Higher degree by research students (HDR) checklist

Congratulations on your candidature as a higher degree by research (HDR) student, and welcome to ANU! Starting a research degree can be a confusing time, especially if you are new to ANU. This checklist is designed to help you navigate the first six months of your research degree.

Before you arrive

Sign up for the next week-long induction event for new HDR candidates run by ANU Researcher Development. All new HDR candidates are expected to attend.

Email researcherdevelopment@anu.edu.au for more information on this event. 

Your first two weeks

  • Get in touch with your local HDR Administrator by sending them an email or visiting your relevant student office. Your HDR Administrator can help you find your desk, connect to internet and printing networks, and guide you through any necessary paperwork.
  • Get in touch with your HDR Convenor. This will be a member of the academic staff in your school who convenes your HDR cohort. Ask them if there are any upcoming induction events for new students in your college.
  • Pay your services and amenities fee
  • Visit Student Central during opening hours with a form of government ID (driver’s licence, passport) to get a student card.
  • Read the latest HDR Update newsletter. This newsletter advertises all kinds of opportunities and communities at ANU.
  • Find and bookmark your college's policies and guidelines page. You don't need to know all the rules, but it is important to know where to find them when you need them.
  • Arrange an informal meeting or coffee with your supervisor. Your first meeting can just be a casual conversation, but you should also try to schedule another meeting to establish your expectations of each other in the supervision relationship.
  • If you have a disability, medical condition or will be a recognised primary carer during your time at ANU, you can visit Access & Inclusion to discuss the support you can receive during your studies. This is a free and confidential service.

Your first three months

  • Complete the Research Integrity Training course. This online module is compulsory for every ANU HDR student.
  • Familiarise yourself with research ethics requirements and discuss with your supervisor any ethics approval that you may need.
  • If your research includes statistics, experimental design data management or statistical modelling, discuss with your supervisor whether you should book in for free consultation with the Statistical Consulting Unit.
  • Meet with your supervisor to discuss the finalisation of your supervisory panel.
  • Complete your first annual plan. You should do this in discussion with your supervisory panel. This is a really useful way to plan your research activities for the coming year.
  • Check with your HDR Convenor if there is any compulsory coursework you must complete as part of your degree.
  • Have a look at all the other research training opportunities available throughout ANU and start to identify what might be relevant to you. The ANU Researcher Development Team send out useful links regularly through HRD Update newsletter.
  • Familiarise yourself with the milestone reporting that you will be asked to do throughout your degree. Many aspects of research degree administration vary between colleges, but progress reports are submitted online via ISIS, so log in and have a look around.
  • Familiarise yourself with the ANU Library online and take advantage of their training and resources.

Your first six months

  • Meet all your panel members individually to discuss their roles in your research project.
  • Get involved in ANU events, communities and clubs. Research clearly shows that students with good social connections are more likely to successfully complete their degree, so taking some time to go to talks, seminars and social gatherings in your School is essential in becoming part of your intellectual community.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Research Awards Rule and HDR policies. These are the legislation and policies, procedures and guidelines that govern all higher degree by research programs at ANU. Knowing exactly what is expected of you as a candidate, and what you can expect from ANU is essential in setting yourself up for a successful candidature. 

What to do if things go wrong

Higher degree by research can be a challenging time for a lot of students. There are lots of places you can go for help if things go wrong. Your supervisor should be your first point of call, or you can contact your HDR Convenor or HDR Administrator for general advice. ANU also offers a range of support services to help you stay on track:

  • The Dean of Students can provide confidential advice if you have a concern related to supervision.
  • The University Counselling Centre are highly experienced at working with HDR candidates. They offer private sessions and workshops to help you deal with a range of issues mental health issues including stress, confidence issues, balancing family and work commitments, adjusting to living in a new location, motivation issues, and relationship advice.
  • As an ANU student you also have access to a range of programs and services that aim to help you maintain your health and wellbeing
  • The Graduate Research Office (GRO) is the central HDR Student Administration Office for ANU and can provide advice and assistance if you are experiencing issues to do with your candidature. 

Quick guide to administering your degree

Understanding the administrative aspects of your candidature will help you effectively manage your program. Take some time to familiarise yourself with key elements of your candidature:

You can find more information on ANU administrative processes under the Program Management page.