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*insert cheerleader chant here* Re-enrol! Re-e-enrol!

Firstly, this post is going to be pretty short and reasonably dry… so bear with! The good news is, you’ll read it so fast that you can go back out and enjoy the sunshine faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Secondly, sorry… I feel like we are forever banging on about re-enrolment, but hey, it’s super important if you want to be able to check those romance novels out of the library for the long summer days you’ll be lounging in the gardens… or rather, those DVDs you’ll be watching from the comfort of your couch while waiting for that summer to actually arrive!

2016 re-enrolment

Anywho… the 2016 re-enrolment process looks a bit like this:

1. Log in to eVision…

2. Complete the initial re-enrolment questions, which will take you to the ‘paper selection’ part… [and no, I’m sorry, you can’t choose the paper yourselves!]

3. Email us at with your name, ID number, and the type of enrolment you want for 2016 (i.e. full year, or if you are due to submit in first semester (yay for you), semester one only!) and we’ll add your thesis paper code for you…

4. We’ll then say ‘thanks a bunch’ and let you know that you can go ahead complete the declaration in eVision anytime after 1 January 2016.

If you want to change from full time to part time, or vice versa, you’ll need to fill out a form, which can be found here:

It would be awesome if you could make sure you re-enrol ASAP so that you won’t lose access to resources come next year – thanks heaps!!

Have a fantastic weekend 🙂



Master-ing the 3MT

If you had been umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether or not to enter the Three Minute Thesis competition this year, maybe those voices in the back of your head were nagging at you “I don’t have time” or “I really should be prioritising other stuff”… well the following post from our Masters Winner, Nicola Beatson, may just help you to realise that taking some time away from your desk could actually be productive for your research – go figure!

3MT NB 2

I entered the 3MT on a bit of a whim but was excited to see what it was all about… I saw it as both an opportunity to get involved in the post grad community and also to work out what on earth I was talking about in my thesis! Having been a part time MCom student for the past (won’t say how many) years, holding down a full time job AND having two babies in that same time period has meant that my thesis has been put on hold numerous times.

My research seemed to always take a back seat, however this year, I put it higher up the priority list and started putting blocks of time aside for research. So a few months ago, I was pretty close to a final draft, but I still felt like my thesis was a bit unfocused. It was through entering the 3MT competition that meant I was able to work out what I believed was really important about my work. As we all know, a thesis has so many moving parts, to find out what the point of your work is, can sometimes be confusing, confronting, or just near on impossible! Through writing a speech that described my work in just 3 minutes, I was able to figure out what my story was. This helped tremendously in terms of shaping all the chapters in my thesis, ensuring everything I wrote told part of my story.

3MT NicolaThe event itself was a great experience to meet other research students, so often we don’t leave our offices! I got to know other commerce postgrads at the heats and then when I got a wildcard place to the finals, I met other students from across the university! Wow, there is some amazing research being done here at Otago, it was fascinating to see what people are up to… It was also a fabulous and rewarding experience in terms of polishing up on those all-important presentation skills. It’s always good to feel the fear and do it anyway! I was lucky enough to win the masters section for the University of Otago which meant a trip to Auckland to compete at the national finals! I also won a research grant (thanks GRS!!!!), but more importantly I won the opportunity (just by competing in the first place) to figure out the essence of my research!

3MT Nicola Beatson

The moral of the story is, have a go next year…its really fun, but more importantly, it is rewarding in terms of progressing your thought processes… so if your supervisor says you don’t have time to enter the 3MT, let them read this blog!! As you will clarify and drill down into what is really important by reducing your many thousands of words into a 3 minute speech!

Your Workspace in the World

To celebrate the 2015 Graduate Research Festival, the Graduate Research School launched an Instagram account. We wanted to know where your ‘Workspace in the World’ was – where does your research brilliance ‘happen’? Claire recounts her experience as a Masters candidate…

“I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in bed.  It was the old days and I had an early Apple Mac that I’d prop on my knees like a laptop (I was an innovator).  I liked writing in bed because when I got tired I could have a wee nap and when I woke up I could start writing again immediately.  I believe one of the reasons I don’t get enough done on my PhD thesis is because my boss won’t let me set up a bed in my office.”

