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Postgraduate & Research Student Resources

What follows is a list of useful resources for Postgraduate students. We welcome any suggestions for additions. Just point us in the right direction and please let us know if you have any suggestions.

UNSW University Guides

Information for current UNSW Research Students

Writing your Thesis Proposal
The Learning Centre at UNSW. A guide for students who are enrolled in a postgraduate research degree and who have been asked to submit a thesis proposal.

Getting Started on Your Literature Review
A short guide from The Learning Centre at UNSW with a few suggestions to get you started.

How to write a Ph D Thesis
Notes on preparing and writing thesis at UNSW from Associate Professor Joe Wolfe in the UNSW School of Physics.

The Last Scramble: Submitting that Thesis
A very useful point-form list of advice on thesis writing. UNSW PhD graduate Ben Searle produced the paper for a Postgraduate Board seminar and it is now available to all research students via the website.

From Finish to Start: Writing your thesis with the end in view (pdf)
Notes from Sue Starfield's presentation at the Thesis Submission Seminar 2006. For further details, visit the Graduate Research School website.

Thesis Writing Sites

Australian Digital Theses (ADT) Program homepage
ADT homepage includes all information about the Program's development; including the national distributed database.

PhD: First thoughts to finished writing
A great site from the University of Queensland.

Thesis writing: Higher Degree by Research
From Deakin University. The resources discuss thesis writing and structure, the writing process, the literature review, and editing and style. There is also some great advice about working with a supervisor.

Climb the Thesis Mountain
An excellent guide to producing a thesis from Monash University.

Notes on Writing Papers and Theses
Ken Lertzman, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.

How To Write A Dissertation or Bedtime Reading For People Who Do Not Have Time To Sleep
Purdue University

Writing Dissertations: A Guide for Graduates
From the Royal Literary Fund, UK. This site offers writing skills advice for dissertation writers and thesis writers.

Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation
By S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D., Michigan State University in East Lansing. A useful site with good links.

Writing Theses and Dissertations
By Jennifer Hillman Helgren and David Parker at Claremont Graduate University

Writing Research Theses or Dissertations (guidelines and tips for Engineering theses)
University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Thesis writing resources
University of Wollongong Research Division

How to Write Your Thesis
From Columbia University, compiled by Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz

Advice & Humour

Guide to Writing a Dissertation
This guide from the University of North Carolina's Writing Center offers some good, practical advice on starting, drafting, and completing a dissertation.

Postgraduate basics
More good resources from Deakin University.

Back to Dissertation Basics
From the US-based Association for the Support of Graduate Students), this article discusses the skills required for the completion of a doctoral dissertation.

How to fail your dissertation
Humour with some good advice!

You just might be a graduate student if...
More humour

Piled Higher & Deeper: Life (or the lack thereof) in Academia
A comic strip by Jorge Cham

Re-envisioning the PhD
From the University of Washington Graduate School. A great portal site with some good advice included.

The University of Auckland
Resources for Postgraduate students. This site includes advice for Masters students.

How to Be a Good Graduate Student
A paper from Marie desJardins, Indianna University.

Survive and Thrive While Writing your Thesis
Sensible advice from the University of Melbourne Counselling Service.

The Keogh Lab: Resources and advice for students
From Scott Keogh, Australian National University

Originality and the Postgraduate Student
Helpful article from The University of Melbourne

Postgraduate Toolbox
A great collection of resources for postgrads from the University of Southern Queensland.

The Research Thesis: What Examiners Look For
An extract of a talk given to the University of Canberra Postgraduate Students Association

Conferences & Research Presentations

What to Say in a Good Research Talk John Farrell, Department of Computer Science, James Cook University.

Some dos and don'ts of giving a good 15 minute talk Scott Keogh, ANU

Notes on Presenting a 12 minute Talk
Advice for preparing a short talk at a professional conference, where time is strictly limited.

Conference Paper Guides
From Claremont Graduate University Writing Center. Includes guides to Conference Paper Types, Conference Proposals and Abstracts, Preparing Papers for Conferences in the Humanities and the Social Sciences and Tips for Delivering Conference Papers.

The Nuts and Bolts of Producing a Thesis

Techniques for Managing Theses Using Microsoft Word
Very helpful guide from the Wniversity of Waterloo.

