Margot Pearson

BA, MA Hons, (Auckland) EdS (Michigan)
Visiting Fellow

Research interests

ARC Research Capacity Building, PhD programs

Professional interests

Formerly Director of the University's Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods (CEDAM), Margot has been involved in research on higher and doctoral education and research training since the early 1990s. Her earlier publications have drawn on three substantial government funded research studies (Cullen, Pearson, Saha & Spear, 1994; Pearson & Ford, 1997; Thompson, Pearson, Akerlind, Hooper & Mazur, 2001) that have extended our understanding of how research training is constituted for both doctoral students and early career researchers.

She is a founding and current member of the Steering Group for fIRST; a member of IDERN, an international group of researchers on doctoral education and regularly reviews for international journals.

Recent funded research projects

2006-2009 ARC Discovery Project: Research capacity-building: the development of the Australian PhD programs in national and emerging global contexts (CI with T. Evans, Deakin & P. Macauley, RMIT), now leading to conference papers and publications.

DEEWR/ARC funded project (offshoot of ARC Discovery) to produce a database of PhD thesis records 1989-2006 using RFCD codes (Macauley, P., Evans, T. & Pearson, M. (2009)) with an extension in 2011 to update the database and trial coding on 3 categories using ANZSRC codes.

2005-2007 ARC Linkage Grant Project CI with T. Evans & P. Macauley: Working Students: Reconceptualising the doctoral experience.  This project produced 2 PhD theses by students funded on the project, and analyses of a national survey of PhD students carried out in 2005 that produced data on the characteristics and activities of contemporary doctoral candidates including their workforce participation, family and domestic responsibilities, and goals.


Margot is co-supervising 1 PhD student, and is on 3 PhD supervisory panels as an adviser in the Graduate Research Field of Education at the ANU.

Selected publications in doctoral education

Pearson, M., Cumming, J., Evans, T.,  Macauley, P. & Ryland, K. (2011) How shall we know them? Capturing the diversity of difference in Australian doctoral candidates and their experiences.  Special issue in Studies in Higher Education.

Macauley, P., Evans, T. & Pearson, M. (2010). Classifying Australian PhD theses: linking research and library practices. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 41, 1, 1-13.

Macauley, P., Evans, T. & Pearson, M. (2010) Australian PhDs by LIS educators, researchers and practitioners: Depicting diversity and demise. Library & Information Science Research, 32:4.

Pearson, M. Cowan, A. & Liston, A. (2009) PhD education in science: producing the scientific mindset in biomedical sciences. In (Eds.) Boud, D & Lee, A., Changing Practices in Doctoral Education, Routledge. 

Pearson, M., Evans, T. & Macauley, P. (2008) Growth and diversity in doctoral education: assessing the Australian experience. Higher Education, 55, 357-372.

Pearson, M. (2005a) Framing research on doctoral education in Australia in a global context, Higher Education and Research and Development, 24,2, 119-134.

Pearson,M. (2005b) Changing contexts for research education: Implications for supervisor development. In P. Green, (ed.) Supervising Postgraduate Research: Contexts and Process, Theories and Practices,RMIT University Press,11-29

Macauley, P., Evans, T., Pearson, M. & Tregenza, K. (2005) Using digital data and bibliometric analysis for researching doctoral education, Higher Education Research & Development 24, 2, 189- 199.

Pearson, M., Evans, T. & Macauley, P. (2004) The Working Life of Doctoral Students: Challenges to Traditional Conceptions of Research Education and Training, Studies in Continuing Education, 26, 3, pp. 347-353.

Pearson, M. & Kayrooz, C. (2004) Enabling critical reflection on research supervisory practice,International Journal for Academic Development, 9,1, pp. 99-116.

Pearson, M. & Brew, A. (2002) Research Training and Supervision Development, Studies in Higher Education, 27, 2, pp.135-150.

Pearson, M. (2001) Research Supervision - Mystery and Mastery, in Higgs, J. & Titchen, A. (Eds.), Practice knowledge and expertise in the health professions , Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Thompson, J., Pearson, M., Akerlind, G., Hooper, J. & Mazur (2001). Postdoctoral training and employment outcomes (Canberra, Department of Employment, Education, Science and Training, Evaluation and Investigations Program).

Evans, T. & Pearson, M. (1999) Off-campus doctoral research and study in Australia : emerging issues and practices, in Holbrook, A. & Johnston, S. (Eds.), Review of Australian Research in Education , No 5. Victoria : AARE

Pearson, M. (1999a) The changing environment for doctoral education in Australia: implications for quality management, improvement and innovation, Higher Education and Research and Development, 18, 3, pp. 269-287.

Pearson, M. (1999b) Rethinking the Past and the Future of the PhD in the Humanities and Social Sciences, a response to: "Forged in Fire: Narratives of Trauma in PhD Supervision Pedagogy", Alison Lee and Carolyn Williams, Southern Review, 32.2, pp. 186-190.

Pearson, M. & Ford, L. (1997) Open and Flexible PhD Study and Research. E&I, DEET, Canberra: AGPS.

Pearson, M. (1996) Professionalising PhD education to enhance the quality of the student experience,Higher Education, 32, pp. 303-320.

Cullen, D., Pearson, M., Saha, L. J. & Spear, R. H. (1994) Establishing Effective PhD Supervision. E&I, DEET, Canberra: AGPS.

Grant, B & Pearson, M. (2007) Approaches to doctoral supervision in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. In (Eds) Denholm C. & Evans, T.,  pp. 11-18, Supervising doctorates downunder: Keys to effective supervision in Australia and New Zealand. Victoria: ACER.

Selected conference papers on doctoral education

Austin, A., Kiley, M., Pearson, M. (2009) Critical Issues in Doctoral Education: Comparison of Challenges and Responses in Australia and the United States. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Vancouver.

Halse, C., Kiley, M., Malfroy, J., Mowbray, S., Neumann, R., Pearson, M. (2009) Re-theorising the value and impact of the Doctorate. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association 2009Annual Meeting,San Diego, California, April 13-17.

Pearson, M. Cumming, J., Evans, T.Macauley, P. & Ryland, K. (2008) Exploring the extent and nature of the diversity of the doctoral population in Australia: a profile of the respondents to a 2005 national survey. Paper presented at the Quality In Postgraduate Research Conference: Research education in the new global environment', 17-18 April, Adelaide (

Evans, T.D., Macauley, P., Pearson, M. & Tregenza, K. (2004) Why do a 'prof doc' when you can do a PhD? Paper presented to the 'Working doctorates: the impact of Professional Doctorates in the workplace and professions', 5th International Conference on Professional Doctorates, Geelong.

Evans, T.D., Macauley, P., Pearson, M. & Tregenza, K. (2003a) A brief review of PhDs in Creative and Performing Arts in Australia. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education mini-conference, 'Defining the Doctorate', Newcastle, October 2-4 (

Evans, T.D., Macauley, P., Pearson, M. & Tregenza, K. (2003b) A decadic review of PhDs in Australia. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference, Brisbane, November 29-December 2 (

Pearson, M. (2000) Flexible postgraduate research supervision in an open system, in: Kiley, M. & Mullins , G. (Eds.) Quality in Postgraduate Research: Making ends meet. Proceedings of the 2000 quality in Postgraduate Research Conference , Adelaide April 13-14, ACUE, University of Adelaide , pp.103-118.

Austin, A., Kiley, M., Pearson, M. (2009) Critical Issues in Doctoral Education: Comparison of Challenges and Responses in Australia and the United States. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Vancouver, October.