Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Submission and Examination - Procedures

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Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Submission and Examination - Procedures

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Responsible officer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Designated officer
Director, Office of Research
First approved
29 July 2014
Last amended
5 January 2016
Effective start date
1 September 2014
Review date
1 September 2019
Status
Active
Related documents
Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy
Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures
Higher Degrees by Research Supervision - Procedures
Superseded documents
Higher Degrees by Research - Procedures
Related legislation / standards
Higher Education Support Act 2003
Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007)
Australian Qualifications Framework

Definitions

Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to these procedures and are critical to its effectiveness:

Candidate means a person admitted to a Higher Degree Research course at the University.    

Creative work means an original product designed and created or constructed by a candidate during candidature using one or more creative arts or performing arts; or literary or musical; or photographic or fine arts; or graphics or media techniques.

Exegesis means a scholarly, critical commentary of the research informing the work or collection of works, resulting from research and work undertaken during candidature and produced during candidature. The exegesis also includes an explanatory statement on how the work was developed.

Higher degree by research (HDR) means a supervised research program that requires original research in an area.

Significant research component means a substantial research project undertaken with appropriate research methodology.

Thesis means an original substantial piece of scholarly writing resulting from research undertaken by a candidate and produced during candidature to meet the requirements of the degree.

Purpose of procedures

These procedures provide the framework for HDR thesis submission and examination at the University.

They should be read in conjunction with the Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy, and the following associated procedures and guidelines:

  • Higher Degree by Research Candidature Procedures
  • Higher Degree by Research Supervision – Procedures
  • Higher Degree by Research Admission and Enrolment – Guidelines
  • Higher Degree by Research Confirmation of Candidature – Guidelines
  • Higher Degree by Research Thesis Presentation Guidelines
  • Higher Degree by Research Thesis Review Guidelines
  • Higher Degree by Research Examiners Guidelines

Thesis preparation

This section should be read in conjunction with the Higher Degree by Research Thesis Presentation Guidelines, the Higher Degree by Research Thesis Review Guidelines.

2.1 For an award of a PhD, the thesis must represent an original and significant contribution to knowledge of the subject.

2.2 The research described must have been completed during the period of enrolment for the degree.

2.3 The thesis must consist of an account of the candidate's own research. All research performed conjointly with other persons must be fully acknowledged and include a statement of the candidate's contribution to the conjoint research. Any editorial assistance in the preparation of the thesis must also be acknowledged.

2.4 The candidate must prepare and present their thesis in accordance with ‘Higher Degree by Research Thesis Presentation – Guidelines’. A candidate, with the support of their Principal Supervisor, may request approval for a variation in the Guidelines where good reason for such a variation exists.

2.5 Where an exegesis is required, the candidate must prepare and present their exegesis in accordance with ‘Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Presentation – Guidelines’.

2.6 Candidates have ownership of intellectual property directly related to their research project or creative work, unless other arrangements have been mutually agreed in advance by the candidate and the University. (Refer to the University’s Intellectual Property - Governing Policy).

2.7 The candidate must not submit as part of the thesis any work or material that the candidate has previously been submitted for a university degree or other similar award as the main content of the thesis.

2.8 The Principal Supervisor must arrange for:

(a) the thesis to be run through text matching software to support the avoidance of plagiarism, and

(b) an independent edit check of the thesis in sufficient time to enable the candidate to adapt the thesis in response to feedback as appropriate.

(c) a review of the thesis by one of the other Supervisors or an independent peer reviewer prior to submission for external examination.

Refer to the ‘Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Review – Guidelines’ for further information on conducting the edit check. The Principal Supervisor will be required to sign a declaration at thesis submission to demonstrate that these checks have taken place.

Thesis presentation seminar

3.1 A candidate is required to present their research at a faculty organised seminar prior to submitting their thesis (ideally six months, and no later than two months prior to the due date for thesis submission). This thesis presentation is a thirty minute presentation, and should be made to a faculty audience allowing additional time for questions and feedback. Presentation at external conference(s) is not sufficient grounds for exemption from the Thesis Presentation Seminar; however, all candidates will be encouraged to present their research to appropriate external audiences.

3.2 The relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee arranges the time for the Thesis Presentation Seminar, facilitates the Thesis Presentation Seminar and provides feedback to the candidate with regard to any revisions to be incorporated to their final thesis. Candidates must present a seminar satisfactory to the relevant Associate Dean (Research) before their thesis will be accepted for submission for examination by the relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee.

