PhD Scholarship: Digital Media and Public Impact

This scholarship is for exceptional students to complete a PhD on audience engagement with scholarly communication, working with data to assess the impact of science news sites like The Conversation on the public understanding of academic research. The scholarship is part of a funded ARC Linkage Project led by Professor Axel Bruns from the Digital Media Research Centre in partnership with The Conversation and the Cooperative Research Centres Association (CRCA).

Available for

You have to be applying for a QUT course to apply for this scholarship.

Student type:

  • Future domestic research students
  • Future international research students

Study type:

  • Postgraduate research


  • Creative Industries
  • Digital Media Research Centre

Application dates

Open date: 1 December 2017

Closing date: Applications must be received by COB (AEST) Wednesday 31 January 2018

Eligibility details

You must meet the entry requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at QUT, including any English language requirements for international students.

You must also:

  • meet QUT’s criteria for Honours 1 equivalence
  • plan to research a topic that aligns with the research project
  • be able to enrol as a full-time student
  • demonstrate experience in the use of digital methods and tools for media and communication (social media analytics, altmetrics, audience engagement patterns)

It would be advantageous to have:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the public policy agenda and debates relating to public impact of science
  • An interest in the quality of public debate around controversial issues of relevance to science (including the social sciences and humanities)
  • Demonstrated understanding of and experience in studying digital and social media communication

You can’t apply if you:

  • hold a research doctorate degree or equivalent research qualification
  • are receiving an equivalent award, scholarship or salary to complete a research degree that provides a benefit greater than 75% of this scholarship’s stipend rate.

What you receive

You’ll receive:

  • an annual living allowance paid fortnightly for up to 3 years, tax exempt and indexed annually ($26,682 in 2017)
  • a top-up scholarship of $4,000 per year for project costs, research activities, and conference or overseas travel.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship, email the following to Professor Axel Bruns ( and Professor Patrik Wikström (

  • your CV
  • a broad description of your approach to the research agenda of this project (maximum 500 words)

What happens next

We will advise you of the outcome of your application by mid-February 2018. If your application is successful, you will need to accept the offer within 2 weeks. We expect you to begin your research degree in early 2018.


The scholarship duration is up to 3 years. You are expected to complete your work and submit your thesis for external examination within this timeframe.


The project undertaken by the successful PhD candidate will be closely aligned with a national ARC-funded Linkage project Amplifying Public Value: Scholarly Contributions’ Impact on Public Debate. The QUT research team is led by Prof. Axel Bruns and includes Prof. Jean Burgess, Distinguished Prof. Stuart Cunningham, Prof. Patrik Wikström and Assoc. Prof. Nicolas Suzor. The project is based in QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, under the Digital Methods program.

Publicly funded researchers and agencies are increasingly expected to respond to the need for greater detail and transparency of the impact of their contributions to wider public value, public debate and opinion formation. Working closely with partners The Conversation and Cooperative Research Centres Association, this project applies groundbreaking, mixed-methods analytical techniques to improving the assessment of impact of scholarly public intellectual content. It does this by investigating the contribution of ‘amplifier platforms’ to the impact of public intellectual outputs on public debate, as well as how these services impact on researchers’ and public intellectuals’ career trajectories.

The project will improve the evidence base internationally for the public impact and value of publicly funded scholarly research. It will provide robust indicators of the impact of platforms for scholarly public intellectual content. It will impact on policy and organisational process by developing recommendations for scholars, their institutions, and government impact assessment schemes that are designed to strengthen the impact of scholarly public communication on the public debate.