Themes and focus

Preliminary research and consultation with HDR candidates1 has identified five key themes of the HDR experience: the university, the project, the individual, the HDR perspective, and employability.

HDR experience

For international HDR candidates, each theme also incorporates a cultural aspect. Resources and support therefore need to be targeted appropriately with consideration for individual cultural values, norms, and expectations.

There is substantial overlap and connections between the themes and the aspects they cover. For example, institutional barriers or poor communication can result in candidates feeling that they are not valued or respected, which can in turn reduce the self-worth and confidence of the individual; and all three negatively impact the HDR experience.

Furthermore, the information gathered to date suggests that there are substantial support gaps within the HDR community regarding university processes, career options, and professional skills that are external to (but highly influential on) research such as research commercialisation, funding, public engagement, and knowledge exchange.

It is therefore essential that this project (1) identifies key gaps in the existing resources and support available to HDR candidates at Queensland universities relating to each of these themes, (2) considers the wider context and impact of these gaps, and (3) uses a targeted approach to effectively address these gaps.


1HDR stands for Higher Degree Research. In Australia, our HDR students (known as ‘candidates’) are completing a research degree, usually referring to a PhD. Click here for more information on what this means.

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