Frequently Asked Questions for HDR Candidates

HDR Induction

Welcome to all new HDR candidates. Because of the pandemic, we are currently unable to present our normal face-to-face Induction sessions in either Townsville or Cairns.  The online version is now available on LearnJCU.  Please go to the Higher Degree by Research Organisation on LearnJCU, then look at the menu list on the left of your screen.  You will see at the top of that list an item called HDR Induction COMPULSORY MODULE.  Click the link and see an array of items for you to engage in flexibly. These items have been made available in place of Day One of the usual Induction program, and will need to be completed before your Confirmation of Candidature; please undertake them at your own pace. You will also find the other flexible Compulsory Component modules you will need to undertake on LearnJCU, as listed here:  https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/Workshops-and-training/RD7003-compulsory-workshops.  Note that the Compulsory Component workshops Resilient HDR Candidature and Respectful Relationships are not currently running, although we expect to be able to let you know soon when they will be resumed.  Your Confirmation will not be held up if you have not undertaken these workshops.   Please contact Associate Professor Liz Tynan if you have any queries: elizabeth.tynan@jcu.edu.au.

HDR Induction for JCU Singapore Candidates is being conducted online via LearnJCU. Please see the main information about online Induction, and note the additional information especially for JCUS candidates.

All HDR candidates are encouraged to make use of two discussion boards on LearnJCU. The main board is called “Candidature, pandemic and the whole damn thing”, and is available via the content menu in our LearnJCU Organisation. This forum is for sharing experiences as we all work our way through this challenging time. Please share your pandemic hacks, any great online courses you have found, ways to stay healthy and fit while self-isolating, any clever ideas you have about working as a PhD or Masters candidate that you think others would like to know – or just introduce each other to the animals in your life. A discussion board especially for new HDR candidates, titled “Induction Chat”, is also available in the Induction folder on LearnJCU. Please join this discussion board to interact with other new HDR candidates, share ideas and ask questions. How are you settling in? How are your advisory meetings going under the new conditions imposed by the pandemic? Do you have a question for one of our HDR Ambassadors, who are HDR candidates who assist incoming candidates to settle in? Note that this is not the place to ask questions about the administration of your candidature. If you have questions of that nature, please send them to the GRS team at grs@jcu.edu.au

RD7003 Professional Development

We know that you will be considering options to keep your doctoral studies moving right now. You may like to take advantage of free, flexible online modules to progress your professional development. The list below shows online modules available on the LearnJCU Higher Degree by Research Students Organisation.  Please log into the Organisation and look at the menu to the left of your screen.  Note that in the case of Epigeum modules, each individual topic you choose will provide three hours of Professional Development credit, once you have completed the end-of-module quiz.

JCU has been accepted into the Coursera free online professional development program, available in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Details below.

Available on our LearnJCU platform:

Epigeum Research Integrity Additional Modules: contains not just the compulsory core course, but also a range of elective courses such as: Human subjects protection, The humane use and care of animals in research, Conflict of interest, Safety and health and Intellectual property.

Epigeum Research Integrity Modules: contains discipline-specific research integrity courses including Biomedical sciences, Natural and physical sciences, Engineering and technology, Social and behavioural sciences and Arts and humanities.

Epigeum Research Skills Master Program: contains not just the compulsory research methods course, but also a range of elective courses such as Transferrable skills, Entrepreneurship and Ethics.

Epigeum Statistical Methods for Research: highly recommended for all candidates who need to use statistics in their research.  Training is available in stats for Biomedical sciences, Business, Engineering and technology, Natural sciences and Social Sciences.

Epigeum Avoiding Plagiarism:  useful training for all research degree candidates who need to be clear on exactly what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Scientific Integrity:  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics Module: This module, developed by a number of JCU collaborators led by Dr Lynn Woodward, is recommended for HDR candidates carrying out research related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples.  [Updated version under construction – will be available soon.]

The Art of Academic Writing: This writing module helps you build and hone your writing skills.  A research degree requires high-level writing skills that demonstrate technical correctness and excellent style that matches the requirements of the discipline.  This course will provide practical tips and strategies to help you reach your writing goals.  If you complete all topics in the course you may count 12 hours towards RD7003 Professional Development.

The Art of Academic Editing: This module takes you through the foundational skills you need to edit your own work.  Topics include grammar, punctuation, sentences, paragraphs and style.  If you complete all topics in the course you may count 12 hours towards RD7003 Professional Development.  [NB this module is currently closed for repair but should be available again in late April.]

Externally available courses

You are also welcome to make PD selections from the wide range of excellent external courses offered by other providers, some of which may charge a fee.  You may use HDR funds to pay for external courses, so long as your advisory team and College agree.  For a range of external courses, go to this site:  https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/Workshops-and-training/external-training-opportunities

The eGrad School offers highly regarded training that many JCU HDRs have undertaken:  https://www.atn.edu.au/industry-collaboration/e-grad-school/.  These courses do charge a fee.

You may wish to explore the online training opportunities offered by Coursera, which partners with leading US universities and companies to provide content.  This online professional development organisation is currently waiving course fees for universities affected by the pandemic, including JCU.  Please send an e-mail to Associate Professor Liz Tynan if you wish to access the free Coursera program (Elizabeth.Tynan@jcu.edu.au)

We encourage PhD candidates to continue fulfilling the requirements of RD7003 Professional Development during these challenging times. However, we are introducing some flexibility into the administrative arrangements to acknowledge that the pandemic may have interrupted your PD plans. Candidates who are approaching Mid-Candidature Review, at which time they would normally have been required to have completed 50 hours of their Elective Component, may now defer finalising their entire Elective Component (that is, all 90 hours) until the Pre-Completion Milestone. This means that you will not need to demonstrate the completion of 50 hours of Elective Component at Mid-Candidature, but instead can finalise the whole requirement near the end of candidature. Note that if you are approaching Mid-Candidature and you already have your 50 hours, you can go ahead and claim them at that milestone, as per the usual guidelines. This new measure is intended for those who are finding it difficult at present to undertake PD activities and would like a bit more time. When submitting MCR paperwork, please make a note that you would like to defer your Elective Component until Pre-Completion, and the GRS team will make a note on your file. Those who choose this option should note that the subject RD7003 will not be able to be passed until Pre-Completion.

Also, Take advantage of the new Leadership and Initiative PD category

Please consider how you might take advantage of the new Leadership and Initiative category in RD7003, in which candidates may claim points for a wide variety of activities, and in doing so may be exempted from the final 40 hours of PD. Those candidates who are currently running virtual writing circles/Shut Up And Write groups, for example, are most welcome to claim credit for these activities. Some aims@jcu candidates have been co-ordinating the JCU car fleet so that fellow HDR candidates are able to travel to AIMS, and that activity will also count. Many other activities may be included, such as leading discussions on our new discussion boards. For more information, please go to the Leadership and Initiative web page.

SKIP Townsville is currently being taught via Zoom. However, we are hopeful that the Townsville and Cairns SKIP series scheduled for later in 2020 may be able to go ahead face-to-face. However, SKIP Singapore may have to be taught via Zoom. Also, candidates who are eligible to undertake SKIP but cannot get to either Townsville or Cairns in the second half of 2020 will be able to access a Zoom version as well. Any international HDR candidate in their first year of candidature may e-mail Associate Professor Liz Tynan on elizabeth.tynan@jcu.edu.au who will advise you on your SKIP options.

Accessing Campus and Working Remotely

The University has prepared an information booklet to help you understand what buildings and facilities are currently active. The booklet will be continually updated to reflect the dynamic environment that we are currently working in.

This link (COVID 19 - TUBS) will always lead you to the current version, therefore you will be able to understand what facilities and services are available to you at any time.

For more information, please contact space management on spacemanagement@jcu.edu.au .

Advisors and HDR candidates should maintain regular contact and develop a contingency plan to maintain progress over the next six months in particular, anticipating a period working off campus may be required.

Consideration must be given to your own personal situation, and the resources that you have available to you to progress your research activity.  You will still need support and continued feedback from your advisors if working off campus, so it is a good idea to discuss now how this could be maintained. Maintain regular contact with your advisory team and continue with your usual frequency of meetings with your advisor, using ZoomSkype or phone. Contact the IT Helpdesk (ithelpdesk@jcu.edu.au) for technical support.

