RUSC594 - Research Project Report

Unit Handbook and Assessment Information

Trimesters 1–3, 2018

© University of New England 2014
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Unit information

RUSC594 has been designed to allow students to pursue individual research interests by undertaking an agreed program of detailed independent study under academic supervision within a disciplinary area relevant to the School of Environmental and Rural Science.

Students enrolled under 2015 rules and onwards must have achieved a grade of Credit or better in the units ERS501 and ERS502 to be eligible to enrol in RUSC594. All Students before 2015 rules are asked to contact the Course Coordinator in the first instance.

RUSC594 will be graded by two examiners (one external) of either: a 20 000 word research project report, or one or more papers of a publishable standard for a peer reviewed journal. As a general guide, students will be required to:

  • prepare and complete a 6,000-word literature review for your independent research project
  • develop and write up the study design and methods (e.g. data collection, quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques and ethics approval) for your independent research project
  • report the results of the research and data analysis for your independent research project
  • write a critical discussion and conclusions for your independent research project; compile the separate outputs from RUSC594 and submit the completed report for examination to the University.

Enrolment in RUSC594 must be approved by the Unit Coordinator and the course Coordinator or their nominee. To study this unit you will be required to negotiate a topic with one or more supervisors and submit a satisfactory proposal. Approval is dependent on the availability of supervision and resources.

Unit coordinator

Dr Paul Kristiansen
Agronomy and Soil Science (W23)
Phone: +61 2 6773 3255
School of Environmental and Rural Science

If you have administrative enquiries about your unit/course, you can contact UNE administrative staff directly via AskUNE, Phone: +61 2 6773 2000 (Student Central) or Ms Karen Morris +61 2 6773 3455.

School of Environmental and Rural Science

If you have administrative enquiries about your unit/course, you can contact UNE administrative staff directly via AskUNE:

Phone: 02 6773 2000 (Student Central) or Ms Karen Morris 02 6773 3455

Student Central

Student Central provides you with a focal point of contact for all your administrative enquiries during your study at UNE, including selecting units and managing your enrolment. If you have administrative enquiries relating to your study at UNE, go to AskUNE

You can also find information on all aspects of studying at UNE on the Current Students page.

Prior to enrolment

Prior to enrolment students should finalise the enrolment proposal and research project report outline with their nominated supervisor(s). These documents (along with an email from both the student and supervisor stating their intentions and willingness to form a research partnership) should be forwarded to Unit Co-ordinator of RUSC594, who will recommend to the Course Coordinator and Student Central that you be enrolled in the relevant units. Note that the project report outline is only a plan. With the approval of your supervisor, you may diverge from the plan as the research unfolds.

Procedure for enrolment

The procedure for enrolment in RUSC594 is outlined below. Students are required to:

  1. Study the unit information and additional information for RUSC594 in the course and unit catalogue in the UNE web pages.
  2. Identify an area of research in which you are interested.
  3. Identify one or more members of academic staff as potential supervisors. Co-supervisors from other institutions may also be involved. The Principal supervisor must be a UNE academic staff member.
  4. With the assistance of your supervisor(s), negotiate a timeline that outlines the trimesters in which the unit will be undertaken.
  5. With the assistance of your supervisor(s), develop a research project report outline (1–2 pages) indicating:
    1. the project title
    2. your name and student number
    3. your supervisor(s)
    4. background to the research problem (include references)
    5. proposed research aims and objectives
    6. brief description of the methods (include references)
    7. brief description of expected findings
    8. expected project report/thesis outline, i.e. list of numbered chapters and subheadings
    9. timeline of research, i.e. dates for the expected completion of chapters and sections
    10. a bibliography with at least five key references
  6. Send the research project report outline to the Unit Coordinator requesting approval to enrol in RUSC594.

Students with supervisors in the School of Environmental and Rural Science have a research budget to meet research expenses, such as fieldwork costs, travel to field sites and laboratory analyses. Your supervisor(s) and the School Resource Officer must first approve any expenditure before funds are accessed or committed. Students with supervisors in other Schools need to determine the research funds available to support 24-credit point research projects in those Schools and make the necessary arrangements as instructed by their supervisor(s).

