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HSC8050 Research Methodology for the Human Sciences

Semester 2, 2014 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery

Contents on this page


Examiner: Don Gorman
Moderator: Jillian Brammer


Nurses and midwives need to be able to read and critique research. They therefore need to develop the ability to be a critical consumer of research and to be able to apply this to their own areas of practice. It is particularly important that nurses and midwives base their practice on research evidence and can provide health care consumers with researched evidence when they seek to make informed decisions.


This course will develop students' abilities to be critical consumers of research. Studies will focus on extending students' knowledge about the purpose of research, research design and various methodologies and approaches including quantitative, qualitative and critical and post-modern influences. Through examination of past research students will distinguish the hallmarks of effective research design including ethical considerations. They will learn about evidence based practice and write a critical literature review for their own area of practice.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse the current methodological debates taking into consideration the different philosophical bases of different scientific approaches to research
  2. Explain the varying ways the term "theory" is used in each of the research paradigms
  3. Discuss the centrality of theory to research and describe how each paradigm claims to demonstrate the theory-evidence link
  4. Discuss the benefits and limitations of the evidence-based practice movement in health care
  5. Discuss ethical considerations which arise in research design and conduct
  6. Demonstrate the ability to take an area of research concern and refine it by framing a researchable problem or question
  7. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and critique the literature in a field of specific interest
  8. Demonstrate the ability to construct an appropriate research methodology and method which answers the research question and links to a relevant critique of literature
  9. Demonstrate competence in and appropriate use of language and literacy, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing


Description Weighting(%)
1. Methodological Debate - What is Science? and What is Research? 30.00
2. Theory-Practice-Research - Meanings of theory in each paradigm; Evidence-based practice 15.00
3. Research Design - Selecting an appropriate method; Review of quantitative methods; Evidence-based practice; Overview of qualitative methods, eg. - semi-structured interviewing 30.00
4. Research Ethics - Informed consent; Safety; The researcher/participant relationship; The impact of the researcher 5.00
5. The Critical Practitioner - Conducting a literature search; Selecting an appropriate tool for critique; Critically reviewing the literature 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Liamputtong, P 2013, Research methods in health, 2nd edn, Oxford University press, South Melbourne.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Cozby, P 2004, Methods in Behavioural Research, 8th edn, McGraw Hill, Boston.
  • Crotty, M 1998, The Foundations of Social Research, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
  • Denzin, N & Lincoln, Y (eds) 2000, Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
  • Emden, C & Sandelowski, M 1999, The good, the bad and the relative, part two: Goodness and the criterion problem in qualitative research International Journal of Nursing Practice, vol. 5, pp. 2-7.
  • Emden, C 1998, Conducting a narrative analysis, Collegian, vol. 5, pp. 34-39.
  • Habermas, J 1974, Theory and Practice, Beacon Press, Boston.
  • Leedy. P. & Ormond. J.E 2013, Practical research:planning and design, 10th edn, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Liamputtong. P 2013, Qualitative research methods, 4th edn, OUP, South Melbourne.
  • Liamputtong. P 2013, Research methods in health: Foundations for evidence-based practice, 2nd edn, OUP, South Melbourne.
  • Lincoln, Y S & Denzin, N K (ed) 2003, In the Landscape of qualitative research: theories and issues, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
  • Polgar, S & Thomas, S A 2000, Introduction to Research in the Health Sciences, 4th edn, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh.
  • Polit, D F, Tatano Beck, C & Hungler, B P 2006, Essentials of Nursing Research: Methods, Appraisal and Utilization, 6th edn, Lippincott, Philadelphia.
  • Reinharz, S 1992, Feminist Methods in Social Research, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Streubert, H. J. & Carpenter, D. R 2011, Qualitative research in Nursing:Advancing the humanistic imperative, 5th edn, Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philpdelphia PA.
  • Yin, R K 2003, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd edn, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
    (Applied Social Research Methods Series Vol 5.)
  • SAGE Research methods Online through USQ Library Databases.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 60.00
Directed Study 50.00
Private Study 55.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 45 21 Sep 2014
DISCUSSION GROUP 30 15 23 Oct 2014
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 40 27 Oct 2014

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. This course contains a discussion forum where students' participation is formally assessed and successful participation in that discussion group is required to complete the requirements to be awarded a passing grade in the course.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There will be no Deferred or Supplementary examinations in this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This should be sent to USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request from the Examiner to do so.

  3. The examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  5. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //