Research Inquiry (BMRI5020)


Doctors and researchers depend on the latest scientific literature published week by week in countless different journals, but not every study can be trusted. Scientific studies are fraught with complications that can threaten their reliability, or the extent to which their results can be applied very widely. This unit will help you develop the skills necessary to critically appraise the research literature and identify sources of bias and confounding. You will learn how cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, cohort studies and clinical trials are more or less vulnerable to these problems. Similarly, you will look at the basic design of laboratory research, and what are the different types of questions that can be asked from studies on humans, rats or brain tissue. All classes will be based on published examples of research literature and you will learn how to navigate different methods and data types. This unit will give you the confidence to read widely across the mental health field, and judge for yourself which findings can be relied upon to inform future research or medical practice.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x2-hr lecture/week


Journal club (10%), short answer questions (25%), extended response questions (30%), exam (35%)


Prince, Martin (2003) Practical Psychiatric Epidemiology, Oxford University Press.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Assumed knowledge

Basic understanding of statistics

Additional Information

This is a core unit of study for the Masters degree only.

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.