Higher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination

Higher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination

SUMMARY

The Higher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy establishes Macquarie University's requirements for the preparation, submission and examination of higher degree research (HDR) theses.

The Procedure provides further information on key actions required by HDR Candidates, Supervisors, Higher Degree Research Officers, the Higher Degree Research Committee and the Program and Examination Sub-Committee concerning the submission and examination of HDR theses.

POLICY

Purpose

To outline requirements for the preparation, submission and examination of higher degree research (HDR) theses at Macquarie University.

Overview

This policy covers the thesis component of the following degrees:
  • The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and all other doctorates by research
  • The Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • The Master of Research (MRes)

The Doctor of Philosophy enables candidates to undertake extensive, independent research which forms a distinct contribution to the knowledge of a chosen subject, and which affords evidence of coherence and originality shown either by the discovery of new facts or by the exercise of independent critical power.

The Master of Philosophy is awarded for research that demonstrates that a contribution has been made to knowledge in a particular field of study by presenting new facts or by demonstrating an independent critical ability to evaluate existing material in a new light.

The Master of Research is partly awarded for a research project that critically responds to or reflects on current research in the relevant field by producing clearly justified empirical outcomes or analytical evaluations.

Macquarie University requires HDR candidates to prepare a thesis in fulfillment of higher research degree requirements and for the thesis to undergo a process of external examination. Reports of the examination process are submitted in writing and reviewed by the Higher Degree Research Committee (HDRC).  When all work on the thesis has been completed to the satisfaction of the HDRC and any compulsory coursework units have been satisfactorily completed, a recommendation is made to Academic Senate as to the award of the relevant degree.

Where appropriate, the University encourages candidates to prepare a thesis by publication as this format provides an opportunity to add further value to the research student experience.  A thesis by publication also provides an incentive for a timely completion, enhances employment prospects, improves publication outputs and strengthens the University’s research rankings.

Scope

This policy applies to all higher degree research candidates enrolled at Macquarie University, to all Principal, Acting, Associate, Co- and Adjunct Supervisors, other Macquarie academic and professional staff acting on behalf of these HDR candidates and to all examiners of Macquarie University HDR theses.

Policy

THESIS PREPARATIONAs an HDR thesis embodies the results of research and investigation by a candidate enrolled in a higher research degree the University requires that
  • a research degree make a contribution to knowledge and in the case of doctoral degrees, this contribution must be ‘distinct’
  • at least half of the work done towards the degree must be undertaken while formally enrolled as an HDR candidate at Macquarie University
  • Unless agreed under a formal Joint or Cotutelle enrolment contract, a candidate may not submit as the main content of the thesis any work or material which has been previously submitted for any degree successfully completed at Macquarie or elsewhere, but may incorporate that work or material in the thesis, if the candidate specifies the work or material which has been so incorporated
  • The University recognises that theses or parts of theses may be presented in a variety of formats and media but will incorporate a written component situated in an academic discourse appropriate to the discipline area.
Theses may include relevant papers (including conference presentations) published, accepted, submitted or prepared for publication.  These papers must
  • form a coherent and integrated body of work,
  • include a comprehensive and critical introduction and an integrative conclusion, and
  • focus on a single project or set of related questions or propositions.
The thesis must
  • be the candidate’s own work and any contribution by other people, including co-authors of papers, must be clearly stated in the thesis
  • conform in length and in format to the requirements set and published by the Executive Dean of the Faculty in which the candidate is enrolled and allow for discipline variations, and
  • be written in English and reach a satisfactory level of literary presentation. 

Any requests from HDR candidates to submit a thesis or part thereof in a language other than English will require the approval of the HDRC as early in candidature as possible.

THESIS SUBMISSION
  1. The Principal Supervisor must certify in writing that the thesis meets University preparation requirements.
  2. A candidate may submit a thesis for examination against the advice of the Principal Supervisor, for consideration by HDRC.
THESIS EXAMINATION
Examiners are required to address the following criteria in their assessment of a Doctoral thesis:
That it
  • forms a ‘distinct’ contribution to the knowledge of the subject area
  • affords evidence of originality through the discovery of new facts or by the exercise of independent critical power
  • is satisfactory as regards its literary presentation, and
  • contains a substantial amount of material suitable for publication.
Examiners are required to address the following criteria in the assessment of a research Master of Philosophy thesis:
That it
  • makes a contribution to the knowledge of the subject area by the presentation of new facts and by demonstrating independent critical ability to evaluate existing material in a new light, and
  • is satisfactory as regards its literary presentation.
Examiners are required to address the following criteria in the assessment of a Master of Research thesis:
        That 
  • it has adequately delineated the topic of concern by critically reflecting on current research in the relevant field;
  • the research undertaken produces empirical outcomes or analytical evaluations that are clearly justified and that respond to or reflect on the relevant literature; and
  • it is satisfactory as regards its literary presentation.

Thesis content will remain confidential during the examination period and the University reserves the right to request examiners to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement if required.

Examiners are required to report in writing to HDRC in an approved format indicating their assessment of the thesis.

In the case of Doctoral degrees or the Master of Philosophy, examiners may recommend to HDRC that a candidate undertake such oral, written or practical examination as they may specify. HDRC may determine that an oral examination be used to resolve concerns about the thesis.  The HDR candidate is required to attend the oral examination.

THESIS RE-EXAMINATIONOnly one submission for re-examination is permitted.

A candidate who does not re-submit a thesis for examination within the specified time will be deemed to have not satisfied requirements for the award of the degree.

APPOINTMENT OF EXAMINERS
The University requires that nomination and selection of HDR thesis examiners be based on the principle that candidates receive an impartial examination by high quality examiners in the field of research.

Examiners are appointed by the HDRC following advice and information provided by Faculties and in such a way as to preserve the right to anonymity.

The examiners must not have had any involvement in the preparation of the thesis, as a member of the supervisory panel or as an academic advisor for the candidate and must satisfy other University requirements such as those relating to conflict of interest.

Each Doctoral thesis will be examined by at least three examiners and each Masters thesis will be examined by at least two examiners. In exceptional circumstances, the HDRC may approve the examination of a doctoral thesis by two examiners.

An appointed examiner will be a national and/or international expert in the HDR thesis field, with an academic or research appointment in the field of research, relevant high quality research publications, and whose assessment will be respected nationally and internationally.

For Doctoral and Master of Philosophy degrees, examination panels are to include at least one international and one national examiner to maintain the international quality of Macquarie’s HDR awards and to ensure examination is consistent with national standards. There will be no more than one examiner from any single institution appointed.

At least two examiners of a Doctoral thesis and one examiner of a Masters thesis will have previous HDR thesis examination experience.

Examiners are not permitted to:
  • be currently employed, nor within the last five years have been employed, by Macquarie University
  • have graduated with a doctoral degree from Macquarie University within the last ten years
  • have been an HDR candidate under the supervision of any member of the supervising panel, either at Macquarie University or elsewhere
  • have been co-authors or co-editors of publications nor collaborated in research with the candidate
  • have been co-authors or co-editors of publications with any of the supervising panel within the last five years.

Exceptions to the examiner appointment requirements require a fully substantiated case attached to the Nomination of Examiners form for consideration by the HDRC.

DEGREE AWARD RECOMMENDATION
The HDRC will determine the examination result..  The determination will be finalised following a recommendation to HDRC by the Program and Examination Sub-Committee (PESC).

The PESC will
  • review individual examination reports and the comments submitted about the examination reports by the Principal Supervisor
  • consider the reports of all examiners in the light of the criteria for the award of the degree.

PESC will make A recommendation to HDRC for the award of a Vice–Chancellor’s Commendation for PhD and MPhil theses which are nominated by all examiners as being in the top 5% (or equivalent) of research at the level of the degree.

THESIS FINALISATION
A copy of the thesis approved by HDRC must be lodged with the Macquarie University Library.

COMPLIANCE AND BREACHES
The University may commence applicable disciplinary procedures if a person to whom this Policy applies breaches this Policy (or any of its related procedures).