We can imagine it looking a little something like this…Panda1


So we asked… are you a J. K. Rowlingesque café goer?  Do you compete for Library space with the undergraduates?  Have you got the perfect balance of proximity between access to coffee and a source of warmth? And your pictures said it all! The five lucky winners are announced at the conclusion of your following worldly workspaces… enjoy 🙂


Anne Shave – PhD, Department of Theology
Anne Shave - PhD, Theology

Ali Rogers – Masters, Department of Science CommunicationAli Rogers - Masters, Science Communication

Tyler Northern – Masters, Department of Marine ScienceTyler Northern - Masters, Marine Science

Tracy Rogers – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreTracy Rogers - PhD, HEDC

Rebecca Babcock – Masters, Bioethics and Health LawRebecca Babcock - Masters, Bioethics and Health Law

Rachel Tan – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreRachel Tan - PhD, HEDC

Pramit Patel – Masters, Department of MicrobiologyPramit Patel - Masters, Microbiology

Mike Maze  PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineMike Maze - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Marieke Jasperse – PhD, Department of Psychological MedicineMarieke Jasperse - PhD, Psychological Medicine

Lindsay Robertson – PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineLindsay Robertson - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Liesel Mitchell – PhD, National Centre for Peace and Conflict StudiesLiesel Mitchell - PhD, Peace and Conflict

Li Kee Chee  Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeLi Kee Chee - Masters, Dietetics

Georgia Bell  Masters, Department of Marine ScienceGeorgia Bell - Masters, Marine Science

Francesca Allen – Masters, Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyFrancesca Allen - Masters, Archaeology

Esther Dale – PhD, Department of BotanyEsther Dale - PhD, Botany

Erika Szymanski – PhD, Department of Science CommunicationErika Szymanski - PhD, Science Communication

Chelsea Slobbe – Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeChelsea Slobbe - Masters, Dietetics

Ben Riordan – PhD, Department of PsychologyBen Riordan - PhD, Psychology

Rebecca Ahmadi – Masters, Public HealthRebecca Ahmadi

The winners have been drawn from the very official hat! Congratulations to…

Georgia Bell, Tyler Northern, Rebecca AhmadiMike Maze, and Esther Dale

Your $50 prezzy cards will be available for you to collect from the GRS Reception (Ground floor of Clocktower Building, north end) from Monday afternoon onward (7 September). Or contact for any alternative arrangements.

Thanks again to all of you who shared your photos: your second homes, that spot in the library, your kitchen, the lab; whether love it or hate it, hang on to your little workspace in the world!

Postgrads hitting the airwaves

Today on the Blog With No Name we are talking with Lawrence Hamilton, host of the Postgraduate Radio Show on Otago University’s very own 91 FM, Radio One. The show is a great place to catch up with all the goings-on within the postgraduate community, hear some interesting interviews and catch the latest in Kiwi and international music. We asked Lawrence some easy questions…

Lawrence and Ali

Why is it called the Postgraduate Radio Show?

Because it is better than being called the Radio Show With No Name (ouch).

What time is it on?

10am-Noon Wednesdays – perfect for that second (or third) cup of coffee and early enough in the day so you don’t feel like you’re procrastinating.  But never fear if that third cup of coffee isn’t enough, or you were up studying all night and haven’t made it out from under the covers yet, the show is available on Just look up the programme page and you can be free to listen to past shows or any podcasts that might be posted. The programme page also contains links to postgraduate announcements and upcoming events, along with a whole jumble of interesting news stories and curiosities.

What is the show about?

The overall theme of the show is ‘celebrating the wonderful Otago postgraduate culture’. And it’s true, Otago does have a wonderful and vibrant postgraduate community. I am constantly amazed at the unique and creative research projects going on all round Dunedin.  It is also just a fun way to spend a mid-week morning. Each week I am introduced to something new and wonderfully random, like green tea super cheese.

But what if I am lactose intolerant?

