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“I genuinely feel more motivated…”: Thesis Fest for HDR students is a huge success

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The feedback is in – Curtin University Library’s flagship Thesis Fest event supporting HDR students helped students feel more connected, motivated and engaged to complete their PhD studies.  

Thesis Fest is a two day annual event hosted by Curtin University Library and supported by Curtin’s Graduate School of Research, offering a range of tailored presentations, workshops and networking opportunities to help Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students engage with their research and support their wellbeing. Now in its third year, it was the first event to be held in the refurbished TL Robertson Library event space (‘The Lantern’) and was opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne.

The Library welcomed over 100 HDR students both online and in-person. Attendees enjoyed free Curtin Student Guild cafe vouchers, door prizes, fabulous lunches and the opportunity to make new connections as they heard from local, national and international experts in academia and wellbeing.

Presentations this year covered how to write well and be well during your PhD, how to find meaning in your PhD, how to ask for and respond to feedback, how to get the best from your supervisor relationship, how to manage the middle part of your PhD, and how the Library can unlock your research potential. Participants also enjoyed two panel discussions; ‘Ask the professor Anything’ and ‘Stories from the Valley of Despair and how to get out of it’.

The Lantern was buzzing with new connections being made, stories being shared and future collaborations being discussed. There was a great level of energy and enthusiasm in the room with students sharing their own personal stories and the honesty of not only successes, but challenges faced, which came as a relief to many that they are not alone in their own experiences.

Feedback highlighted an increase in student motivation due to attending Thesis Fest and indicated that students now feel significantly re-motivated, re-energised, re-engaged and that they no longer feel alone on their HDR journey:

“I walked away from Thesis Fest not feeling alone, feeling as though everyone else is feeling and experiencing similar things as myself. The stories and tips from the day was exactly what I needed to hear. The experience and learnings were tenfold on what I was expecting”.

Thesis Fest was great because the issues that were discussed put into words and justified the struggles that I am feeling. It was great to know that there are others going through the same situation”.

The overall positive atmosphere was really refreshing. I genuinely feel more motivated to push on with my project after today…”

The variety of presentation topics that were relevant to all stages of the PhD, not just for those finishing. Practical advice paired with actual exploration of the meaning for our PhD”.

There are many challenges that HDR students face and it can feel like a long, lonely journey. Thesis Fest provides a valuable opportunity for students to see that they’re not alone; they can connect with other students and share their experiences. Highlighting the connection and commonalities between people is key to the success of Thesis Fest and we hope that our efforts have empowered students to complete their PhD.

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