Research Edge

January 2015 - Issue 1
University of South Australia PhD candidate Skye Akbar

Boosting local engagement with Aboriginal tourism

Whether for stark desert expanses, lush tropical rainforests, winding 4WD journeys or something altogether different, remote Australia draws tourists from around the globe to its unique landscapes and experiences.

In the tourism mix is a range of Aboriginal-owned-and-operated enterprises, which are popular with overseas visitors, but draw fewer domestic tourists.

To find answers to this demographic discrepancy, School of Marketing PhD candidate Skye Akbar is examining how remote Aboriginal tourism is marketed to domestic consumers.

“Aboriginal tourism ventures receive a higher number of international customers, but domestic tourists can access remote Australian destinations more easily,” Skye says, “so the visitor numbers should be reversed.”

“I’m trying to work out what domestic customers’ barriers are. Are they physical or mental barriers to consuming the product?”

In the first project of its kind, Skye has interviewed remote Aboriginal tourism operators to find out what products they are offering, how they are marketing them, and what they believe the barriers might be.

She also developed a domestic market survey to find out more about local perceptions of Aboriginal tourism – the results of which she is now examining.

“Typically, marketing of remote destinations is targeted, for example at 50-to-70-year-olds with a caravan, and this excludes other potential customers. Plus, there are stereotypes of remote areas which are promoted by media, movies, 4WD ads and other marketing,” she says.

“Aboriginal businesses experience a very different domestic base, which I am still in the process of defining.”

Skye’s hope is that her research will give Aboriginal operators insight into how best to reach the domestic market.

“I hope to be able to share with them what people currently think of Aboriginal tourism, and how that might inform future marketing.”

As well as marketing strategies, Skye has a keen interest in community economic development for remote communities.

“In remote areas there are people who are seriously capable, but without the right networks it’s hard for things to grow.”

“In a remote economy you can’t just do one individualised job – you have to do seven to get anywhere.”

Skye says access to basic infrastructure also poses a challenge to the development of remote tourism enterprises.

“If there’s mining nearby you’ll have good infrastructure,” she says.

“If not, there are much greater challenges – no internet, no mail, and more.”

“I grew up in a remote area, so I know the challenges first-hand.”

Skye’s PhD has taken her even further afield, and she has just returned from a study tour to the US and UK which took in UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, New York University, Cambridge and Oxford over five weeks.

This opportunity arose through the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour, which sponsors Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on a tour of some of the world’s most prestigious universities, and is designed to entice them to form research collaborations and study opportunities at their institution.

Through the tour, Skye says she gained understanding of international higher education systems, benefitted from networking with students and staff at each institution, developed invaluable networks with other Indigenous and First Nations students, and got a taste of coping with culture shock.

“It was an adventure I couldn’t have even imagined before,” she says.

“I met some amazing people at the different universities, and have continued these relationships since I got back. It was also great to meet other First Nations people from around the globe – people just connected immediately.”

“Some of the traditions at these institutions were overwhelming, but interesting to learn about.”

The tour also reinforced Skye’s career aspirations.

“It’s clear there are not many people looking at Indigenous tourism from a business base,” she says.

“I would really like to be an academic because I love research. I just love it. This tour really reaffirmed that.”

University of South Australia PhD candidate Karen Grogan

Managing bullying in the workplace

Insidious, malicious and often invisible, workplace bullying can transform a regular job into a daily hell, and can leave targets feeling they have nowhere to turn.

First-hand experience with workplace bullying and its destructive effects led School of Management research student Karen Grogan to a PhD examining the phenomenon.

“I was a target of a workplace bully, but had no language for the situation. Why was this person operating like this? Why did they want to destroy rather than create?” Karen says.

“This person used techniques like screaming, public humiliation, undermining, depriving people of meaningful work – and I just didn’t understand why.

“I remember watching my life’s work, and that of my colleagues, being disassembled. It was a total annihilation of what I was.

“So I started reading and I started writing. I built networks online and locally, and in wanting to reskill and build confidence, I arrived at research.”

Karen’s project focuses on the public sector environment – where she experienced her bullying – and how its policies and procedures translate to practice.

“I came to this PhD having been bullied mercilessly. I didn’t realise how damaging it had been, but now know that the hideous consequences are well documented,” she says.

