Thesis/project submission and examination policy process

Purpose

To describe the processes in managing thesis and project submission and examination at RMIT.

Exclusions

RMIT students who are not enrolled in a higher degree by research program.

Process steps

1. Eligibility to submit

1.1. In order to be eligible to submit their thesis/project for examination candidates must:

1.1.1. have been enrolled for at least the minimum duration of candidature in accordance with the Higher degrees by research policy;

1.1.2.have successfully completed all the prescribed coursework components of the program;

1.1.3. have successfully completed all compulsory milestone reviews or received an exemption from the milestone.

2. Appointment of examiners

2.1. The appointment of examiners should commence at the time of the Third milestone review.

2.2. All panels of examiners must be approved by the time the candidate submits for examination.

2.3. Candidates may request the exclusion of specific individuals as their examiners. The request, including broad justification, should be provided to the Senior supervisor.

2.4. The appointment of examiners will be in accordance with the ACGR Conflict of Interest Guidelines (PDF).

2.5. The Senior supervisor must approach potential examiners who will be recommended for the examination of a thesis/project. Each potential examiner will be provided with the:

2.5.1. Name of the candidate

2.5.2. An abstract of the research

2.5.3. Likely submission date for the research

2.5.4. Relevant RMIT guidelines to HDR examiners.

2.6. Supervisors should satisfy themselves that:

2.6.1. examiners are available at the necessary time and,

2.6.2. examiners have the necessary knowledge and experience to examine the topic, before they complete the Recommended panel of examiners form (PDF 124KB).

2.7. Potential examiners must be informed that:

2.7.1. they will receive an electronic copy of the examinable outputs for examination;

2.7.2. the final recommendation and report must be completed by the examiner within six weeks of receiving notification from the SGR;

2.7.3. their name will be disclosed to the candidate if an oral presentation or exhibition is involved;

2.7.4. examiners of theses and of projects examined like theses may elect to have their name revealed to the candidate at the conclusion of the examination;

2.7.5. under Victorian legislation a candidate may request full details of their examination, including the examiners names.

2.8. If a proposed examiner is not in the same/related discipline or field as the candidate, justification for the recommendation, including a full curriculum vitae, must be provided within the Recommended panel of examiners form (PDF 124KB). Schools/Centres may only nominate one person in this category per panel.

2.9. A panel of examiners who are all RMIT graduates will not be approved without a case being made by the School/Centre and supported by the College HDR Director (or equivalent).

3. Submission requirements

3.1. The requirements for submission for examination are that:

3.1.1. The candidate must have a current enrolment when they submit;

3.1.2. Candidates and Senior supervisors must confirm the thesis/project complies with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and has been prepared so that it meets legislative requirements in relation to copyright and privacy;

3.1.3. the thesis/project is approved as being of examinable standard.

3.2. To meet the requirement in clause 3.1.3. above:

3.2.1. Candidates are recommended to obtain in-principle agreement from their Senior Supervisor before uploading their thesis/project for submission.

3.2.2. Candidates may choose to submit against the advice of a supervisor but if they do, they must complete and lodge the HDR intention to submit without authorisation form (PDF) at the time of upload. The form is available on request from the SGR examinations team.

3.2.3. Following upload, the Senior Supervisor, Dean/Head of School/Centre and the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development (or the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development only in the case of submission without school authorisation) must approve the thesis/project for examination. If it is not approved, it will be returned to the candidate for further amendment.

3.2.4. Candidates are recommended to upload their thesis/project at least two weeks ahead of census date to avoid future fee liability should the thesis/project be returned for amendment.

3.3. The submission date is the date that the thesis/project is uploaded in the digital repository, provided it is approved for examination.

4. Format of submission for examination

4.1. An electronic copy of the research is uploaded in the digital repository in PDF format.

4.2. The thesis/dissertation shall contain the following, in the order outlined below:

4.2.1. a title page, as prescribed in the Formatting section of the SGR submission pages;

4.2.2. a declaration by the candidate as prescribed on the SGR examination webpage;

4.2.3. acknowledgements, if any;

4.2.4. a table of the contents and, where applicable, lists of diagrams, tables, images, etc., contained therein;

4.2.5. a summary (abstract) of the research in not more than 1,000 words;

4.2.6. the main text of the thesis/dissertation;

4.2.7. a list of references conforming to a recognised international standard appropriate to the discipline.