Research liaison librarians are still available for consultations, via Zoom.  Please contact your research liaison librarian to make a Zoom appointment.

All library generated resources e.g. guides, eBooks and database collections are fully accessible online.

Contact the Library via their chat services for more information.

Please see the JCU Connect Covid-19 website at https://www.jcu.edu.au/jcu-connect/research-services-covid-19

There are two discussion boards on LearnJCU. The main board is called “Candidature, pandemic and the whole damn thing”, and is available via the content menu in our LearnJCU Organisation. This forum is for sharing experiences as we all work our way through this challenging time. Please share your pandemic hacks, any great online courses you have found, ways to stay healthy and fit while self-isolating, any clever ideas you have about working as a PhD or Masters candidate that you think others would like to know. Some of our HDR Ambassadors will be leading the discussions, but we are keen for all HDRs to be involved. I will post anything interesting that I find too. We are all in this together, and learning about how to do this as it unfolds. This discussion board is not the place to ask questions about the administrative aspects of your candidature. If you have a question like that, please send it to the GRS team at grs@jcu.edu.au and they will be able to help you privately.

There is also a discussion board especially for new HDR candidates, titled “Induction Chat”. Please join this discussion board to interact with other new HDR candidates, share ideas and ask questions. How are you settling in? How are your advisory meetings going under the new conditions imposed by the pandemic? Do you have a question for one of our HDR Ambassadors, who are HDR candidates who assist incoming candidates to settle in? Again, this is not the place to ask questions about the administration of your candidature. If you have questions of that nature, please send them to the GRS team at grs@jcu.edu.au

There is a technology bursary as part of the JCU Success Support Package. See here for more information: https://www.jcu.edu.au/studentsuccess/finance. You may also be able to source some things from your College. Please contact your college academic services officer for more information. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/contacts

From JCU Careers and Employment:

Milestones

Wherever possible, you will be expected to undertake your milestone as this will help document your research progress to date, and it is important that your advisors are able to endorse your progress as satisfactory. You should speak to your advisory team about the best approach which may include a public seminar using ZoomSkype or phone. Contact the IT Helpdesk (ithelpdesk@jcu.edu.au) for technical support.  If you complete your next milestone later than the due date, the due date of your next milestone will be unchanged.  Your milestone is about your progress in candidature and should accommodate any adjustments made due to COVID-19.

The milestone timing for JCU HDRs does have inherent flexibility.  If you will be submitting a milestone up to 2 months later than scheduled, please advise the GRS by email and you record will be updated.  If the milestone will be submitted more than 2 months later than scheduled, please submit an extension using the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/forms-and-policies/hdr-variation-and-extension-of-candidature-procedure

You should discuss this scenario with your advisor and develop a project contingency plan or “Plan B”. Additionally you could discuss with your advisors, research activity that can be undertaken during this difficult time; for example, drafting or developing chapters or articles, furthering your literature review. If this is not possible, you may need to consider a break from your studies.  This should also be discussed with your advisors.

If it becomes apparent that there has been an impact on your progression due to COVID-19, please document this in your next Progress Report.  This can then be assessed if it becomes apparent that an extension to your candidature due date may be required, which should be done by using the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/forms-and-policies/hdr-variation-and-extension-of-candidature-procedure

Breaks, scholarships and progress

It is a personal decision to return home, however we ask that you please stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic as you make that decision.  Many states have various levels of border closures in place so it is recommended to check the travel restrictions of your home state as well as transit states.

If you make the decision to return home, please discuss with your advisors the possibility of continuing your work at home as this can be accommodated by JCU, and we want to support you in continuing your candidature. If you are unable to continue with your studies in your home state you may need to consider a break from your studies. You can apply for leave by using a Variation of Candidature form.  Please also refer to the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure.

Be mindful that your return to Queensland may be prevented for a period of time or require a period of self-quarantine.

Depending on how much time you need to dedicate to work you may wish to consider moving to a part time enrolment. If you feel the commitment will be too great you may need to consider a break from your studies.

As an HDR candidate on a JCU scholarship, you will still receive your regular payments provided you continue to work from home. If you are ill or not able to work, you may need to consider taking a break which may disrupt your scholarship payments. If your scholarship is funded by an external body or sponsor, please consult your terms and conditions or seek advice from the funding body.

If you are receiving a JCU scholarship you will have access of up to 10 days of sick leave each year, and up to 60 days additional sick leave throughout your candidature. You will need to apply for this using a Variation of Candidature Form. A medical certificate may be required. You can apply for leave by using a Variation of Candidature form. Please also refer to the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure.

There are options for annual leave and sick leave. These options do not affect your scholarship payments or candidature dates. There is also the option of taking a leave of absence. This option does extend your candidature by the amount of leave taken, but also suspends your scholarship if you have one. Please note you will retain access to university facilities such as email, library etc if you take any of these options for leave. You can apply for leave by using a Variation of Candidature form. Please also refer to the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure. If you are an international candidate we also recommend contacting the International Student Support team on internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au

Please discuss with your Primary Advisor and/or contact ethics@jcu.edu.au and the team will be able to provide advice.

You can help your advisors by keeping records on progress, prompting meetings, keeping contact and raising concerns in a timely way as necessary. Looking to other services as needed for support including the Library, eResearch Services and others may mean you can help with problem solving too.

No.  SSA Fees are still being used to support students and HDR candidates.  The JCU Student Association (which includes various types of student support for example advocates, career advisors) are largely funded by SSA fees.  The SSA fee is not only used for on-campus events and gatherings. Much of it is committed for student support staff salaries.

This is at the discretion of your college.  Most colleges have indicated this process is proceeding as usual.  Please contact your college academic services officer for more information. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/contacts

This should be discussed with your ADRE. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/contacts

That would be subject to the funding conditions and should be negotiated with the funding body.

Coursera has online data gathering courses that may be helpful.  You can join these courses for free at present.  Please contact elizabeth.tynan@jcu.edu.au for access.

The key things that will be needed to apply for a scholarship extension are that delays have been documented in your progress reports, and that the plan for the period of the extension will allow you to complete your thesis.  If you find yourself in the position of needing to apply for a scholarship extension, please contact your College Academic Services Officer or ADRE https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/contacts

JCU Doctorate/Masters Candidates are given a candidature of 4/2 years full time equivalent which are the maximum allowable amounts designated by the Federal Government.  Extension beyond this time will need to be applied for using the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure.  https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/forms-and-policies/hdr-variation-and-extension-of-candidature-procedure

Please refer to your scholarship conditions for the details of your paid leave options. If you have paid leave available, it will need to be applied for using the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/forms-and-policies/hdr-variation-and-extension-of-candidature-procedure

Please work closely with your advisory panel when contingency planning.  Contingency planning is inherent to a good project plan and you may have a contingency plan already. The first goal for any project should be to adjust the plan to enable completion within the originally planned time frame, this may involve for example, re-scoping or a shift in direction; for  most candidates this will be 3.5 years with a maximum candidature of 4 years.

The documentation of research delays, be they personal or otherwise, is essential for making a case for an extension.  It is a requirement, however please do be assured that the information will remain confidential, not going beyond the signatories on the extension application form, and associated administrative staff.

The approach to this should be two-fold.  Firstly, financial support may be sought from your College via your Advisory Panel or ADRE. Secondly, a project contingency plan should be developed in collaboration with your advisory panel, in preparation for potentially not being able to complete the fieldwork in the remaining time of candidature.

Known candidates in this situation are being managed.  If you are concerned about anyone in particular, please advise grs@jcu.edu.au

This has been raised by Universities with the Department of Education and a response is pending.  We will advise you of the response once it is available.

Yes.  JCU has launched an assistance package entitled the Student Success Support Package.  Please see here for more information: https://www.jcu.edu.au/studentsuccess

No. This is not within the expenditure guidelines for research accounts, which are intended for use for research related expenses.

International HDR students

It is a personal decision to return home, however we ask that you please stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic as you make that decision.  Many countries have various levels of border closures in place so it is recommended to check the travel restrictions of your home country as well as transit countries.

If you make the decision to return home, please discuss with your advisors the possibility of continuing your work at home as this can be accommodated by JCU, and we want to support you in continuing your candidature. If you are unable to continue with your studies in your home country you may need to consider a break from your studies. You can apply for leave by using a Variation of Candidature form.  Please also refer to the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure.

Be mindful that your return to Australia/Queensland may be prevented for a period of time or require a period of self-quarantine.

Further support and information can be obtained from internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au

There are options for annual leave and sick leave.  These options do not affect your scholarship payments or candidature dates.  There is also the option of taking a leave of absence.  This option does extend your candidature by the amount of leave taken, but also suspends your scholarship if you have one.  Please note you will retain access to university facilities such as email, library etc if you take any of these options for leave.  You can apply for leave by using a Variation of Candidature form.  Please also refer to the HDR Variation of Candidature Procedure.  If you are an international candidate we also recommend contacting the International Student Support team on internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au

Option 1: Deferral of Start Date To do this, please work with your primary advisor to arrive at an agreed revised start date.  Once a date has been agreed, please inform the GRS who will arrange a new offer if required.  Please Note:

  • If you have been offered a JCUPRS or IRTPS scholarship, your latest nominated start date must be 31 July 2020 to guarantee that you will be able to start your scholarship.
  • If you are not commencing with a scholarship, your start date can be deferred indefinitely, however we suggest 31 July 2020 initially.

Option 2: Commence from Overseas If you are able to commence your project externally, you may enrol before you arrive in Australia, with the expectation that you will then come to Australia to continue your research course when it is possible to do so.  Specific requirements for this option are:

  • Your primary advisor must agree that you are able to commence your research externally
  • You must have already had your student visa issued and be able to come to Australia when possible to do so
  • If you have living allowance stipend scholarship to be paid by JCU, this can commence from abroad. You must have an Australian bank account.  See: https://www.commbank.com.au/moving-to-australia/study-in-australia.html

Please be aware that fee exemptions may be available and this is conducted at the College level.  Please contact your college academic services officer for more information. https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/contacts

No.  Once your candidature is extended by JCU you will receive a revised Confirmation of Enrolment which should be used to support a visa extension if required. Please contact internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au for further support.

Yes.  International students can take a Leave of Absence from their studies in ‘compassionate or compelling circumstances’. We decide if your circumstances are compassionate or compelling based on the information you provide in your Variation of Candidature form.  When you are on leave, your current Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is cancelled, and we issue you a new CoE for the remainder of your studies. In general you are able to remain in Australia during this time, and as your course is considered 'out of session', you are able to do paid work while you are on leave.

Industry-aligned projects, conferences, examination outcomes and external sites

We recommend your advisors communicate with research partners regularly to highlight current circumstances and any impact occurring to the timing of the delivery of project key deliverables due to COVID-19 working arrangements.

Advisors should discuss with partners any revised research plans and to keep email records on agreements to vary these plans. If they have concerns about delivery against contractual deliverables or believe that you may not be able to continue with a project, it is advisable to work with your advisor/s and discuss in the first instance.

We are monitoring all examinations closely, as is standard procedure, and will continue to make all reasonable efforts to facilitate timeline outcomes and address any undue delays.

If you are unable to present a paper at a conference as planned, there are other ways that your advisors are able to endorse your progress as satisfactory at the Mid-candidature Review point. One option might be to present a seminar to your advisory panel. Please discuss with your advisory panel what would be most appropriate in your case. (For DTHM Cohort Doctoral Studies candidates, you are able to include a Cohort Conference presentation as a public presentation of your work for the mid-candidature review milestone if an external conference that you were intending to present at has now been cancelled.)

Contact the AIMS@JCU office (aims@jcu.edu.au) for advice.  AIMS has already partially closed down to reduce numbers on site and assist in maintaining social distancing, and restrictions on attendance at AIMS are likely to increase. However, AIMS has also established very strict exclusions and arrangements for those that need to attend the AIMS site by exception. AIMS@JCU is able to assist but you must contact aims@jcu.edu.au with your plans.

You should talk to your advisors about the needs of your project and opportunities for work you can do remotely or from home.