PhD in Transport Opportunity

Here’s an opportunity for a bike-rider who wants a research challenge.

Earlier this week I met with Assoc. Prof. Matt Bourke after he contacted me to discuss a few projects he is working on and exchange some ideas.  Matt is the Principal Research Fellow for the Cities Research Institute (CRI – Griffith Uni).  I was delighted to find out he is a bike rider and to see cycling

I am always happy to met a fellow bike rider making positive change. It was great to see cycling paraphernalia dotted around his office. We need more prominent two-wheeling academics!

Matt and I have a number of research and interest overlap in non-motorised travel, physical activity and health and urban travel. However, my interests are squarely on bicycles, community engagement and contested spaces, whereas he is more transport planning, policy, design and implementation.

Which meant there was lots to talk about!

One interesting thing we discussed is that Matt is currently looking for a candidate to undertake a PhD in transport and equity with his team.

Anyone up for the challenge?

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create
Source: Griffith News Website

What is the focus area of this PhD?

The CRI forecasts requiring double the amount of post-graduate degree candidates within its first six months – this is part of that expansion.

Currently, CRI  is focused on investigating ‘place based social policy in Australian cities’ and has over  100 students working on:

  • Urban planning and water: Towards a new institutional paradigm
  • Environmental management tools
  • Working with marginalised groups via cultural development practices
  • Improving state governance of Australian urban regions

What exactly is this PhD in Transport Opportunity?

Here are the details for SEEK. To apply and get the links click here.

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create

PhD in Transport Opportunity - Bicycles Create

Why is this PhD role so special?

This role also is very prestigious within the transport sector as it is working with CRI and Griffith University, which are highly regarded as:

  • Griffith University is in the top 100 in the world for Transportation Science & Technology in the latest Shanghai Rankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017.
  • The Griffith Transport Research (GTR) team was awarded the Griffith Sciences ‘Excellence in a research team’ award for 2015.
  • GTR has at least ten PhD scholars working in transport research at any one time across the group.
  • The GRT has won six prestigious Australian Research Council grants since 2009, and they have collaborations with leading international researchers from Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia.
  • GTR work with and cross various disciplines including travel behaviour, transport & land use, transport economics, transport engineering, transport planning, transport law, logistics, and transport & environment.
  • Their work covers all modes including walking, cycling, public transport, ferries, roads, freight, shipping and aviation.
  • The new CRI is designed to become the pre-eminent Australian centre for trans-disciplinary research on the integration of infrastructure, place-making and community and economic development in cities.
  • This role is based at Griffith Uni’s Brisbane campus at Nathan in the Sir Samuel Griffith Building, which is an innovative flagship research building and is an award -winning 6-star sustainable building produces zero emissions.


I would love to see more bike riders taking an active role in research, planning and policy – and this is one great way to do it. A PhD is a serious undertaking, but for those who are up for the challenge, the results would be not only personal gains but would have significant positive and enduring impacts for the future of city development and for all community members. What a brilliant way to progress the cycling and active transportation agenda!

If interested, contact:

Assoc. Prof Burke
Skype or WeChat (with the username/ID ‘drmattburke’)
Phone: +61 7 3735 7106

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Hi bike nuts!

Earlier this week I returned from Adelaide (SA) after presenting a roundtable session at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (AWCC).

I put together a kick-ass abstract to present a workshop earlier this year and in May I was accepted to present.

It was awesome!

I had a great time and made the most of my time there networking and getting the low down on current issues, debates, research and trends in urban and rural cycling.

There were so many great sessions it would be difficult to cover them all, so  I’ll give some event highlights in the next post. I was super  impressed by the range and scope of the cycling (and some walking) presentations.

My session was entitled:  Bicycles Create Change: An innovative guide to creating memorable and meaningful engagement in community bike projects.

Basically, my roundtable session used some of my community bike projects as case studies to explore a number of key aspects I think are important to consider when planning, managing and running community bike events.

I undertook each of these ‘case study’ events as a private, individual community member, which means that I did not get paid for them, but I also didn’t get any money from the events either – it was purely for the love.

