This policy should be read in conjunction with the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree regulations. It covers all Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates and their supervisors.
The purpose of this revision is to promote consistency of HDR examination processes across the Faculties thereby ensuring the integrity of ACU's examination procedures. Given the diversity of examiners used in the HDR examination process, and their differing cultural and disciplinary contexts, it is essential to ensure that there is robust and centralised oversight of each stage of the examination process.
The ACU Glossary of Terms, available on the ACU website, provides guidance on the meaning of terms used in the University. In these Regulations, the following terms will have the meanings set out below.
Associate Dean Research (ADR) is a person responsible to the Executive Dean of the Faculty to assist the Executive Dean in his/her role of providing academic and research leadership in the Faculty, in particular, research, research training and research partnerships.
HETS (HETS) means the Higher Degree Research Examination and Thesis Sub- committee. It reports to the University Research Committee and comprises the Dean of Research (Chair), the Manager, Graduate Research, as well as representatives of each Faculty.
Supervisor, used generically, includes the Principal Supervisor, Co-Supervisor and/or Associate Supervisor, as appropriate according to the context.
3. Application of Policy
3.1 A candidate's research project will be examined by the submission and assessment of a thesis based on research conducted during candidature. For the PhD this might be in the form of a traditional thesis, a thesis by publication, or a PhD by Project.
3.2 For all research higher degrees, the principal supervisor will provide to the ADR of the relevant Faculty the names of at least three people who have agreed, in principle, to serve as examiners.
3.3 Examiners will be free of potential conflict of interest. That is, they will have had no involvement in the candidate's research, not been a co-author on any part of the work, not had a substantial publication history with the supervisors, not had a close personal relationship with the candidate or supervisor, and not had any substantial contact with the candidate or supervisor that would jeopardise the examination process.
3.4 A candidate must be given an opportunity by the principal supervisor to discuss the suitability of potential examiners. A candidate may neither demand nor reject the appointment of any particular examiner, but may offer reasons for inclusion or exclusion of potential examiners for consideration by the supervisor.
3.5 Following advice from the Associate Dean Research, HETS will be responsible for the final composition of the examination panel. The identity of the examiners will remain confidential unless the examiners agree, at the conclusion of the examination process, to the release of their identity to the candidate as indicated on the thesis examination form.
3.6 For the research doctorate, examiners will be external to the University. Normally, at least one will come from outside Australia. For the Master degree, examiners will be external to the University. Supervisors (including associate supervisors) will not act as examiners.
3.7 Reports of examiners
Each examiner will submit a report on the thesis recommending one of the following results:
3.7.1 Pass. The thesis should be classified as PASSED and the candidate awarded the degree of (name of degree) without amendment or further examination. For the PhD examiners may also recommend that the degree be awarded Pass (Summa Cum Laude) where the thesis is judged to be of outstanding merit.
3.7.2 Pass subject to minor amendments. The thesis should be classified as PASSED and the candidate awarded the degree of (name of degree) without further examination but subject to the amendments detailed in this report being successfully completed.
3.7.3 Pass subject to major amendments. The thesis should be classified as PASSED and the candidate awarded the degree of (name of degree) only after the major amendments detailed in this report are successfully completed.
3.7.4 Defer. The thesis should be classified as DEFERRED and the candidate be given up to twelve months (F/T) to revise and re-submit the thesis for examination. Examiners will also select one of the following:
I am willing to be involved in the re-examination process; or
I do not wish to be involved in the re-examination process.
3.7.5 Fail. The thesis should be classified as FAILED and the candidate should not be awarded the degree of (name of degree), nor can the thesis be re-submitted for examination.
Other options: Awarded a minor degree. If the PhD does not meet all of the criteria listed under section 2 of the Proforma for PhD Examiner's Report, the Examiner may recommend the awarding of the lesser degree of Master of Philosophy.
3.8 Upon their receipt, examiners' reports will be forwarded to the Associate Dean Research of the Faculty and the Principal Supervisor. The Manager, Graduate Research will request from them a joint assessment of and a response to these reports.
3.9 HETS will consider the examiners' reports and the joint response from the Associate Dean Research and Principal Supervisor before informing the candidate of the outcome of the examination process. HETS will adopt one of the resolutions specified in #7 above and the changes (if any) that should be undertaken by the candidate.
3.10 The student will complete all revisions to the thesis and submit an electronic copy of the whole thesis, including track changes, to the Principal supervisor for verification. The electronic copy and requisite documentation will be forwarded to the ADR for approval and notification to HETS.
3.11 In the event that one examiner fails or defers the thesis, the advice of a third examiner may be sought.
3.12 In the event that a thesis is DEFERRED, the following will apply:
The resolutions open to examiners during the subsequent examination will be PASS or FAIL.
4. Roles and Responsibilities
4.1 Under the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree regulations as well as this policy, ADR provides critical Faculty oversight at each stage of the examination process and makes recommendation to HETS.
4.2 HETS provides central oversight of each phase of examination and is empowered to recommend to Academic Board that the candidate be allowed to graduate.
5. Related Policies
5.1 Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations
5.2 Policy and Procedures for the Accreditation of Research Supervisors