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PhD Research

Interested in studying with us? To find out more about the N&MRC's diverse activities download our Centre Overview brochure here.

PhD Scholarships

Information for domestic and international PhD students is available on the University of Canberra's Research Scholarships page.

Current students

Research students associated with the Centre and the titles of their Research Projects are listed below:

Photo of Ahmed

Ahmed Albatli

'The Impact of Purposeful Social Media Programs on Cross-Cultural Adaptation of Arab Gulf States’ Students in Australian Universities'

Aim: to evaluate and to more fully understand the impact of social media programs, developed by Arab Gulf States Cultural Missions, to support their young citizens who are studying in Australian universities.

Method/s:  The project follows a quantitative research design.

Abstract: In recent decades, the internet has played an increasing role in the acculturation processes of immigrants. It offers great potential to support tertiary students who live and study in a foreign country.  A number of communication scholars report the importance of the internet, particularly social media,  for cross-cultural adaptation (Wang, Sun, & Haridakis, 2009).  This project seeks to provide empirical insight into the impact of social media programs, developed by Arab Gulf States’ Cultural Missions, to support their young citizens who are studying in Australian universities.  

Primary supervisor: Sally Burford

Dan Andrew photo

Dan Andrew

'Attention and the control of audiences and content in the modern Australian media landscape'

Aim: to explore the changing dynamic in the interdependent relationships between the media, advertisers and audiences across the current Australian media landscape.

Primary supervisor: Kerry McCallum

Morris Carpenter

'mHealth adoption for the self-management of type 2 diabetes'

Aim: to identify barriers and enablers to the adoption of digital tools on mobile devices that facilitate self-management of type 2 diabetes.

Method/s:  Semi-structured interviews and self-complete surveys.

Initial findings:  Digital skills, and access to the technology and online network alone are not enough to predict mHealth engagement for diabetes self-management. Individuals with good digital skills but poor self-management regimes are unlikely to adopt mHealth tools. Effective self-management behaviour is a vital element of mHealth engagement, for those that possess the necessary digital skills and network access. Motivation to self-manage, self-efficacy and internality on the multidimensional health locus of control scale are important factors that drive mHealth adoption for the purpose of self-management of type 2 diabetes.

Primary supervisor: Sora Park

Liam Engel

'An Online Australian Drug Discussion: Bluelight.org and Australian Drug Policy'

Aim:   to develop connections between drug users and drug policy

Method:  Qualitative thematic analysis

Initial findings:  The Australian Drug Discussion forum provided empowering resources to drug users, somewhat compensating for the restriction of accessible resources via the problematisation of drug users by formal policy.
Provision of these resources was assisted by the maintenance of informal policy, perceptions of knowledge as flexible, a culture of experience sharing and the dual roles of participant professionals. These factors enhanced the capacity for discussion to be inclusive of different problematisations.  Framed as a discussion of reflexive policy, this project suggests that a conceptual dynamic of problematisation and sensitivity could assist the politicisation of problematised identities and contexts broader than drug users.

Primary supervisor: Deborah Lupton.

Photo of Nalini HaynesNalini Haynes

'Looking through a glass darkly: representations of albinism in contemporary storytelling'


Aim: To investigate representations of albinism (hypopigmented human and/or anthropomorphic characters) in contemporary science fiction and fantasy from the perspective of a person with albinism.

Method/s: cultural textual analysis leaning towards the critical end of the cultural spectrum

Primary supervisor: Deborah Lupton

Zorana Kostic Photo

Zorana Kostic

'The Case for Public Service Broadcast Television: A Historical and Comparative Analysis between the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)'

Aim: in support of the continuing role and remit of public service broadcasting into the future.

Method/s:  a historical and comparative analysis.

Initial findings: Growing importance in fulfilling its central remit of informing, educating and entertaining the public to facilitate meaningful participation within democratic systems and traditions.

Primary Supervisor: Kerry McCallum

Jayan Kurian

'User-generated content on the Facebook page of Emergency Management Organizations'

Aim: to explore comments posted on the Facebook page of emergency management organizations and to establish its implications to the stakeholders of emergency management.

Method/s: thematic analysis and semi-structured interviews with the administrators of emergency management organizations.

Initial findings: A study of user-generated content yields valuable lessons for stakeholders to learn from past emergencies and devise disaster resilience strategies for the future.

Primary supervisor: Jerry Watkins.

Jee Young Lee

'A user-centric digital inclusion framework for a digitalised society: Linking Australia’s digital divide policy and digital exclusion experiences'

Aim: to examine how digital divide policies have addressed the issues of both access and usage gaps, and explore the actual experiences of digitally disadvantaged groups

Method/s: documentary analysis and in-depth interviews with non-and limited users.

Initial findings: Latent circumstances surrounding non-use and the underlying circumstances of limited users were identified. Non-engagement impacted participants’ everyday lives in many ways, regardless of their level of technological use or non-use.

Primary supervisor: Sora Park

Nicole MathisonNicole Mathison

'An examination of the role of effective knowledge practices stimulating and supporting technological innovation’

Research interests: Research interests include creativity, invention, and innovation in individuals and in cultures. Social and organisational network analysis and the illumination of connections between inventors, creators, innovators, innovation incubators, research and development hubs, and communities. Exploring the role of geography, urban planning, infrastructure and investment in the transition from invention to innovation.

Primary supervisor: Sally Burford.

Kieran McGuinnes

'Secret public policy: the rhetoric of major defence procurement in government and news media'

Aim: to investigate the use of rhetoric and strategies of mass persuasion by journalists, politicians and lobby groups in public discourse relating to the future submarine project (SEA1000)

Method/s: critical discourse analysis

Initial findings: Discourses relating to the project are heavily politicised, centring on debates over hyper-regionalised economic and political risks rather than international geopolitical relationships or rational cost-benefit analysis of the project and its goals.

Primary Supervisor: Kerry McCallum

Catherine Page Jeffery

'Media Technologies of Parenting: Children and Digital Culture'

Aim: to explore parental anxieties and practices in relation to children’s use of technologies.

Method/s: focus groups and interviews with parents of teenagers.

Initial findings: Most parents interviewed are concerned to varying degrees about their children’s use of technology, and employ a number of strategies to regulate and manage their children’s use.

Primary supervisor: Glen Fuller.

Anji PereraAnji Perera

The nexus of water communication, youth engagement and digital media: engaging the disengaged to shrink the water foot print

Aims: Engaging the disengaged in a way that they want to be connected is timely for the water sector, because if this is not fixed now it might cost more at times of crisis.

Keys aims are as follows.

  • Investigate effects of tailoring water smart messages to targeted audiences
  • Explore ways of maximising engagement opportunities:  right message, right medium, right driver for stimulation
  • Gather social intelligence to gain fresh strategic communication insights to empower youth: transform knowledge into actionable practices
  • Help inform possible strategies and educational ‘toolkits’ for active participants in the digital age
  • Spread the impact of water wise thinking across youth

Primary supervisor:  Mathieu O’Neil

Shara Ranasinghe

'Enhancing Patient-centred Cancer Communication during cancer treatment '

Aim: to examine the communication experiences of cancer patients, health professionals (Oncologist & Oncology nurses) and carers during the course of the cancer patient’s treatment in order to enhance patient-centred communication (PCC) and improve quality care for the cancer patient during treatment stage.

Method/s: semi-structured interviews

Initial Findings: Stigma of cancer continues to prevail in the community. Appropriate PCC can impact patient outcomes and is positively associated with patient-centred care such as; patient satisfaction, emotional health, symptom management and adherence to treatment.

Primary supervisor: Kate Holland.

Prue Robson

'Positioning Canberra: the effectiveness of place image communications in attracting residents to cities facing unfavourable stereotypes’

Aim: to examine how effective place image communications are at having prospective residents view a place as desirable to live, especially when an outdated, unfavourable, or stereotypical reputation exists.

Method/s: mixed methods case study combining document analysis and surveys.

Primary supervisor: Deborah Lupton.

Theresa Ryan

And where she goes: an analysis of leadership models for Indigenous women in Australia'

Aim: identify common leadership frameworks as a foundation upon which to further build towards the maturation and success of Indigenous women’s leadership

Method/s: yarning and Dadirri involving 20 Indigenous female leaders

Initial findings: (a) the term 'leadership' was interpreted by Indigenous female leaders in a different way to accepted Western definitions, and (b) Indigenous female leadership has a broader implementation than Western concepts of leadership.

Primary Supervisor: Kerry McCallum.

Sonya SandhamSonya Sandham

'The art of anecdote: The value of embedding oral storytelling as a communication practice in the workplace'

Aim: to explore the value of oral storytelling as one way of recognising the diverse stakeholder voices and stories circulating in organisations and how these stories and antestories are used to frame a vision of the future. This research also seeks to identify alternatives to current normative internal communication practices, including top-down and linear modes of storytelling.

Method/s: ethnography, thematic network analysis and digital methods for cross-platform analysis.

Initial findings: Voice is a site of tension in organisational communication and the value, and risk, of inviting stakeholder voices in is contested. The role of communication practitioners in configuring the voices and stories that are heard in internal communication will be examined in terms of the perceived social and organisational value of a broader invitation to speak in the workplace.

Primary supervisor: Glen Fuller.

Prarawan SenachaiPrarawan Senachai

The role of Thai Traditional Medicine (TTM) in Thailand

Aim: to explore the roles and meanings of TTM for Thai citizens in their lives in order to develop the communication and media for the promotion of TTM in Thailand by the government.

Method/s: focus groups with users and non-users and in-depth interviews with health professionals.

Initial Findings: The consumer participants had demonstrated a high level of awareness of TTM in the traditional form, whereas 61.40% of them had been unaware of the finished forms of TTM, and only 21.05% of them had actually used them. Moreover, only 10.52% had realized that TTM’s finished form was available in the marketplace. Both consumers and health professionals had exhibited only a superficial knowledge about using TTM. Currently the beliefs about TTM’s traditional form have become obsolete, devalued, and (is) no longer proper to use.  

Primary supervisor: Glen Fuller

Katharine StuartKatharine Stuart

'Understanding records management in a digital Australian government'

Aims: Through surveys and focus groups with information workers from across the Australian Government, this project aims to:

  • provide a contemporary understanding of the relationship between records and information in a digital Australian Government
  • explore how the increase in the creation and use of digital information has affected records management practice in the Australian Government
  • determine the relevance of records management in how the Australian Government uses, manages and controls digital information

Method/s:  For this research an inductive approach will be taken, whereby observations and analysis of the data build theory (Crotty, 1998). This study will use a mixed-method approach and data will be collected from participants within the Australian government sector. The research methods to be used are:

1.         a survey, and
2.         a series of focus groups

Primary supervisor: Sally Burford.

Temple Uwalaka

'Mobile internet and democratic governance in Nigeria'

Aim: investigate the impact of mobile internet on the rise of digital activism among Nigerian university students during the 2012 Occupy Nigeria protest.

Method/s: quantitative survey of media platforms used by student protesters; semi-structured qualitative interviews on protestors’ experiences.

Initial findings: controlling for other factors, mobile social networking applications and social media use increased the odds that a student attended the first day of the 2012 Occupy Nigeria protests.

Primary supervisor: Jerry Watkins.

PhD Completions

Melissa Sweet: “Acknowledgement”A social journalism research project relating to the history of lock hospitals and other forms of medical incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Michelle Dunne Breen: 'Discursive Depletion: the Fourth Estate and Aboriginal opposition to the Northern Territory Emergency Response 2007' (Graduated April 2015). Primary supervisor Kerry McCallum.

James Mahoney: 'Strategic horizons: a paradigm for strategic communication planning and management in organisational contexts' (Graduated April 2015). Primary supervisor Kerry McCallum.

David Marshall: 'Political discourse in a media saturated environment: the Howard Government's approach to communicating with the Australian electorate' (Graduated April 2015). Primary supervisor Kerry McCallum.

Lisa Waller: 'The dynamic interplay of news media and bilingual education policy in Australia's Northern Territory 1988-2008' (Graduated September 2013). Primary supervisor Kerry McCallum.

Katrina Clifford: 'The Thin Blue Line of Mental Health: Mediated Representations of Police Use of Force in Mental Health Crisis Interventions'. (Graduated March 2013). Primary supervisor Warwick Blood.