The PGR9 (Confirmation of Candidature) is probably the most talked-about event in the first year of the PhD journey at AUT. Indeed, successfully passing this stage is a major leap towards that doctoral degree. While writing a research proposal in about 10,000 words is a huge task in itself, condensing this research idea into an oral presentation can be equally challenging.
Which is why in our Doctoral Tea Party, the peer mentoring group of postgraduate students at the School of Hospitality and Tourism, it became customary for us to practice our PGR9 (referred to here as ‘pre-PGR9 Presentation’) prior to subjecting our works to the critical eyes, ears and minds of the doctoral board. Doing so in front of our peers who had gone, or were about to go, through the same process provides a warm, safe and encouraging space to our colleagues. Below are what our recently confirmed PhD Candidates have to say about this tradition:
The opportunity to practice my PGR9 presentation in front of my PhD peers was just what I needed. With the presentation date fast approaching, there was only so much I could gain from talking to myself in front of the mirror! I presented to our Doctoral Tea Party peer mentoring group and their feedback on the content, design, and timing of my presentation was invaluable. I went into my presentation with a lot of confidence and was delighted to have my research proposal approved.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to my PhD buddies in our Doctoral Tea Party for helping me to shape my final PGR9 presentation. Their ruthless criticism, positive feedback and supportive role aided in my successful presentation. From the layout of the presentation to the content chronology, and the dos and don’ts in a presentation commentary – everything was covered by their valuable feedback. I cannot forget my supervisor’s comments the following day when he said: “You have great cookies in the doctoral tea party.” He was impressed by the level of insight in my PhD buddies’ reflections on my presentation.
In such an independent journey, it is really nice to be able to rely on individuals other than just your supervisors. With the PGR9 presentation practice-run, I had the feeling of ‘we care’. This practice presentation in front of my colleagues gave me much-needed mental support, as well as well-constructed suggestions on how I could do it better, slide-by-slide. It’s the ‘give and take’ opportunity for you to help your friends and get help. I would like to encourage you to do the same and get this supportive ‘we care’ feeling as I and the rest of my peer group did.
For me, it is always good to have as much practice as possible before the PGR9 candidature confirmation examination. The Doctoral Tea Party peer mentoring group was very helpful. Firstly, we all know each other. It created a friendly environment to share my research and get feedback. I was absolutely comfortable to talk to them and I could calculate the time exactly. Secondly, the feedback was very honest and constructive. I got comments not only on the structure of my presentation and the focus on my proposal, but also on my pronunciation of English words. I found the experience truly helpful to build up my confidence. Prior to this, I attended most of my colleagues’ PGR9 practice sessions. I am happy to help them somehow, and I learned from their presentations.
Passing the PGR9 stage is a crucial milestone to officially become a PhD candidate. If you practice the PGR9 enough, you will be nearly perfect at it. I significantly decreased my nervousness by carefully preparing myself and presenting in front of other PhD students. It was a great opportunity to receive feedback from friends on issues like tiny mistakes and re-structuring of slides. Also, timing is important in presentations. Setting up firm timing will help to identify the sequence of important and relevant information in the presentation. I can say that this made me more successful and confident as I approached my presentation.
About the Peer Mentoring Group
The Doctoral Tea Party is the peer mentoring group of postgraduate students at the School of Hospitality and Tourism. Postgraduate students working on the areas of tourism, hospitality, events and gastronomy are welcome to join us in our meetings. The group meets every last Wednesday of the month, and catch-up on #PhDlife over coffee, tea and cookies. For more information, please contact Richard Aquino at firstname.lastname@example.org.