It takes a Village….and a Research Symposium

This post is from Haidee Hicks, who is completing her PhD at RMIT University. Her research focuses on international students’ learning during social work field placement. Haidee is also a Sessional Academic at RMIT University and Victoria University. Haidee asks what could a regular research symposium do for Trans-Tasman Social Work and Welfare Education PhD and Early Career Researchers? Haidee answers through reflecting on her own experience attending such a forum at Sofia University, Bulgaria in 2014. 

I have recently been reflecting on my experience as a social work researcher, and specifically as a doctoral researcher located within the broader social work discipline in Australia. Questions such as: what is likely to happen to my “original contribution to knowledge”? How might that be disseminated? Who is listening? Is there an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue with other researchers within the profession? Research from the United States perspective from Maynard et al. (2014) confirms the low rates of publication of dissertations in the United States and that only 28.8% are published and “enter into the discourse of the social work profession” (p. 1045).

In September 2016, ANZSWWER launched The “New Voices in Social Work” Research Symposium at the Symposium held in September in Townsville. This Symposium is an opportunity to disseminate social work knowledge and research. It is an opportunity for PhD and ECR Research Symposium to contribute to scholarly discourse in Australian and New Zealand through a collaborative approach.  It will provide forum for PhD and Early Career Researchers to receive feedback and comments in relation to the progress of their research from an experienced Panel of social work thesis supervisors. This Panel will comprise 4-6 members who will provide feedback and comment in relation to the progress of presenters’ research.

In August 2014, my PhD Supervisor, Professor Charlotte Williams (RMIT University) and I travelled to Sofia, Bulgaria to attend the TISSA Conference (The International ‘Social Work

St  Kliment, Ohridski, Sophia University Source: Google Images

& Society’ Academy)  that includes a Pre-Conference of the PhD Network. This Pre-Conference offers PhD students an opportunity to present their research to a panel of approximately ten academics who are experienced in doctoral supervision. It specifically offers students an opportunity to present an aspect of their research for further comment and feedback from the Panel. The panel spanned a number of countries – Switzerland, Germany, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia – and offers a broad, global perspective and analysis to presenters. In relation to my own PhD research, I was at the ‘Confirmation of Candidature’ stage, so the feedback related to research design, methodology and some discussion in relation to conceptual frame of the research.

Auspiced by ANZSWWER, the “New Voices in Social Work Research” Symposium – also draws on some of the TISSA model: it too will be a “cooperation between universities and institutions” and allow for a “broad international connection for a critical discourse about social professions” Attending TiSSA, highlighted for me the need to collaborate across a broader research community of practice.

The focal point of a research symposium is in itself important for individuals – but also important in relation to connecting us as a community of researchers. It also an opportunity to strengthen the research capacity of the social work profession through developing the skills and knowledge of emerging researchers. This symposium offers an important opportunity for dissemination of knowledge within the collaborative Trans-Tasman research network that ANZSWWER continues to promote.

If you are interested in participating in the ANZSWWER New Voices in Social Work Research Symposium to be held in 2017 you can register your interest here by emailing us at 


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