University of Technology Sydney

51913 Academic Research Practice

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Pass fail, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject facilitates students’ trajectories of learning and development as researchers at the outset of their higher degree by research journey. Students reflect on what they bring to their current project, and develop a bespoke plan that meets the demands of their UTS thesis and lifelong learning as researchers. The subject enables students to define the values, aims, impact and curiosity that enable their project and provide a compass for their development, and use this to identify what the project will demand of them. Taking an expansive approach, students are invited to consider what might be possible in their research, how they might extend what matters to them and others through their research and its impact. This exploration of the possible and the demands associated with it unfolds through reference to students’ own projects, ongoing projects in the Faculty, and input from other researchers, including Indigenous scholars. Students are introduced to journaling as a means to reflect on how their lives, careers and research intersect and inform each other. As the subject unfolds, students begin implementing their learning plan, and critically reflect on this in their journal. This subject connects with research training opportunities within the faculty and the wider university.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Describe the necessary skills for academic research practice in an evolving context
b. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of their own current relevant skill set
c. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a range of professional development resources and tools for academic research skills
d. Demonstrate their research capacity-building practices and reflect on outcomes

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject will be delivered online, to maximise opportunities for students living away from Sydney to participate, and to offer flexibility for those needing to join from work. A series of workshops will focus on exploring shared and project-specific values, knowledges, cultural connections, and fostering a sense of connection and community between students.

Students are expected to complete modest preparation for each workshop, so workshops can focus on group interaction, reflective discussion and peer feedback. The journaling process will be scaffolded through the subject.

In addition to the workshops, students will identify and take up other opportunities to learn and develop as researchers that are relevant to their own projects. For example, the subject will help students identify and select relevant opportunities that address specifics of empirical research design or creative practice elements. Some of these will arise during the subject, others will be planned for in weeks and months that follow

Students will adopt a bespoke approach to the first assessment, completing it in a format or genre that is aligned with their research context and research development priorities.

Content (topics)

The subject takes a broad, holistic and person-focused approach to understanding your learning and development as researchers. It incorporates consideration of professional knowledge and experience; cultural values, connections, traditions and language; ethics and personal values; research practices such as interviewing; generic aspects; and a range of approaches that can be used to imagine and re-imagine thesis projects and the value they might bring to one’s own practice, or wider communities. The subject emphasises taking a broad range of existing strengths seriously and exploring how they will inform and add to the research project, conceptualising impactful research as a question of weaving technical skills and formal academic knowledge with culture, career, life, family and community. The subject will help students identify aspects of research design or creative practice work that they need to focus further on.


Assessment task 1: Reflection on strengths, learning and development priorities


a, b and c

Weight: 40%

2,000 words or equivalent

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Completeness of reflection 10 a
Coherence of connection between reflection and studentís project 20 b
Persuasiveness of account of existing strengths and priorities, including through reference to future scenario 20 b
Breadth of means identified to address learning and development priorities 10 c
Relevance of these means to studentís project 40 c
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Research Journal


a and d

Weight: 60%

2500 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Acknowledgement and analysis of your own strengths and weaknesses in regard to research and how you will approach them during your candidature 30 d
Insightfulness of personal experience or knowledge to connect with the research space 30 d
Reflection and acknowledgement of the variety of research approaches and their implications for equity, diversity, and sustainability, and Indigenous cultural safety with respect to your own research 40 a
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

Networking and peer relationship building is a vital part of the academic research skill set and contributes to the development of resilience and project and time management skills.


The Cochrane Library (online, via UTS Library)

Cumming, Jim. 2010. "Contextualised performance: reframing the skills debate in research education." Studies in Higher Education 35 (4):405-419. doi: 10.1080/03075070903082342.

Edwards, Daniel, Emmaline Bexley, and Sarah Richardson. 2011. Regeneratin the Academic Workforce: the careers, intentions and motivations of higher degree research students in Australia. Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Australian Council for Educational Research.

eGrad School (ATN network) Elsevier Academy (Online)

Gilbert, Rob, Jo Balatti, Phil Turner, and Hilary Whitehouse. 2004. "The generic skills debate in research higher degrees." Higher Education Research and Development 23 (3):375-388. doi: /10.1080/0729436042000235454.

Golding, Clinton, Sharon Sharmini, and Ayelet Lazarovitch. 2014. "What examiners do: what thesis students should know." Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 39 (5):563- 576. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2013.859230.

Hopkins, Diana and Tom Reid (2018) The Academic Skills Handbook: Your Guide to Success in Writing, Thinking and Communicating at University, London: Sage (from LinkedInLearning via UTS Library)

Maxwell, T W, and Robyn Smyth. 2011. "Higher degree research supervision: from practice toward theory." Higher Education Research and Development 30 (2):219-231. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2010.509762.

McCormack, Joan and John Slaght (2012) Extended Writing and Research Skills: Garnet Publishing Ltd.

Mewburn, Inger (2017) How To Be An Academic: the Thesis Whisperer reveals all, Sydney: NewSouth Publishing

Sage Research Methods Online (via UTS Library)

The Thesis Whisperer

Other resources