Higher Degree Research (HDR) Students

Beyond the research completion!

bhaba By Bhabananda,

University of South Australia (UniSA) has been providing an excellent research platform for the students, staffs, and their collaborating partners. The recognition of what UniSA is contributing to the research came up with the recent Reuters list of Asia’s top 75 universities for Innovation. Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) students are playing key roles in these research outcomes by coupling their research motivation and the completion of a degree in time. At UniSA, these HDR students are classified as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Professional Doctorate and Masters by research.

For a successful and career-building completion of HDR, we need more than the completion of the research experiments and the fulfilment of the candidature. In this blog, I will share some of my experiences and thought of what other than the research things can enrich an HDR student for linking a future career development.

  1. Publishing and Networking

We can argue that scientific publication is the key component of the HDR studies. However, it depends on the research group, the commercial value of the research outcome and the way of the degree completion. I would prefer to include “publication” as a “beyond the research” component because often a thesis is sufficient (unless PhD portfolio by publications) for the degree. However, producing publication at the time of our research tenure (candidacy) will create our window more open to building network and collaboration with others. The Good thing is that immediately upon the completion of the degree, we can show these publications as the research outcomes and impact to the potential employer, which is not possible by only a thesis. Another component all HDR students should consider is “networking”, which is possible by attending conference, seminar, workshop and even a launch party! UniSA events calendar can provide such types of upcoming events. Also, every division highlights their events, which might be helpful for the HDR students. Outside University, Early Career Researcher (ECR) network in RiAus can also be a useful event, especially for PhD students.


Photo:  A BBQ party in the new flagship Institute (Future Industries Institute). Source: UniSAFII

  1. Social media for research communication

This online-based platform is also a “beyond the research” activity we can consider to be active as an HDR student. The impact of our research, the refining of our idea and creating new collaboration can be possible through the online activity in social media for the researcher. An excellent survey based analysis on the social media and the researcher can be read here published in Nature news feature. Google Scholar, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Mendeley, ResearcherID, ORCID, Academia.edu can be used as an efficient platform for connecting people for the research communication.

  1. Volunteering and community engagement

Keep the breath out of the laboratory, fieldwork or data computing! It is hard to engage in volunteering and community work, especially for the PhD students due to the tight experimental tasks. However, it is worth to do to develop leadership skill and interact with diverse people. Many research topics are directly related to community people, and they love to hear what researcher are doing for them. While research idea comes from the need for the real life, we can get a good idea of innovation through the engagement of people! We can also think that socio-cultural engagement makes a research student in tune with the motivation boosters and procrastination killers. Our UniSA student life can update you the events, volunteering, and global opportunities.


Photo: Volunteer students are managing different stalls, talking prospective students at the open day.

  1. Grants and Awards

Grants, awards and participating any competition make a research student more competent in the challenging field of career development. From my point of view, one simple rule can make an HDR student competitive for any prize, grant or award, and that is “grab the opportunity to apply”. Often if not always we can see this opportunity in our inbox! What we should do is to apply by the deadline with necessary information and documents. I can remember the opportunity to be the 2015 winner of the “Governor’s Award for the academic excellent [postgraduate research]” came to me as a regular email notification and I applied and won! Sometimes, we may spend just our sluggish time to visit some portals to find the right opportunity for us. UniSA has an excellent list of prizes and awards; however, this is not all. Sometimes, social media can give you the right award or grant notification; here worth to ask: are you following the University of South Australia on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Another good source of receiving a grant is the professional organisation in your field, such as Soil Science Australia (SSA) or Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI). I would say, we should connect with them and apply for any travel grant for a conference for instance or any research grant as a top-up of the experimental cost. Travel grant small or the big amount awarded from an external source other than UniSA is much more weighted regarding that we are competing beyond our university. Even the travel cost is being provided by the university itself or research centre of UniSA, in my opinion, we should seek for external grants to compromise the UniSA support. It helps to justify how a research student extends his/her competencies to secure external funding, which is very important for building research career in future.


Photo: Bhaba (writer of this blog post) is receiving the Governor’s Award in 2015.

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