Heads Up, Undergraduate Research! Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research Is Calling

The Australasian Council for Undergraduate Research conference (ACUR) is running on September 27-28 this year at the University of Adelaide. 

Macquarie University organised the first and second Australasian Conferences (later changed to Council) of Undergraduate Research (ACUR) in 2012 and 2013, and a high-profile Posters in Parliament event at the Parliament, Canberra, in 2014.

Despite reported challenges and barriers to implementing undergraduate research in Australia, the inaugural ACUR 2012 was overwhelmingly successful with 130 presentations given by undergraduates on topics ranging across all disciplines. These conferences attracted numerous student volunteers, sponsorship, academic reviewers, and comments on social media. A whopping 450 students have presented their research to a combined audience of 650 individuals at ACUR conferences so far! The best papers have subsequently been published in undergraduate research journals.








Every student who submits an abstract is supported by a named academic supervisor in their university. There is evidence that some supervisors are using the conference as an assessment strategy for particular units of study where there is a research component.

Boost your students’ research skills

Have you got students working on a research project or paper? If yes, there is still time before abstract submissions close (June 8, 2017)! If not, next time you develop a new assignment, a research-based assessment, a research internship, etc., why not consider turning it into a conference presentation and/or a publication at ACUR? If your students require help, get them to join MUURSS (Macquarie University undergraduate research student society) and MURI (Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internships, or email MURI) for help, how-to’s and like (research)-minded company. Also, browse the resources provided on the Undergraduate Research in Australia website or self-enrol in the Undergraduate Research at Macquarie iLearn unit (enrolment key: undergraduate). Both have plenty of practical resources for students and supervisors.

Watch this space

Perhaps you’re thinking about engaging your students in some form of research and inquiry but don’t know where to begin. If you haven’t thought of courses in this way before, we are launching a series of posts to give you ideas about how you can change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies over the next ten weeks. These recommendations have been developed by Emeritus Professor Angela Brew. Angela makes ten simple suggestions to get you going that you can adapt to suit your particular context:

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

As part of the series ‘Ten easy ways to put research and inquiry into units’ every week we will elaborate one each point and provide practical examples. Watch this space!


For more on undergraduate research development at Macquarie and Australia, see:

  • Brew, A., & Mantai, L. (2013). Ensuring the Sustainability of an Annual International Conference of Australasian Undergraduate Research. (Final report)
  • Brew, A. (2010). ALTC National Teaching Fellowship: Enhancing Undergraduate Engagement through Research and Inquiry. (Final report)