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 5

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    2, 3

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    1, 2, 4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    This is a fully online offering using MyUni. Students will require access to the internet to access course content and will be provided with curated required and recommended readings and resources. They will use a telecommunications application (Zoom) to engage in online tutorials.
    Recommended Resources
    Detailed reading lists will be provided within course modules; all reading will be accessible online.
    Online Learning

    This is a fully online offering. MyUni will be used for all course materials, communication, links to curated resources, online tutorial support and assignments including submissions, feedback and grades.

     Best practice for accelerated online learning at the University of Adelaide will be used, and will include the following elements:

    1) Announcement

    2) Syllabus Outlines

    3) Assessment Overviews

    4) Detailed assessment guidance for each assessment piece

    5) Discussion boards

    6) Turn-it-in

    7) Modules

    8) Group Collaboration Area

    9) Course Readings

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Engagement with course content is facilitated by online videos, interactive online activities, curated readings and resources, and self-directed study supported by weekly online 90 minute tutorial sessions.

    There are 6 Weekly Modules with learning scaffolded across the modules to ensure that students develop deep discipline knowledge as well as the academic literacy, research skills and capacity to apply and communicate their understanding as specified for an AQF8 level offering.

    Students will complete all of the following activities online;

    • Read the material presented in Canvas and participate in the interactive exercises, which will expand upon the material more thoroughly.
    • Watch the videos that are in the course to learn about key concepts.
    • Complete the exercises putting work into practice.
    • Participate in the discussion boards & interactive group sessions.
    • Attempt all the quizzes for learning purposes and are not graded to assist in parts of the course or ask for help on the discussion boards.
    • Complete readings online and use communication tools to interact and expand on content.

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

    Hours per Week
    Tutorials: 1.5
    Tutorial Preparation: 1
    Assessment Related Tasks: 8.5
    Engaging with online content: 9
    Readings: 5
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course is presented over six weeks, with one module per week:

    1. Introduction and Literature Search
    Overview of review types with a case study of reviews on implicit racial bias
    Standards and guidelines for conducting reviews
    Literature searches based on a PICO-style research question

    2. Quality Assessment
    Internal validity in studies
    Cochrane standards for assessing the internal validity of a randomised-controlled trial
    Other formal standards for assessing the validity of various study designs
    Informal standards for assessing study quality: replicability considerations and journal prestige

    3. Quantitative Synthesis (Meta-Analysis)
    Step 1: Data collection
    Step 2: Calculation of the pooled effect size
    Step 3: Inspection of heterogeneity indices adn forest plots
    Step 4: Examination of sources of heterogeneity
    Step 5: Detection of publication bias
    Step 6: Correction of publication bias
    Walk-through of a published meta-analysis

    4. Qualitative Synthesis (Meta-Synthesis)
    Introduction to meta-aggregation
    Introduction to meta-ethnography
    Walk-through of a published meta-aggregation
    Walk-through of a published meta-ethnography

    5. Practice and Policy Applications
    Healthcare: The steps and time gap from synthesis to implementation
    Healthcare case study 1: Updating the DSM
    Healthcare case study 2: Evidence-based psychological practice in Australia
    General case study 1: Legal testimonies
    General case study 2: Workplace diversity

    6. Contributing to the Evidence Base
    Reading cleverly to identify evidence gaps
    Writing about evidence gaps
    Answering research questions using open data
    Specific Course Requirements
  • 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 Assessment % Weighting Hurdle Requirement
    Course Learning Outcome(s) being assessed
    Assessment 1: Short-Answer Questions: The Literature Search Process Summative


    No 1, 2
    Assessment 2: Report: Formally Assessing the Quality of a Single Study Summative 35% No 1
    Assessment 3: Report: Meta-Analysis and Emerging Research Questions Summative 45% No 1, 3, 4, 5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    There are no assessment related requirements for this course.
    Assessment Detail

    Assessment 1: SAQs: The Literature Search Process (800 words) (Weighting 20%):

    Students will be assessed on their ability to communicate the steps of a literature search used when planning a systematic review. The research question will be based on an existing systematic review that students will, through their search, be extending to incorporate more recent studies. The purpose of this assessment is for students to demonstrate their ability to appropriately search scientific literature to answer a research question; in this case, a research question posed in a systematic review.


    Assessment 2: Report: Formally Assessing the Quality of a Single Study (1500 words) (Weighting 35%):

    This report will require students to assess the quality of a psychological intervention trial based on formal criteria developed by Cochrane. The criteria are available to researchers across the health sciences who are completing study quality assessments as part of an evidence synthesis. The criteria are fast becoming the standard of choice across the health sciences, so familiarity with the criteria will enable students to become more discerning consumers of reviews, across a number of health-related fields. Students will draw conclusions about the quality of various features (‘domains’) of the study’s methodology, as specified in the criteria.


    Assessment 3: Report: Meta-Analysis, Meta-Synthesis and Future Research Questions (2200 words) (Weighting 45%):

    This report will require students to interpret the results of a meta-analysis and comment on the results’ implications for health policy, implications for future research, and connections to findings from a meta-synthesis. The purpose of this assessment is to demonstrate understanding of aggregative statistics in meta-analysis, aggregative qualitative analysis in meta-synthesis, and best-practice for highlighting evidence gaps in scientific writing.


    All assessment occurs online: e-submission, checking for academic integrity in written assessments, e-marking and uploading of videos and other content for both summative and formative assessment task.

     Assignments will be submitted via Turnitin

    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

    Counselling for Fully Online Postgraduate Students

    Fully online students can access counselling services here:

    Phone: 1800 512 155 (24/7) 

    SMS service: 0439 449 876 (24/7) 


    Go to the Study Smart Hub to learn more, or speak to your Student Success Advisor (SSA) on 1300 296 648 (Monday to Thursday, 8.30am–5pm ACST/ACDT, Friday, 8.30am–4.30pm ACST/ACDT)

  • 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.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.