There are no set classes or teaching material provided for these units.

Prescribed text

There is no prescribed text for RUSC594.

Recommended reading

There are no specific recommended readings for RUSC594. However, students are strongly encouraged to read refereed journal articles, book chapters and relevant online material relating to their chosen research topic, in consultation with their supervisor(s).

How to study RUSC594

Students will complete an approved program of study in RUSC594. As a guide, the unit represents 600 hours of participation for the average student in order to achieve the learning outcomes.

You must work under the academic supervision of your supervisor(s) to:

  1. complete a literature review on your topic,
  2. design your research and develop your methods,
  3. collect, analyse and report the results of your research,
  4. interpret and discuss your research findings, prepare a written discussion setting your findings in the context of the existing literature and draw pertinent and non-trivial conclusions, and
  5. compile the outputs into a research project report either as a standard thesis or as a thesis-by-papers.

You must aim to contact your supervisor(s) frequently in each trimester (at least every three weeks, probably more frequently at the start and end of your research. In response, your supervisor(s) will answer your questions and provide feedback on your progress if you provide them with regular updates and queries.

Research Project Report write-up

The work submitted for examination must embody the results of your completed research project. Success depends on the examination of the project report. It is important that every action is taken to ensure that examiners are presented with a high-quality product. For the write-up stage, there are several publications or online services available that students may find helpful in the University Library and/or from your supervisor(s). One tip is to examine copies of successful theses/portfolios that are either kept by supervisors, your School, Dixson Library or via e-publications@UNE. The Academic Skills Office also has books and resources on thesis writing available for loan, as does Dixson Library.

Page layout and text format: the research project report should be clearly typewritten in A4 size pages, with pages numbered. The spacing between lines should be one and a half spaces with a font size of 12 points for the main text. The left margin should be at least 20 mm and top, right and bottom margins and the left margin should be at least 30 mm.

Attachments: attachments (such as maps) should, where possible, form part of the electronic document. If this is not possible, they should be submitted separately in a strong enclosure. If the research project report contains photographs, it is preferable that any photographs be submitted in a maximum of 300 dpi.

The most important aspect of finalising your project report is to make sure you give yourself enough time to enable your supervisor(s) to critique preliminary drafts. Often candidates find themselves rushed but it is very much in your own interests to have your research project report vetted by the supervisor who is familiar with your topic. Students have considerable discretion regarding the extent to which they seek and accept supervisory assistance in analysis and writing up. By not seeking your supervisor's help, or ignoring their advice, you jeopardise your chances of success.

Standards of preparation

Length: the nominated word limit (provided in the degree rules) is not suggested as the lower limit that you should aim for in your research project report. A briefer report may well be acceptable; the rules state your research project report must be concise (and written in English). A project report requiring personal collection of raw data and complicated analysis may result in a substantial piece of excellent research that is considerably shorter than the word limit. More discursive studies may result in greater difficulty in reducing the content to a clear concise form.

Style: a good command of English is essential. The use of lists of points within the text as in this section, adoption of subheadings and the choice of referencing systems are left to your discretion in consultation with your supervisor(s).

Arrangement: if you choose to write up your research as a traditional thesis (i.e. research project report), the number and nature of chapter headings will vary, but most studies will include the following:

  1. An introductory chapter stating the problem and approach adopted
  2. A review of literature linking it to the problem in question
  3. The method of approach or analysis adopted
  4. A chapter or chapters describing the results or analysis
  5. A discussion chapter that explains the findings in light of what is already known, and highlights the significance or importance of the research in terms of current understanding
  6. A concluding chapter stressing the main findings and recommendations and indications for further research.

Abstract: the project report should contain, before the main contents, an abstract or summary. It is suggested that this should not be more than 350 words in length.

Appendices: items such as raw data, summary statistics, details about questionnaire schedules and explanation of how you performed various types of analysis form important aspects of your overall work as they are necessary in order to evaluate your arguments in the main text. Nevertheless supportive material of this nature can confuse and protract narration of the research project report and, to avoid this problem, are often better relegated to appendices. Your supervisor(s) should be able to give you advice.

Use of the Work of Others: you must state generally in the preface, acknowledgements and specifically in the research project report itself, the sources from which the information given is derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the portion of the work claimed as original.

Work which has been presented for a degree or other qualification at this or another university or similar institution may not be presented as the research project report but may be included in the report, provided that it is clearly indicated as such.

Title Page: the title page should show:

  1. The title of the research project report
  2. Your full name together with degrees and other qualifications, and their institutions of origin
  3. The following statement, "A research project report submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of ......................................"
  4. The month and year of submission of the research project report for examination.

Certification page

in each copy of the research project report the candidate is required to sign the following certification on the page immediately after the Title page:

"I certify that the substance of this research project report has not already been submitted for any degree and is not currently being submitted for any other degree or qualification.
I certify that any help received in preparing this project report and all sources used, have been acknowledged in this research report.

Candidate's signature: _____________________________ "

Learning support

Library Services

Find out at .This guide provides easy pathways to UNE’s vast online resources and shows how the library can help you with your studies. You can borrow books, obtain copies of articles and exam papers, and request advice from librarians on search strategies and information tools to use.

Academic Skills Office

The Academic Skills Office (ASO) is UNE's learning support unit. The ASO has a wealth of print and online resources to help you with your academic study skills development or problems. They can be found at:

ASO fact sheets

The ASO has developed a series of fact sheets that answer the questions most frequently asked by students. They can be found at

Student Support

Student Assist’s support services include disability and special needs support, counselling, and career development. To see the range of services they offer, go to

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

The Oorala Aboriginal Centre is a study support and advisory centre for internal and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UNE. To find out more about the support services Oorala offers, go to

International students

International Services provides support for international students and provides a link between the administrative and academic functions at UNE. For more information about the services offered, go to

Assessment information

Assessment details for the RUSC594 Research Project Report
Due date: last day of trimester in which the student is enrolled in RUSC594.
Weight: 100%
Length: 20,000 words maximum.

Research Project Reports will be graded by two examiners' (one external to UNE) of either: a 20,000 word research project report, or one or more papers of a publishable standard, and written in a peer reviewed journal style.

The examiners of the Research Project Reports are issued with a marking proforma containing the criteria they should consider in arriving at their decision (Appendix II. Examiner’s assessment). A grade and mark will be given.

Submission method

You are required to submit your project report electronically in PDF format to your principal supervisor and to the School Academic Coordinator, Ms Karen Morris ( Students must also provide two soft-bound copies. For your report to be accepted, the School Academic Coordinator must first receive the Thesis Submission Form (Appendix I. Submission for examination form) signed by your principal supervisor.

When submitting the electronic copy of the research project report, please submit in PDF format as one document. If the project report is in more than one document, each document must not be larger than 30 MB.

If submitting your research project report in Journal Article Format, please refer to the available from UNE Research Services. With your supervisors, you can adapt the guidelines for journal paper format submission to m

Marking Policy for RUSC594 Reports

All research project reports (thesis) are assessed by two examiners (one external) appointed by the School on the recommendation of the relevant Head of School or Chair of the School Teaching and Learning Committee. While it is common to discuss possible examiners with your supervisor, all examiners are advised that they can report in confidence on your research project report. You will therefore, not be informed of the names of the examiners finally appointed by the School.

Students will be provided with a copy of each examiner’s report (Appendix II. Examiner’s assessment) with the grade and the percentage marks, and recommendations made by the examiners.

Examiners consider the following when preparing their report:

  • Abstract or summary
  • Adequacy in defining the aim or objectives
  • Value, accuracy and criticism offered in the literature review or background of the study
  • Failure to cite key research papers
  • Accuracy in using facts and logic
  • Experimental and/or survey design (where applicable)
  • Originality of approach and analysis (where applicable)
  • Data analysis and presentation of results
  • Discussion of findings and justification of conclusions
  • Adequacy of proof-reading
  • Correctness of reference citations
  • Overall organisation and presentation
Word limits

The research project report word limit is 20,000 words. If students exceed this limit by more than 10%, permission must be obtained from the Chair of the relevant School Teaching and Learning Committee and the supervisor is obliged to inform potential examiners of the research project report length and establish that they are happy to examine an over-length report. Examiners are also provided with the RUSC594 rules specifying the length of the report. Examiners may therefore take the fact of an overly long report into account in deciding upon a recommendation.


The School of Environmental and Rural Science mandates the APA referencing style for theses and research projects. A fact sheet providing a guide to the APA referencing style can be found at Check with your supervisor as to what style is acceptable for your particular research project report.

Extensions for research students

Requests for extensions in coursework units are processed according to the University’s Special Assessment Policy (Annex B to the Assessment Policy). You can apply for a special extension of time under this policy for a period up to the last day of teaching in the trimester after the one in which you are enrolled.

Return of examined research project reports

Although the School places a time limit (usually two months) on examiners for the examination of theses and research project reports, some examiners are slow in providing recommendations. In addition, if there is a disagreement between the examiners, delays will be experienced while the School asks the examiners to consult or has to appoint a third examiner. While we take every step to ensure that project reports are examined as quickly as possible, some delays may occur.

Remarking of research project reports

Students may request that the research project report be remarked, in its original form, in circumstances where the student presents a case arguing that the original marking was unfair or inconsistent with marking guidelines. This request must be directly addressed to the unit coordinator, with a copy to the Head of School, by the student within ten (10) working days of receipt of the original marked report.

Assessment Policy

Information regarding all aspects of assessment can be found at That page also has information about special assessment (i.e. Special Extension of Time) can be found under ‘Special Assessment’.


When you submit your research project report electronically you will be deemed, in effect, to have agreed to the UNE plagiarism policy ( You must comply with the University's rules on plagiarism and academic misconduct. Your work will be checked for originality.

Plagiarism is the action or practice of taking and using as one's own the thoughts or writings of another without acknowledgment. The following practices constitute acts of plagiarism and are a major infringement of UNE's academic values:

  • where paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence are copied directly, are not enclosed in quotation marks and appropriately referenced,
  • where direct quotations are not used, but are paraphrased or summarised, and the source of the material is not referenced within the text of the paper, and/or
  • where an idea which appears elsewhere in any form is used or developed without reference being made to the author or the source of that idea. Some examples of this are books, journals, WWW material, theses, computer stored data and software, lecture notes or tapes.

It is your responsibility to:

  • Read, understand and comply with the policy on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct found at the website above
  • Familiarise yourself with the conventions of referencing for your discipline(s)
  • Avoid all acts which could be considered plagiarism or academic misconduct
  • Seek assistance from appropriate sources if you become aware that you need more knowledge and skills in relation to academic writing
  • Be aware that when you submit an assignment through the university’s e-Submission system, you are deemed to have signed the plagiarism declaration form
  • Submit a separate signed and dated plagiarism declaration form with every task, report or dissertation submitted in hard copy for assessment or examination.

To avoid plagiarism you should refer to the following websites for further advice and assistance:

  • Avoiding Coursework Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct: Advice for Students: This information explains the principles of good scholarship and has guidelines to help you avoid plagiarism. It also has guidelines for referencing and research, and advice on the use of internet sites.
  • Academic Skills Office  The Academic Skills Office has a variety of support materials to assist you with referencing and avoiding plagiarism.
  • eSKILLS UNE Keeping Track. eSkills Keeping Track has advice about organising your information for assignments and on referencing appropriately.

Students wishing to lodge an appeal in relation to unit assessment, the application of Universities  and school policies, and Special Extensions of Time, should consult the University's Academic Assessment  Appeals Policy at


If you have questions that are not answered by this Unit Outline, go to AskUNE: At AskUNE you can find answers to many common enquiries or submit an enquiry of your own by clicking on the 'Contact Us' tab.

Appendix I: Submission for examination form