Past Conferences

Past Conferences

The Quality in Postgraduate Research (QPR) conference has been held biennially in Adelaide, South Australia, since 1994. It is the world’s largest and longest standing conference on doctoral education. The themes and contexts of each of our conferences are summarised below.

Special editions of journals include:

International Journal for Researcher Development, 2015; 6(1) (Now renamed Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education):

Quality in Higher Education Volume 21, 2015 – Issue 1: Quality in postgraduate research:

Innovations in Education and Teaching International Volume 54, 2017 – Issue 6: Special Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference (QPR 2016):

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education: Volume 10, 2019 – Issue 3 Special Issue: Impact, Engagement and doctoral Education:


Sadly, QPR2020 had to be cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our thoughts go out to everyone impacted in this disaster. We look forward to a positive future, the return of in-person, academic debate, and another QPR conference in 2024.

2018: Impact, Engagement, and Doctoral Education


Dr Alan Finkel AO (Download Audio)

Prof. Gina Wisker, Dr Gillian Robinson, and Prof. Brenda Leibowitz (Download Audio)

Dr Hugh Kearns (Download Audio)

See more.

2016: Society, Economy, and Communities

Reflecting the socially contingent nature of doctoral education, including the role of agency in determining a research candidate’s experience and also the structural and cultural factors impinging on that experience, the 2016 theme, was ‘Society, Economy and Communities: 21st Century Innovation in Doctoral Education’. In his keynote, Professor James Arvanitakis unpacked the tensions between what is said about doctoral education and what students actually experience, while Professor Helen Marsh, Vice-Chair of the group that produced the Australian Council of Learned Academies’ (ACOLA) report on research education, emphasized that to achieve relevant ‘contextualized’ doctoral education for the 21st century, three important components need to be addressed: the person, the nation, and the system.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2016


Professor James Arvanitakis (Download Slides | Download Audio)

Professor Helen Marsh (Download Slides | Download Audio)

2014: Quality

In 2014, Conference went back to its roots with ‘Quality’ as the theme. The conference explored quality in the supervision relationship and quality systems for managing candidature, the development of publication skills, and timely completions. The three keynotes highlighted the fact that the doctorate is evolving, but, as noted by Gill Clarke, the purpose of the doctorate remains the same – the development of independent researchers producing high quality research. Both Thomas Jørgensen and Joe Luca noted the need for a ‘quality culture’ that takes cognizance of diversity and suggest good practice frameworks for the development of this culture at national, institution, department, supervisory team and student levels.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2014


Ms Gill Clarke (Download Slides)

Dr Thomas Jørgensen (Download Slides)

Professor Joe Luca (Download Slides)

2012: Narratives of Transition

The theme for the 2012 Conference focused on the multiple transitions that permeate the world of postgraduate research, both nationally and internationally. Higher education throughout the world was undergoing transformations like never before. Universities and staff were under public scrutiny, assessment, and reduced funding. The core purposes of universities were being challenged. Nevertheless, the importance of research and research training remained very much at the forefront of the higher education agenda. Issues of quality supervision, research training, timely completions, high quality publications, and increasing knowledge management and production continued to challenge administrators, academics, policy makers, and postgraduate students in the academy. The Conference allowed an exploration of how these transitions and transformations were evolving and impacting upon higher education governance, postgraduate research, research development and dissemination, research training, research leadership and academic lifestyle.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2012

2010: Educating Researchers for the 21st Century.

Ten years after the vigorous debate at the 2000 QPR regarding the use of the term ‘training’ rather than ‘education’, the title of the 2010 conference was Educating Researchers for the 21st Century. Speakers from around the world provided rich and interesting perspectives on approaches to educating future researchers. The topics were as diverse as ever, with analysis of issues of diversity, widening participation and research culture, research students’ experiences, and ‘doctoral orphans’. How to build a strong supervisory structure was at the core of the discussion, with focus on researcher and research supervisor training and development, doctoral pedagogies, and the doctoral curriculum. From the supervisors to the candidates, assisting candidates with writing and other academic support was also addressed.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2010

2008: Research education in the new global environment

The 2008 Conference attracted outstanding local and international speakers and presenters. It was clear from the keynotes and papers that the role and impact of research education in the modern university is critical. The Conference particularly noted the shift in focus from attrition to completion, including a growing number of strategies to help students complete in a reasonable time and an emerging interest in where they go after completion. The quality improvement of research education has become a collective effort with involvement not only of supervisors but also professional administrators, educational developers, student support staff, and others.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2008