“My research is looking for critical points where early intervention might help retain the target staff member in the organisation, or change the bully’s behaviour.”

Karen’s PhD, which has just undergone examination, combined data from three studies. The first, a negative acts questionnaire, asked public servants about bullying experiences at work.

Results revealed that the proportion of workers in the South Australian public service experiencing a negative act at least once a week was higher than international figures.

The second study comprised interviews with a subset of these respondents.

“A key result from the interviews is that respondents identified bullying as part of the culture of the public sector,” Karen says.

“Respondents reported wanting managers to intervene, create a safe environment, and take complaints seriously.”

The final study was a series of interviews with public service managers, which focused on how they respond to bullying.

“Results showed that mostly they do nothing – they hunker down, gather more information, and wait and see,” Karen says.

“A few – very few – did respond to bullying in a non-judgemental and investigative way.

“What’s revealed is a mismatch between workers' expectation and managers’ action. Managers, often unsure of how to address poor behaviours, want evidence and to be convinced that it is 'really bullying', so they are prepared to sit back and watch, while workers want something to happen to make it stop.

“This highlights a skills deficit, and a behaviour issue.”

From these studies, Karen created theoretical frameworks around workplace bullying, which demonstrate the importance of early intervention and managerial training.

“In bullying, early on, the target will try to fix the situation. It takes time for them to recognise that they are being bullied,” she says.

“Therefore, by the time the target goes to their manager, there has already been a time lapse, and the bullying has moved down the escalation pathway.

“Then if the manager just says, ‘prove it’, even more time elapses.

“Research shows that by this stage, targets tend to taper off and leave the organisation. So, if you don’t have an intervention strategy early, you’ll lose your staff member.

“It doesn’t have to be a full-blown investigation, but it has to be something. This moment is often lost through inaction.

“Managers need to intervene, provide opportunities to maintain relationships, and make the bullying stop. A key recommendation from my research is training for managers to identify and manage bullying, as they are often frightened or unsure about how to respond to reports of bullying.”

Karen’s own experience of being bullied, and fighting to have it recognised and addressed, took a heavy emotional toll, and the story ends on a slightly flat note.

“Bullying has very severe health consequences. Targets may never know the intentions of the perpetrator.”

“In my situation, eventually the perpetrator was investigated and given an opportunity to respond.”

“But they left the organisation overnight, only to pop up in another senior position somewhere else.”

Managing bullying

Karen offers the following tips for people experiencing workplace bullying:

  • Keep a diary. Outline each bullying event, and name people who were witnesses. Don’t leave this diary at work!
  • Find yourself a support person quickly, early on. Make use of employee assistance programs.
  • If you choose to make a complaint, consider whether you really have to stay in the organisation. If you don’t, update your CV and look elsewhere – particularly if the bullying is systemic or cultural, as one person cannot change an organisation.

For managers wanting to address the issue, Karen suggests:

  • Educate yourself on workplace bullying – there are plenty of books, papers and other resources.
  • Even if a bullying claim sounds unbelievable, the story might be true. Suspend your scepticism and don’t trivialise the situation.
  • Don’t dismiss bullying as a personality conflict. There’s always something more – look for what it is.
  • Intervene early to maintain your workforce.

Horse and foal in grassy field

Bringing global skills to horse vaccine development

Carla Giles from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Science was awarded a $5,000 travel grant last year, which saw her visit a number of American universities. Carla’s PhD is on the development of an adenoviral vector vaccine for Rhodococcus equi bacteria, which infects horses. She tells us about her trip...

My trip began in Florida where I spent six days in the laboratory of Dr Ted Ross at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida. Dr Ross is a notable researcher in Influenza vaccines, and his lab is also known for research into Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Dengue Fever and Chickungunya virus.

While in this lab I worked with Dr Ross’ postdoctoral scientists, who showed me new techniques and methods including the use of virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs are a new vaccine technology that take the antigenic or immune-system-stimulating portion of a virus and connect them together using a carrier protein to create a new vaccine platform. For many diseases this vaccine platform is much safer and more stable – it cannot cause disease, and may lead to new viable vaccine candidates.

I was also shown various virus assay techniques including the virus plaque assay, ELISPOT assay, VLP production and purification, and concentration-determining assays for VLPs. I was also introduced to in-depth flow cytometry analysis, with a 9-gated platform with cell-specific data generation, which greatly extended my technical capacity.

