Jelena Milicev

Funder: College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
Orcid iD: 0000-0003-0120-7495
PhD title: Using social network analysis to understand the social support and mental wellbeing of postgraduate researchers - a mixed methods approach


Jelena Milicev worked as a teacher before retraining as a psychologist, completing both her undergraduate and master’s degree at the University of Glasgow. Her master’s studies were funded by the University of Glasgow Research and Innovation Services. Therein, she conducted an extensive mixed methods research into the wellbeing of postgraduate researchers (PGRs). Her findings have been presented at national and international conferences and will inform the University’s efforts to improve PGR welfare and service provision. In her PhD, she continues to explore PGR wellbeing using social network analysis to examine the relationship between PGR welfare, academic outcomes and social support. Jelena is conducting her research as part of the Complexity programme at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.

Project abstract


An illustration of a network of people

Recent studies reveal that many postgraduate researchers (PGRs) report high rates of psychological distress, often associated with low levels of social support. On the other hand, PGRs who report good relationships with peers and supervisors, or describe their departments as supportive and inclusive, tend to experience higher levels of mental wellbeing and academic success. Nevertheless, there is little knowledge of how these relationships are formed and maintained, and how their specific structural and functional aspects interact with PGR outcomes. This knowledge is important, as it can help universities improve the wellbeing of the PGR community by targeting the social support system. The present study aims to contribute such knowledge by using a longitudinal approach and mixed methods social network analysis to explore the relationship between PGR social networks and wellbeing. An online survey will collect quantitative data on PGR wellbeing and social interactions, while qualitative interviews will explore lived experiences of developing, using, and maintaining these networks.

The study has been reviewed and approved by the College of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee (application number 300200020) and participant recruitment started in May 2021. Findings will be discussed with a variety of stakeholders in PGR wellbeing at the University of Glasgow with the aim to identify factors that could be modified to improve the wellbeing of the PGR community. For more information about the study, or to express interest in participating, please contact Jelena Milicev at


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