Actually, the super cheese is designed for people with lactose intolerance, but anyway… Besides talking about local research, the show also has guests from around the world talking about interesting and ground-breaking subjects. Human rights lawyers, international film-makers, and even a scientist who believes he can stop ageing have all come on the Postgraduate Radio Show to share their views with the students here in Dunedin. And if that is not enough, there are giveaways, updates about activities at the Graduate Research School, and of course good music.

But what if I only listen to the radio in car?

Well then drive more! No, Radio one is available as a streaming service from most laptops, phones and tablets. Just go to and click on the stream. The world is changing and so is radio! It is not just for sitting in a car!

Can I participate?

Absolutely! Anyone who feels they have something to say about their research is free to come on and have a chat. It is a great way to get involved in the postgraduate community. Even if you are not technically a postgraduate but feel you have something to say to the community, then get in touch and get on the radio!

Where can I learn more?

Well, if you feel like you have the perfect face for radio then just stop into the Radio 1 office or you can email me directly at I love talking to postgraduates and would love to hear you over the airwaves!

And now for our final question, would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Do I get a weapon?

No, just your brute strength.

Then one hundred duck-sized horses – at least you could kick them and jump on them.


The Anatomy of a Workshop*

* Warning: this post contains genuine anxiety, real-time procrastination, and 24 carat chaos.  It is not for the fainthearted.

I’m composed of 82% Fear-of-Missing-Out which leads me to agree to a range of things I should probably say no to.  It means I have had the opportunity to do some pretty awesome stuff at work but it also comes at a cost.  The price I pay generally involves a few sleepless nights, the occasional dream that the Vice-Chancellor calls me to a meeting and I turn up naked apart from a stuffed possum on my head and a nervous smile, and a tendency to word coleslaw salad.  

Naturally enough when I got asked to present a workshop on how to do presentations, I said yes.

Several hours-in of the 25+ hours I spent on preparing material for the workshop had me questioning my career choices and cycling through Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. 

I really love teaching and presenting** and every-so often I manage to convince some kind person that I’m ok at it.  Nevertheless, I still  feel under-prepared and worry about my inadequacy in all sorts of ways.  Feeling like a fraud (be it about our knowledge, our process, or our expertise) is not something we talk about readily but it is something I think we should acknowledge more.

The awesome Hugh Kearns is due to present a workshop on the imposter syndrome  in Dunedin in a couple of weeks (register here!) so it seems timely to write about my reality before rocking up and delivering a talk, lecture or workshop.  

Blog 1Blog 2Blog 3Blog 4

** Showing-Off, as my mother would say.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

The Art of the Form: a Re-Enrolment of Two Halves

One of the reasons I became the Manager of the Graduate Research School is because I am atrocious at filling in forms.  Every time I go near a form (be it online or paper) I manage to get myself caught in a wormhole of confusion, fear and panic.

Either I do not understand the questions, I object to the style in which they are written or they violate some moral principle that I hitherto had not realised I was committed to.

The Doctoral Office are a crack-team-of-awesome when it comes to helping fill in forms and so when I am faced with some bewildering bureaucracy, Tina kindly takes me by the hand and gently asks, “don’t you remember, Claire, we did it like this last year?”

No!  I don’t remember!!  I never remember!!!

I would like to blame the form-designers of the world, but given the repeated nature of this problem and the fact that there must be more than one person designing all these forms that I fail at filling in, reason would suggest that I’m the common denominator here.  I seem to have a rare and peculiar debilitating condition called Formus Blindicus cum Incompetencia.

This week I tackled my re-enrolment and all was going well until I went to Study Link to apply for a student loan.  I checked out whether or not part-timers could still get their fees paid (and they can) and I started to churn through the questions feeling almost competent.

Sure, I had to reread a few of the questions, sure I may or may not have cursed at the screen a few times, but I was feeling truly hopeful as I pressed the final Eligibility radio button.



I know I’m perky for my age, but a child disability allowance?  Really?


After going back through every screen with a fine-tooth comb, I unclicked the offending buttons.  I undid all my answers to the questions I’d misinterpreted.  I no longer accidently identified as a child/felon/bankrupt/in loan arrears.

Then booya!  Just like that I was all sorted.

Easy as.

Personal and prolonged form-incompetence aside, all this is by way of reminding you that if you weren’t enrolled for second semester, it’s time to do it now.  Go on, if I can manage it, anyone can!

