Case studies

Changes in expectations of research education have seen the rise of new demands for coordination within schools and faculties. Based on an interview study of those who have taken up such roles in four Australian universities, the project has developed four case studies that map out the strategies used to develop a research culture within particular disciplinary contexts.

For each of the case studies on an online version is available (by clicking the title of the case study) as well as a printable version.

Creating a culture for research students

This case study documents how one faculty introduced a range of strategic initiatives designed to build a stronger research education environment. The initiatives were led by multiple people to create a strong research culture, particularly for research students. This case study is also a story about forging opportunistic links with other initiatives, both institutional and national.

Case Study 1 Creating a culture for research students (pdf)

Engaging students and staff in sustainable research 

This case study records the efforts to build a research community in a small research institute. The transdisciplinary nature of the research, and the commitment of the researchers within the institute to draw on approaches adopted by key leaders in their field, has resulted in a strong community-based model of research education and leadership

Case Study 2 Engaging students and staff in sustainable research (pdf)

Building research leadership 

This case study identifies initiatives undertaken to build a research community and program across conventional departmental and disciplinary structures. In this case the community was constructed under the umbrella of a research institute in which it was felt there was greater freedom to offer an enrichment program additional to support offered by departments. The focus is on preparing researchers to be both knowledgeable in their research fields, as well as adaptive leaders able to meet the challenges of the future. The initiatives outlined in this case study are particularly relevant considering that the annual survey of postgraduate research students (PREQ) consistently confirms that postgraduate students are most dissatisfied with the intellectual climate at Australian universities. It is also noteworthy that this case received an Office for Learning and Teaching citation for their work.

Case Study 3 Building Research Leadership (pdf)

Implementing change but struggling with the transition of the HDR role 

This case study is a personal reflection on the implementation of institutional research and Higher Degree Research (HDR) initiatives within a department. The case study also examines the issues around continuity of structures and processes when the Departmental Director relinquishes the role after several years and it is taken up by someone else.

Case Study 4 Implementing change but struggling with the transition of the HDR role (pdf)

Using the case studies

The case studies have been prepared for use in workshops or extended programs (e.g., Graduate Certificates in Higher Education). The following questions provide a suite of prompts, i.e., not all of them have to be used at any one time.

Prompts for use with case studies

What specific strategies were used to build a research culture in this case study ?

How, if at all, did the strategies address:

  • The nature of the disciplinary context?
  • The diversity of the HDR cohort (part-time, distance, international etc.)?
  • The involvement of supervisors?

What were the institutional and personnel enablers of the strategies?

What challenges were faced in the implementation of these approaches to building a research community?

Were the strategies evaluated and if so, how?

Which initiatives, or elements of initiatives, do you see as useful in your own context?

Explain how you would go about implementing one of the initiatives.

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