HDR Candidature Management

HDR Theses and Examinations Procedure

Policy Code: RS1938

Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is to outline the expectations and responsibilities of University and Higher Degree by Research candidates regarding the presentation of theses and examination.

Scope

This procedure applies to:

  • all candidates enrolled in a HDR programs at FedUni
  • registered HDR supervisors
  • all individuals invited to participate in a HDR examination for a FedUni candidate, and
  • all staff with administrative responsibilities related to HDR students, supervisors and examiners.

This procedure also applies to all Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programs offered by FedUni, including:

  • Masters by Research
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Doctor of Professional Studies

Theses developed for undergraduate honours programs are not covered by this policy and procedure, and honours students should instead refer to School or course-specific information.

Legislative Context

  • Federation University Australia Act 2010
  • Regulation 5.1, Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Masters by Research and Professional Doctorate
  • The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)
  • Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015

Definitions

Term Definition
Approved submission date The approved date by which a candidate must submit their thesis.
ADR Associate Dean Research
Candidate Student enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research program.
Deferred An examination outcome; The thesis should be classified as DEFERRED; the thesis requires substantial revision and re-examination by external experts and the Candidate should be permitted to submit the thesis for examination in a revised form
DGRS Dean, Graduate Research School – FedUni staff member responsible for: academic oversight of HDR programs, HDR candidates and HDR supervision. The DGRS is assisted in this role by the ADRs.
Enrolment The process by which a person, having received a written offer of a place, registers their program and course of study with FedUni by submitting a form of enrolment signed by both the applicant and the course coordinator or person of equivalent authority.
Failed An examination outcome; The thesis should be classified as FAILED
FedUni Federation University Australia
Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Program One of the following courses of study: Masters Degree (Research), Doctoral Degree (Research), Doctoral Degree (Professional).
Higher Degree by Research candidate A student enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research Program at FedUni.
Graduate Research School (GRS) Central department of the University with oversight of matters pertaining to higher degree by research.
Major corrections An examination outcome; The thesis should be PASSED subject to major corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis requires new data collection, new or revised data analysis, substantive rewriting of one or more chapters, or a large volume of stylistic/presentation errors. These actions should be undertaken with ongoing input from the supervisory team)
Minor corrections An examination outcome; The thesis should be classified as PASSED, subject to minor corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis is suitable for conferral once the author has addressed nominated passages, textual errors, and referencing corrections. These actions should largely be able to be undertaken independently by the candidate)
Passed An examination outcome; The thesis should be classified as PASSED without further examination.
RHDC Research Higher Degrees Committee – A standing committee of Academic Board that deals with matters pertaining to Higher Degree by Research
RTP Research Training Program: Federal Government funding scheme that enables the provision of HDR fee offset and stipend scholarships.
School (School of enrolment) Academic unit at Federation University in which candidates are enrolled
SEC School Examination Committee – committee of the School of enrolment
Supervisor - Principal Supervisor (PS) A staff member of FedUni who meets the requirements of and has been approved for inclusion on the Register of Supervisors as a Principal Supervisor and has primary oversight of a HDR candidate’s research.

Actions

1. Thesis presentation

1.1  The thesis or folio components will normally be formatted on A4 international standard paper with mirrored margins set to inside at 3.18 cm and outside to 2.54 cm. Pages may be printed on one or both sides. Line spacing should be set to 1.5 (if using Harvard style) or double (if using APA style). Theses submission should ordinarily be made in PDF format unless approval is sought from the Graduate Research School before submission.

1.2 The title page of every volume (or the cover of every multimedia item submitted) will give the following information in the order listed:

  • the full title of the thesis
  • the subtitle (if any)
  • the full name of the author
  • the qualification for which the thesis is submitted
  • the name of the institution to which the thesis is submitted (this must be listed as Federation University Australia, not FedUni or any other forms or  abbreviations)
  • the month and year relating to when the thesis was originally submitted for examination; as well as the month and year when the thesis was accepted for the award of degree
  • *optional: the School in which the program of research and study was undertaken
  • *optional: the names of the supervisory panel.

1.3 The thesis will be presented in the following order:

  • title page
  • abstract of not more than two A4 pages. This will provide a synopsis of the thesis, clearly state the nature and scope of the researchundertaken, and of the contribution made to the knowledge of the subject
  • acknowledgments (to include acknowledgement of funding)
  • a signed declaration of authorship and originality of thesis (declaration)
  • a copyright statement
  • table of contents
  • table of tables and figures and other captioned content
  • table of publications and presentations arising from and/or relevant to the thesis work
  • if applicable, a signed declaration of the candidate's statement of contribution to any jointly-published work and any statement of the direct contribution of work by others that may be includedwithin the thesis
  • main text
  • references
  • appendices which should be labelled e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B etc.

1.4 The preferred typescripts are Times New Roman 12, Arial 11 or Calibri 12 or another font of similar size and appearance.

1.5 Ordinarily, page numbering is in the footer as follows:

  • title page - no pagenumber
  • front matter - small Roman numerals commencing at i and
  • main text and end matter - Arabic numerals commencing at 1.

1.6  Non-print materials which are an integral part of the thesis, but which cannot be bound in the forms prescribed above, must be submitted for deposit in the Library in a manner as prescribed by the University librarian (or nominee).

2. Thesis incorporating published papers

2.1  Where published material is to be included in the thesis, a clear list of all of the candidate’s relevant published work and presentations should be provided, including full bibliographic citations

2.2  If work published by the candidate during candidature is ancillary to the thesis and does not form part of the core thesis argument, the publications should be listed immediately prior to the main text of the thesis under the heading ‘Additional Publications by the Candidate Relevant to the Thesis but not Forming Part of it’.

2.3  A thesis which includespublications must also include a statement for each publication which provides clear advice to examiners as to what material is fully published, under review, or submitted at the time of submission of the thesis for examination.

2.4  Joint publications are acceptable as part of a HDR thesis. The nature and extent of the candidate's work must be precisely identified and attributed.

2.5  Where papers are included which have co-authors who are HDR candidates and where the publication will be included in both theses, a statement must be included, clearly attributing the contribution of each candidate to the conception, design and writing of the paper.

2.6  Published material may be presented in a thesis in several different  ways:

  • passages and data previously included in published papers and book chapters may be paraphrased and integrated with other material and elaborated upon in the thesis. Such data and passages must be appropriately referenced;
  • passages and data from published papers and book chapters can be transferred directly (or in appropriately edited and referenced form) into one or more chapters of the thesis;or
  • a peer reviewed published paper, book chapter or accepted manuscript can form a single thesis chapter (or several papers and/or book chapters may form successive thesis chapters) with minor editing.

2.7  A thesis must not infringe on copyright in any way, noting that where copyright has been assigned to a publisher, permission should be sought to reproduce the work in the thesis (even if it is the candidate’s own work). Publisher websites should be checked for copyright policy in relation to publications in a thesis.

2.8  Where published material has undergone editing, amendment or any other form of adaptation, it must be clearly shown where the material differs from the published form.

2.9  Where the main text of the thesis is entirely represented by published work, the ‘minimum treatment’ rule should be followed. This means that, at minimum, a Thesis Incorporating Publications must contain:

  • an introduction to the aims and design of the candidate’s research project which must incorporate an independent and original review of pertinent existing work in the field that is entirely the candidate's own work. This introduction will contextualise the candidate’s project and research question in relation to the present state of knowledge in the field, and (where appropriate) to key debates in the discipline and/or to social, cultural, or policy contexts
  • a framing chapter. The framing chapter should give an account of how the work fits into the field of scholarly literature and, where appropriate into the discipline through a discussion of key theoretical, methodological and empirical questions
  • chapters (represented by publications) should form a logical and cogent sequence leading to an argument that supports the main findings of the thesis. Further expansion of aspects of published papers such as more comprehensive descriptions of methodologies or statistical treatments is encouraged through the use of appendices or additional text in a chapter and
  • an independent and original general discussion that is entirely the candidate's own work. This should integrate the most significant findings of the thesis and present the needs and prospects for future research.

3. Pre-submission process

  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. Complete Intention to Submit and Recommendation  of Examiners forms Candidate, ADR (or nominee), Principal Supervisor, School Dean, Graduate Research School

1. The Intention to Submit form is completed by the candidate, approved by the Principal Supervisor and Associate Dean Research (ADR) or nominee and submitted to the Graduate Research School.

2. The Recommendation of Examiners Form and Release of Thesis form are to be completed by the Principal Supervisor, and signed by the ADR or nominee and the School Dean before being provided to the Graduate Research School. Information required for the Recommendation of Examiners form includes:

a. names of three potential examiners which have no conflict of interest (forms with only two named examiners will be returned to the supervisor, and the examination not able to proceed until three nominees are provided),

b. a statement regarding conflict of interest with potential examiners with either the student or any member of the supervisory panel,

c. CV for potential examiners which must include a list of publications and academic appointments,

d. a statement of the number of previous supervision completions and examinations undertaken (PhD and Masters separately) by the nominated examiners, and

e. email acceptance from potential examiners for them to be nominated.