After Florida I travelled to the University of Georgia to visit Prof Steeve Giguère, an eminent researcher and clinician in equine surgery who particularly focuses on Rhodococcus equi (R. equi).

The aim of this visit was to initiate and develop future collaborations with this research group and learn equine and R. equi-specific techniques that will be necessary for future research on my current project and future grant applications.

While in the Giguère laboratory I was lucky enough to have his research technician and well-respected R. equi researcher Londa Berghaus dedicated to teaching me lab-based assays for the week. I learnt complex techniques such as how to jugular venepuncture a horse and how to perform a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) on horses, which were extremely different to my small-animal experiences.

These were exciting new techniques to learn, as they enable the collection of immune (macrophage) cells directly from the horse bronchus. This is useful for studying respiratory diseases, and to perform this on a horse has given me skills I will need when we take our current vaccine into horses. 

When working with horse macrophages and lymphocytes, particular steps must be taken as this cell is very fussy and has unusual quirks that are not seen in other mammalian species. The collected macrophages were utilised for macrophage-derived monocyte growth assays, where we isolate out specific macrophages and culture them for study. Once cultured, these cells are infected with R. equi and we can then study this bacteria in its natural environment and determine various parameters.

We also cultured lymphocytes for lymphocyte proliferation assays and detection using a non-radioactive assay (AlamarBlue) – a newer, safer assay that removes the need for radiation.

Following my visit to the University of Georgia I proceeded to Philadelphia for the World Vaccine congress, hosted by the International Society of Vaccines and the Elsevier journal Vaccine.

At this conference I presented a poster on my PhD work, ‘Development of an adenoviral vector vaccine for Rhodococcus equi in foals’. I was pleased with the response and discussion around the content, and received interest from the UK, USA and Australia. 

I was also invited to help with question and answer sessions during the plenary and breakout sessions, which gave me a chance to engage, discuss and meet with many of the world’s leading vaccine developers.

The conference was very interesting, and I learnt about breakthrough methodologies and refinements that could be beneficial in the future with our vaccine development.

The trip was an enjoyable learning experience through which I have met many people with different scientific backgrounds, and learnt new, cutting-edge skills and techniques that will allow me to continue to develop as a researcher.

The current round of International Travel Grants closes 15 February – these are for travel between July and December this year.

There will be another round closing 30 June, for travel between January and June next year. Make sure you plan ahead!

Register now for free animal ethics training course

If you will be using animals in your research you'll need to undergo training in ethics.

The next half-day training course is on 11 March. This is compulsory for all research degree students who will be using animals and who haven’t previously attended a course.

WHEN:  Wednesday 11 March 2015
8:30am sign-in, and the course concludes at 1pm
Bonython Hall, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace
COST: Free


These courses are run once a year, so don't miss out.

More information is available on the course website.

Note: the Animal Ethics Committee considers training whenever it assesses an application, and applications can be rejected if it is considered that any of the applicants – especially the primary or co-applicants – have not undertaken adequate training in ethics.

Young Statisticians Conference 2015 (be quick!)

The Young Statisticians Conference 2015 will be held at the University of Adelaide on 5 and 6 February.

Featuring two full days of presentations from young statisticians, internationally renowned keynote speakers (Sheila Bird, Terry Speed, Geoff Lee and Anna Munday), a careers panel session and a conference dinner, the Young Statisticians Conference is aimed at postgraduate students and early-career professionals in statistics and data analysis from around Australia and abroad.

All levels of experience and ages are welcome. See for more details.

Register here. Registration closes 31 January 2015.

Guide to publishing research

Need to determine the quality of a journal, or need advice around publishing?

The Library’s Publishing Research Guide brings together resources and services which can assist you in the publishing process. This includes:

  • Link to the Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory to determine if a journal is peer reviewed
  • Links to lists such as the ERA, Australian Business Deans Council ranked journal list to assist you in your journal selection
  • Links to other sources such as Cabell's Directories of Publishing Opportunities, Elsevier journal finder, Siemslegal World Law Journal Ranking 2011 and Washington and Lee’s Law Journals: Submissions and Rankings 2005-2012
  • Information on acceptance and rejection rates
  • Subscribed sources which provide indications of journal quality such as Journal Citation Reports used to determine the journal’s impact factor; Scopus and Scimago journal rankings, journal h-indices from Web of Science, Google Scholar and Scopus
  • Information on Open Access
  • Tips from UniSA authors, publisher author instructions, ethics and compliance instructions
  • Copyright

The Guide is located at: Staff/Student portal > Library > Research > Workshops > Online, and complements the oncampus workshop “Publishing with impact: where and how” which will be running later in 2015.