I had  4 classifications to present 6 case studies, some of which you can see more of on the PROJECT page.

The classifications (and case studies) were:

  • Individual (Leki, and Art Bikes)
  •  Pair collaboration (Leki & the Ova)
  • Group (Bicycles Create Change Summer Internship)
  • Wider community (Recycled Dreams Community Storybook and #Bikes_CISTA)

Here is my full PPT and notes of my presentation: Nina (Bicycles Create Change) Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017 presentation

Essentially, I was arguing for these key points:

  1. Create the community you want to live in
  2. Create opportunities to ‘talk to a stranger’
  3. Create community bike events where the focus is NOT on the actual ‘riding’ of bikes. This is because I think there will be better acceptance of bikes in general if the general public have more every day, positive and fun interactions with BIKES (in general) and not just see them in relation to RIDING – so create events that doesn’t rely on fitness’ access, confidence, age, or even having a bike, etc. This will mean that bikes are normalised into daily community life and are more readily accepted.
  4. Not to see cycling/biking only as a ‘sport’.
  5. Create ‘Bike events’ that cater to non-riders – create positive bike exposure
  6. If they don’t come to you – you need to go to them! Bike events need to go into the community- no more  events where the riders are (physically or otherwise) separated from the general public
  7. Debunk the ‘road-riding-is-the-only-type-of-cycling-I-see-in-my-community-and-that’s-not-me’ myth – create events where the focus is not on the type of riding, but that it is fun and anyone can use a bike for all kinds of things
  8. Seeing bikes as an object other than just for riding – better integration of bikes into our communities in ways that are not solely about riding
  9. creating events that invite participation, celebrate ‘local heroes’ and local surrounds
  10. Creating events that have a zero-waste policy. No more cycling events with plastic cups, copious amounts of advertising flyers in musettes or crappy McCrap-crap that goes along with far too many cycling events – better still, how about bike events that have a reverse-rubbish feature and turn any waste brought into the event into something more positive?
  11. ….and I’m sure you can’t think of your own ideas as well. I’d love to hear them!

I presented 3 x 10 minutes, each followed by 15-minute discussions.

To add a little interest, spark and creativity, I presented in a custom-made outfit made out of recycled bicycle tires and parts. I had the idea for this outfit as a prototype for a series, and as I was busy getting the presentation prepared, so my collaborating partner Claire Tracey made the outfit and hat based on my requirements and infused a little of her own magic. (Thx CT!) I made the accessories. This ensemble was the prefect compliment – and reflection – of precisely the points my presentation was making – Hazah!



I was very interested to hear what people thought of the ideas and projects I presented – and the questions and discussions that ensued gave me a lot to think about.

One of the best outcomes? Following the presentation I was approached by a group of young marketers who are working on a behaviour change project to get more local people aware of – and riding – bikes. They want me to bring the Bicycles Create Change perspective to their project and consult! A wonderful presentation result. Whoopee!

3 Day Startup (3DS)

A week ago I got an email about an upcoming 3 Day Startup (3DS) intensive.

3DS is a 72-hour learning-by-doing workshop that comes to your campus to teach entrepreneurial skills to university students in an ‘extreme hands-on’ environment. In doing so, this program helps university students develop and translate their research into a start a company over the course of one weekend. Intense!

So as part of the Advance Queensland program, 3DS offered their program exclusively for Griffith University Higher Degree by Research candidates. The Advance Queensland program has an extensive suite of services, events and programs under its Entrepreneurs and Start-up banner, with a strong focus on supporting academic research and industry collaborations.

So I applied.

And today I got word that I have been accepted to attend next week’s 3DS intensive!

3DS – An unsettling space for me to be in

I am intrigued to explore possibilities of how I can commercialize my research. Taking an entrepreneurial approach to layer over my predominately community-based, NGO grassroots practice will be a very interesting exercise in reframing my current conceptual, ethical and professional perspectives. This is the main aspect I am most interested in having challenged during the 3DS intensive: scaling up and operationalising my bicycle research (and programs) for profit.

