Higher Degree Research Office Newsletter
Macquarie University
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HDR Support & Development
Fostering critical, reflexive practice in research training
HDR Wellbeing throughout your candidature
Message from the Dean, HDR
HDR candidature is not only demanding intellectually, it's hugely stressful personally, both because of the demands of the program and the pressure it can put on other parts of candidates' lives, as partners and carers, for example. We're keen to understand the pressures candidates are under and how best we can help deal with them. We are working closely with Campus Wellbeing, are ramping up Mental Health First Aid training for supervisors and other HDR support staff, and we are encouraging greater social support through the HDR Mentors program.

For too long, the emotional stresses of candidature have been hidden or else, taken as unavoidable. Our aim is to make HDR candidature not only successful but as happy and healthy as possible too!
Macquarie University Counselling Service - Ashwin Singh

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The HDR experience can be an isolating one. Although you may be in a university environment with many other students, even among those in the same discipline, being a researcher can involve a great deal of time spent alone.

In wellbeing workshops with HDRs, candidates have often shared a myriad of ways they have used to get through their HDR journey. From focusing on physical health with activities like biking, walking and martial arts to mental health activities such as mindfulness, self-compassion and journalling, there are so many ways to find good balance. Even an activity of creating discipline in your life to structure time away from your thesis, such as reading for pleasure at night, can be beneficial. An overall tip is to develop your own ‘toolbox’ of different activities you can do to look after yourself in the long-term.

Saying yes to social opportunities can also be helpful as a way to look after your wellbeing. Some HDR candidates have also found linking up with HDR Mentors and attending events such as the HDR Café great to have an informal chat with others who can understand.

Parenting through a PhD

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Undertaking a PhD is a deeply challenging experience, especially when caring for children. In May, HDR Learning Skills invited five Macquarie University researchers to talk about the unique challenges that face PhD parents and the strategies they used to overcome them.
The interactive discussion covered a range of topics including the importance of planning and time-management, finding balance, building nurturing professional networks, learning to work in ways that support yourself and your family, and ways to parent that support your work. The frank and often funny conversation was recorded and is now available via the ECHO block on the HDR Learning Skills iLearn page or via the public link to the recording.

HDR Support & Development Wellbeing Resources

Resilience & Motivation workshop

Some of the feedback from the recent Resilience & Motivation workshop ...

• I think the group discussion that evolved regarding practical management issues of research material, and the ongoing social negotiations concerning the pursuit of academic study were both really important components of yesterday's excellent seminar. Thank you for providing this 'safe space' for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
• I enjoyed the course, mainly because it gave me a chance to see that others felt the same way I do about workloads and coping etc. I almost feel that 2 hrs was not enough. I did leave feeling concerned for a couple of people in the group though, they seem to be going through a rough time.

Campus Wellbeing provides expert facilitators who help HDR candidates connect with peers, share their experiences and find acceptance.

Great course. I hope there are more like them.
• I liked it, helped more than I thought it would. Would do again
• I just wish I could get to more of these events.

We are aiming to run more sessions via Zoom to allow more HDR candidates to access these opportunities.
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HDR Mentors & HDR Cafe - Stress Management

The HDR Mentors’ HDR Café provides time and space for interdisciplinary HDR candidates to network & share personal research journeys.

HDR Mentors collaborated with Campus Wellbeing to address an issue close to a research candidate’s heart: Stress management.

The workshop was solution oriented and reiterated the importance of self-care and social interaction. Ashwin Singh (Campus Wellbeing) introduced participants to effective methods which help in alleviating stress and focuses the mind. Such techniques are particularly relevant for HDR candidates who feel overwhelmed and isolated in their research.

The second part of the workshop was facilitated by Alumni HDR Mentors, Dr Oluwatoosin (Toosin) Agbaje and Dr Anna Guller who shared their personal journeys in stress management and motivation.

"The session was very helpful in building coping mechanism to deal with academic and life stressors during our HDR journey."

"The session helped me to recognise my stress and to manage and defeat it." 

Read more about the HDR Café.

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Brains Trust series - Managing procrastination

How many times you said to yourself “I am gonna do this tomorrow”?

As a PhD candidate, Samuil Hossain knows about the added stress caused by procrastination. Samuil is a self-described procrastinator who recognises that we can never completely eliminate procrastination so a better way is to draw on behavioural science principles to manage the behaviour.

The workshop will help participants to:

* Understand some basic ideas on procrastination.

* Understand some reasons behind our procrastination.

* Gain some skills in basic behavioural management techniques.

* Gain some skills in some software/ tools to manage the project.

"This workshop will not aim to eradicate procrastination. Rather it will focus on how to live with it and still thrive."

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Important links- Mental Health Support

Self-help:  In our Resilience Workshop, participants talked about the benefit of meditation. Apps such as insight timer, smiling mind and headspace can help you to build your practice.

Online course: 5-Week UniWellbeing Course for help with stress, anxiety and depression, with information and stories from past participants related to the HDR experience. Sign up here. 

Online Crisis Chat: Lifeline 

Telephone Support: LifeLine on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 

Counselling: Campus Wellbeing offers counselling for Macquarie students. Register here and a clinician will be in touch to discuss your options. 

Urgent Support: If you are feeling distressed or require urgent support on the same day, contact Campus Wellbeing for a triage appointment. This is a brief 15-minute consult to address your immediate needs.

Emergency Support: Call emergency services on 000 or attend the nearest hospital to you. 

Presenting: MRES701 PACE For Research

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Real-world research experience credited to your MRes degree

If you’re in first year of the BPhil/MRes program, you might like to consider taking the PACE for Research unit (MRES701) next semester. By experiencing research in a real-world setting, you not only get to put into practice the knowledge and skills you’ve developed in your other units, but you’ll also develop skills in project management, collaboration, research integrity and professional communication. Your professional network will grow and you may even get to publish your research or present at a conference! These skills, contacts and experiences will be extremely useful as your go into your second year of the MRes and consider future steps in your research career.

Here’s what previous MRES701 students have to say about the unit:

“I feel more confident in my own ability to plan and undertake research, having had the opportunity to helm my own project and critically engage with new literature and intellectual challenges.” - Sophia Harris, 2017 (See article URNA Issue 13).

“[It] made me even more keen to work in my field; experience of working hands on in a research project & with tablets has really spurred me to look for more opportunities to continue doing this and incorporate this into my future research projects (eg. MRes thesis, PhD thesis, articles, etc) in a way I had not actively considered before.” - Ilana Chaffey, 2017 (pictured above)

To find out if & how you can take MRES701, please contact the Unit Convenor, Dr Juliet Lum ( [email protected]) as soon as possible.
HDR Supervision Enhancement

Re: MQ HDR Supervision Fellowship Program: Associate Fellow (Training Pathway) 2018

The Office of the Dean HDR is pleased to announce the commencement of HDR Supervision Fellowship Program. The program is underpinned by a framework which supports (i) the initial and continuing professional development of staff engaged in HDR supervision and support, and (ii) MQ’s strategic aspiration to provide HDR students with outstanding supervisory expertise and mentoring (see Objective 2 MQ Strategic Research Framework 2015 – 2024).

Further details regarding the fellowship program, benefits of applying for a fellowship and available support can be found by clicking this link: HDR Supervision Fellowship Program

Applications are invited from early career researchers*, professional staff who support HDR candidates, and newly appointed academics* who wish to apply for Associate Fellow status via a “training” pathway.  Training blends opportunities to engage in up to five 1.5-hour workshops, case studies (face-to-face and online) and online learning.  Successful participation in the above will equip applicants with the skills and confidence to submit a robust Associate Fellow application.

The closing dates for Associate Fellowship submissions: 10th October and 17th December 2018.

*Note: staff who are eligible to supervise HDR candidates must complete HDR30 Orientation to HDR Supervision before applying for an Associate Fellowship.

For further information contact A/Prof Bill Ashraf at [email protected]

HDR Career Stories

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We are interested in the career paths our Macquarie University PhD graduates choose to head down following their graduation and we are seeking to capture some of these career stories. We recently interviewed Dr Dharmica Mistry from BCAL Diagnostics located in Cicada Innovations at the Australian Technology Park at Eveleigh.

Visit the HDR Professional Skills iLearn site to watch HDR Career Stories 

Recent HDR Support & Development Workshops
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Social Media for Researchers
A big thank you to Susan Shrubb & Alana Hadfield, Research Librarians, for running this workshop and to Prof.Catharine Lumby for providing such valuable insights.

Twitter feedback 
  • 'Currently learning a lot about social media #promotion at @Macquarie_Uni, courtesy of @ResourcefulHDR at Macquarie Uni Library!'
Survey feedback 
  • 'More of Catherine Lumby on writing opinion pieces would be very helpful. So many topics could be added to this seminar series.'
  • 'Everything from technical 'how to' sessions to ethics, as well as handing the psychological risks associated with trolls. This was a really useful session.'
Beyond Grants workshop
Lisa Elliott and J-L Heylen from the Research Grants team, within Research Services, generously agreed to run two workshops for HDR candidates. 
First session: Beyond Grants - An Introduction to Research Partnerships (recording can be found on the HDR Professional Skills iLearn ECHO block). In this workshop  Lisa and J-L contrasted traditional research grants with partner funding, the latter being the expanding domain of government, private, industry and non-for-profit research activity. 

A follow-up, more interactive session will be run in August. We are working toward involving some of Macquarie University's research partners to provide participants with the opportunity to practice pitching research proposals.
Important Notices
HDR Writing Retreat

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Fire up your writing at the winter HDR Writing Retreat!

Registrations are now open for the winter HDR Writing Retreat on 27-29 June. This retreat is ideal for candidates in Year 2 or above who have collected and analysed data and now need some undisturbed time to draft or revise a thesis chapter or paper for publication. The retreat will include facilitated writing-focused activities, daily workshops, and access to 1:1 consultations with HDR Learning Advisors.

To join the retreat, you’ll need to fill in a registration form on the HDR Workshops site and also submit a ½-page Expression of Interest to [email protected] specifying what you plan to write during the retreat.

HDR Mentors: Call for New Mentors!

The HDR Mentors program is recruiting new members to the family!

For more information, please click here or email to [email protected]

Future STEMM Leaders

Future STEMM Leaders at Macquarie University is a new researcher development program that is aimed at selected PhD candidates who want to not only succeed at their PhD projects but also prepare for a leadership career in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Medicine- including health). To apply please read program guide and complete the short application form online  by June 17th 2018.

Selection panel consists of university academic and professional staff. Successful applicants will be informed by June 20th 2018.

For more information please contact [email protected].

Note: Hossai is featured below in the HDR Dynamic Duos section.

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Brainstrust series - Dr. Shillyshally: How I learned to stop worrying and love the research
Monday 12 June 2017, 10.00-12.00pm
Postponed from May 
Chronic procrastination can impact on wellbeing. This workshop will help you to…
  • Understand some basic ideas on procrastination.
  • Understand some reasons behind our procrastination.
  • Gain some skills in basic behavioural management techniques.
  • Gain some skills in some software/ tools to manage the project.This workshop will not aim to eradicate procrastination. Rather it will focus on how to live with it and still thrive
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Survey Design Using Qualtrics
Monday 18 June 2018, 10.00am -1.00pm

This 3-hour workshop is designed to give participants an introduction to the practice of designing and implementing a survey for research purposes.

The workshop will begin by discussing the strengths and limitations of survey research, then move to the practical steps involved in designing and administering a survey through the Qualtrics online survey platform. Simple course notes will be provided.

Register here. 

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Effective Job Interview Skills
Monday 25 June 2017, 11.00-1.00pm

Using a narrative model, this workshop aims to assist participants with identification of their strengths, interests, values and skills in relation to the position for which they will be interviewed.

The workshop focuses on how to prepare for an interview with consideration given to personal presentation, greetings, body language, listening, voice and tone as well as how to manage those pesky nerves.

Register here

HDR Dynamic Duos
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Hossai Gul
What do you bring to the professional relationship?
Changing from basic science research to health systems research, I bring with me the experience of a different research paradigm. But most importantly as a PhD student I bring an enthusiasm for learning and openness to new and challenging ideas.

What do you appreciate most about Janet?
I appreciate that I can be completely open about my ideas with Janet. Even if I am not sure about an idea, I can share it with her and know that she will listen and give me great feedback. I work best when given clear feedback and Janet responds in the most constructive manner.
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Dr. Janet Long
What do you bring to the professional relationship?
As a supervisor I bring a knowledge of social science methodology and research design and experience of the health system as a former clinician. I bring a network of contacts, chances for involvement in a larger project and lots of interesting people with which to bounce ideas around.

What do you appreciate most about Hossai?
Our styles are very different. I am a “mull it over,” considered thinker while Hossai has clear, defined thinking and meticulous planning. Now we have worked this out, we are enjoying the synergism this brings to our work.
Interested in being featured in HDR Dynamic Duo?

The HDR Support & Development team is seeking contributions to the HDR Dynamic Duos section of our newsletter. The people featured might be… HDR candidate & supervisor, HDR Mentor & HDR Mentee, HDR Candidate and Industry placement supervisor.

If this is of interest to you, please head to our website for further information on how to contribute.

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