The Graduate Research office is moving...

On Monday February 9 we will be opening the doors of our new office at 101 Currie Street, Adelaide.

So if you’d like to come in and speak with one of us about your research degree, please visit reception at level 1, 101 Currie Street, and ask for a Graduate Research staff member.

Note also that any documentation, including theses, will need to be sent to our new address.



Level 1, 101 Currie Street
Adelaide 5000

Graduate Research, Student and Academic Services
Level 2, 101 Currie Street
Adelaide 5000

All emails and phone numbers will stay the same.

The final day at our 29 North Terrace location will be Friday 6 February.

Update for supervisors


The following Supervising@UniSA workshops have been scheduled for 2015, and are available for registration:

  • Tuesday 24 February at City West
  • Tuesday 24 March at City East
  • Tuesday 7 July at Mawson Lakes
  • Thursday 13 August at Magill
  • Monday 30 November at City East


Research degree orientation dates

Research degree orientation for commencing students is scheduled for the following dates in 2015:

  • Tuesday 14 April 2015
    Basil Hetzel Lecture Theatre, City East
  • Monday 21 September 2015
    Alan Scott Auditorium, City West

Each session will run from 9am - 4pm (with registration from 8:30am).

Orientation is compulsory for all new research degree students. More information will be made available closer to each orientation date.

Update for administrators

Research degree orientation dates

Research degree orientation is scheduled for the following dates in 2015:

  • Tuesday 14 April 2015
    Basil Hetzel Lecture Theatre, City East
  • Monday 21 September 2015
    Alan Scott Auditorium, City West

Each session will run from 9am - 4pm (with registration from 8:30am).

More information will be made available closer to each orientation date.

Graduate Research Roadshows

We're running our roadshows again this year, to help you keep up to speed with everything that's happening in research degree administration.

Candidature information session

This session provides staff involved with research degree students with infomation required during a student's candidature, and covers the research student lifecycle, timelines, funding opportunities, thesis examination process and forms required by the Graduate Reseach Candidature team. Attendees only need to select one session.

Date Time Location  
Tuesday 3 March 2015 9.30am - 12.00pm Mawson Lakes
Book Now
Thursday 12 March 2015 9.30am - 12.00pm City West
Book Now
Monday 16 March 2015 2.30pm - 5.00pm Magill
Book Now

Admissions information session

This session provides staff involved with research degrees students with information about applicant eligibility, the admissions process and forms required by the Graduate Research Admissions team. Attendees only need to select one session.

Date Time Location  
Monday 27 July 2015 10.00am - 12.00pm Mawson Lakes
Book Now
Tuesday 28 July 2015 10.00am - 12.00pm Magill
Book Now
Wednesday 29 July 2015 10.00am - 12.00pm City West
Book Now


For more information regarding the Graduate Research Roadshows please contact Kim Hofmeyer, Research Degrees: Project Officer/Business Analyst.

City West campus image

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We'd love to hear from anybody who has useful insights or updates to share with the University of South Australia's research higher degree community. Get in touch – send any submissions or story ideas to

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Research degree student support

Research degree student support

The University of South Australia provides service and support throughout your time as a doctoral or masters by research student.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start in seeking help and advice. So, you may want to contact us with questions about:

  • Application and admission requirements and processes
  • Scholarships
  • Workshops and resources available to students
  • How to get the most out of a research degree
  • The research degree life cycle
  • Thesis examination
  • Completion and graduation

Get in touch: email (current students) or (prospective students), phone +(618) 8302 5880, or drop into the office at 29 North Terrace – we're open 9am-5pm weekdays.

NOTE: on Monday 9 February 2015 we will be opening in our new location at 101 Currie Street, Adelaide

You can also find out more about our services on our website.

GRC quick facts

Quick facts

> The Graduate Research office is relocating to 101 Currie Street, and will open in the new location on 9 February (more info...)

> Don't forget International Travel Grant applications close 15 February (more info...)

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