3.3 The relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee advises the Office of Research when the satisfactory seminar has taken place.

Intention to Submit and Examiner Nomination

4.1 A candidate must give the Office of Research and Research Degrees Committee a minimum eight weeks written notice of intention to submit a thesis or exegesis and creative work for examination. This must include:

  • the ‘Advice of Intention to Submit a HDR Thesis’ form
  • a brief abstract of the thesis
  • examiner nomination (completed by the Principal Supervisor independent of the candidate)

4.2 The Intention to Submit process triggers the appointment of the examination panel. The Principal Supervisor discusses potential examiners with the candidate to ensure that only suitable examiners are nominated (the candidate must not be aware of the final nominated examiners). The Principal Supervisor recommends examiners to the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee, who nominates a panel of potential examiners (including a reserve examiner and a Chairperson for examination panel) via the ‘HDR Examiner Nomination Form’.

The Research Degrees Committee approves the examination panel. An examination panel will consist of:

Panel role Number appointed Description
Chairperson of the examination panel 1 A staff member of this University with appropriate expertise in the research area (must not be or have been a member of the candidate’s supervision panel). The Chairperson does not have an examiner role.
2 to 3 examiners 2 to 3 Examiners hold a doctoral degree (or equivalent research experience), and must be an active researcher in the relevant discipline, as demonstrated by relevant and recent research publications. Examiners may not be members of the staff of this University (including adjunct appointments), nor have been a member of staff of this University within the past 5 years. A candidate’s supervisors may not be examiners. Any persons acknowledged in the thesis as making a contribution to the work may not be appointed as an examiner.
Reserve examiner(s) At least 1 The reserve examiner(s) may be called upon by the Research Degrees Committee to fulfil the role of examiner (in the event that any of the originally nominated examiners are unavailable), or should an additional or adjudication examiner be required (see section 6.4)

4.3 Members of the examination panel are invited by the Office of Research via the ‘Invitation to Examine a Thesis’ email template and ‘Invitation to act as Chairperson of examination panel’ email template. Invited examiners respond via the ‘Examiner’s Reply Form’.

4.4 Candidates are not advised of the identity of their examiners until the end of the examination process, and only if the examiner has indicated that their identity may be made available. Members of the examination panel may not normally consult with one another. An examiner wishing to enter into dialogue with another examiner, a supervisor, a candidate or the Chairperson of examination panel, should direct any request to the Chairperson, Research Degrees Committee. A supervisor or candidate may not initiate contact with an examiner or Chairperson of the examination panel.

Submission of thesis for examination

5.1 A candidate is required to lodge:

1. soft-bound copies of the thesis for examination (one for each of the examiners nominated plus a University copy).

2. an electronic .pdf version (except where grant funding restrictions prohibit electronic submission of the thesis).

3. a completed ‘Higher Degree by Research Thesis Submission Form’.

The ‘Higher Degree by Research Thesis Submission Form’ includes a declaration for each of the candidate, supervisors and an Associate Dean (Research) or nominee.

Candidate’s declaration certifies:
  • the thesis is my own account of research undertaken by me; and
  • the thesis has been wholly completed during candidature, except where the Committee has approved a transfer of enrolment from another higher degree by research; and
  • where work has been done conjointly with other persons, my contribution is clearly stated and the contribution of other persons is clearly acknowledged and recognised; and
  • the thesis does not contain as its main content any work or material which is embodied in a thesis or dissertation previously submitted by me or any other person for a University degree or other similar qualification at this or other higher education institution, except where approval has previously been granted by the Committee.
Supervision panel’s declaration certifies:
  • I have read the thesis and approve the submission for external examination; and
  • I confirm that the candidate’s thesis / exegesis conforms to the academic policy governing the above degree; and
  • the thesis/exegesis has been run through SafeAssign and the report does not indicate plagiarism; and
  • one of the other Supervisors or an independent peer reviewer conducted a review of the thesis; and
  • the candidate presented their research to an appropriate audience at (location) on (date).
Associate Dean (Research) or nominee declaration certifies:
  • I approve the submission of the thesis for external examination.

This form must be signed by the Candidate, the Principal Supervisor, and the relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee.

5.2 Submission is to be made to the Office of Research by the agreed thesis completion date. Where the candidate has been given permission to submit their thesis in a form outside standard requirements for their HDR, the candidate must comply with the directions of the Research Degrees Committee regarding the material to be presented for examination.

5.3 In the event that the supervision panel does not provide the required statement within two weeks of the candidate's submission, or if the Principal Supervisor declines to support the examination of the thesis or exegesis and creative work, the Research Degrees Committee will determine whether the thesis or exegesis and creative work will be accepted for examination. In making the determination, the Research Degrees Committee may seek written or oral representations from the candidate, the supervisors and the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee, and may seek information from any other sources.

5.4 If the Research Degrees Committee determines that the thesis or exegesis and creative work may not be submitted for examination, the Office of Research will advise the candidate in writing of the decision, the reasons for the decision and, where appropriate, any actions that the candidate needs to take in order that the thesis or exegesis and creative work may be made ready for examination.


5.5 The relevant faculty covers the cost of printing and binding the thesis for examination. Candidates cover the cost of any final printed and bound copies of the thesis to keep as personal copies. The Office of Research covers the cost of examiners honorarium payments and postage.

5.6 Enrolment is suspended when the thesis or exegesis (and creative work) is submitted. If the candidate has been in receipt of a scholarship, the Postgraduate Research Scholarships Officer advises Financial Services to cease stipend payments (in accordance with the relevant scholarship conditions booklet).

5.7 The Office of Research confirms the candidate has successfully completed any coursework requirements, conditions and milestones of their candidature, as described in the HDR policy and procedures.

Examination

6.1 The Office of Research provides members of the examination panel with:

1. A copy of the thesis

2. Examiners of Higher Degree by Research Theses Guidelines

3. Higher Degree by Research Thesis Presentation Guidelines

4. Examiners’ Report Form

6.2 Each examiner must submit to the Research Degrees Committee a concise written report on the thesis and must recommend one of the following:

(a) Award The thesis be accepted as satisfactory and the candidate awarded the degree.
(b) Minor corrections The thesis be accepted as satisfactory and the candidate awarded the degree, subject to minor corrections as listed being made by the candidate to the satisfaction of the Chairperson of the examination panel.
(c) Further work The thesis requires further work on matters detailed in the report to the satisfaction of the Chairperson of the examination panel.
(d) Revise and re-examine The thesis in its present form is not satisfactory and further work as described in the report is required. The revised thesis should be subject to re-examination.
(e) Non-Award The thesis does not merit the award of the degree and does not demonstrate sufficient merit to warrant resubmission. The thesis be rejected and the degree not awarded.
(f) [For doctoral examinations only] Non-Award doctoral, award master The candidate be admitted to the award for an appropriate alternative degree at the master level.

6.3 Examiners are expected to take up to two months to examine the thesis and must return their examiner’s report to the Office of Research.

The workflow for late examiner’s reports includes:

  • If no report is received by the due date, the Office of Research emails a reminder requesting the report within two weeks.
  • If no report is received within the two weeks, the Office of Research contacts the examiner again (usually by email), to ascertain when the report will be returned. The delay is communicated to the candidate and supervisors, and the Office of Research and Principal Supervisor liaise on how best to progress.
  • If it is agreed that the report will be unacceptably delayed, the Office of Research advises the examiner that their services are no longer required and requests the return of the thesis.
  • The Office of Research invites the reserve examiner to examine the thesis.

6.4 The Chairperson of the examination panel is responsible for considering the reports of examiners and for making a recommendation to the Research Degrees Committee on the outcome of the examination. Where there is substantial disagreement between the examiners about whether the degree should be awarded, the Chairperson of examination panel may request that:

(a) an additional examiner be appointed to examine the thesis The Office of Research will invite the reserve examiner (in accordance with 4.3) who will examine the thesis and provide an additional report for the Chairperson of the examination panel to consider (in accordance with 6.2).
(b) an adjudication examiner be appointed to consider the thesis and the reports of the other examiners, and to make a report The Office of Research will invite the reserve examiner (in accordance with 4.3) to consider the thesis in conjunction with the original examiner’s reports. The adjudication examiner provides a report for the Research Degrees Committee to consider (in accordance with 6.2 above).

6.5 The Research Degrees Committee determines the outcome of the examination as one of the following:

(a) Award The thesis be accepted as satisfactory and the candidate awarded the degree.
  • Recommend award to the Academic Board.
(b) Minor corrections The thesis be accepted as satisfactory and the candidate awarded the degree, subject to minor corrections as listed being made by the candidate to the satisfaction of the Chairperson of examination panel.
  • The candidate is given 3 months to make the required amendments and submit the revised thesis to the Office of Research for the Chairperson of examination panel and the Research Degrees Committee to consider.
  • If the candidate is an international student, a copy of the advice is also sent to USC International, which advises DIBP of the situation and USC International obtains an extension of the student’s visa to cover the revision period if required.
  • The candidate will not usually be re-enrolled for the period of revision.
(c) Further work The thesis requires further work on matters detailed in the report to the satisfaction of the Chairperson of examination panel.
  • The candidate is given 6 months to make the required amendments and submit the revised thesis to the Office of Research for the Chairperson of the examination panel and the Research Degrees Committee to consider.
  • If the candidate is an international student, a copy of the advice is also sent to USC International, which advises DIBP of the situation and obtain an extension of the student’s visa to cover the revision period if required.
  • The candidate will usually be re-enrolled for the period of revision. Re-enrolment will incur fee liability which will be passed on to the candidate. Candidature is managed as per the Higher Degrees by Research Candidature – Procedures (e.g. for access to Leave of Absence, change to study mode).
(d) Revise and re-examine The thesis in its present form is not satisfactory and further work as described in the report is required. The revised thesis should be subject to re-examination.
  • The candidate is given 12 months to make the required amendments and submit the revised thesis to the Office of Research for re-examination.
  • The candidate will be re-enrolled for the period of revision. Re-enrolment will incur fee liability which will be passed on to the candidate. Candidature is managed as per the Higher Degrees by Research Candidature – Procedures (e.g. for access to Leave of Absence, change to study mode).
(Refer to section 8 of these procedures for further information)
(e) Non-Award The thesis does not merit the award of the degree and does not demonstrate sufficient merit to warrant resubmission. The thesis be rejected and the degree not awarded.
  • The Office of Research advises the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee and Principal Supervisor and arranges a meeting between the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee, Principal Supervisor and candidate to notify the candidate of this decision.
  • Candidature ends when this recommendation is finalised.
(f) [For doctoral examinations only] Non-Award doctoral, award master The candidate be admitted to the award for an appropriate alternative degree at the master level.
  • Office of Research advises the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee and Principal Supervisor and arranges a meeting between the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee, Principal Supervisor and candidate to notify the candidate of this decision.

The Office of Research provides advice to the Principal Supervisor about the examination outcome, including any fee implications for period of revisions. This practice allows the Principal Supervisor time to consider the examiner’s reports and to advise the candidate and other supervision panel members directly.

Additional requirements for HDR Creative Arts submission and examination

For candidates producing non-print creative work as part of a Master of Creative Arts or Doctor of Creative Arts, additional submission requirements are described in this section. Such candidates are required to submit for examination creative work, which is examined in conjunction with an appropriate exhibition (or recording of an exhibition), and an exegesis.

7.1 A candidate must advise the Office of Research and Research Degrees Committee of the date of their final exhibition and submit the relevant ‘Advice of Intention to Submit Form’, stipulating dates, times and locations of exhibition/s, two months prior to the first exhibition date. In cases where there is to be more than one exhibition, candidates must include a listing of all exhibition dates.

7.2 Prior to the exhibition/s, candidates submit the ‘DCA/MCA Exhibition Approval Form’ to the Office of Research, signed by their Principal Supervisor and relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee. This form demonstrates that the Principal Supervisor and Associate Dean (Research) or nominee agree that the creative work is ready for exhibition.

7.3 With respect to the exhibition of the creative work, the examiners are invited, but not required, to attend the exhibition.

7.4 The exegesis, exhibition recording(s) and digital copy of the creative work must be submitted within three months of the final exhibition.

7.5 The candidate is required to lodge:

1. soft-bound copies of the examinable creative work/s and the exegesis for examination (one for each of the examiners nominated plus a University copy) and digital version where possible.

2. A recording of the exhibition of the creative work (where appropriate).

3. a completed ‘Higher Degree by Research Thesis Submission Form’.

7.6 Submission is to be made to the Office of Research by the agreed thesis completion date. Where the candidate has been given permission to submit their thesis in a form other than a printed volume, the candidate must comply with the directions of the Research Degrees Committee regarding the material to be presented for examination. Submission is to the Office of Research.

7.7 At the conclusion of examination, prior to awarding of degree, candidates must submit final exegesis to the USC Research Bank in a manner and form to be prescribed by the Director, Information Services, and must provide the Principal Supervisor with a copy of the final exegesis. Candidates may apply for “restricted access” to ensure the exegesis is kept only for University records purposes and not to display the exegesis to the public. Applications for restricted access should be made in writing to the Chair, Research Degrees Committee prior to the conclusion of the examination process.

Submission of a revised thesis for internal review

8.1 For examination outcome b) (minor corrections) or c) (further work) a candidate will be permitted to amend and submit a revised thesis or creative work and exegesis for Chair of Examiner’s review once only.

8.2 The candidate is required to lodge:

1. One soft-bound copy of the revised thesis for the Chairperson of Examiners

2. an electronic .pdf version (except where grant funding restrictions prohibit electronic submission of the thesis).

3. a completed ‘Higher Degree by Research Revised Thesis Submission CoE Approval Form’.

8.3 The Office of Research liaises with the Chair of Examiners to arrange review of the revised thesis.

Submission of thesis for re-examination

9.1 For examination outcome d) (revise and resubmit) a candidate will be permitted to amend and resubmit a thesis or creative work and exegesis for examination for award of the degree once only.

9.2 If the candidate is an international student, the requirement for the candidate to be re-enrolled in order to revise their thesis and resubmit for examination has implications for the student’s visa status. USC International must be informed of the candidate’s situation. USC International consults with DIBP and the candidate, the outcome being a decision on whether the candidate is permitted to remain in the country for the necessary additional period.

9.3 A candidate must give the Office of Research and Research Degrees Committee a minimum eight weeks written notice of intention to resubmit a thesis or creative work for examination. This must include:

  • the ‘Advice of Intention to Submit a Revised HDR Thesis’ form
  • a brief abstract of the revised thesis

9.4 The candidate is required to lodge:

1. three or four soft-bound copies of the thesis for examination (one for each of the examiners nominated plus a University copy).

2. an electronic .pdf version (except where grant funding restrictions prohibit electronic submission of the thesis).

3. a completed ‘Higher Degree by Research Revised Thesis Submission External Examination Form ’.

9.5 Office of Research consults with relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee regarding re-examination strategy and examiners. A specific ‘Examiner Nominations (Re-examination) Form’ is used. A thesis sent for re-examination will usually be sent to the original examiners, providing they are willing to re-examine the thesis. A revised and re-submitted thesis would not normally be sent to a panel of new examiners for re-examination.

9.6 Thesis re-examination outcomes are as described in section 6.5, with the exclusion of option (d) as a thesis can only be re-examined once.

Finalisation of successful candidature

10.1 The Office of Research sends advice of Finalisation of Thesis Examination to the candidate and the Director, Information Services.

10.2 At the conclusion of examination, prior to award of the degree, candidates must submit their final thesis to the USC Research Bank in a manner and form to be prescribed by the Director, Information Services, and must provide the Principal Supervisor with a copy of the final thesis. In the case of a thesis that includes published works or works that are subject to copyright or patent or similar intellectual property restrictions, the candidate must lodge with the thesis a copy of any contract or formal agreement or legal instrument that binds the candidate or the University with respect to those works. The copy of the thesis lodged with the University Library will be available to any person for consultation or copying unless, on the application of the candidate concerned, the Research Degrees Committee determines that it will not be made available without the written consent of the author for a period which must not exceed 52 weeks or unless prohibited by any restrictions required by any legally enforceable instrument lodged by the candidate. Candidature ends when the final thesis is successfully submitted to the USC Research Bank.

Conferral of award

11.1 The Office of Research sends the ‘Recommendation of Admission to the Degree’ and a copy of ‘Recommendation to Confer Form’ to the secretary of Academic Board with copies to Student Services and Engagement. On receipt of the correspondence, Student Services and Engagement updates the student’s academic record to indicate that the candidate has been awarded a Pass grade for their thesis. The Secretary, Academic Board administers the process for conferral of the award.

11.2 The Academic Board, or the Chairperson acting on behalf of the Board, considers recommendations on admission to degrees and conferral of awards from the Research Degrees Committee. When the Academic Board has approved the recommendations on the conferral of awards from the Research Degrees Committee, the Secretary, Academic Board advises the Office of Research and Student Services and Engagement of this decision. Student Services and Engagement prepares and sends a letter to the graduand officially informing them of the conferral of the award, inviting the graduand to participate in the next graduation ceremony, and, where appropriate, informing the graduand that they are entitled to use the title of Doctor.

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