So You Want to Write a Book with MS Word
Advice on producing a book-length document

Advanced Computing Skills
Prepared by Gareth Swarbrick and Neil Prosser from The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

EndNote is bibliographic software that allows you to store, organise and manage your references to create in-text citations and bibliographies in the referencing style that you require.


Some very useful books on thesis writing and doing a research degree(* = available from The Learning Centre)

Betts, K. & Seitz, A. (1994). Writing essays and research reports in the social sciences. Melbourne: Nelson.

* Boddington, P. & Clanchy, J. (1999). Reading for study and research. Australia: Longman.

* Booth, W.C., Colomb. G.G. & Williams, J.M. (1995) The craft of research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

* Craswell, G. (2005).  Writing for Academic Success: A Postgraduate Guide. London: Sage.

While aimed at academic writing in general, this book has sections on thesis writing that covers a lot of key areas. There are also chapters on managing academic writing, the mechanics of academic writing, writing a literature review and other academic texts sch as journal articles and books.

Cryer, P. (1996). The research student's guide to success. Open University press, Buckingham.

* Dunleavy, P. (2003). Authoring a PhD thesis: how to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral dissertation. Palgrave Study Guides

Patrick Dunleavy shares his accumulated wisdom as an experienced doctoral supervisor and academic writer in the social sciences.  Focussing on the links between writing and thinking, his book takes students through the process of planning, drafting, writing, revising and shaping the thesis in an engaging, insightful and sometimes amusing way. 

* Elphinstone, L. & Schweitzer, R. (1998). How to get a research degree: A survival guide. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

This small but comprehensive volume should be required reading for all commencing postgraduate research students and their supervisors. It is one of the best there is.

Ely, M., Vinz, R., Downing, M & Anzul, M. (1997). On writing qualitative research. London: The Falmer Press.

* Evans, D & Gruba, P. (2002). How to write a better thesis. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

A highly-recommended, easily accessible and comprehensive guide that focuses on writing the various sections of the thesis based on the writers’ extensive experience of supervising and supporting students in Australia.

* Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review. Releasing the social science research imagination. London: Sage.

A key text that all students in the social sciences should be familiar with before starting their literature review.

*Hart, C.  (2005).  Doing your Masters Dissertation.  London: Sage. 

A thorough and comprehensive handbook aimed at supporting students doing a master’s dissertation in the social sciences.  It has sections on formulating a topic and finding a format, on research design and methodology, on ethics and a final section on writing.

* Holliday, A. (2002). Doing and writing qualitative research. London: Sage.

Although not specifically aimed at doctoral or masters students, this book is one of the few that helps qualitative researchers understand that the writing process is an integral part of doing qualitative research and becoming a qualitative researcher.  It considers the particular challenges confronting qualitative writers as they attempt to ‘find their voice’.

* Lewins, F. (1993). Writing a thesis: A guide to its nature and organization. Canberra: Bibliotech, ANUTECH.

*Manalo, E. & Trafford, J. (2004).  Thinking to Thesis: A Guide to Graduate Success at all Levels.  Auckland: Pearson.

This book covers many key issues for research students such as time and self-management and making the most of available resources. There is also a very useful chapter on writing a high-quality thesis.

* Madsen, D. (1992). Successful dissertations and theses: A guide to graduate student research from proposal to completion. San Fancisco: Jossey-Bass.

* Murray, R. (2002). How to write a thesis. Open University Press.

One of the few books that actually takes student writers through the process of writing a thesis at the various stages of the PhD.  It cannot be recommended too highly.  It is a book to be dipped into again and again depending on the particular problem encountered and will prove an invaluable source of inspiration and encouragement

* Phillips, E., Pugh, D. (2004). How to get a Ph.D: A handbook for students and their supervisors. Fourth edition. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Now in its fourth edition, this ‘classic’ covers issues such as the PhD process, the nature of the PhD, and what students expect from their supervisors, university and departmental responsibilities.

* Punch, K.F. (2000). Developing effective research proposals, London: Sage.

*Rugg, G. & Petre, M. (2004). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research.  Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Well, they’ve now been written down and are worth reading!

Sides, C.H. (1999). How to write and present technical information (3rd ed.) Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

* The Sociology Writing Group. (1998). A guide to writing sociology papers. New York: St Martin's Press.

* Wallace, M. & Wray, A. (2006). Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates, London: Sage.

* Zerubavel, E. (1999). The Clockwork Muse. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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