4.3. The thesis/dissertation shall be in English and must contain clearly readable font (no smaller than ten point).

4.4. Figures, tables, images, etc. must carry a number and a caption and be placed as close to the relevant text as possible. Usually they should be either immediately after or opposite the text.

4.5. The pages of the thesis/dissertation from the (a) title page to (d) table of contents must be numbered in Roman numerals then commencing with the first page of the (e) summary (abstract) Arabic numerals must be used.

4.6. The letter of approval from an authorised RMIT committee for any research with humans or animals, or involving genetic modification, must be included as an appendix in the work.

4.7. The candidate must use the format for the title page of the thesis/project and the declaration prescribed on the SGR examination webpage. Any thesis/project which does not follow the format will not be accepted.

4.8. For any thesis including publications, whether they are reproduced in part or in full, the Publications declaration form (PDF 127KB) must be uploaded at the time of submission.

4.9. A digital version of the examinable work is required for submission.

5. Readmission for the purpose of examination

5.1. Individuals may be readmitted for the purpose of examination within three years of their cancellation date, if their HDR candidature:

5.1.1. has lapsed,

5.1.2. been cancelled by them, or

5.1.3. has been cancelled for exceeding maximum duration.

5.2. In order to be re-admitted these individuals must submit a completed, examinable draft of their thesis/project to their former Senior supervisor, or HDR Coordinator if the Senior supervisor is no longer available.

5.3. The Senior supervisor or HDR Coordinator is responsible for:

5.3.1. nominating examiners (refer to section 2 of this process);

5.3.2. providing a statement attesting that the research topic is current and has not been superseded by subsequent research in the field ,and

5.3.3. recommending that the work is ready for examination to the Dean/Head of School/Centre.

5.4. If the readmission and Recommended panel of examiners form (PDF 124KB) are endorsed by the Dean/Head of School/Centre (or nominee), the HDR Administrator must submit the documentation for approval by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development.

5.5. After being re-enrolled the candidate should submit their thesis/project into the HDR digital repository within 10 working days.

6. Examination processes

6.1. Table 1 records the type of examinations available to candidates at RMIT:

Exam type

Summary process

Available to candidates in Thesis mode

Available to candidates in Project mode

1

Method of examination

Research is provided to examiners via the digital repository.

Examination period

Examiners are given six weeks from the date of notification that the thesis/project is available in the digital repository to prepare their reports and provide them directly to the SGR examinations team.

Yes

Yes

2

Method of examination

Research is exhibited1 for examination.

Examination period

Dissertation is provided to examiners four weeks before the scheduled date of the exam.

Examiners are given two weeks from the day of the examination to prepare their reports and provide them directly to the SGR examinations team.

No

Yes

3

Method of examination

Research is exhibited1 for examination and an oral presentation is provided.

The oral presentation may be captured on video.

Examination period

Dissertation is provided to examiners four weeks before the scheduled date of the exam.

Examiners are given two weeks from the day of the examination to prepare their reports and provide them directly to the SGR examinations team.

No

Yes

1 ‘Exhibited’ is defined as the presentation of the artefact/s, or body of work; or a record thereof, to the examiners. Presentations can include, but are not restricted to: viewing of work in a gallery, film screenings, musical or sound performance, or oral presentation.

6.2. All examiners are provided with the relevant RMIT guidelines to HDR examiners.

6.3. For all HDR examinations the thesis, or a project, is made available in the RMIT digital repository.

6.4. Examiners are required to prepare independent and individual reports of their assessment.

6.4.1. There should be no contact between examiners, candidates and supervisors during the examination process. If, at any time during the completion of the examiner’s report, an examiner identifies a significant query they have on any aspect of the thesis/project, they should contact the SGR examinations team and have their query relayed to the Senior supervisor for clarification.

6.5. If any examiner is unable to complete the examination within the allotted time period, the SGR will provide a written request to the HDR Coordinator for the appointment of another examiner to take the place of the initial examiner.

6.6. Candidates will be informed of the progress of their examination, and any unavoidable delays, if examiners reports have not been received within eight weeks of the thesis/dissertation being provided to the examiners.

6.7. Concerns about research integrity in the examined work

6.7.1. In the event of an examiner or any other relevant party in the examination process expressing concerns that the work presented for examination is not substantially the work of the candidate, or raising other concerns in relation to research integrity, the matter will be immediately referred to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development.

6.7.2. The examination will be suspended and the examiners, School/Centre and candidate will be notified. An investigation which follows the prescribed process in the Student Conduct Regulations will be held and all parties will be notified of the outcome.