Sarah will help you….

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School


It’s that time of year, people! If you only have a Semester One (part-year) enrolment, and you’re still busy beavering away on your thesis, then you’ll need to re-enrol for the remainder of the 2015 academic year.

How do I re-enrol?

Please email us at, with your name and ID number, requesting enrolment for semester two, and we’ll update this in the system for you. Once complete, a message confirming the change to your enrolment and an invoice for semester two fees will appear in your eVision portal.

If you’re wanting to make a change from full-time to part-time or vice versa, you’ll need to fill out form for that instead, which can be found here:

REMEMBER… you need to be enrolled to submit your thesis for examination, so if you didn’t quite make it for a semester one submission but you still want to submit this year (and don’t have a current full-year enrolment), then flick us an email!


Speaking of beavering away, we’ve also been busy little bees here in the Doctoral Office processing all of your glorious hard bounds theses! Please bear with us while we get everything sorted for those graduating in August, we’ll get to any of your queries as soon as we can 🙂

Sarah McGregor, Doctoral Office, Graduate Research School

The Wonderful World of Workshops


In case you didn’t know it yet, the Graduate Research School offers a whole host of glorious workshops and events for graduate research candidates to utilise and enjoy throughout their time here. These are varied in topic and presented by a number of experienced academics and Otago staff, who aim to engage with and inspire with their wealth of knowledge and genuine interest in helping you along the way. Among the heap of sessions run by GRS, the Student Learning Centre and HEDC; here are just a few snippets!

Presented by our pretty great GRS Dean, Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, Doctoral candidates are treated to stage-based workshops:  for those in the early stages of their study (Embarking on your Doctoral Journey), for those mid-way through their study (Keep Calm and Carry on), and for those hitting crunch time in the final stages of writing up (Hitting the Home Stretch).

Our very own GRS Manager, Claire Gallop, runs the ‘Insider’s Guide to Doctoral Domination’, which is a series of 6 x 1 hour workshops (next round starting in May!) aimed at helping you successfully negotiate your way through doctoral study. Claire also gleefully presents the ‘Mastering Your Thesis’ workshop, designed to offer Masters candidates some handy tips and advice on conquering their theses.

I asked a couple of our current students their thoughts on any workshops they’ve attended so far and received awesome responses!  One PhD candidate gave us an insightful rundown of her experiences:

“Both workshops [The Insider’s Guide to Doctoral Domination and Keep Calm and Carry On] were well run, jam-packed with useful bits of information and a friendly environment to raise questions and talk to others experiencing similar research challenges/successes!

… The Insider’s Guide ran over the course of a couple of weeks, and this was a great amount of time for getting to know the other people in the workshop, which helped me feel like I was not ‘alone’ in this research adventure. It also gave me space to ask some of those broader questions (“where is the best coffee shop on campus?”) that you feel like your supervisor wouldn’t have time to answer, or you might feel stupid asking!

The Keep Calm workshop also creates a comfortable space for asking questions, breaking into smaller groups and offering really helpful advice. One of the nice things about attending the Keep Calm workshop at the thesis halfway mark, was actually recognising and reconnecting with some of the students who had attended Insider’s Guide a year or so earlier! I also thought both workshops were really helpful for helping you make the transition from Masters to PhD research. Both Claire and Rachel were great at putting things in perspective and providing practical solutions to counter all fears! The very blunt statement that this is “just a PhD”, was probably the most constructive, practical, keep-your-feet-on-the-ground-and-stop-the-panic advice I took away from these workshops.

My personal recommendation would be to attend both of these workshops. They help make connections with other PhD students, across a variety of disciplines and allow you to see, not only is there life beyond the four walls of your office, but your experience is not unique, and sharing this with others is quite therapeutic!”.

Ashraf Alam, a recently inducted PhD candidate echoed this response:  “I believe all those workshops were useful. As a Masters student, I was mostly benefited from the ‘Mastering Your Thesis’ workshop. I’d be happy if I could really tell Claire Gallop, how grateful to her I am! I’d suggest all Masters thesis students to attend this particular workshop within the first month of beginning their research”. He indicated that the most important pieces of advice he received was to publish, and to get in touch with the subject librarian, stating that this was “… an invaluable asset that Otago has”.