2. The Dean, Graduate Research School (DGRS) assesses suitability of examiners DGRS

The DGRS may:

a. approve nomination/s of examiners from the list of three provided,

b. request additional information about a nominated examiner from the Principal Supervisor, or

c. reject nominations and request new nominees from the Principal Supervisor

4. Thesis Submitted

  Activity Responsibility Steps
1 Candidate and School complete Release of Thesis form Candidate, Principal Supervisor, ADR, Dean of school of enrolment
  1. The candidate must complete all declarations included on the form.
2. Candidate submits and Release of Thesis form to GRS Candidate
  1. Candidate submits thesis / exegesis to Graduate Research School via email using the required format.
3. Candidate grade changed to TD Graduate Research School
  1. Candidate grade changed to TD (assessment deferred up to 12 months) by the Graduate Research School and examination stage formally noted.

5. Examination Process

  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. Thesis / exegesis sent for examination Graduate Research School

The Graduate Research School emails the two approved nominated examiners a PDF copy of thesis with an overview of the examination process. Examiners are advised that they have 6-8 weeks to return the examiner’s report. Information provided to the examiners will include:

a.     statement on conflict of interest,

b.     link to HDR Examination Procedure,

c.     details on how to assess specific thesis types (e.g. PhD Exegesis or MR traditional thesis),

d.     payment information and forms, and

e.     the possible recommendations for outcome of thesis examination.

2. Candidate and supervisory team notified Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School emails the candidate, their supervisory team and the School ADR informing them that the thesis/exegesis has been sent for examination. Candidates are informed that future correspondence regarding the examination should be directed to their Principal Supervisor.
3. Examiner reminded of timelines Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School contacts examiner after four weeks to remind them of the examination due date.
4. Final reminder to examiner of report deadline Graduate Research School Where required the Graduate Research School sends a final reminder notice to examiner/s who have not yet returned their report one week before the final due date.
5. Examiner returns report Examiner

Examiner returns the Examiner Report to the Graduate Research School.

Examiners may return one of the following recommendations:

  • The thesis should be classified as PASSED without further examination
  • The thesis should be classified as PASSED, subject to minor corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis is suitable for conferral once the author has addressed nominated passages, textual errors, and referencing corrections. These actions should largely be able to be undertaken independently by the candidate); or
  • The thesis should be PASSED subject to major corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis requires new data collection, new or revised data analysis, substantive rewriting of one or more chapters, or a large volume of stylistic/presentation errors. These actions should be undertaken with ongoing input from the supervisory team); or
  • The thesis should be classified as DEFERRED; the thesis requires substantial revision and re-examination by external experts and the Candidate should be permitted to submit the thesis for examination in a revised form.
  • The thesis should be classified as FAILED
6. Examiner does not return report by due date Graduate Research School Where an examiner does not return the report by the due date, the Graduate Research School will contact the examiner. Where an examiner fails to produce a report by an agreed timeline they will be advised that it is no longer required and the thesis will be sent to a third examiner with the approval of the DGRS.

6. Post-examination process

  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. Examiner reports collated Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School collates the Examiner Reports and provides to the DGRS
2. School Examination Committee formed School of enrolment The Graduate Research School emails the School ADR requesting establishment of the School Examination Committee (SEC) and notification of members.
3. DGRS Report completed Dean, Graduate Research School The DGRS reviews reports and completes DGRS Report
4. DGRS Report sent to SEC and Principal Supervisor Graduate Research School, SEC

GRS forwards the DGRS Report to the Chair, SEC.

The Principal Supervisor should not action the DGRS Report until the Chair, SEC confirms the outcome.

5. Chair, SEC assesses DGRS Report Chair, SEC

The Chair, SEC may do one of the following:

  • Refer the report directly to the Principal Supervisor and Candidate for action.
  • Convene a SEC for further consideration and an alternative outcome or third examiner recommendation
  • Convene a SEC for consideration of a Pass / Fail recommendation

6.1 SEC Recommendation: Passed or Fail

  • The thesis should be classified as PASSED without further examination
  • The thesis should be classified as FAILED.
  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. SEC advises supervisory team and Candidate of outcome SEC Chair, SEC should advise the supervisory team and candidate of examination outcome.
2. GRS collects thesis summaries and provides to SEC GRS

Candidates must provide to thesis summaries:

  • 300 word plain language statement
  • 30 word summary
3. SEC completes the Results Recommendation Form SEC The SEC completes the Results Recommendation Form confirming the result. Where a thesis was passed without further examination, the SEC must also approve the thesis summary and confirm that the thesis is ready for a Recommendation of Award.
4. SEC returns the Results Recommendation Form to the GRS Chair, SEC,
GRS
The Chair, SEC returns the Results Recommendation Form to the Graduate Research School for approval by the Chair, RHDC and Chair, Academic Board.
5. Recommendation of Award completed Graduate Research School, Chair RHDC, Chair Academic Board The Graduate Research School completes Recommendation of Award template for approval by Chair Academic Board and Chair RHDC.
6. Candidate notified of outcome Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School emails the candidate to formally advise them of outcome. Successful candidates are provided with a Completion letter (cc’d to School and supervisors) where required.
7. Program and supervisor records updated Graduate Research School

The GRS adds evidence of completion of supervisory team members to the HDR Supervisor Register, where required.

GRS updates student management system to confirm result.

6.2 SEC Recommendation: Corrections/Deferred

  • The thesis should be classified as PASSED, subject to minor corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis is suitable for conferral once the author has addressed nominated passages, textual errors, and referencing corrections. These actions should largely be able to be undertaken independently by the candidate); or
  • The thesis should be PASSED subject to major corrections made to the satisfaction of the Academic Board; (i.e. the thesis requires new data collection, new or revised data analysis, substantive rewriting of one or more chapters, or a large volume of stylistic/presentation errors. These actions should be undertaken with ongoing input from the supervisory team); or
  • The thesis should be classified as DEFERRED; the thesis requires substantial revision and re-examination by external experts and the Candidate should be permitted to submit the thesis for examination in a revised form.
  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. SEC provides outcome to Supervisory team and Candidate Chair, SEC

Where recommended result is:

b.    Passed, subject to minor corrections

c.     Passed, subject to major corrections

d.    Deferred

The SEC will recommend a timeline for completion of corrections and review by the SEC.

2. Principal Supervisor and candidate discuss required corrections/revisions Principal Supervisor, Candidate The Principal Supervisor meets with the candidate to discuss the report and to plan a suitable response to the feedback. Principal Supervisor advises the SEC of planned submission/re-submission date. The submission/resubmission date must be within the timeline recommended by the SEC.
3. Candidate corrects/revises thesis Candidate Candidate responds to comments, corrects/revises thesis and completes Candidate Summary of Revisions. Candidate must submit a marked up copy to the SEC.
4. Principal Supervisor approves corrections/revisions Principal Supervisor, Candidate The Principal Supervisor approves the corrections/revisions and candidates’ responses to the comments, signs and submits completed Candidate Summary of Revisions, thesis and summaries to the SEC and the Graduate Research School.
5. SEC meets to complete Results Recommendation Form SEC

School Examination Committee (SEC) meets to discuss corrections/revisions and complete the Results Recommendation Form.

Where corrections have been undertaken, the SEC may:

a.     recommend to the pass thesis, or

b.     refer the corrections back to the Principal Supervisor and Candidate where comments have not been adequately addressed and request the thesis returned to the SEC by a specific date for approval (Principal Supervisor and Candidate repeat steps 3-5), or

c.     recommend thesis be failed and not submitted for re-examination or further correction (Refer to section 5.1). The SEC may recommend re-submitting for lower award.

2.     Where revisions for thesis resubmission have been undertaken, the SEC may:

a.     Recommend that the thesis is ready for reexamination (proceed to section 10 – Re-examination), or

b.     Refer the amended thesis back to Principal Supervisor and Candidate where comments have not been adequately addressed and request the thesis returned to the SEC by a specific date for approval (Principal Supervisor and Candidate repeat steps 3-5), or

c.     recommend thesis be failed and not submitted for re-examination or further correction (Refer to section 5.1). The SEC may recommend re-submitting for a lower award.

6. Recommendation of Award completed Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School completes Recommendation for Award for approval by Chair Academic Board and Chair RHDC.
7. Candidate notified of outcome Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School emails the candidate to formally advise them of outcome. Successful candidates are provided with a Completion letter (cc’d to School and supervisors) where required.
8. Program and supervisor records updated Graduate Research School

The GRS adds evidence of completion of supervisory team members to the HDR Supervisor Register.

GRS updates student management system to confirm result.

7. Post-examination process - dissimilar examination report recommendations

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
1. SEC considers DGRS Report School Examination Committee

The SEC meets to consider the DGRS Report. The SEC will make one of the following recommendations:

a.   a result (Refer to Post-examination – similar reports)

b.   to refer the Report to RHDC

c.   examination by a third examiner

Where the DGRS Report is referred to RHDC;

a.   RHDC may recommend a result, the process continues with along ‘similar results’ corresponding route (Refer to Post-examination - similar reports).

b.   RHDC may approve a third examiner.