6.8. The requirements for examination of project-based work at an exhibition (exam type 2 or 3) shall be as follows:

6.8.1. The examination shall be in an appropriate venue at a time and date arranged by the School/Centre and approved by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development on the Recommended panel of examiners form (PDF 124KB).

6.8.2. The examiners may attend the exhibition in person, or by use of communication technology arranged by the School/Centre.

6.8.3. The examination shall be convened by a person appointed as Convenor by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development on the Recommended panel of examiners form. Persons who have acted in a supervisory or consultative capacity may not be appointed as the Convenor.

6.8.4. Projects must be assessed by both examiners at the same time and will not occur without the appointed Convenor being present.

6.8.5. It is the responsibility of the Convenor to explain the process for the examination, including any oral presentation, to the examiners, including the amount of time they have to review the work, and ensure that the examination is conducted in accordance with the Higher degrees by research policy and these processes.

6.8.6. Examiners may consult the Convenor if they have questions during the examination.

6.9. The requirements for an oral presentation delivered at an exhibition (exam type 3) shall be as follows:

6.9.1. The Convenor must ensure that the processes listed in section 6.8 are used.

6.9.2. The amount of time allowed for the presentation is:

    a) PhD candidates - one hour oral presentation plus ½ to one hour discussion with the examiners;

    b) Masters by research candidates – ½ hour oral presentation plus up to ½ hour discussion with the examiners.

6.9.3. Discussion and questions from the public, if allowed by the School/Centre, shall be directed through the Convenor to the candidate only after examiners have indicated they have no further comments for the candidate.

7. Examination outcomes - classification of examiner recommendations

7.1. The two examiners reports and recommendations are considered by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development as per schedules 1 to 3 in the Higher degrees by research policy.

7.2. Where examiners reports return significantly differing recommendations, the examination is referred to a CHEAC. The CHEAC will determine which of the two differing classifications to recommend. The CHEAC will refer the examination to an independent adjudicator if it agrees with the more favourable of the examiners’ recommendations.

7.3. In convening a CHEAC, the terms of reference for the committee must be followed and the committee recommendation must be in accordance with the Higher degrees by research policy.

8. College HDR Advisory Committees (CHEACs) and Adjudicators

8.1. If the CHEAC recommends the appointment of an adjudicator, and this is approved by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development the following process is used:

8.1.1. The Senior supervisor has the responsibility to approach a potential adjudicator. The information that must be provided so that they can make a decision on whether to agree to the adjudication is the:

    a) name of the candidate

    b) an abstract of the research

    c) a copy of the RMIT advice for HDR examination adjudicators

    d) the proposed timeline for the adjudication process.

8.1.2. The Senior supervisor informs the candidate that an adjudicator is being appointed and that the candidate should prepare a response to the negative aspects of the examiner’s report/s with the guidance of supervisors.

8.1.3. The Senior supervisor submits the Adjudicator appointment form (PDF 127KB) to the HDR Coordinator for authorisation; the form is then submitted to the academic responsible for HDR matters in the college for endorsement, and onto the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development for final approval.

8.1.4. The appointment of an adjudicator must be in accordance with the ACGR Conflict of Interest Guidelines (PDF).

8.1.5. When the adjudicator has been approved the SGR sends them:

    a) the submitted thesis/project;

    b) the full copies of the first two examiner reports (de-identified), and,

    c) the candidate’s response to the examination reports.

8.1.6. The adjudicator has a range of classification recommendations in accordance with schedule 3 of the Higher degrees by research policy.

8.1.7. Adjudicators are required to submit their recommendation for a final classification for the examination outcome directly to the SGR examinations team within four weeks from receipt of the examined work. It is then provided to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development for approval.

9. Examination results

9.1. After the examination outcome has been classified in accordance with the Higher degrees by research policy the SGR sends a notification to the candidate, HDR Coordinator, and Dean/Head of School/Centre. A separate notification is sent to the examiners to advise them of the examination classification. Classifications are explained in the schedules 1 to 3 of the Higher degrees by research policy.

9.1.1. All notifications contain the classification outcome, and, for research classified as C1 or C2 it will also contain a submission date for the archival version of the thesis/project.

