Professor Geoffrey Stokes, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor, Business Research writes about the success of the HDR Summer Conference.
The Doctoral Training Centre held its first Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Summer Conference on 17-19 February. The Conference had three objectives. One was to effectively manage the University’s new HDR milestone requirements for candidate progress. A second goal was to enrich the intellectual and professional experience for our HDR candidates. The third goal was to provide much needed socialising opportunities for HDR candidates to meet with their peers and expand their personal and professional networks.
Overall, the conference was an outstanding success. Over 350 HDR candidates and academic staff participated in one or more of the events. There were 67 Higher Degree by Research candidates from the College of Business who presented their milestone review papers at the Conference. This included 34 seeking confirmation of their candidature, 18 who undertook their mid-candidature review, and 15 who undertook completion seminars. The enrichment program included keynote lectures, as well as information and professional development sessions.
Stimulating talks were given by the three keynote speakers. Dr Kathy Alexander, CEO of the City of Melbourne and a member of the College’s Industry Advisory Board, opened the conference with a lecture on ’Putting the public in policy: Lessons learnt from a failed psychologist’. Dr Alexander summarised the three main lessons she learnt from her own career, namely: be adaptable, engage people in decisions that affect them, and never stop learning. Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow, Associate Professor Marta Poblet, talked about how crowdsourcing can be used as a sustainable model for assisting in disaster management. (You can read more about her innovative work on The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/profiles/marta-poblet-9332/profile_bio.) Adjunct Associate Professor Rob Hulls, Director of the Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ), delivered the closing address. He spoke passionately about how the CIJ is committed to finding long-term realistic and structural solutions to a range of major issues experienced across the justice system.
To encourage HDR candidates to learn more about the research resources available to them Liaison Librarians, Annie Yee and Jennifer Hurley, gave a 30-minute snapshot of the services that the Library provides. Using a series of online Research Guides, the Librarians showed where researchers can find information on and assistance with: locating research resources (including theses), keeping up to date with the latest information, identifying the impact of research, and managing references.
One of the most well attended sessions, chaired by Associate Professor Siva Muthaly, was ’Meet the Editors’ where research students and staff heard from a panel of journal editors on tips for getting their work published. The panelists – Professors Brian Corbitt, Barry Carnegie, Jason Potts and Geoffrey Stokes – drew attention to the nature of the publication journey and showed how to maximise the chances of publication success. Panel member spoke about what editors want to see in an article, and what they do not. All the editors stressed that publishing in journals is an integral part of a successful HDR candidature experience.
In addition to socialising over coffee and lunch, the HDR Speed Networking session provided a lively opportunity for candidates to meet others. Led by Professor Brian Corbitt, this session brought together research students from different disciplines so that they could hear about the research interests of other candidates. The participants were requested to write and explain their thesis research in three words and to specify their methodology. They were then directed to find at least one person in the room using a similar methodology and share ideas. Brian emphasised how good networks can assist with and inspire research in unexpected ways. He also pointed out that the PhD experience involves learning from each other. This session was a great way of fostering social links, as well as building networks between HDR candidates.
The success of the Conference was a tribute to the superb efforts of the organising committee led by Associate Professor Peter Macauley. This committee, comprising both academic and professional staff, took account of all contingencies and left nothing to chance. The organisation and planning was meticulous, with the result that all the sessions went smoothly. Nonetheless, feedback has been collected that will improve the organisation of the next conference. It is envisaged that, given the number of candidates and milestone reviews, there will need to be two conferences per year. Planning has already begun for the next HDR conference to be held in July.
It was a delight to see the rich diversity of research being undertaken by our HDR candidates. I would therefore like to thank all who contributed to the success of this first DTC Summer Conference. The organisers, invited speakers, supervisors, panel members, and students can all be proud of the positive outcomes that resulted from their collaboration and participation in this event.
Professor Geoffrey Stokes
Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research