2006: Knowledge creation in testing times

The 2006 Conference provided an opportunity for participants to engage in the double-barrelled meaning of the theme. The ‘testing times’ referred to the Australian government’s move to develop processes to assess the quality of Australian research; e.g. the Research Assessment Exercise (UK) or the Performance Based Research Fund (New Zealand). Of particular interest to participants of the Conference related to the Research Quality Framework that had been proposed for Australia. However, not long before the conference the ‘roll-out’ of the process had stalled with the appointment of a new Chair of the Expert Advisory panel and a re-think of the issues involved. The reference to knowledge creation in the title reflected some of the more recent developments in research education where research candidates have been referred to as ‘knowledge workers’ in an environment where knowledge, and the creation of knowledge, is seen as critical to a knowledge economy.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2006: Part 1

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2006: Part 2

2004: Re-imagining research education

The 2004 Conference believed the time was ripe for reflection and debate on how best to take advantage of the opportunities offered in many countries by new national policy frameworks that impact on supervisory practice and on student experiences and performance. Comprehensive coverage of what is happening in Australia to ensure that graduates have the range of skills required by employers was provided and discussed. The Conference showed that many universities had in place programs to develop the employment-related skills that graduates need to have. Conclusions suggested the focus on the less tangible qualities that students need to develop is required: confidence, independence, perseverance, and enthusiasm for research. In the final plenary session, the Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (DDoGS) launched two important documents for discussion: Framework for best practice in doctoral education in Australia and Draft national guidelines for the examination of Australian research higher degree theses.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2004

2002: Integrating perspectives

Following the formation of QPR-like conferences in New Zealand and South Africa, The 2002 Conference integrated the perspectives of various participants and countries. The Conference was attended by a delegation of 20 Thai Deans of Graduate Schools and participants from Finland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, China and the UK as well as Australia. The DEST’s newly formed Research Training Scheme (RTS) was put under scrutiny. RTS aimed to address the widespread concern expressed by students and employers regarding the quality and effectiveness of Australia’s research training system. Most Australian universities had started instituting a range of measures, many of which could be argued are very beneficial to students, supervisors and research generally, and of course some of which could be seen as retrograde.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2002

2000: Making ends meet

The 2000 Conference theme had an almost despondent ring to it in comparison to the upbeat “Making it Happen” of 1994. The Australian Government’s Green and White papers had been published and had had a profound influence on the way in which universities provide research education for students, how they monitor that experience, and how they are paid to provide that experience. These papers were the centre of discussion for the Conference. However, the Conference was awash with discussions on whether the term ‘training’ was appropriate and the many students present argued very strongly against the use of such a term and proposed the term education. This conference was the first where the number of research-based papers out-weighed the experience-based ones, indicating the shift from personal experience and anecdote demonstrates an irreversible change in postgraduate education.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR2000

1998: Managing the new agenda

In 1998, discussion focused on the ideas expressed in the West Report (Learning for life final report: Review of higher education financing and policy), which suggested, in Chapter 6, that the community wanted to get better value from its investment in research training. Also discussed was the concept that that graduates of postgraduate awards should have a broad and sophisticated mix of qualities and skills. Concern was raised that this meant that every university in Australia now had a list of ‘generic/transferable skills’ for postgraduate students. The Conference featured one of the first discussions of the Federal Government’s plan to implement a postgraduate version of the nationally administered Course Experience Questionnaire for undergraduate students.

Download the Proceedings and refereed papers of QPR1998

1996: Is it happening?

In 1996, there was in direct response to the results of the three quality audits that had been conducted. These results gave pause to think. The Conference tried to focus on the development of quality assurance processes at the level of faculties and departments, moving away from the individual supervisor being the only factor in a quality postgraduate experience. Discussion covered institution-wide support and supervisor training or quality management, but noted that very little was known on how these processes and systems operate effectively at the departmental level. No longer would it good enough to be a ‘caring supervisor’ who met the needs of her/his students as outlined in the many papers in 1994. Being a good supervisor was a necessary, but not sufficient, requirement. Another hint of things to come was a sprinkling of debate on ‘alternatives to the PhD’.

There were no published proceedings. Two floppy disks containing copies of all papers were given to participants.

Download the collated refereed papers of QPR1996

1994: Making it happen

The first Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference indicated a concern with the, then new to Australia, Quality Audits. At the time there was a sense that universities knew ‘where they were going and could make it happen.’ The specific aim of the conference was to share good practice and these discussions were based on the experiences of participants. Keynote addresses mainly focused on issues of structure, although the workshops primarily focused on student and supervisor interactions; particularly those related to international students.

There were no published proceedings. Presenters were asked to bring copies of their paper, which was distributed to participants.

Download the collated refereed papers of QPR1994