This is a very uncomfortable space for me to consider as all my previous ventures have been staunchly community-driven and non-commercialised – as evidenced by this blog, and IG, my research and myself being completely ad-free, unsponsored/unfunded, and non-monterised.


So what happens at 3DS?

During the event, participants work with peers from different backgrounds and get mentorship from some leading entrepreneurs.

One the first day, participants form teams, develop an idea, conduct market research, talk to customers, create a prototype, and pitch to real investors by Sunday night.

Participating in 3DS means getting connect with talented people, exploring ways that your research topics can be commercialised, create something collaborate from the ground up, and learn about what it takes to establish a company.


The 3 Day Startup (3DS) program

3 Day Startup (3DS)

Image Source: 3DS Website


Bootcamp (1 week before program date): Participants meet, get introduced to key entrepreneurship principles, and learn best practices for maximising the 3 Day Startup program experience.

Day 1: Participants arrive – with or without startup ideas – and a facilitator leads the group through dedicated brainstorming, preliminary pitches/feedback, and team selection modules. Some teams work late into the night, and others prefer to rest up in preparation for day 2.

Day 2: Customer Discovery (teams exit the building, hit the phones or social media, and talk to potential customers), structured mentorship, intermediate pitches and feedback sessions. Day 2 places heavy emphasis on business model generation.

Day 3: Continued execution (including pitch workshops) leading into final pitches/demos to an esteemed panel of mentors and investors.

Phew!! Sounds super useful and super concentrated!

I’ve also been checking out some of the material and online content 3DS provides through their blog. I’m feeling inspired already!

So what might eventuate?

I don’t know yet!!! But, I am keen to be challenged and ready to get inspired.

I’m also very interested to see what ideas might develop and explore ways to operationalise my research.

I wonder what opportunities this experience may present and what direction this could take me…. some unique possibilities I hope!

I’ll let you know!


See the 1’48” video below for an overview of 3DS.

AWCC Abstract Accepted

Great news!

Late last month, I submitted an abstract to AWCC 2017 to present a conference session entitled ‘Bicycles Create Change’!

This week I got an email from the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference organiser that started with…

AWCC Abstract Accepted


It was a lovely email to receive and I am very excited about doing this conference roundtable presentation.

I’m going to draw on insights, outcomes and learnings I arrived at after designing and managing some of my community art bike projects. The session will focus on providing some important, interesting and constructive considerations that could benefit other community bike events.

BUT!! The next couple of months are going to be a very busy time!

Funding submissions for the collaborative community art project The Albatross. 70 assignments to mark now, then a series of end of course exams. Also, need to prepare my PhD confirmation paper and presentation for early August. Phew!

So – that’s my limit for taking on any extra projects! My answer from here on in is NO MORE!

(Although I did register for the 2017 Bayview Blast Ride/Race this morning! But riding is different!!!)

So aside from riding…..

I am officially at full capacity (and very happy with my lot!)

AWCC Abstract Accepted

PS – to see how the conference presentation went – see blog post for July 21st, 2017: Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects. Or click below!

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

PhD ECMR submitted

Celebrating my first PhD Milestone!

It has been a year since I started my PhD. This week I am celebrating submitting my first  (of three) PhD Milestones – my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) – Hooray!

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that there have been a few ups and downs over the last year. This is totally expected in any PhD process and there will be many more to come!

My PhD research investigates NGOs that donate bicycles to rural African girls for greater access to education. Part of the challenge over the last 12 months has been the process of narrowing down and organising my research scope, problem and approach.

To keep up motivation, interest and momentum, required submission dates provide clear structure and help to have a goal (or a few) to work towards.

So to help keep things in perspective and to stay positive while undertaking my PhD, I’m making sure that I take time to adequately recognise and mark objectives achieved and progress made thus far – like today!

Early Candidature Milestone Report – PhD ECMR Submitted

The purpose of Griffith University ECMRs is to:

  • assess whether the candidate has a viable research project and is appropriate for the degree in which the candidate is enrolled.
  • identify whether any further education and training is required to ensure timely completion.
  • identify any resources needed by the candidate to undertake the research.
  • Identify any problems/difficulties that have caused or are likely to cause an impediment to progress.