Policy Information

Contact OfficerDean Higher Degree Research
Date Approved25 July 2014
Approval AuthorityAcademic Senate
Date of Commencement25 July 2014
Amendment History25 July 2014 – revised policy approved by Academic Senate, Resolution 14/127.  
Date for Next Review25 July 2017
Related DocumentsHigher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Procedure (see tab above)
Higher Degree Research Thesis by Publication Guideline
Higher Degree Research Thesis Re-Examination Guideline
Oral Examination Procedure
Policies / Rules Superseded by this PolicyHDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy approved 16 November 2010
KeywordsThesis examination; thesis submission; thesis re-examination; examiner appointment; examiner approval; nomination of examiners; examination confidentiality; library copy; external examination; thesis by publication; thesis abstract; joint enrolment agreement; oral examination; Higher Degree Research Committee; Academic Senate; Program and Examination Sub-Committee; Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation.

PROCEDURE

Purpose

To outline the required actions for the submission and examination of a Higher Degree Research Thesis.  The Program and Examination Sub-Committee (PESC) of the Higher Degree Research Committee (HDRC) reviews and recommends actions to HDRC in relation to the conduct of the thesis submission and examination process.

Procedure

This procedure requires actions by the following:
  • Candidate
  • Higher Degree Research Committee
  • Higher Degree Research Office Officer
  • Principal Supervisor
  • Program and Examination Sub-Committee

Candidate

Prepare the thesis in accordance with the Doctoral Degree Rules, Rules for the Degree of Master by Research and the Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.
HDRO OfficerContact the candidate and Principal Supervisor to advise of the need to nominate examiners for approval by the Higher Degree Research Committee (HDRC) up to three months prior to the expected thesis submission date.

Candidate

Up to three months in advance of the thesis submission date, discuss possible examiners with the Principal and other supervisors. Approve the selection of the nominated thesis examiners by signing the Appointment of Examiners form.

Principal Supervisor

Discuss the nomination of examiners with the candidate at least three months before thesis submission date.

Contact possible examiners to ascertain their availability to examine the thesis.

Submit an examiner nomination form to HDRC for review and approval which normally includes a list of six examiners for a doctoral degree and four for a master research degree to HDRO.

Certify that the following thesis preparation requirements have been met by the candidate:
  • that copies are prepared and bound in a form approved by HDRC and include an abstract of approximately 200 words.
  • that the length of the thesis conforms to the requirements as to length prescribed by the Executive Dean of the Faculty in which the candidate is enrolled and approved by HDRC.
  • that the thesis is the candidate’s own account of the work and it is written in English, or approval have been obtained from HDRC to submit a thesis or part thereof in a language other than English, and it reaches a satisfactory standard of literary presentation.

If you decline to certify that thesis preparation requirements have been met by the candidate and the candidate wishes to submit the thesis, refer the matter to the Faculty Associate Dean HDR and then, if necessary, to the University Dean HDR for resolution.

HDRO Officer

Prepare the thesis examiner nomination documentation and forward to the Higher Degree Research Program and Examination Sub-Committee (PESC) for review and approval.  The documentation should include details of any special Joint Enrolment (Cotutelle) or double-badged degree provisions including the requirement for approval to submit a thesis in a language other than English.

PESC

Review the list of examiner nominations proposed by the Principal Supervisor and candidate.

For doctoral degrees, approve the appointment of three examiners and one reserve examiner.  For masters degrees, approve the appointment of two examiners and one reserve examiner.

Report approved examiner nominations to HDRC.
HDRO OfficerAdvise the Principal Supervisor when the examiners nominations have been approved.

Candidate

Submit four copies of a doctoral thesis or three copies of a masters thesis to HDRO.  Complete and submit the Submission of a PhD/MPhil Thesis for Examination Form.  Complete and bind into each copy of the thesis a clear statement of the exact contribution of any other author of any paper or part-thereof included as part of the examinable content of the thesis.  Submit thesis examiner nomination forms if examiners have not been nominated.  If not approved, then Steps 7-11 are followed.

In the case of a thesis re-submitted for examination, the candidate must submit to HDRC for approval, and advice to the examiners, a detailed report outlining the exact changes made to the thesis during the period of re-enrolment. 

PESC

In the case of a re-submission, review the documentation and determine if the thesis is approved for re-examination.

HDRO Officer

Forward copies of the thesis (and any detailed report of changes for re-examination) to approved examiners along with copies of the Confidential Examination Report, Honorarium Information, Thesis Examination Policy.

Administer the thesis examination process including the reporting on progress to the Principal Supervisor and the candidate.

Contact the Principal Supervisor when all examiner reports have been received and request comment on the reports.

Principal Supervisor

Prepare a commentary of the examiner reports reviewing the critical points of relevance as indicated by the examiners.

Obtain signature of approval from the Faculty Associate Dean Higher Degree Research and forward to HDRO.
HDRO Officer

Compile all examiner reports and supervisor commentary and forward to PESC.

PESC

Review examiner reports and Principal Supervisor commentary.  If Principal Supervisor commentary is incomplete, request HDRO to obtain further information.

Determine if, in the light of examiner reports and any other reports on the candidate’s program of studies, the thesis recommendation to HDRC should be:
  • recommend to Academic Senate the degree be awarded to the candidate, or
  • recommend to Academic Senate that Library corrections should be made and then the thesis awarded to the candidate, or
  • recommend that the candidate undertake minor corrections to the thesis to the satisfaction of HDRC and submit within one month, or
  • recommend that the candidate undertake major corrections to the thesis to the satisfaction of HDRC and submit within two months, or
  • require that the candidate undertake further study and research and submit a revised thesis for re-examination by one or more examiners, or
  • recommend the award of the Degree of Master in the case of a candidate for an honours Master degree, or
  • recommend that the degree not be awarded to the candidate, or
  • take such action as it deems appropriate before making a recommendation as specified in (a) to (g).

HDRO Officer

Advise candidate of outcome.  If  (a) or  (b) then advise candidate of the need to provide three copies of the final hard-copy bound thesis within one month of the recommendation of HDRC. If  (e) the candidate will be enrolled for a period of twelve months in order to complete the thesis revision.  If a Joint Enrolment (Cotutelle) or an approved double-badged degree enrolment, advise Academic Senate of recommendation in accordance with contract requirements if any are specified. HDRO will advise the partner institution and the Graduation Unit of the examination outcome.

Candidate

Submit a copy of corrected thesis to HDRO within the required time and include a signed confirmation from the Principal Supervisor of the corrections that have been undertaken.

PESC

Review corrections undertaken and make a recommendation to HDRC of the examination outcome.  If award of degree approved by HDRC, then advise the candidate of the outcome and of the need to provide three copies of the final hard-bound thesis within one month of the recommendation of HDRC.  If a Joint Enrolment (Cotutelle) or an approved double-badged degree enrolment, advise Academic Senate of recommendation in accordance with contract requirements if any are specified. HDRO will advise the partner institution and the Graduation Unit of the examination outcome.

HDRC

HDRC may approve a thesis moratorium on application from the candidate and recommendation from the Faculty Executive Dean.  If approved, the thesis will not be available until after the expiry of a period which shall not exceed three years in total.  Requests of up to twelve months per application will be considered.

HDRO Officer

Forward one copy of the final hard-bound copy of the thesis to the Library, the Principal Supervisor and the Executive Dean of the Faculty

Procedure Information

Contact OfficerManager, Higher Degree Research Office (HDRO)
Date Approved3 October 2008
Approval AuthorityHigher Degree Research Committee
Date of Commencement3 October 2008
Amendment History

January 2017 – Minor amendment to reference new Submission of a PhD/MPhil Thesis for Examination Form

Date for Next ReviewAugust 2011
Related Documents

Higher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy (see tab above)
Higher Degree Research Thesis by Publication  Guideline
Higher Degree Research Thesis Re-Examination Guideline
Oral Examination Procedure

The Doctoral Degree Rules and Rules for the Degree of Master by Research Rule 7 (to be written).

Forms
Appointment of Examiners formSubmission of a PhD/MPhil Thesis for Examination Form
KeywordsThesis examination; thesis submission; thesis re-examination; examiner appointment; examiner approval; nomination of examiners; Cotutelle; double-badged degree; joint enrolment; Program and  Examination Sub-Committee; PESC; Higher Degree Research Committee; HDRC; thesis length; thesis re-submission; Associate Dean Higher Degree Research; Principal Supervisor; library corrections; minor corrections; major corrections; corrected thesis; thesis moratorium.
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