Are you a Matt, Matilda or Molly? Ask an MGA advocate – HDR edition

Are you an HDR student? Do any of these scenarios look familiar to you? 


I am doing a PhD on a competitive, industry-funded project. I love my research and I have invented an amazing device. I have two supervisors; my main supervisor reports to his associate supervisor who is the lead investigator on the project. There are also a number of postdocs working on the project. I am doing a thesis by publication. I’ve done all the work (including experiments and analysis) for a journal article. But when it came time to publish, the lead investigator suggested that one of the postdocs should be listed as first author. I am devastated because this postdoc had no input. I am also really worried that my invention is at risk of being hijacked. 

MGA advocate

The first thing we alerted Matt to was the Monash University Authorship Policy and Authorship Procedure. In order to be named as author or co-author to any research output such as a journal article or book chapter, there must have been added value by that person. We pointed out to Matt that the policy makes it clear that:

While authorship depends to some extent on the discipline, significant scholarly contribution must include at least one of the following:

  • conception and design of the project;
    • significant or non-routine collection of data that has required significant intellectual judgement and input;
    • analysis or interpretation of data for the creation of the research output, where this contributes to the intellectual shaping of the research; and/or,
    • drafting significant parts of the research output or critically revising it in a way that contributes to its interpretation. 


I desperately need a travel grant. All of my research depends on work I need to do outside of Melbourne. Can I still travel for research purposes during a pandemic?

MGA advocate

The first thing we checked was whether Matilda had discussed this situation with her supervisors. Was Matilda’s research approved to go ahead during the pandemic or were there options for variations discussed? These are important questions to clarify because, depending on the nature of the research and approval from the department and faculty, Matilda’s research may or may not be able to be conducted as originally planned.


I am in my second year of my PhD and I haven’t yet attended a conference or written a paper. In my progress review, the panel recommended that I attend at least one international conference. I’ve found a good one that I am keen to attend, but due to COVID I’ve had to cancel my plans. I am concerned this might affect my progress. 

MGA advocate

Because all travel has been deferred due to COVID, the Graduate Research Committee decided to re-assign the centrally-allocated travel funds to support additional Graduate Research Completion Awards.  However the faculties co-fund these travel awards so it has been suggested to faculties that they use their funds to support students by covering the cost of registration to online conferences.  

Moving forward, Molly should contact her supervisor in the first instance to request if she can attend the international conference virtually.   If not resolved at this level, Molly should inquire with her Graduate Research Manager.

Rest assured that these cases are real, even if the names are not. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, there’s no need to suffer in silence! It is too stressful to feel alone. 

Does MGA have all the answers to these HDR problems? No. 

Will what you tell us be confidential? Yes, absolutely.  

Can we help? Yes, definitely! Because we have years and years of experience and we can identify the issues for you. We know that when stressed, students find it difficult to focus. So we provide you with options without pressure to act upon them. We listen so you don’t feel alone, which is empowering in itself. In some cases, like Molly’s, we are often the first ‘in the know’.  

So please don’t hesitate to contact us with any matter large or small on

Do you have more questions?

If you have a quick query, text a message to our MGA Support Buddy on WhatsApp: 0497 131 698. The Support Buddy is available from Monday to Friday between 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Find out more about the MGA Support Buddy on our website.