There’s no denying that undertaking a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) is a big commitment. But, there are ways to make it a little easier to tackle. We asked Rebecca Murray, a research supervisor at CDU, for her tips on succeeding with a research degree. She knows a thing or two: as well as being a wife, mum and Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance at CDU, she recently completed her own PhD and has supervised many HDR students over the years.
Lesson one: Pick a topic you're interested in
During your HDR, you’ll live and breathe your topic. You become so involved and you’ll dig deep into your topic, so it takes a lot of your time and energy. You want your studies to be a rewarding experience, so it’s important that you choose the right topic. If you’re looking for inspiration, think about areas that you’re naturally curious about or interested in or that have a personal tie for you. I’ll sometimes have students who tell me ‘they’ll just get through it’ and my response is always: ‘you will, but you won’t enjoy it’.
Lesson two: Get comfortable with being flexible
I’m just coming back from maternity leave and working a full-time job at CDU. There is a lot of planning, a lot of balance, and I’ve had to become very flexible.
You can be a mother and a HDR student.
It’s not always easy, but anything is possible. You just need to work at it.
Lesson three: Be persistent
Sometimes life happens and your research doesn’t go to plan. Whatever happens, you just need to persevere. At the start of your project, you’ll have set goals and eventually you’ll achieve those goals. It might not be according to your original plan or on the timeline you expected, but you just need to continue chipping away at your project.
Remember, setbacks can be upsetting and it can take a while to come back from them emotionally.
You might not feel like you're making progress, but eventually, you do hit those goals you've set.
If completing a HDR sounds like it could be for you, find out more about studying a Higher Degree by Research at CDU. You’ll join a research community that delivers real-world and measurable impact in Northern Australia and the Asia Pacific and be supported by committed and professional supervisors. Find a supervisor or download an application pack.