For my University, there are three major PhD milestones requirements.

  • PhD Commencement
  1. Early Candidature Milestone (12 months part-time)
  2. Confirmation  (18 months part-time – mine is in August, 2017)
  3. Mid-Candidature Milestone (24 months part-time)
  • PhD Submission

What’s in the EMCR?

The outline ECMR  below is for a Masters program – the PhD is the same structure and content, but is more developed – but this gives the general ECMR sections required:


Additional celebration – new Principal Supervisor confirmed!

In December, my original Principal Supervisor retired.

This created a bit of a problem for me. It was just before the Christmas break and the Uni was closed for holidays and New Year. Feeling a little nervous about my upcoming ECMR submission, I had to speed dated some academics when Uni reopened to find a new supervisor.

While I was doing this, one of the Professors took me on as my ‘temporary supervisor’ just until I submitted my ECMR. This Prof. was recommended by others for me to approach to be my Principal Supervisor, so having the ‘temporary’ time to work together was a great way to test the waters.

A couple of weeks ago, I told the Prof. that I wanted our current situation to continue and be formalised and that I wanted her to be my Principal Supervisor for the duration of my candidature.

The project scope and research questions are far more refined since we started working together since January. I like the way the Prof. operates with clear and timely communication, actionable advice and logical development.

To my delight, this week Prof agreed to take me on – and will be my Principal Supervisor! Shazam!

ECMR Submitted
Source: PhD Comics

Pause to celebrate a series of small successes

A wheelie good week for Bicycles Create Change Blog

As part of my new year goal setting strategy, I made a commitment to celebrate small success. This mechanism is not about attaining milestones and chalking up points, it is primarily a way to practice regular acts of gratitude and to be sure to take the time to enjoy positive results before rushing to move onto the next task.

With this in mind, I very happily acknowledge that this last week has been particularly favourable –  what you might call ‘a good blog week’. Having just dragged myself out of a new year funk, I feel very blessed and excited about the awesome things that happened this week.

An extra good blog week

Here are the top 5 amazing synergies from this week:

  1. This blog’s readership broke over 1,000 readers per day
  2. Through the blog network, a Casey City Council Representative asked permission to repost onto the council Facebook page my blog post about the Boys Backyard MTB Track from 26th Feb (CCC has been awarded $2.9m for a new BMX Complex and Cycling Precinct and like the idea that local riders of various skills and ages knew what they wanted from their cycling infrastructure – grassroots example of community consultation!).
  3. I was contacted through via blog comments, by an international academic regarding some of their research that has been featured on the blog (some of the most popular posts too!) and we have been emailing since.
  4. A local business asked if I could display my blog’s business cards at their counter. They loved the idea of the blog and wanted to support me and promote more locals to participate in active transportation.
  5. I was featured in Griffith University’s EPS weekly internal newsletter ‘Hot off the Press’. Each week a different personality is approached to be ‘introduced’. It required answering 7 standards questions – the result of which is displayed below. Since it has been distributed, I have had people come up and say how much they liked it and that they would check out the blog and other super supportive comments.

A wheelie good blog week

A super happy week!

Individually, each of these events is a lovely thing to happen, but collectively, it has been fantastic.

It feels good to be recognised for the work I do on the blog, it is not always easy. It is also great that people are now reaching out to contact and connect with me. It has also been great to get some feedback, share ideas and have some two-way interaction with other like minded people – seems like everyone is a bike advocate now!

This week has been very memorable as it is the culmination of lots of (enjoyable) hard work. It is wonderful to have people responding so positively to the blog. This week has been a massive confidence boost and injected me with a healthy shot of motivation. It has been a very unexpected, humbling and exciting week.

Thank you to the regular readers and welcome to the newbies!

A massive and sincere thank you to all those who have contacted, supported and encouraged me thus far.

And to those new friends who are more recent visitors to the blog – welcome to the community and enjoy!