9.1.2. For research classified as C3, revise and resubmit, the following apply:

    a) the candidate and supervisors are notified of the expected resubmission date for the amended thesis/project;

    b) the initial examiners are invited to re-examine the revised work at the end of the one year revision period, if one or both are not available new examiner/s will be sought;

    c) after re-submission examiners of the research are provided with the revised version of the thesis/project and a document from the candidate listing the amendments made to address the initial examiners’ requirements and justification for any amendments not made at the request of those examiners.

    d) If any of the original examiners re-examine the research they are provided with their original examiner’s’ report.

    e) The C3 classification is not regarded as a final examination outcome as further examination of the work must be undertaken;

    f) International candidates who receive a C3 classification may complete revisions and be re-examined in a way that does not require them to stay in/return to Australia.

9.1.3. For research classified as C4 the candidate will not be awarded the degree for which they were enrolled and will NOT be permitted to revise and resubmit the thesis/project for re-examination. The following also apply:

    a) the thesis/project cannot be resubmitted for the same degree;

    b) one copy of the examined thesis/project becomes the property of RMIT and shall be filed with the candidate's official records;

    c) a record of the fail will be placed on the RMIT student system.

9.2. The final classification outcome for the thesis/project is entered on the RMIT student systems along with the result for the research component of the program.

9.3. Request for extension of time to submit amendments

9.3.1. A candidate can apply with their Senior/Joint senior supervisor to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development for approval of an extension to the submission date, where the candidate cannot meet:

    a) the nominated date for resubmission of their thesis/project after major revisions; or

    b) the lodgement date for the archival version of their research.

9.3.2. The candidate should submit the Request for extension of time to submit amendments form (PDF 178kb) to SGR before the nominated lodgement date passes.

9.4. Appeal against final examination result

9.4.1. Candidates whose examination has been completed and who have a result of ‘Fail’ may appeal against any perceived procedural irregularities in the conduct of their thesis/project examination. They must use the form for Appeal against the outcome of a thesis/project examination by a student in a research program – University Appeals Committee (PDF).

9.4.2. Candidates must ensure their appeal form is received by the Secretary of the University Appeals Committee within 20 working days of the date of the formal notification from the SGR of their final examination outcome. Late appeal applications cannot be accepted.

10. Lodgement of the final archival thesis/project and completion of the degree

10.1. After a thesis/project has been classified by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development any amendments requested by the examiner/s must be completed by the candidate, or a case presented as to why they do not need to be undertaken.

10.2. Completion and graduation processes require that:

10.2.1. The final electronic archival version of the thesis/project is to be uploaded to the digital repository within the timeline specified by the University and after any necessary amendments/ revisions which have been appropriately supervised;

10.2.2. The candidate has fulfilled the academic and administrative requirements for the award of the degree.

10.3. Candidates must use the RMIT branded title page, and declaration, for the final archival thesis/project available from the SGR archival submissions webpage. Any thesis/project which does not include the correct title page will not be accepted.

10.4. Failure to submit the final archival version of the thesis/project by the date specified by the SGR may lead to the thesis/project being reclassified as "Failed". Candidates will be notified if this process is being initiated.

10.5. Doctoral citation

10.5.1. Provision of a doctoral citation to the SGR at the time of lodgement of the final archival version of the thesis/project is a requirement for a PhD candidate to be identified as being eligible to graduate. The citation is included in the graduation programme and the AHEGS statement.

10.5.2. The citation should be written in a manner such that the nature of the research and its value or outcome can be understood and appreciated by those with no specialist knowledge of the field or its technical terms. Requirements for the preparation of the citation are available from the SGR archival submissions webpage.

10.5.3. It is the responsibility of the Senior/Joint senior supervisor to write the citation in conjunction with the candidate and to ensure it meets the stipulated criteria.

10.5.4. All citations are reviewed and approved by the Academic Registrar’ Group.

10.6. When the final archival thesis/project has been approved for lodgement by the Senior supervisor and the Dean/ Head of School/Centre (or nominee) a record of the completion is provided to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development for approval of a recommendation for award.

10.7. After approval the thesis/project is uploaded into the RMIT Research Repository (RRR).

11. Completion process

11.1. On receipt of the final archival thesis/project the SGR shall notify the ARG that the candidate has satisfactorily completed all the requirements of the degree.

11.2. The candidate, their supervisors, the Dean/Head of School/Centre and HDR Coordinator are notified in writing of the completion.

11.3. For International onshore candidates who are in receipt of a sponsorship the International and Development sponsorships team is also notified at ISscholarships@rmit.edu.au.

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