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 greatest 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 five key areas:

  • 1. Enhancing professional practice

    This program focuses on the contemporary role of the nurse, nursing workforce and nursing practice at the interface with the health care system and inter-professional teams. It has very close links with the practice setting where the research seeks to influence positive outcomes for students, practitioners and patients. The program also includes evaluation of models of care/practice projects to understand the effectiveness and value of an intervention.

    Key research topics/project areas

    • Workforce resilience (students and health practitioners)
    • Evaluating models of care
    • Professionalism
    • Practice development
    • Nursing and midwifery research consultant at Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

    Research team

    Associate Professor Lynette Cusack leads the Enhancing professional 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 works collaboratively with Aboriginal people, families and communities, and health care professionals and services in urban, rural and remote settings. Together, the team actively seeks to improve Indigenous health care experiences, approaches and outcomes within South Australia, nationally and internationally.

    Key research topics/project areas

    • Increasing cultural safety in health care practice and education
    • Patient journey mapping
    • Health journey mapping
    • Improving kidney and cardiac care
    • Identifying and addressing complex care needs

    Research team

    Dr Janet Kelly leads the Improving Aboriginal health care research program, and has developed a range of Aboriginal patient journey mapping tools for quality improvement, reflective practice, education and training. In 2019, Dr Kelly received funding for the Improving Aboriginal Kidney Care Together project through the Medical Research Future Fund and Health Translation SA. This collaborative project brings together Aboriginal kidney patients and their families, health professionals, academics, researchers and other key stakeholders to identify gaps and develop strategies to improve care.

  • 3. Implementation research and practice

    Translating research evidence into improved practice and patient care can be slow and challenging. This program focuses on the processes of implementation, and the strategies and methods to enhance and accelerate the implementation of evidence-based health care.

    Key research topics/project areas

    Our research focuses on applying and evaluating tailored implementation strategies, and employing methods such as facilitation, audit and feedback, opinion leaders and experience-based co-design. Current projects include:

    • Applying experience-based co-design to improve the uptake of clinical guidelines for stroke rehabilitation
    • Implementing evidence-based guidelines to improve neonatal care in South Kalimantan, Indonesia
    • Improving the provision of appropriate care at end-of-life
    • Improving the coordination and integration of care for community-dwelling older people

    Research team

    Professor Gill Harvey leads the Implementation research and practice research program. She is an internationally recognised scholar in implementation science who—together with colleagues—developed one of the most widely used implementation frameworks in health care; Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS).

  • 4. Centre for Evidence-based Practice South Australia (CEPSA)

    CEPSA is a 'Centre of Excellence' of JBI that conducts systematic reviews on topics across the health care spectrum using a variety of review methodologies. The centre's aim is to provide synthesised evidence to improve health care and increase the capacity of health professionals to conduct systematic reviews.

    Key research topics/project areas

    Systematic review methodologies used by CEPSA:

    • Effectiveness
    • Qualitative
    • Umbrella
    • Scoping

    Research team/leads

  • 5. 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

    Dr Frank Donnelly leads the Innovations in learning and teaching research program and is an education specialist and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 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, consider applying for our Honours Degree of Bachelor of Nursing.

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.

Doctor of Nursing

The Doctor of Nursing is a professional research degree, designed for experienced registered nurses. If applying, you should be highly motivated to become a research-active practitioner and, ultimately, a clinical and professional leader. You’ll find the program particularly suitable if you are currently a charge nurse, unit director, clinical nurse specialist, advanced practitioner or nurse consultant.

The Doctor of Nursing comprises three years’ full-time (or equivalent part-time) research in an area of your personal interest, and the presentation of this research as a thesis. You’ll be required to make a significant and original contribution to knowledge through research.

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