2. Graduate Research School sends to third examiner Graduate Research School

The Graduate Research School emails the approved nominated examiner a PDF copy of thesis with an overview of examination process. Examiners are advised that they have 6-8 weeks to return the examiner’s report. Information provided to the examiners will include:

a.   statement on conflict of interest,

b.   link to HDR Examination Procedure,

c.   details on how to assess specific thesis types (e.g. PhD Exegesis or MR traditional thesis),

d.   payment information and forms, and

e.   the possible recommendations for outcome of thesis examination.

3. GRS emails Chair, SEC and Principal Supervisor to advise thesis sent Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School emails the Principal Supervisor and the Chair of SEC informing them that the thesis/exegesis has been sent to a third examiner for examination. The SEC or supervisor may advise the candidate at their discretion.
4. Examiner reminded of timelines Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School contacts examiner after four weeks to remind them of the examination due date.
5. Final reminder to examiner of report deadline Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School sends a final reminder notice to examiner/s who have not yet returned their report one week before the final due date
6. Examiner returns report Examiners Examiner returns the examination report to the Graduate Research School.
7. Dean, Graduate Research School considers all Examiners Reports and provides a recommendation Dean, Graduate Research School

The DGRS considers all three examination reports and provides a DGRS Report to the SEC.

The SEC continues the procedure from Section 5 (The examination process) Step B, however the thesis cannot be sent to another examiner.

8. Re-examination process

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
1. Candidate provides revised thesis (including a marked up copy) and supporting documents to GRS Candidate, Principal Supervisor Revised thesis and Summary of Revisions provided to the Graduate Research School.
2. GRS sends documents to Examiner Graduate Research School

Revised thesis, original thesis and Summary of Revisions provided to the examiner by the Graduate Research School.

Examiner/s advised to evaluate the revised thesis in reference to the Summary of Revisions (no new comments should be made or issues raised).

3. Examiner provides recommendation Examiner

Examiner  provides a recommendation only:

  • Passed: The examiner is satisfied that the candidate has addressed all the required recommendations satisfactorily and the revised thesis meets the required standards for the award of the Doctoral degree.
  • Passed subject to minor corrections: The examiner is satisfied that the candidate has addressed all the required recommendations satisfactorily and the revised thesis meets the required standards for the award of the Doctoral degree. Suggestions for typographical and grammatical changes are permitted, but only if they are of a minor nature and can be reasonably addressed by the candidature within a two week timeframe.
  • Failed: The examiner considers that that candidate has not satisfactorily addressed the required recommendations and the candidate should be failed.
4. Examiner Reports collated Graduate Research School Examiner Reports are collated by the Graduate Research School and provided to the DGRS.
5. DGRS completes DGRS Report Dean, GRS

The DGRS completes the DGRS Report recommending only of of the re-examination outcomes.

The process recommences in Section 5, Step D.

9. Final ratification and award of the degree

  Activity Responsibility Steps
1. Award of the Degree RHDC and Academic Board

Chair, RHDC and Chair, Academic Board recommends that the degree be awarded.

GRS advises the candidate of the procedures to qualify for admission to the degree.  Academic Board via RHDC recommends to Council that the candidate be admitted to the degree.

10. Distribution of Copies of the Thesis After Final Ratification

The degree will not be awarded until one electronic copy of the final thesis has been lodged with the University.

11. Graduation

Candidates are eligible to graduate after the University Council approves the award of the degree. Candidates will be contacted by the Graduation Office regarding their eligibility for conferral

Responsibility

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) as the Approval Authority isresponsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure

Dean, Graduate Studies as the Policy Sponsor is responsible for maintaining the content of this procedure as delegated by the Approval Authority.

Promulgation

This procedure will be communicated throughout the University community in the form of:

1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure;

2. distribution of e-mails to Head of School / Head of Department / University staff; and/or

3. documentation distribution, eg posters, brochures

4. notification to Schools

Implementation

This procedure will be implemented throughout the University via:

1. An Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure;

2.  Staff induction sessions

3. Training sessions

4. Through RHDC agenda

Records Management

Document Title Location Responsible Officer Minimum Retention Period
DGRS Report Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion
Recommendation of Examiners form Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion
Release of Thesis forms Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion
Examiners Reports Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion
Results Recommendation Form Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion
Recommendation of Award Graduate Research School Dean, Graduate Research School or delegate Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion