BIO3011 - Research Methods

General Unit Information

Students sampling in quadratKangaroo with exclusion plot
Biological data is inherently variable. It is essential therefore that modern biologists be able to assemble and analyse these data to make important scientific advances. This unit will provide students with the framework to understand biological information, to test hypotheses, and to design robust experiments in biology. The ability to critique the methods used by scientific studies, make inferences from quantitative data, and optimize experimental approaches will benefit students taking a wide range of research and project based units. Focus will be placed on concepts and methods that allow data to be collected and turned in knowledge – formulating hypothesis, designing experiments, manipulating and visualising data, and conducting analyses or modelling.

This unit is taught via interactive workshops and laboratory-based practicals. The focus is on active learning, group discussion, and peer-assisted debate; rather than the traditional lecture format. These approaches provide a mixture of theory and practical experience, which are essential in science. This unit is a pre-requisite unit for Honours in Biology and Genetics (BIO4100 and BIO4200).


  1. Explain the basic principles underlying the philosophy of science;
  2. Design testable hypotheses and predictions in biological investigations;
  3. Demonstrate critical, analytical skills in writing, assessing and publishing scientific papers and reports and interpretation of biological data;
  4. Evaluate and determine the suitability of different statistical approaches to analyse biological data;
  5. Apply current techniques of statistical analysis.

Specific Unit Information

NamesDr Matthew Hall
Office Location17/G30D
Office HoursBy appointment - please e-mail
Technical Coordinator
Names:Danielle Annese
Office Location25Rnf/114
PrescribedAsking Questions in Biology. A Guide to Hypothesis Testing, Experimental Design and Presentation in Practical Work and Research Projects. Gilbert, G., Mcgregor, P. and C. Barnard (2011). 4th ed., Pearson Education Ltd.
RecommendedExperimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists. Quinn, G.P. & M. J. Keough (2003). Cambridge University Press.
 Practical statistics for field biology. Fowler, J., Cohen, L. & P. Jarvis (1998). 2nd ed., Wiley.
More introductoryStatistics Without Tears. Rowntree, D. (1981). Penguin.
 Biometry : The principles and practice of statistics in biological research.  Sokal, R.R. and F. J. Rohlf (1995). 3rd ed., W.H. Freeman.
 Introductory Statistics for Biology Students. Watt, T.A. (1993/1997). Chapman & Hall.
Program for 2020
University Handbook EntryBIO3011 - Synopsis, Assessment & Prerequisites
ScheduleBIO3011 - Lecture & Practical Schedule for 2020
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