Research Plan, support, thesis management

There are no silly questions….

This post is  by Penny Holliday, who completed her doctorate in January 2017 and teaches in the School of Communication.  During her candidature she served on the Creative Industries Faculty Academic Board as Creative Industries Postgraduate Representative and the Creative Industries Sessional Staff Representative. She was instrumental in organising and co-facilitating two workshops  on ways to improve sessional workplace conditions and contributed towards the development of an online handbook for sessional staff.

I think that one of the common areas which causes confusion for HDR students at QUT is around entitlements. This is in relation to: funding, travel, desk, computer, business cards, grant-in-aid monies and other “entitlements” you may not realise are available to assist you on your research journey. Students who are more advanced in their candidature may mention the above in casual conversation ], which has you asking yourself: What exactly am I able to access? When and where can I have a desk? When do I think about attending a conference? Who pays? 

The first few months of your first year are a blur while you refine (or decide!) your research question, collect reading materials, get to know your supervisors, make a timeline, interpret theory, create a new life around study, attend workshops and or lectures and perhaps navigate a new campus, town or even, country. But at some point students ought to find out what is provided for during their candidature in terms of financial and physical resources. Helena and the HDR team are a great source of information, especially if you find QUT’s website/links hard to navigate (I still do). However, it is a good idea to know when you begin your quest, how to navigate the labyrinth of information available. Begin at the QUT Research homepage: https://www.student.qut.edu.au/research. QUT Virtual also houses information around training, workshops and facilities for research students  https://www.student.qut.edu.au/about/faculties-institutes-and-divisions/faculties/creative-industries/hdr

There will always be questions not easily or quickly answered on these sites when you want to ask a question that might be perceived as silly: How scary was your first conference? When did you decide to go? Did your supervisor suggest this? Did you go as a postgrad or as an academic? Did you take a business card? Who designed the business card? What information did you include? Was the conference dinner worthwhile attending? How did you make friends there? Best way to make contacts? Did you approach the “big guns” in your field? 

This is where it is really important to find your tribe at QUT. The earlier you establish contacts the better. Take every opportunity to meet with your fellow researchers as much as possible. And you can do this in your first year, before you are allocated a permanent desk. Start a writing group, attend confirmation and final seminars. Seek and find opportunities to meet other researchers. They are your future workmates, friends and peers and they are probably feeling just as overwhelmed as you about all matters of research stuff. Other ways to learn more about how a university actually works is to: assist with a seminar or nominate yourself as an HDR representative on one of QUT’s numerous committees. Ask around and find someone who has done this.

IMG_2606Don’t wait to be asked to join groups and don’t rely on your supervisor/s to hand you everything, they too have to juggle a workload and research and besides, their job is to supervise, not to carve out a research journey for you. If you can manage to attend a conference in your second year, then this helps in terms of finding your wider research community, building confidence in your work and it will also assist you to connect with early career researchers in your field.

Ask questions, make friends and know where the relevant online information is housed. The more immersed within QUT’s research community you are, the better equipped you will be to access your entitlements and make the most of opportunities on offer. By opening yourself to the wider community you may surprise yourself at what you discover. Go on, ask.

Penny Holliday 

This post is  by Penny Holliday, who completed her doctorate in January 2017 and teaches in the School of Communication.  During her candidature she served on the Creative Industries Faculty Academic Board as Creative Industries Postgraduate Representative and the Creative Industries Sessional Staff Representative. She was instrumental in organising and co-facilitating two workshops  on ways to improve sessional workplace conditions and contributed towards the development of an online handbook for sessional staff. 

Image: Photo of triangle graffiti art, by Evonne Miller

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