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History researcher development and research capacity in Australia and New Zealand

Terry Evans (School of Education, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Ian Brailsford (Centre for Academic Development, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Peter Macauley (School of Business Information Technology & Logistics, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal for Researcher Development

ISSN: 2048-8696

Article publication date: 11 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present data and discussion on history researcher development and research capacities in Australia and New Zealand, as evidenced in analysis of history PhD theses' topics.


The paper is based on two independent studies of history PhD thesis topics, using a standard discipline coding system.


The paper shows some marked differences in the Australian and New Zealand volumes and distributions of history PhDs, especially for PhDs conducted on non‐local/national topics. These differences reflect national researcher development, research capacities and interests, in particular local, national and international histories, and have implications for the globalisation of scholarship.

Research limitations/implications

Thesis topics are used as a proxy for the graduate's research capacity within that topic. However, as PhD examiners have attested to the significance and originality of the thesis, this is taken as robust. The longitudinal nature of the research suggests that subsequent years' data and analysis would provide rich information on changes to history research capacity. Other comparative (i.e. international) studies would provide interesting analyses of history research capacity.

Practical implications

There are practical implications for history departments in universities, history associations, and government (PhD policy, and history researcher development and research capacity in areas such as foreign affairs).

Social implications

There are social implications for local and community history in the knowledge produced in the theses, and in the development of local research capacity.


The work in this paper is the first to collate and analyse such thesis data either in Australia or New Zealand. The comparative analyses of the two datasets are also original.



Evans, T., Brailsford, I. and Macauley, P. (2011), "History researcher development and research capacity in Australia and New Zealand", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 117-132.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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