Some writing projects just take a long time. In academia this is always true, but this particular project had a more painful birthing process than most…

Nearly two years ago now, Chris McMaster approached me to help him get together a book on post graduate study in Australia, written by students themselves. The book was part of a planned series that would cover different countries in the world. I thought this was a great idea and was happy to support it. However, we made a big mistake at the start of the process by not securing a publishing contract before putting out a call for contributions on the Whisperer in August 2014.

Of course, the publisher we thought would be interested in it passed on the project. Undaunted, we approached another publisher… and another… and another… Sadly, it turned out that no Australian education publisher was interested in supporting students in their own country. This lack of interest continues to be a mystery to me and, for quite some time, was a problem that seemed almost insurmountable. If an Australian publisher wouldn’t pick up a book about Studying in Australia, how on earth were we going to get this project in print?

We fretted that the wonderful chapters people had written for us might stay undiscovered unless we published it ourselves – an option we seriously considered, but ultimately rejected on the grounds that the authors should get an output that ‘counted’ in exchange for their free labour (the performance metrics of academia oppress us all). Finally Peter Lang, a publisher in Europe, was willing to take a chance that Australian publishers would not. I sincerely thank them for their foresight and confidence – and to Pat Thomson of Patter Blog for writing the forward.

The credit for securing this deal really should go to Chris, who just never gave up on the project. His energy, persistence and diligence really was remarkable. I want to publicly thank him for all the hard work he put in to make this book happen, not only in Australia, but other countries too. I think the finished product looks great, but let me hand over to Chris to tell you all about it 🙂

Slightly over two years ago we asked popular blogs and postgraduate associations from around Australia to circulate a call for abstracts for a book by and for postgraduate students. We asked contributors to this book, an edited volume, the question: If you could go back in time to when you started your studies, what advice would you give yourself?

The response was staggering. Submissions were received from all over the country, and after an exhausting search for the right publisher, Peter Lang, quickly signed it on. The end result was a collection of 26 chapters full of pertinent and useful advice to those currently studying, as well as those thinking of embarking on the postgraduate path. It is titled, Postgraduate Study in the Australia: Surviving and Succeeding, and is now happily in print, and is destined to become a classic!

This book is the jewel in the crown of an international series that includes similar efforts from students or recent graduates in New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom (links to how to purchase those books are below). The concept is simple and needed: Postgraduate students writing for postgraduate students. After the publication of the New Zealand edition in late 2014, the editors were soon asked by students in other countries, “Hey, can we have one too?”

Each edition in the Survive and Succeed series reflects the specific concerns or issues of that place. The books are not tomes of advice by the learned professor, but rather, students “doin’ it for themselves”, as the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin sang in the mid-1980s.

This book is a survival guide to help Australian postgraduate students at each stage of their studies. As editors we gave each contributor a simple task: “If you could go back in time to when you started your graduate studies, what would you tell your younger, less experienced self? What advice could you give to prospective or current postgraduate students now, with the wisdom of your hindsight?”

Each chapter is written in an accessible manner, developing a relationship between writer and reader. Not personal anecdote and smug survival story, but something each reader can take away and be stronger and more successful in their own studies.

Postgraduate study in Australia is divided into five parts, each covering key elements for surviving and succeeding in postgraduate study. The first part concentrates on succeeding as an academic and includes writing, editing, and publishing, as well as the responsibility of being an academic. The second part examines the nature of postgraduate study and covers essentials such as the changing role of the researcher. The third part honours our multicultural landscape through reflecting indigenous voice. Part Four focuses on maintaining health, well-being, and balance when working for long, concentrated periods of study, including chapters on the long-neglected issue of study and disability and mental health. The final section is about studying from and in another culture, whether that be an Aussie abroad, or a student new to Australia

Postgraduate Study in the Australia can be read cover to cover, or it can be treated like a guide book to a city you have not visited before, where you dip in and out of sections or chapters that are especially pertinent to you at the time. The point of the book is to show what is on offer, what may be expected, how to prepare for the unexpected, and how to make your travels through postgraduate study in Australia a rewarding experience.

Postgraduate Study in the Australia: Surviving and Succeeding is available through most online book sellers, such as Amazon, and from the publisher.

Not in Australia? Not to worry! Follow the links below to an edition from your country:

New Zealand
United States
South Africa
United Kingdom

Scandinavia will be out later this year. For more information email the editors:

Thanks again to all our student authors and I hope, if you buy the book, you find it useful and enjoyable. Any of these will be a great book to give to someone who is considering their study options. Big shout out to Chris, Ben and Cat – it’s been great working with you all!

If you are interested, here is the chapter list:

Part 1: Postgrads at Work

Chapter 1       Red Pen Blues: Dealing with Rejection and Critical Feedback
Clare Rhoden

Chapter 2       An Academic Apprenticeship: Publishing during Doctoral Candidature
Courtenay Atwell and Jenny Buchan

Chapter 3       A Word to the Wise about Creating a Thesis Including Publications
Lara Corr

Chapter 4       Three-minute Thesis Competition: Ready, Set, Go!
Haiyan Liang

Chapter 5       You Do Not Have to Be the Next Great Australian Writer: Battling the Creative Thesis
Alexia Champion

Chapter 6       Teaching as a Strategic Choice
Federico Davila and Walter Reinhardt

Chapter 7      Playing, Moving and Shifting: Finding Your Academic Voice
Sharon McDonough


Part 2: Learning Important Lessons

Chapter 8       From Wagyu Steak to 2-Minute Noodles: Surviving the Financial Downturn of a PhD
Peiyi Wang

Chapter 9       Who Am I? Surviving the Battle of the Roles
Bessie Stone

Chapter 10     Parenting through a PhD
Quinn Eades

Chapter 11     How to Become a Researcher: Developmental Opportunities on Campus and Beyond
Lilia Mantai

Chapter 12     Surviving Your Supervisors: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Thesis
Eliza Howard

Chapter 13     Stereotypes and Self-Belief: The Perpetual Student and the ‘False Finish’ Dilemma
Benjamin Hayward

Chapter 14     Where Did It All Go Wrong? Ethical Dilemmas of a Murdered Research Participant
Anne Ferguson


Part 3: Grounded in Oz: Honouring Indigeneity


Chapter 15     Our Mob Are Researchers Too! The Story of an Aboriginal Researcher Seeking New Paradigms
Marnee Shay

Chapter 16     Die, Brain Demons, Die! The Internal Monologue of an Aboriginal Researcher
Melitta Hogarth

Chapter 17     Learning to Become a Storyteller: Breaking the Cycle of Academic Colonialism
Rebecca H. Bilous


Part 4: Supporting Student Needs and Student Aspirations


Chapter 18     Validating your Access Card: How to Strive Beyond Equality to Equity (or Something Close Enough)
Gabrielle Hodge

Chapter 19     Treading the Tricky Terrain of Disclosure
Georgia Geller

Chapter 20     What Limits Should Not Define: Achieving in Postgraduate Study with a Disability or Impairment
Brian R. Basham

Chapter 21     An Entrepreneurial Roadmap to Managing Postgraduate Stress
Bronwyn Elizabeth Eager

Chapter 22     It’s Your Body: Maintaining Chronic Wellness During a Doctorate
Katie Buckley


Part 5: Backpacks and Books


Chapter 23     Where’s My Comfort Zone? Reflections of Two Aussie Researchers Abroad
Kate Neely and Ben Whitburn

Chapter 24     Fieldwork in Far-flung Places
Nicole Dicker

Chapter 25     Dancing the Postgrad Tango: Flourishing in the Online University Environment
Carolyn Leslie

Chapter 26     It Should Not Be a Lonely Journey: Being an International Student in Australia
Khoi Ngoc Mai