Doctoral stress

Stress levels in doctoral students have long been of concern (Kearns, Gardiner & Marshall, 2008; Offstein, Larson, McNeill & Mwale, 2004). Not only do they effect doctoral completion rates and retention, they have been found to have a detrimental impact on students overall wellbeing. Research suggests that student stress and burn-out are not indicators associated with the individual but reflects an inconsistency in the relationship between the individual and the environment (Meriläinen & Kuittinen, 2014). Institutions therefore have an obligation to ensure the environments students are operating in do not contribute to stress or burn-out. This study is an attempt to pioneer new advances in digital technologies that could result in students being able to self-monitor their stress. We are also confident that through this initial study we can develop a process for identifying the core stressors associated with doctoral study.

The academic office

The structure, content and process of the way we work as academics has changed considerably since the last century. Work is now more cognitively complex, collaborative, more dependent on technological competence, more time pressured and more mobile. To understand the impact of these changes on the daily practice of academics, this study analyses office design and configuration in search of useful indicators of changes in practice. We know that the nature of spaces depends on the cultural contexts in which they are constructed and arranged. In this sense, office spaces are living spaces that embody personal and career characteristics and therefore will, through configuration and design, embody visual symbols of the times. By investigating these configurations, particularly the individual and collective input that has created and ordered these spaces, we should be able to identify particular work customs that exist through certain space configurations.