Speed dating academics

An unexpected (New Year) slump

In December my principal supervisor retired one week before Christmas. I had no idea this was going to happen. One of the main reasons I had asked this A/Prof. to be my supervisor was because of her sound knowledge, experience in PhD supervision, experience with all the workings of the University, expertise, and that she was going to stay at the university for quite a while and see me through my research journey. Doh!

It was a very unusual time for this to happen. One week before Christmas. I remember wondering what this mean in relation to my imminent first PhD milestone, my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) due in February. The day after she told me we flew out to New Zealand for an 11-day mountain biking trip. I was happy for the break from researching, I felt a little lost and unsure of what direction I was going in, so I was looking forward to having a good hard physical break to reset and come back with fresh eyes.

On my return in the new year, I had two weeks of intense marking to do for a course I was teaching. It was difficult and energy sucking. It rattled my routine and sent me into a stressful mode of working – not the start to the year I had planned. On top of this, there was all manner of other crap happening concurrently, most pressing that husband having an operation and was home flat out incapacitated – recovering for three weeks – meaning our home routine had also changed significantly.


Good grief!

By the start of this week, I realised pretty quickly that I had to proactively scrape back some semblance of routine and control over my work process, resources and PhD status. I could feel the cool grip of discouragement and confusion setting in. This was compounded by the fact that my uni was pretty much closed down over the holidays (so no-one was around), academics and staff were away (no-one to consult with), and I could feel the pressure of my ECMR submission date. I had made sure I was still on my bike and riding, but certainly not enough to stave off the beginnings of demoralisation. I felt like I was getting sucked into the Rooster’s new year transition vortex.


Time to take back control.

I needed some reinvigoration and to establish back some structure and clear direction. Reminding myself of my original aims and purpose for doing this PhD I find is a powerful way to connect my daily smaller actions with my bigger picture goals and justifications.

With this in mind, I decided to set aside half a day to sit down and map out my yearly goals. I set myself a series of activities and analysis strategies to process what I had achieved so far, what I was doing now, where I wanted to be and how I was going to get there.


Already feeling better – calmer, clearer and more collected.

I got a lot done that afternoon and things started to shift. My mood lifted and I was back in action and at the desk working. I talked to some staff, students and other candidates and decided now was the time to get the ball rolling on my PhD Supervision. I harnessed this momentum and sent out some emails to academics.

So this week I’ve been speed dating academics.

It has been a very overwhelming, interesting, surprising, and very thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that I’ve with academics I’ve meet. It’s been great to be exposed in a truncated, introductory fashion each one’s unique interest area, ideas, approach to PhD Supervision and hear about what their area of expertise is. As well as sounding out these academics as potential supervisors, each one was also very generous with their time, ideas, sharing reading materials and contacts.


Now, I’m back on track.

I felt myself getting re-motivated as we discussed my project, more enthusiastic with each conversation. I was overwhelmed with interesting suggestions, resources, follow ups and observations about my project, possible future directions and collaborations. It was great to hear that each one thought my project was super interesting and valuable and wanted to stay in contact regardless of which supervisor I chose. I walked away from each ‘date’ with a head full of ideas and feeling super positive.


I’ve made my Supervisor choice and am excited about the next step.

I’m really glad I took the initiative to meet with those that I did, (aside from it being necessary for me to find a new Principal Supervisor) and went about it the way I did and was so highly selective of those I met with. In doing so, I was privy to some very stimulating, practical and intelligent ideas. It has helped reactivate my brain, get me out of my new year funk and spark me up for the next phase of my academic journey.
This was the kind of start to the year I had in mind!

Perfect timing too. I can utilise this renewed energy as I complete my ECMR and get prepared to head down to Melbourne next week for the Bike Futures Conference!

It’s good to be back on track!

Speed Dating Academics
I decided it was time to leave the downward spiral and exit the New Year labyrinth. Time to get inspired, confirm my new Principal Supervisor and get back on my previous productive PhD research track! Nice Save (*phew*)!!

