Mapping my degree

Becoming an effective researcher

Being an effective researcher means that you have planned your studies, have clear motivations for pursuing a graduate research degree and are aware of career outcomes. Your motivations can change, so be flexible and realistic with your goals.

  1. Plan your study.
  2. Set realistic study goals (eg progress meetings, draft and chapter deadlines, submission date, etc) - You and your supervisors are required to formalise expectations to support your goals by completing the Supervisory Agreement when you start your degree and during your candidature as needed.
  3. Motivate yourself! Find out what works for you and use it to your best advantage.
  4. Manage your time effectively. Again, figure out something that works with your schedule and keeps you on track.
  5. Your research support team is there to help! Talk to your supervisors and your peers, get involved in student clubs.
  6. Sign up for student newsletters.
  7. Participate in student seminars and symposiums.
  8. Do courses and programs that help you with academic writing, research, or professional development, including those offered by the Researcher Development Unit and Academic Skills.
  9. Seek out reading groups, paper writing groups or thesis writing groups.
  10. Be aware of professional opportunities that reflect your career goals.
  11. Be flexible. Know that your motivation and energy can change and will probably fluctuate over the course of your degree.
  12. Register for an ORCID, an internationally recognised registry that helps you to establish and maintain your scholarly identity. Visit this University Libguide for more information.

Key milestone dates

As a graduate researcher you are required to complete formal reviews of your progress at key milestones throughout your candidature.

You can view your next scheduled key milestone date, expected thesis submission date, supervisor details and other candidature details on the Graduate Research tab when you login to my.unimelb.

If you take a leave of absence or change your study rate between full time and part time candidature, your review dates and expected thesis submission date will change accordingly.

If you are enrolled in a jointly-awarded degree with another University you are expected to meet the standard milestones as set out below. This will usually be through the completion of the relevant University of Melbourne forms. The head of department may decide that a process completed at the partner institution meets a University of Melbourne requirement (for example, a confirmation requirement). In this case you must still read and accept the University of Melbourne’s Enrolment Terms and Conditions every calendar year, regardless of where you are based during that year.

The standard milestones are outlined below.

Candidature milestones

Full-time students


PhD / Doctoral student MRes / MPhil student
Pre-confirmation 6 months 3 months
Confirmation 1 year (1 year, 6 months if ≥75 credit points of mandatory coursework) 6 months
Progress review 2 years 1 year
Progress review 3 years 1 year, 6 months
Progress review3 years, 6 months  
Progress review4 years and every 6 months for further approved periods of enrolment2 years  and every 6 months for further approved periods of enrolment

Part-time students

  PhD student / Doctoral student MRes / MPhil student
Pre-confirmation 1 year 6 months
Confirmation 2 years 1 year
Progress review 3 years 2 years
Progress review 4 years  
Progress review 5 years 3 years
Progress review 6 years  

Some graduate researchers may be required to complete additional progress review forms, for example Australia Award supported students (formerly AusAID).

For more information on progress reviews, candidature milestones and expected submission dates, visit Being a candidate.