Tag Archives: Sport management

Am I doing the right thing? Choosing my research question

I am one month into my PhD and as a perfectionist I need to remind myself that doing a PhD is a learning process. I often feel like I should know how to do research already, isn’t that why they accepted me into the program? I had to prove that I was capable of doing research to get in …

I had my first meeting with my supervisors recently and discovered that my research goals were too broad. Now I know that this is common to most PhD students, we get into research because we are passionate about a topic and want to change/understand a topic. My first feeling was that of disappointment, I thought I was on the right track, I thought that I was going to impress my supervisors with my plan and show them how amazing I was… I have to say that my supervisors were not negative about what I had done, and most of the meeting was spent discussing what options I had for methodologies and how to whittle down my research topic and I came away with a plan of how to proceed. So my disappointment was mostly that I had had this belief that my research was going to be the answer to what I believe is an issue that needs to be changed (see Does my PhD have to change the world? on the Thesis Whisperer), and post-meeting I realised that I was only going to be able to research one age group, in one sport, in one location, not for all sports around Australia.

The first thing I did was debrief with a friend who has their PhD, so they know what the process is about. This friend told me that I need to relax and remember that if I’ve gone down the wrong path that it is not wasted time, but that I have learned something; they said that if people “did” research the right way every time that there would be nothing left to research – cancer would already be cured, because the researchers would have chosen the “right” research from the first time.

So after debriefing with my friend, which made me feel better, the next thing I did was head to the library and seek out books on these new methodologies that I was not as knowledgeable about. I plan to read up on methodologies and try talking about my research with as many people as I can to see what I’m most passionate about, what I can achieve in the PhD time, and what is interesting to other people.

I know it is common for new PhD students to struggle to find the right research topic and that my issue is not new, but being the person that I am, I wonder how to try make sure that I am going in the right direction.


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Conferences, networking and PhD decisions

Conference presentation

Next Friday I will be doing my very first conference presentation! I am presenting at the Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS) conference in Melbourne.

This is the first time that I will be standing up in front of other academics and presenting my research. As the date draws closer I am starting to feel nervous. I am yet to submit my research as a journal article (although that is pretty close to submission), so this is a big test for how my research is received in the sport management academic community.

I am also looking forward to seeing what a conference is like and networking with people who have been around longer than I in the field. I am sure that I will learn a lot by attending a number of different presentations at the conference.

Networking and PhD decisions

Whilst I am primarily going to Melbourne for the ANZALS conference, I have organised a couple of meetings with industry to try decide on a tighter PhD research topic and see whether what I want to study fits with their research agendas. I have heard both positive and negative information to working with industry for my PhD, and am unsure which way will suit me best.

Negative: I understand that when working with industry I may not have as much flexibility if the topic needs to be altered and I may not have as much control over my research.

Positive: I realise the importance of developing strong bonds with industry, so that my research can have practical applications and real-world impact. Industry-led research can also provide links and introductions to associations who may be more willing to become involved in the research with a well-known name behind the research.

I have a little bit longer to work on my PhD preparation, I don’t need to start until February next year. I am currently working hard on finishing a couple of research projects before Christmas. Before starting I plan to do a bit more reading on the different theories that may be relevant to my studies, as whichever I choose will need to be defended and I will need to justify why I did not choose another theory.


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The Beginning of my Research Career

I have always had a passion for sport and been involved in sports as a player, official or volunteer since very young. I always knew that I wanted to have something to do with sport as a career.

I completed my secondary studies and decided to put off going to University while I did a traineeship with Canoe South Australia. A traineeship requires you to undertake a TAFE Certificate along with working over one year. I completed a Certificate III in Sport and Recreation, majoring in Administration. After finishing my traineeship I undertook a Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation, majoring in Events.

I then ended up going to University to do a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management. I my first year of a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management at the University of South Australia I had a Program Director, Dr Duncan Murray, who instilled in me a passion for university and I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the tertiary system. Duncan is a passionate lecturer and very encouraging of students.

On completion of my undergraduate degree I went to work at the University of Ballarat in an administrative role in the School of Human Movement and Sport Sciences, and then a marketing position for the University of Ballarat. Again, I was lucky enough to meet and work with administrative and academic staff who encouraged me and my desire to continue my studies.

When I decided to go back to studying I chose the location, Edith Cowan University in Perth, because of the two people I had chosen as my supervisors. Dr Alicia Stanway and Dr Olan Scott agreed to be my Honours supervisors and supported me through the ups and downs that go along with it.

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