Griffith EPS HDR Student Conference 2016

Today was Griffith University’s Education and Professional Studies (EPS) HDR Student Conference. This Graduate HDR* Conference is organised by the EPS PhD Candidates for other Candidates. Although I am on the organising committee, I did not attend the proceedings today because I am Melbourne for another event (SSWC 2016 – see upcoming post). * In AU we call  PhD Programs HDR = Higher Degree by Research i.e. PhD or Doctoral programs. In the US, PhDs are part of the Graduate Program (Grad School)  – hence ‘Graduate HDR’*

The reason I am posting about the Graduate HDR Conference now, is the theme for this year’s conference “Aiming for the future: Learning from reflection and reality” really resonated with me. In developing my PhD research proposal, I was very strategic about synthesising certain professional and civic dimensions that I think are very important – education, social justice, community development, and of course, bikes! One of the reasons I am so motivated in my research is that it is inherently practical to implement. It is not difficult for me to translate my research into practice. This is not necessarily the case for other researchers.


Griffith Graduate HDR Student Conference 2016

So this conference theme aligned well with my personal approach to research. I think there is great value in exploring and trialling methods and praxis, and feel that unless research can be operationalized to contribute to a better outcome for all, then a project does not fully reach its potential. It is also an excellent forum to not only get together and network, but also to share ideas about work being undertaken. I was looking forward to hearing the abstract sessions detailing what others were working on – I find it perpetually inspiring and engaging to hear the range, types and topics that others are working on. Most of all I was looking forward to the Guest Speaker Workshop “Possibilities: Knowledge into action” session (understandably why) to get some fresh insights and motivation.


The need for peer contact

Whilst organising this conference, I sometimes caught myself thinking that there were certain aspects of this conference I was sorry I was going to be missing. At this stage in my PhD, I am preparing my Early Candidature Milestone (Feb 2017) and coming out of my most challenging time working on this project so far,  I recognise that I wanted to go to this Conference to reconnect with some Uni contacts. I had been feeling quite awash, distanced and anxious after not having my usual regular contact with peers and supervisors. So I was craving to discuss and mull over a few challenges and to get some suggestions, motivation and ideas. I found that just by working on organising the conference, meant that I had more contact with some of the other candidates and started feeling much better. By the time I met with my supervisors mid this week (a meeting which I had been very much looking forward to), I felt was already feeling much more settled and refocused.


Actioning the theme

Now that I am down in Victoria for some bike riding and exploring some research possibilities, I am back in my element – the physical realm. I most certainly would have attended the Conference had I still been in Brisbane, but I like the idea that, instead of sitting in a room talking about how to energize research and translate it into real world practice, I am out in the real world investigating ways to translate the lived experiences into research. In a strange way, I’m putting into practice the main theme of the conference, which, I suppose, if I was not there to participate, is a bloody good alternative!

I am looking forward to hearing how the conference went and some attendee feedback as to what they got out of it, what worked and what didn’t. It is a great opportunity to get the HDRers out from behind their screens to network, share and stimulate each other. You never know where a conversation topic might take you, or how participating in a workshop can unlock a new idea or direction – after all, I am now doing my PhD because I sat at a table in a workshop last year and got chatting to those around me on the table – and boy and I glad I did. I hope the attendees today had an equally provoking and restorative experience.

Now back to the bike and making some contacts for recruiting singlespeed research participants!



PhD Lit Review – 6 Months Review

This week I saw my supervisors for a meeting as it is my PhD 6-month review.  We were meeting to discuss my PhD Lit Review. I’ve not had a meeting with them for a while as we’ve all had things on – I’ve been working on my Lit Review, one had long service leave and the other has been working hard for the start of the Uni semester.

I’ve been keeping busy and trialling different productivity techniques and activities to varying degrees of success. I’ve missed not meeting my supervisors each month. I like the routine, and it gives me enough time to get some work done and work towards the next deadline.