When it comes to networking, Ashraf said that he appreciated receiving “… advice about managing the relationship among different stakeholders (supervisors, librarians, departmental faculties, peers, etc). It is not easy in a multicultural environment where general expectations are very diverse (much more than what you can imagine) among individuals”.

Current PhD candidate, Keely Blanch, shared her thoughts on the ‘Networking’ workshop run by Rachel: “Networking is one of those things you know you ‘should’ do, a necessity even if it seems at times to be a painful stilted way to meet people at conferences. Being half way through my PhD I gamely signed up and dragged myself off to Rachel’s seminar. Rachel offers some good reasons on why networking is good for your career – finding mentors, creating a network of people who can help you find out about job opportunities, creating new friendships and so on. Many opportunities to network can evolve naturally from chance meetings and so interactions are less ‘forced’. Other meetings, such as those at conferences where you know no one, are more difficult. Rachel took us through a series of exercises designed to let us practice meeting and chatting with complete strangers. Sure the conversations can seem a bit awkward when you first start, but once that ‘commonality’ is identified things seem to truck along more smoothly. You may ask what a short seminar on your own campus can offer, but in one afternoon I met postgrads from other departments (which means familiar faces to chat to at other functions), and I connected with someone who also blogs about their postgrad journey. I may have headed there with trepidation, but the afternoon was enjoyable and worthwhile”.

Feeling motivated to attend?! (Heck, even I am!) Head to the website and sign up!

Thanks for tuning in 🙂

Relativity applies to physics, not ethics (A. Einstein)

Ever heard of New Zealand’s very own “Unfortunate Experiment”? Or perhaps you’ve heard of the Cartwright Inquiry that resulted from the horrors of this so-called ‘treatment’? If not – imagine being really sick and finding out that your doctor hasn’t been treating you properly – on purpose! For more info, go googling! That, my friends, illustrates just one example as to why ethical practice is so very important.


Having dabbled in a bit of research in my student days, and sat in on a few Ethics Committee meetings during my time here as a Uni staff member, I thought I had a fair idea of what ‘ethics in research’ was all about. However a while ago I went to check out the ‘Navigating your Ethics Committee’ workshop, run by GRS. It was here that I realised there was a whole lot I hadn’t considered, and it reiterated, for me anyway, why we should be taking this stuff really seriously, and not just ticking a few boxes on a form!

The bottom line is that as researchers, you have knowledge that others don’t. This can be a risky business. Some research, by nature, involves a certain level of deception; the omission or distortion of information, for example, the placebo effect. It is this type of research that will often produce the most effective results, but can also hold the greatest risk to both participants and the researcher.

This is where our multiple University Human Ethics Committees come into play – to help identify and minimise these risks. We have the UO Human Ethics Committee, and the UO Health Ethics Committee. Made up of academics/researchers, members of outside organisations and lay people, if you’re doing research that involves human participants, you should be submitting an application to one of these committees. These intelligent and worldly people identify and assess any biases in your research; potential harm to both participants and the researcher (physical or emotional); raise issues perhaps not yet considered by the researcher; and overall try to add value to your research. To quote Gary Witte, Manager of Academic Committees and Secretary to the University’s HECs, “the Ethics Committee endeavours to trend away from compliance to a culture of conscience”.

Basically, they’re not trying to ruin your fun or pick your research design to pieces out of spite because they missed their morning coffee – they are there to help broaden your mind as to the wider implications of your research; and most importantly, to protect you as the researcher, the generous people participating in your research, and the University, from anything going terribly wrong.

