Digital Higher Degree Research (HDR) scholarly support and community building

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University was launched in 2014, and provides a blue-sky environment for developing quality systems for training researchers within health disciplines hosted by five core departments: Clinical Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Health Professions, Health Systems and Populations, and the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. Researchers range in experience from entry-level Master students completing a Master of Research Program, to doctoral researchers and clinical scholars. Several programs are currently under development to enhance professional development as research scholars, professionals, and global citizens. A key issue that confronts research students in these disciplines is the lack of time to participate in face-to-face training activities, as they are time-poor and very research active, often required to attend clinical or experimental activities at irregular times. Thus, in 2017, the Higher Degree Research team sought to provide more online and blended options for this student body, to promote improved research and development outcomes. Given the clear benefit that is gained by developing a scholarly community to support HDR students (Pyhältö et al., 2009 and 2012), we commenced with the creation of a digital scholarly community for our HDR students within the faculty, composed of Master of Research students, and Doctoral students. We developed a tailored community site through our Moodle Learning Management System as the first stage in providing more accessible support from learning skills professionals, support staff, and other key coordinators of the research training programs. This portal was designed with tabbed links, to themed pages providing links out to the most recent policies, resources, training and development, ethics and safety information, and scholarship opportunities. A key contacts gallery, with support information for each person, is provided for ease of access to further support for HDR students. Each department hosts their own page on the site, whilst announcements and forums actively promote discussion. Our faculty’s postgraduate student society is represented on the portal and provides a social component to the interface to encourage student community building. In this paper we present a detailed reflection on the first six months of implementation, discussion on the next stages of development, and present feedback from students and research supervisors who utilise the resource. This portal represents the first stage in providing improved blended learning and support opportunities for our HDR community in the young Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences HDR training program. Through this medium, we seek to promote improved scholarly community engagement throughout our HDR cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2018
EventQuality in Postgraduate Research: 13th biennial QPR conference - National Wine Centre, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 17 Apr 201819 Apr 2018


ConferenceQuality in Postgraduate Research
Internet address


  • Scholarly Community
  • Medical Research
  • Doctoral Training
  • Digital Platform

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