I’ve been struggling the last month with my Lit Review as I’ve found myself summarising the issues to do with my topic and not fully critiquing the references as I’d like to be. I chatted to a few other full-time PhDer about getting their lit reviews done and it the consensus is that it is on ongoing progression that you keep coming back to. I asked my supervisor to see her original thesis she wrote in 1999, which she gave me a copy. I’m keen to see to what degree and how she critiqued her sources, synthesised content and expressed her analysis and critical thinking about the methodologies and theoretical frameworks – I know I have to work on these areas for my own lit review.

My primary supervisor suggested I look at the online RMIT Lit Review material as she thought it was helpful. However, I like the practicality and find having examples more instructive, so the UQ Reviews with examples is more my style – especially seeing as though there is extra downloadable info.

But to get me back on track – I’m going to first head to Randolph’s (2009) A Guide to Writing a Dissertation Literature Review, which is clear, informative and has some great info. I’ve extracted the following two tables from said article.

I find this first table useful to approach readings, and I like the idea of having questions to answer or a focus to draw out – it also helps hone key terms, methodologies and points for comparison that I would not otherwise necessarily have looked for – but most importantly I like the reminder, and I’ve found it invaluable in relation to looking for disruptions and gaps in some research aspects.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 9.36.19 PM

This second table is a useful editing and content refinement checklist. It helps keep me honest, structured and stimulated content inclusion and points that I need to clarify, include or emphasize. I think ultimately, I will incorporate ideas from all these three sources. After a week of marking course work (this week) and having a little mental break from my Lit Review, I’ll use these resources as stimulus to get stuck back into it and refocus the themes and work on increasing the level of critical analysis – which is probably a good thing as this will be my main task at least up until November.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 9.37.03 PM

How to plan your PhD

Today I attended a session provided by the Griffith Graduate School entitled ‘How to Plan Your PhD’ workshop with Hugh Kearns from iThinkWell. The workshop was directed towards PhDers who are in the early-mid stanes of their HDR candidates and covered a range of topics. After having a bit of a flat week and not achieving as much as I had hoped, this 2. 5 hour session was the perfect remedy, as it reaffirmed what I have already been applying and finding useful, as well as suggesting a few clear and productive strategies to identify next step goals, stay focused and chart progress.

7 main themes from the Thinkwell workshop

Without providing too many details as I appreciate the content presented is part of Thinkwell’s core business, in a nutshell this workshop covered 7 main themes:

  1. looking at the big picture
  2. breaking down big tasks into detailed plans of action
  3. addressing aspects of Supervisor meetings
  4. some helpful ideas to track and monitor writing progress
  5. working on parallel specific projects that might be undertaken concurrent the dissertation
  6. a few tips regarding setbacks (l really liked the Tim Tam analogy)
  7. finances

Clear and useful

The presentation was well-paced, thoughtful and very accessible. The few key main ideas were developed well with enough detail to be quickly understood and interesting, but not too overwhelming that it required extra work and thinking. I liked how each idea was explained, and for the goal setting/time management tasks, there were handouts to fill, followed by time to confer and share ideas with others before moving on. The session was engaging and productive, and the content was immediately useful and applicable for each student. I’m now super clear on what I am doing first thing tomorrow morning!

I have my 6-month meeting with my supervisors in 2 weeks, so the planning aspect of some of the handouts gave me some good ideas about what to bring to the table to ask the right questions at the next meeting. I also got some more ideas about the next steps to complete leading up to the meeting as well.

Free online planning resources

I had looked at some of Thinkwell’s online resources last year and had actually downloaded the PhD tool kit then – now having attended the workshop and being immersed in my studies, the functionality of the Thinkwell planners and forms now have context and are more practical. I remember thinking that it was great that they provided so many free time management resources and templates for free (check them out here), which is one of the reasons I was interested in attending this session as I liked the range of time planners, guide, lists and prioritising tasks and really appreciated that they were offered for free for others to use.

I was glad I made the effort to go. It was good to connect with some of the other researchers I had not seen in a while and to meet some new faces. I came away with some good ideas and most importantly, I’m reinvigorated to start tomorrow a fresh – and dive back into my research routine – that in itself was worth the effort!