The Adelaide Nursing School's commitment to impactful research in policy, practice and education, means you are well placed to expand your knowledge and make a real difference to clinical practice, patient care and health outcomes.

Our innovative, progressive and world-class research is built upon strong local, national and international collaborations and informed by a rich mix of learning from health and medical sciences, social science, psychology, innovation and organisational studies.

Through our interdisciplinary research programs and postgraduate degrees, you will work closely with a wide range of stakeholders and research end-users across various clinical areas and patient-centred topics, and benefit from expertise in:

  • co-design research
  • systematic reviews
  • realist evaluation
  • observational studies
  • randomised controlled and pragmatic trials
  • process evaluation
  • mixed methods
  • qualitative research.

Join us at one of the top-ranked nursing schools in the world; the Adelaide Nursing School is one of only two in Australia to be consistently ranked well above world standard (a maximum rating of 5) in all rounds of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).

Our research strengths

The Adelaide Nursing School conducts high quality research across the faculty's areas of inquiry, including surgical and health systems innovation; Indigenous health and health equity; translational health outcomes; and ageing, frailty and mobility.

Core research programs

Our research programs are organised into three key areas:

  • 1. Safe, effective, quality practice

    This program focuses on examining practice questions that inform the delivery of evidence-based nursing care in a range of settings. Research will explore the patients/caregivers/families preferences and experiences of the health care system and health care delivery. Outcomes of the research is to address gaps in knowledge evidence and inform safe, effective, quality practice and educational and administrative decision making.

    Key research topics/project areas

    • Workforce resilience (students and health practitioners)
    • Evaluating models of care
    • Quality Improvement Initiatives
    • Nursing and midwifery research consultant at Northern Adelaide Local Health Network
    • Exploring patients experience

    Research team

    Associate Professor Lynette Cusack  leads the Safe, effective, quality practice research program, and has been involved in a wide range of nursing, midwifery and health care policy development, research and education—her contributions include leadership and management, regulation, professional practice development and occupational resilience. Associate Professor Cusack provides practice-based research support to nurses and midwives at a major metropolitan hospital in South Australia, and has previously worked in a range of community health settings, including home nursing, community health centres and drug and alcohol services.

  • 2. Improving Aboriginal health care

    This program brings together Aboriginal community members and health consumers with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health professionals, researchers and leaders. We identify gaps in care, and co-design innovative strategies to improve health care approaches, experiences and outcomes. Our projects involve urban, rural and remote health care settings across South Australia, national and international locations.

    Key research topics/project areas

    • Increasing cultural safety in health care practice and education
    • Patient journey and health journey mapping
    • Improving Aboriginal kidney care
    • Indigenous governance
    • Identifying and addressing complex care needs
    • Addressing institutional racism and actively decolonising research processes

    Research team

    Professor Janet Kelly leads the Improving Aboriginal health care research program, and has co-developed a range of Aboriginal patient journey and health journey mapping tools for quality improvement, cultural safety, education and training. Dr Kelly also co-leads the AKction: Aboriginal Kidney Care Together- Improving Outcomes Now project with Dr Kim O’Donnell and a team of Aboriginal patient experts (Aboriginal people with lived experience of kidney disease), and kidney care and research experts. This project has four nested sub-studies: Indigenous governance, kidney journey mapping, peer support, and cultural safety. Emerging projects are focusing on Indigenous student recruitment and retention, and embedding cultural safety into health care training and education. An increasing number of health professionals and students are working collaboratively on projects within this program. 

  • 3. Innovations in learning and teaching

    Educational research in the Adelaide Nursing School includes a broad range of pedagogical theory and scholarship. Importantly, this program of research is tied closely to practice issues that impact the education of nurses from undergraduate to postgraduate and senior staff. The goal of the Innovations in learning and teaching group is to more clearly understand how innovation in educational practice can improve nursing care and outcomes. 

    Key research topics/project areas

    Education research includes projects and studies directed to:

    • scholarship of learning and teaching
    • connecting education with clinical outcomes
    • curriculum design and renewal
    • evaluation research

    Research team

    Professor Frank Donnelly who is the Dean and Head of School, leads the Innovations in learning and teaching research program. The group has a range of connections with local and national investigators in health. In addition to being experienced clinicians, the majority of group members are also education specialists. This classification affords them contact with researchers and scholars from many other disciplines; an opportunity that continues to build the breadth and awareness of education research.

How to get started in research

If you want to challenge yourself and potentially pursue a career in research, but aren’t sure where to start, take a look at the honours programs.

The honours program enables you to research an area of personal interest, and develop the skills required for postgraduate study at a higher level (see below). You’ll undertake a research project, prepare a report for publication, and—in the process—acquire a potential point of difference in the eyes of employers. Find out more about applying for honours within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

Postgraduate nursing research degrees

Master of Clinical Science

The Master of Clinical Science can be completed as a 100% research degree, or a combination of research and coursework. To undertake this degree, you’ll need to be a clinician with at least two years’ experience, and an interest in conducting high-quality, clinically-focused research.

Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy is offered in every faculty as the primary research master’s degree available to prospective research students, and is conducted over two years of full-time study. It will train you in research methodology and techniques, and engage you in advanced, critical evaluation of literature and results.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the basic qualification for a research career or academic position. You don’t need to be a registered nurse to undertake the PhD, but you must have studied a relevant bachelor’s degree with at least a second-class honours (upper division) or relevant master’s degree containing a significant research component.

Through the PhD, you will develop the capacity to conduct independent, original research and make a significant original contribution to knowledge in nursing. It involves two to four years of research full-time (or part-time equivalent).

Ready to take the next step?

You’ll find full admission requirements for each of these degrees in the University’s Graduate Centre Academic Program Rules.

Then, to apply for one of our higher degrees by research, visit the Adelaide Graduate Centre. If you have any queries, contact