The Virtual Graduate Research Marathon: Engaging with Doctoral Candidates Remotely

Poster Description: This poster describes how librarians and School of Education faculty and administrators cultivated existing relationships to collaborate on planning the EdD Virtual Research Marathon. Discussed are the methods used to understand doctoral students’ perceptions regarding the value of participating in a virtual Marathon in support of their research. An achievable model to follow is provided for other academic librarians interested in adding value to the remote instructional services.

Poster: View StoryMaps presentation in a new tab.

Presenter Names: Melanie Fowler, Florida Southern College; Nora Galbraith, Florida Southern College; Victoria Giordano, Florida Southern College; Julie N. Hornick, Florida Southern College; Randall M. MacDonald, Florida Southern College; Marina Morgan, Florida Southern College; Steven Wade, Florida Southern College

Presenter Bios: Melanie Fowler is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and the Program Coordinator of the Doctor of Education program at Florida Southern College. Her research interests include Student Retention in Higher Education, Social Media Use, and Graduate Student Academic Coaching. Phone: 863-680-4135. Email:

Nora Galbraith has been the Resource Sharing Librarian at Florida Southern College for over twenty years and manages interlibrary loan, document delivery, and copyright. Phone: 863-616-6454. Email:

Victoria Giordano is Dean of the School of Education and faculty in the Doctor of Education program. Dr. Giordano has focused her research interests over her 40+ years in higher education in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment with an emphasis on teaching and learning in both traditional and online/remote learning environments. Phone: 863-680-5080. Email:

Julie Hornick is an Instructional Services Librarian at Florida Southern College where she provides instructional and research support to many different departments, including the School of Education. Her research interests include incorporating new technologies into instruction and the impact of embedded librarians on student achievement and retention. Phone: (863) 680-4496. Email:

Randall M. MacDonald has been Director of the Library at Florida Southern College since 2007, where since 1986 he also served as Reference Librarian and Collection Development Librarian. Phone: 863-680-4165. Email:

Marina Morgan is the Metadata Librarian at Florida Southern College. In her role, she supervises the Technical Services operations, develops procedures for processing all library materials, serves as the ILS administrator and the ProQuest ETD administrator, manages the Institutional Repository, and co-manages the Digital Collections. Phone: (863) 616-6450. Email:

Steven Wade has been an Instructional Services Librarian at Florida Southern College since 2015, and helps organize instruction and outreach events to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. Steven also manages electronic resources for the library. Phone: 863-616-6451. Email:

4 replies on “The Virtual Graduate Research Marathon: Engaging with Doctoral Candidates Remotely”

This is a great idea! Two questions: What was the process to get faculty to help with this huge event? Approximately how long did it take to migrate the marathon to an online format?

Hello Melissa,

In response to the first question about getting faculty to help:

An initial invitation was sent out to faculty explaining the research marathon and the benefits of their presence. We targeted faculty who were currently teaching in the program, serving as dissertation chairs, or serving on a dissertation committee. In some cases we invited specific faculty members to present on a topic that we consider their specialty.

In response to the second question:

Moving the research marathon to an online format required more planning in advance but not necessarily more work. When the research marathon took place in person, students could simply show up the day of the event and have access to the program. The online format required that students make appointments in advance with faculty using sign-up genius. Students were not able to walk around the library and locate faculty so the advanced appointment was necessary in the online environment.

Faculty members that were conducting presentations could use the same PowerPoint materials that they had used previously. They did need to make some modifications in terms of handouts being delivered digitally versus in-person.

It was also necessary to have meeting links via MS Teams in advance so that they could be published on the program. However, Zoom breakout rooms were used for faculty meetings, presentations, quiet rooms, and other separate meeting spaces. Therefore, only one Zoom link was needed. Participants could move in and out of the breakout rooms on their own.

The initial save the date email went out approximately six weeks prior to the event. Participants received a draft program approximately one week before the event and then the final program was sent out a few days prior to the event.

Dr. Melanie Fowler

Great poster, when things go back to the new normal do you think you will still offer this online, go back to in-person, or a hybrid version?

Thank you for your comment, Rebecca.

The majority of students have said they prefer the in-person Research Marathon. However, the experience of developing and conducting the virtual Research Marathon has fostered to new ideas. We will likely carry some of the lessons learned from the virtual event to future in-person events. For example, we may continue to host resources on a shared folder, schedule in-person faculty one-on-one sessions in advance, and be open to inviting a guest speaker to attend virtually.

Dr. Melanie Fowler