Group of Eight Australia
Australia's Leading Universities
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Module 8: Project Closeout

2.7 Higher degree research students

In principle we would wish to avoid having higher degree candidates pursue their chosen topics in commercial or other IP-sensitive areas, as this may have undesirable consequences for an emerging researcher: restrictions on ability to present at conferences and to publish; embargoing of the thesis; constraints on continuity into subsequent projects. In practice, however, many key research areas have commercial ramifications, and a significant amount of external funding of higher degree projects relates to commercialisable outcomes.
Most universities now have procedures in place to identify, as early as possible, those higher degree projects that may be subject to confidentiality constraints, and to advise higher degree candidates and their supervisors as to what is required of them.
Chief investigators, project managers and research staff generally have strong ethical and professional obligations towards higher degree candidates engaged in their projects, recognizing that they have a collegial responsibility to support the student’s timely and successful degree completion while at the same time seeking the best outcomes for their research project. The two aims – supporting the student’s research degree progress, and advancing the team’s overall research goals – may not always appear to align nicely, and some accommodations may need to be made. In particular, if project closeout does not coincide with completion of the research degree, ongoing provision for mentoring and supervision may need to be made.

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