The workshop itself was engaging. Presenters, Gary Witte, and Dr Mike King from the Department of Bioethics, welcomed discussion, questions, and offered some helpful tips to get you started with your ethics proposals…

  1. Provide too much information in your ethics application – a common reason applications are turned back is due to lack of info;
  2. Consent processes need to be ‘bullet-proof’ and appropriate to the audience (i.e. in a consent form for a six year old, use big font, not big words!);
  3. Be clear as to the inclusion and exclusion criteria of your research participants;
  4. Be aware of overused groups (e.g. Pregnant women in Dunedin – there are only so many at any one time, and may get sick of you all hounding them while they are trying to grow another human);
  5. Gifts should not be an ‘inappropriate inducement’ ($500 for filling in a questionnaire is a little over the top);
  6. Develop a ‘Plan B’ in case ‘Plan A’ falls short; and lastly…
  7. OWN your ethics application. Get all up in that grill, and the Committee won’t grill you! (Wow, that was somewhere between a terrible pun and a bad dad joke – eek!).

Check out our webpage and try and head along to the next ethics workshop – it really is worth a look:

Be sure to visit the Human Ethics Committee webpage too for the nitty gritty of ethics applications:

There is also a really handy brochure available from Academic Committees (located on the ground floor of the Clocktower Building, G23); and the team’s contact details can be found on their webpage (link above).

Side note:  while the focus of this piece is about human ethics, we also need to think seriously about the ethical treatment of our furry friends when using them in our research. Often more so, as there aren’t nearly enough species with opposable thumbs who can sign those consent forms… so please visit the University’s Animal Ethics webpage for more info about doing research with these guys:

Sarah McGregor, Graduate Research School

So you’re thinking of a PhD?

PhD application pic

Just finished some postgrad study and craving more research to sink your teeth into? Like the ring of ‘Doctor’ before your name, but a drop of blood makes you queasy? Then a PhD might be just right for you!

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme is the University’s highest level supervised research degree. We currently have over 1300 doctoral candidates studying at Otago, from both around New Zealand and overseas. Here are a few tips on how to get started with a PhD application.

Pre-requisite step:  You need to have put in some hard yards before applying – here’s the nitty gritty:

Every candidate must be a university graduate and produce evidence of ability to undertake research in the area of proposed study. Such evidence shall include:

i.  a Bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class Honours or equivalent (including a research component, e.g. a dissertation or a thesis); or

ii.  a Master’s degree (including an appropriate research component, e.g. a dissertation or a thesis); or

iii.  appropriate research experience (e.g. publications in academic journals, books, etc).

Got it? Cool – that will lead you nicely onto step one…

Step one: Find a supervisor!

Someone needs to be there with you on your research journey, to guide you, advise you, and support you; maybe even to provide you with coffee, chocolate, office space with a comfy chair conducive to napping in…

But in all seriousness, approaching a department and finding a supervisor with the right expertise, and that is able to supervise you, is the first necessary step. Keep in mind that this person will be your ‘colleague’ – we get regular feedback from completed PhD candidates that choosing the right supervisor off the bat is a crucial aspect of the PhD journey.

Step Two: The application process [Sidenote – you can totally apply at any time of the year – woo!]

a) If you’re a domestic student (‘Domestic’ includes Aussies; and international students who have previously studied at the Uni of Otago):

You will complete an online application form through eVision. You can access this from our website:

After filling out the form, you will need to upload to eVision a research proposal, current CV, any academic transcripts for tertiary study undertaken outside of the University of Otago (we can get the Otago ones ourselves), and a Scholarship Application form – if you are applying for a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.

eVision then sends us your submitted application, and provided all the necessary documents are there, we will forward it on to your nominated department for them to complete their sections. Once it’s returned to us, we process it and flick it on to the meeting of the Graduate Research Committee to determine your fate… dun dun dunnnnn!

Check out this sweet flow chart for more detail:

b) If you’re an international student (new to the Uni of Otago):

Once you’ve found that supervisor, contact the International Office (, and they will work through the application process with you. Once they’ve done their bit, they send your application to us and as above, it goes to the GRC meeting for consideration.

Check out this just-as-cool flow chart for more detail:

Step Three: The outcome

Technically you don’t need to do anything until we contact you – but bear with us, your application will be processed as quickly as possible. Sometimes we need to follow up on a few things, but rest assured, we’ll contact you as soon as we can with an outcome!

Other stuff:

Here are some helpful links to our website, where you can get more information on the process, and access other handy tidbits:

General PhD Information:

More info on applying for the PhD:

The Doctoral Office is located in the Graduate Research School, on the Ground Floor of the Clocktower Building. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at: