Welcome! I’m glad you found the Thesis Whisperer. I’m here to help all researchers, but particularly PhD students. To get regular posts by email, click the ‘sign me up! button on the right side bar – or find @thesiswhisperer on Facebook or Twitter.

The Thesis Whisperer blog is dedicated to the topic of doing a PhD and completing a dissertation. It is managed and edited by Associate Professor Inger Mewburn, Director of Researcher Development at the Australian National University. You can contact me via the email listed on my ANU page here, but please understand I may not respond immediately – or at all – as I receive high volumes of mail.

This blog is 10 years old. It has well over half a million words of content and more than 100,000 followers over 4 social media channels. The blog has been visited over 9 million times over the last decade and people have left well over 16 thousand comments. The blog has a truly global reach, with readers located all over the world.

Please feel free to explore using the search box. I’ve tried to make it easier for you by curating the most popular posts on the Browse page and have compiled blog content into several books which are available through regular channels like Amazon and Book Depository (just google my name there).

This blog is maintained with my own time and money and is run on a ‘not for loss’ model. If you love the Thesis Whisperer and want to help me continue, there are a number of ways you can support my work: read more here.

Find out about Whisperfest 2020

Who is the Thesis Whisperer?

My name is Dr Inger Mewburn. I was born on Nuenonne country, which is now known as Tasmania, Australia (always was, always will be, Aboriginal land). I have a background as a designer and a researcher, which was nurtured at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University.

Since 2006 I have worked exclusively with PhD students and early career academics. I help people finish complex research projects with (sometimes very) demanding stakeholders. I’m passionate about helping people reach their potential as researchers and helping to create a kinder, more inclusive academy. I strive to create spaces where people can do their best work and advance human knowledge for the good of all.

I am currently the Director of Researcher Development at The Australian National University where I run and curate professional development workshops and programs for all ANU researchers. Aside from creating the Thesis Whisperer, I write scholarly papers, books and book chapters about research student experiences, with a special interest in post PhD employability.

I am a regular guest speaker at other universities and do media interviews on request. I am available for keynotes and interviews: please email me on inger.mewburn@anu.edu.au. I do workshops on post PhD employability, publishing, writing, social media, communication and academic survival skills at other universities, for a fee. If you are interested in having me visit your university, see the Workshops page. I am the co-creator of an app to help PhD graduates find non academic jobs. You can find out more about this work on the PostAc page.

I supervise a small number of PhD and Masters students. I am interested in working with people who want to research graduate student issues, especially employability and social scientists wanting to explore machine learning methods in the social sciences (please read the ANU prospective student page before contacting me about study options).

For further information on my work, a selection from my resume is below. You can view my Linkedin profile, my Amazon author page, or contact me by email via the online form above. For more details on my scholarly work please visit my Google Scholar page or my OrcidID. If you need a high res photo of me, you can download from a collection here. A curated selection of my academic CV appears below.

I no longer publish guest posts

For nearly a decade, from mid 2010, The Thesis Whisperer was run on a community content model with weekly posts by me, interspersed with posts by current PhD students and others. I no longer publish guest posts. For more information, please read this post.

The fine print

I am an active researcher and will potentially use comments you post as part of my work. I do not do paid endorsements on this site, so please don’t write to me with requests to advertise here or supply guest posts about your products. I do accept books to review; you can email me about your book using the form above.

I have a strong ethical objection to ‘write your dissertation’ service providers and will not support their work in any way. I have an open moderation model, which means I allow all comments to appear and edit out inappropriate ones. If you encounter any material offering to write your thesis in the comments, know that I am behind on my pruning and I do not recommend you ever use these services.

I am an Amazon affiliate, but I only recommend products and people that I think are awesome. Please read the moderation policy page for more information and my recommendations page for book and software recommendations. Visit the resources page for my recommendations on quality, ethical support services like editors and coaches.

You are free to reproduce any posts from the Whisperer through the Creative Commons “Attribution-non commercial-sharealike” license. For commercial re-use of my content, you must contact me directly. Photos on this site are either owned by me, given with consent, copyright free and/or sourced from Morguefile or Unsplash.

Inger’s CV


  • Constructing Bodies: gesture speech and representation at work in Architecture classrooms, Ph.D, University of Melbourne, (2009). Winner of the John Grice award for best thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
  • “Digital architectures and the presence of the virtual”, MPhil RMIT University, (2005).
  • Post-graduate certificate in Spatial Information Architecture, RMIT University (2001).
  • Certificate IV in training and assessment, RMIT University (1999).
  • Bachelor of Architecture (with Honours), RMIT University (Awarded 1997).

Awards, grants and prizes

  • Special commendation for leadership, Australian Council of Graduate Research, 2020.
  • Admitted as Vitae Senior Research Developer Fellow, 2019
  • Vice Chancellor’s award for innovation and excellence in service, November 2017.
  • CSIRO ‘On Prime’ commercialisation program prize, 2017 and 2018
  • Leader: $150 in Discovery Translation Funds from Canberra Innovation Network, 2017 – 2020 to develop PostAc
  • Leader: Department of Industry research grant to investigate the application of machine learning to explore PhD employability and the ‘hidden job market’ for graduates, 2015 – 2016. $80,000
  • Leader: ARUP engineering research grant to explore the integration of digital badges in engineering contexts, 2014 ($6000)
  • Leader: Office of Learning and Teaching seed grant to explore the use of digital badge technology in doctoral pedagogy, 2014 ($40,000)
  • Best concise paper, “Badge trouble: implementing digital badges at the Australian National University, ASCILITE conference, Wellington, 2014.
  • Leader: ANU gender institute grant to explore PhD student attrition, 2013 ($1500)
  • John Grice award for best thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, 2009. ($3000)
  • Best paper award, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, 2008 ($3000)
  • Melbourne research scholarship, University of Melbourne, 2006-2008. ($24,000 PA)
  • Creative research industries CRC award for creative explorations, 2003. ($3000)


Book Chapters

Journal papers

Commissioned reports

Peer reviewed conference papers

Selected expert Commentary


112 thoughts on “About

    • ingermewburn says:

      We should talk! Sounds like your research would be very interesting.
      I am lucky enough to be an academic in a primarily administrative unit (School of Graduate Research). My teaching load is light so I can concentrate on doing research aimed at improving the experience of PhD and masters students. So far I have not met anyone else, other than my colleague Dr Barnacle, who has a full time role like this.

  1. Elena Golovushkina says:

    That’s a great job to have! I hope my research topic will be useful, and will help to shape policy and practice in the UK doctoral education (let’s be ambitious:). I have found several PhDs doing research on researchers. Maybe we should organise a doctoral sonsortium on this:)

      • Dina says:

        There are some interesting clnoisg dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There may be some validity however I’ll take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

  2. adiemusfree says:

    I’ve just found your blog, love it & wish I’d known about it earlier. I’m working on a PhD about my favourite topic: Pain! I also blog regularly at http://healthskills.wordpress.com – on the topic: Pain! Actually, self management of chronic pain, and I write for health professionals working with people who have chronic pain. My research uses grounded theory to explain how people with chronic pain who live well in the community manage to do so without needing to see people like me.

  3. Liz Tynan says:

    So good to make contact with you Inger, and to discover the rich resource that is The Thesis Whisperer. I look forward to many future interactions.
    Liz Tynan, JCU Graduate Research School, Townsville

  4. Carly Tetley says:

    I’m so glad to have found you near the start of my PhD! Even though we seem to be in vastly different fields (I’m researching the social behaviour and personality of captive cheetahs), I have found your posts both useful and interesting and I’m sure they will come in very handy when I’m writing my thesis and other papers. I also have a blog at http://virtual-doc.salford.ac.uk/cheetahphd.

    Looking forward to future posts!

  5. Lisa McLean says:

    Grouse blog… I’m about to link to the blog to all our Fac Ed PhD students via my fortnightly Graduate Studies Bulletin – so expect more traffic. Great to meet you last week – look forward to more of your awesomeness.

  6. Karen Kelsky says:

    Dear Inger,

    hello! I just found your site through Twitter, and it’s really great.

    I am a former tenured prof and department head, based in the U.S., and I have launched a new site and blog, “The Professor Is In.,” to provide what I call “BS-free advising for grad school, the job market, and tenure.”

    It’s at: http://www.theprofessorisin.com.

    I am wondering if you’d be kind enough to visit my site and consider listing it among the illustrious company of excellent blogs on your blogroll? I’d like to be in touch about contributing as well! Thanks for your excellent work!

    Karen Kelsky, Ph.D.

  7. Hilra says:

    Hi Inger,
    I found your blog yesterday during my web ramblings. What a wonderful site. As someone said in a comment earlier, I wish I had found this blog a few months ago when I was stuck with my thesis. But even having now completed it, it is rewarding reading this blog. I already mentioned it in a post on my blog, but I will also personally recommend it to friends. I could probably give a modest contribution too at some point. Carry on this awesome work. All the best, Hilra

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  9. Ed Bernacki Idea Factory says:

    This is a great idea. I am a ‘mature’ PhD candidate (over 50) who has a great deal of expertise in my field. I have only started the literature review and it is already making me crazy…. I only know some theory but know it extremely well. I am finding errors or misunderstandings in papers, excessive jargon and cliches in many papers, and a big gap between what I read and current practice. Am I alone in finding this?
    As such, I look forward to reading this blog in the future.

  10. jessplainsong says:

    My sister who has just commenced her PhD studies was alerted to this blog. I, who have been studying for my PhD for 2 and a half years, had never heard of it! Great to find it, and perhaps add my voice to the sidebar: Jessplainsong’s Research Blog http://jessplainsong.wordpress.com. Always a great read, adding to my procrastination moments!

  11. Larkin Callaghan says:

    I am a docoral student working on my dissertation and often blog about my topics (disordered eating, risky sexual activity and substance use, and adoelscent developmnet) on my site! I am adding this helpful site to my blogroll, and hope you might consider posting mine!

  12. Jasmine says:

    I have only just discovered this recently on Google Search. This has been an interesting read, that I come back to from time to time. I’m at the end of my 2nd year of my PhD, and do write from time to time at: http://www.jasminezheng.com . Would be good to be added to the community of PhD students from everywhere.

  13. joblannin says:

    HI I’m just beginning my Doctorate of Education. Im planning on working on it part time over 6 years -which makes things a bit tricky! I’d love to join and interact with the community here as I’m finding it hard to know where to start! Any advice or posts that might be useful to me would be gratefully accepted !

    PS I’m a Melbournite too :0)

  14. em409 says:

    A quick comment to say thanks for being a great read in 2011! I sometimes write about the PhD life on my blog and so it’s always useful to find similarily-themed blogs for inspiration and interesting thoughts. I’ve just updated my links page as a “thank you” to all the blogs that have inspired me this year – one of the best things about blogging i find lots of other fun blogs – and I included your site. Looking forwards to more interesting posts in 2012. Happy New Year!

  15. tezenzi says:

    hello dr. mewburn,

    Thank you so much for your website. I met it through your twitter. I am from Turkey and doing Phd in the UK. After I met your website, I looked for blogs and websites on PhD, just like yours, in Turkish, for those who are not good at reading and understanding in English very well. I found yours very helpful, but I couldn’t find any website like yours in Turkish. So, I decided to write a blog on which I share my experiences and ideas on Phd. Well, I haven’t finished my PhD yet, so I can only talk about the PhD process and some helpful tips. Thank you for the inspiration! My blog is http://tezenzi.wordpress.com/

  16. adun okupe says:

    Hello, my blog is http://www.adunokupe.blogspot.com
    I’ll love to write too, you can have a view of my blog to see my style – although I write on a wide variety of topics.

    My phd is on Leadership within the Tourism Industry.

    Came across your blog via twitter’s #phd chat field and it’s very useful!
    Thank you for being encouraging.

  17. Elly Kent says:

    Hi Inger,
    I attended your seminar at ANU this morning and was reassured and inspired. Thanks! I’m in my first year of PhD across visual arts and Indonesian studies, whilst also looking after my 3 kids under 6. Preschool hours and after bedtime are my workings hours and, in between paraysing bouts of self doubt, I’ve been telling myself this would be enough so long as I am efficient. Now I am armed with your practical tool box, your own example, and encouraging stats about productivity of PhD students, I feel bolstered again. I can do this!
    Oh, and I also have a blog (this was a strategy do keep writing!) http://www.ellydotkent.blogspot.com
    Thank you!

  18. gamesfemme says:

    I am glad to have found this blog. I am currently entering the fifth year of a History PhD at a Canadian university. Your blog is very informative and encouraging– I will definitely continue to check it out as I work towards that final dissertation ‘push.’

  19. gamanrad says:

    Hello Inger!
    I’d like to add my vote of thanks to those expressed above, and wonder if you could add my blog (which is still in its infancy so treat it gently, please!) to the list. My thesis has morphed into an attempt to show how respect and self-respect, two sides of the same coin, are human survival tools: we need to develop them! My blog’s at http://www.gamanrad.wordpress.com – thanks again. Best, Lucy

  20. thisisdarren says:

    This is me reminding you (kindly!) to add my blog to your list. Thanks for this amazing site and for your work!

  21. Joseph F Pendon says:

    A truly inspirational presentation and masterclass at our Research Week at Sydney Nursing School of The University of Sydney. Thank you!

  22. Tia says:

    Dear Ingrid et al,
    Wondering if anyone has any suggestions, or if other students have been in similar straits in AU, and how they proceeded….and what leverage (if any) a PhD student has in situations like this?
    I am hoping that people have some suggestions for me. I am one year into my PhD (part time enrolled) and have made excellent progress on my project (yes I have that in writing from sups….) and preparing for an early confirmation. Just when I tried to access funding, I was informed that my school had “no money”. When I say no money, I mean zilch nada and I am expected to fund my project expenses! My project involves travel and data collection abroad and although I don’t have a budget yet….I imagine it would be in the realm of 10-15 K…..
    I am in the process of taking this up the chain but I am quite upset. I am at an Australian university as a domestic student. I prepared a short project proposal 6 mos into my candidature which was approved by my sups…and now my school is claiming they have no money. It seems like the admin is trying to lay the blame on my sups (who are excellent)…I don’t know what went wrong with funding….my sups say they didn’t know they were supposed to pay for my project, the admin say that they were, etc, it is clearly indicated on the university website that direct research costs (including travel!) are paid by the school….my guess is that this is not my sups fault although they seem to be getting blamed for taking me on….Anyway, as I await for a verdict with the office of research on what can be done….I am obviously concerned. I am not sure what bargaining chips I have. This university is highly ranked for research, one of the top in the world…..and they clearly (in writing) inform students that the enrolling school pays for the direct research costs. (except apparently for me)…..Anyone know what kind of bargaining chips I have? Oh, there was a suggestion for “changing my project” to something more local but I have been working on this now for over 1 year….and I chose this project …t..to start all over on something that may cost less and delay my phD for another year does not seem fair….Suggestions Please!!!!!!!!!!!!! My project is in the Social Sciences.
    I should also say that I believe there has been some loses of funding etc in the past year from one of their streams but I was never informed this would affect my project funding. My project is something that I designed so there is no grants or anything else associated with it, nor any other students or researchers working on it other than me….

    Thank you!

    • Thesis Whisperer says:

      While I agree with M-H, it’s unusual for a university to promise to cover all costs unless a project is externally funded. Usually the uni defines ‘costs’ as office space, computer, Internet access, library and supervision. Read the fine print of the uni policy carefully and, if they do make more promises than this, by all means hold their feet to the fire. Your student organisation will have professional advocates who can help you with this. Good luck!

      • Tia says:

        Thanks Inger. Well this is what it says on their website
        Research Costs

        The School/Institute you enrol through at XUni is responsible for meeting all ‘direct research costs’ that are necessary to undertake your RHD project. This includes:

        access to resources or facilities at XUni or other organisations in Australia or overseas;
        travel to complete fieldwork, collect data, or to visit libraries or other repositories;
        training in techniques; and
        necessary coursework undertaken outside the School/Institute.

        Funding may be available for supplementary research that is not essential to your project but will enhance your research experience at XUni

        ….and the graduate school has confirmed this to me verbally that the enrolling school is responsible for covering my direct research costs and that “if they didn’t have the money for funding they shouldn’t have taken you on as a student”. That leaves me in a PhD no mans land as I wait for them to figure out what to do next…..

        Do you think this is enough to hold their feet to the fire?

        Also, if I fail my confirmation due to lack of funding (or asked to leave for the same reason), won’t that affect my ability to seek a phD elsewhere in terms of tuition costs as a domestic student? Arrrrgh!

  23. alienorajt says:

    I love the idea of this blogsite; I think it is brilliant! If only blogs had been around when I was thinking of doing a thesis many many years ago! I am mainly a creative writer, though I do write book and play reviews. I would love to contribute something, but am not sure my stuff would be acceptable. Power to your collective pens! Alienora

  24. Kate Paine says:

    Dear Thesis Whisperer,

    Thanks so much for writing this blog! I’m an Australian living in Switzerland with my partner and young daughter and I’ve just started a Creative writing Phd at Deakin University (by way of an historical novel and exegesis). I’m going to be an extremely off-campus student.

    Living in a non-English speaking country as I do, it’s very difficult to find a network for both the creative writing, the research and the whole thesis writing thing. With this in mind I’m searching for online lifelines, and I think your site fits the bill very nicely.

  25. Andrea says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day.

    It will always be helpful to read articles from other
    authors and use a little something from other websites.

  26. Afolly Peperempe says:


    I have just recently come across this website. Its amazing! I am a current PhD student researching into financial regulation and stability. I have started a blog – afollypeprempe.wordpress.com

  27. Sophyta Sengsuwan says:

    Hi Dr Inger.
    I’m glad that I found your blog. I’m a second-year PhD student from Malaysia, doing research on authentic learning strategies and writing. I’ve added a link to your blog on mine. I like all your postings. Thanks.


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  29. Fiona says:

    I am phd in ANU, and currently I am looking for a place to upload my academic research data online so it would be the support material in my exegesis. The data are all in 70 pdfs, and I try to upload several on academia.com, but it will give each pdf a page, which is not quite what I want. I hope each pdf could have URL, and also all of them could show on the same page as well. Would you have any suggestions?

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  32. billrichards2013 says:

    I have been getting your posts since 2013 when I commenced my part-time PhD. Unfortunately, due to heavy work commitments, I had to withdraw in 2015. I am in the process of trying to restart my PhD at a different university and I am currently writing a proposal to restart my PhD. Being a mature student (65 plus) I am very keen to finish what I started, sooner than later!
    I have found your posts to be very informative and enlightening.
    My research topic is ‘a study of the psychological and psychosocial challenges elite athletes face in their transition to life after sport in 2019-2020 and how can elite athletes be better prepared for this transition’. I have a passion for this as I have experienced a number of transitions from elite sport to and from the military to business.

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