7.14 Guidelines for reaching a thesis examination outcome in seemingly intractable cases

7.14 Guidelines for reaching a thesis examination outcome in seemingly intractable cases

7.14.1 Objective

The Graduate Research Committee (GRC) wishes to expedite the course of a very small number of examinations for which a final outcome may be elusive. In such cases where delays may arise from a range of factors, special procedures may be required.

7.14.2 Triggers for applying special review process

The review process, including the convening of an Examination Review Board (see below), may be initiated by either the Graduate Research Committee (GRSC) or the Chair, if in their opinion for example:

  • the examination has taken too long;
  • the requirements or views of a dissenting examiner are considered unreasonable;
  • the report of the adjudicator is inappropriate or inadequate; or
  • there is an irreconcilable divergence between the views of GRSC and the relevant advisory panel. (In such cases, however, the Chair of GRC may first convene a joint meeting of the GRSC and the relevant advisory panel to determine whether agreement may be reached on appropriate action.)

An Examination Review Board will be convened for all examination cases where a recommendation of revision and resubmission is returned after the second round of the examination.

The Graduate Research Committee will be advised of the proposed course of action to achieve an examination outcome.

7.14.3 Examination Review Board (ERB) for doctoral students

7.14.3.1 Membership

The Graduate Research Committee ERB shall have the following membership:

  • chairperson, being the Chair of the Graduate Research Committee or nominee;
  • examinees main supervisor;
  • head of academic unit or nominee;
  • convenor of the advisory panel, being the faculty representative on the Graduate Research Committee, or nominee where the convenor is from the same academic unit as the examinee;
  • two independent members, one or both of whom could be co-opted from outside the University, who have appropriate expertise in the general research area of the thesis. (An independent member shall have no connection with the supervisor, student or academic unit in relation to the research project but may be a member of the faculty. In faculties that do not have academic departments, as in Education and Law, an independent member of the ERB must not be involved in the project in a capacity as supervisor or research collaborator.)

Where an examiner/adjudicator report is unavailable, appointment of external member(s) is mandatory. Where appropriate, a further external adviser or expert may be co-opted to the panel (see below).

The Chair of the Graduate Research Committee will determine/approve the final membership of the ERB in consultation with the convenor of GRSC and the convenor of the relevant advisory panel.

In the case of a split vote between members, the chairperson shall have a casting vote.

Normally, a written or oral presentation from the main supervisor will be requested. Additionally, where the ERB seeks further clarification on the thesis, the examinee may be either interviewed by the panel or invited to make a written submission on the issues so identified by the ERB.

7.14.3.2 Documentation to be reviewed by the ERB

Relevant documentation may include:

  • the examiner appointment details;
  • the examiners’ reports;
  • the invitation to the faculty representative of GRC to convene an advisory panel;
  • the advisory panel recommendation, including, if appropriate, adjudicator appointment details;
  • the student’s response to examiners in the event that an adjudicator is to be appointed;
  • the adjudicator’s report;
  • any subsequent recommendations of the advisory panel; and
  • any other related documentation.

7.14.3.3 Recommendations available to the ERB

The ERB will be empowered to make the following recommendations:

  • the thesis shall be passed;
  • the thesis shall be passed subject to the undertaking of amendments to the satisfaction either of a member of the University or an external reviewer nominated by the ERB;
  • the thesis shall be revised and resubmitted with required revisions to be specified and the examiners appointed to review the revised thesis named;
  • a further expert reviewer shall be appointed to give an opinion of the work;
  • an oral examination shall be conducted under such conditions and terms of reference, and before assessors, as deemed appropriate by the ERB;
  • clarification shall be sought from the examiners, adjudicator or others participating in the examination of the work;
  • the thesis shall be failed.

The decision of the ERB shall be final, and its confidential deliberations, recommendations and supporting arguments will be reported to GRC.

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