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.

Background

Taking on the role of Departmental Director of HDR was my first large-scale ‘administrative’ responsibility, and one that dovetailed quite nicely with my perception of myself as more of a researcher than a teacher. Since I had just been promoted to senior lecturer, it was an opportune time to take on the role, with my mentor reminding me that I needed to start preparing for my next promotion. Those words shaped how I approached the role, thinking I’d better take a bit of initiative.

I was also helped because the university was in a transition phase and a more formal structure for HDR across the university, including a Dean HDR and Associate Deans in the Faculties, had been established. It was recognised that HDR was becoming really important to the university’s research effort. More scholarships were made available and the university decided it was going to ‘up’ its research output through research training. There was also much more of a sense that what really mattered was completions and timely completions. That became my challenge in the role: to shift candidates’ and supervisors’ perspectives on the timeframe and scope of a PhD.

Working with Candidates: Structures to Enable Moving Towards Completion

Working with fellow supervisors

Succession

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