Policy

Higher Degree by Research Candidature Progression - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy describes the UQ-wide system of milestones for the progression of HDR candidature and should be read in conjunction with Higher Degree by Research Candidature Progression– Procedures.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Advisor - Principal Advisor.

Dean - Dean of the UQ Graduate School or delegate.

Enrolling AOU - Academic Organisational Unit that directly enrols HDR candidates.

FTE - Full-time equivalent enrolment.

Head of Enrolling AOU - means the School, Institute Director, or Executive Dean at a UQ School, Institute or Faculty.

HDR - Higher Degree by Research.

MPhil - Master of Philosophy.

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy.

Professional Doctorate (research) (PDR) – a professional doctorate administered by the UQ Graduate School where at least two thirds of the program is research at AQF level 10. 

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all HDR candidates enrolled at The University of Queensland.

4. Policy Statement

Candidature progression is monitored through the confirmation, mid-candidature, and thesis review milestones. Milestones are important elements of the research training provided to and undertaken by HDR candidates and are mandatory for all HDR candidates.

In some instances, external funding bodies may have additional expectations for reporting progress as a condition of funding or sponsorship. UQ is mindful of the nature and importance of its research training partnerships. Consequently, UQ will work collaboratively with those sponsorship bodies to achieve an outcome acceptable to both parties.

5. Milestone Structure and Timing

Achieving each milestone plays an important role in:

  • the academic development and progress of the candidate;
  • resources allocation (including advisory commitments) for the enrolling AOU; and
  • quality assurance for UQ.

Further details describing the timing and expectations for successfully completing each milestone can be found in the accompanying document Higher Degree by Research Candidature Progression– Procedures.

Custodians
Dean, Graduate School Professor Alastair McEwan

Procedures

Higher Degree by Research Candidature Progression - Procedures

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Body

1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the UQ-wide processes and timeframes followed at each milestone: confirmation of candidature, mid-candidature review, thesis review and thesis submission.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Advisor - Principal Advisor.

Dean - Dean of the UQ Graduate School or delegate.

Enrolling AOU - an Academic Organisational Unit that directly enrols HDR candidates.

FTE - Full-time equivalent.

HDR - Higher Degree by Research.

MPhil - Master of Philosophy.

Official due date - the milestone or submission due date granted by the UQ Graduate School at commencement, upon successful completion of a milestone, or from an approved extension.

ORCID - Open Researcher and Contributor ID.

PGC – Postgraduate Coordinator of the enrolling AOU.

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy.

Professional Doctorate (research) – a professional doctorate administered by the UQ Graduate School where at least two thirds of the program is research at AQF level 10. 

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all HDR candidates enrolled at The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

AOUs are to provide clear written advice to their HDR candidates about the requirements and procedures governing candidature progression and development.

5. Milestones

5.1 Confirmation

Confirmation of candidature will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after commencement, or 6 months FTE (professional doctorates) after commencement of the research component. The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the candidate receives appropriate feedback in relation to the viability and progress of the research project,
  • the candidate has sufficient training and that there are resources available to complete the program within the recommended timeframes, and
  • composition of the advisory team is appropriate.

Enrolling AOUs must ensure that all compliance requirements (e.g. induction for candidates, ethics approvals, research integrity training, and completion of the research integrity module) have been undertaken prior to the confirmation milestone.

5.2 Mid-candidature review

The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the project is on track for completion within candidature duration,
  • the candidate's research and other professional skills are developing appropriately, and
  • composition of the advisory team is appropriate.

Mid-candidature review will take place 12 months FTE after the official confirmation milestone due date for PhD candidates or 6 months FTE after the official confirmation milestone due date for MPhil and professional doctorate candidates.

5.3 Thesis review

The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the work is of a standard to be examined by the expected submission date,
  • appropriate feedback about the readiness of the thesis for examination can be given,
  • any issues or concerns with the thesis requiring attention can be addressed prior to submission,
  • the scope, originality and quality of the thesis are of an appropriate standard,
  • there is a forum for discussing the mix of disciplinary knowledge required among the thesis examiners to review the breadth of work contained within the thesis,
  • the candidate and the advisors have an opportunity to express any reservations or concerns about having any particular individual act as an examiner and the nomination of a chair of examiners can be discussed, and
  • the candidate has an opportunity to request an oral thesis examination in addition to a written examination.

Thesis review will take place 12 months FTE after the official mid-candidature milestone due date for PhD candidates or 6 months FTE after the official mid-candidature milestone due date for MPhil and professional doctorate candidates.

5.4 Thesis Submission

HDR candidates are expected to submit their thesis to the Graduate School:

  • 3 months FTE after the official thesis review milestone due date (PhD), or
  • 6 weeks FTE after the official thesis review milestone due date (MPhil and professional doctorates).

6. Accelerated MPhil and Professional Doctorate Milestones

6.1 MPhil candidates may be approved to undertake an accelerated milestone process where they:

  • attain the confirmation of candidature milestone within 9 months FTE of commencing candidature, and
  • have sufficient evidence to support that they will submit their thesis within 18 months FTE of commencing candidature.

6.2 MPhil candidates may undertake a combined mid-candidature review and thesis review where they meet the above conditions and the criteria set by the enrolling AOU for both milestones. Agreement to combine these milestones must be discussed with the candidate at confirmation.

6.3 Where the mid-candidature and thesis review milestones are combined, the candidate must demonstrate they have satisfied the enrolling AOU’s criteria for thesis review and are on track to submit within six weeks FTE of the combined mid-candidature and thesis review attainment date. If this cannot be demonstrated, the candidate may be deemed to have met only the mid-candidature milestone and then be assigned a future thesis review date.

7. Achieving Milestones

7.1.1 Each milestone includes formal and recorded interactions between the candidate and the advisory team. Milestone components are open to the external scrutiny of members of the wider research community.

7.1.2 The format for each milestone must be compliant with the milestone policy with precise details at the discretion of the enrolling AOU to account for discipline-specific differences. However, each milestone is assessed on written and oral work by the candidate as well as an interview. Each milestone interaction will be appropriately recorded, with the record kept by the enrolling AOU. Each milestone will result in written feedback to the candidate.

7.1.3 Each enrolling AOU is required to adopt these principles and processes in transparent and equitable ways that are appropriate to its discipline(s), size, and cohort of candidates. Enrolling AOUs are required to provide locally-adapted information that includes the timing, format, expectations of scope, and the quality and amount of work to be presented at each milestone. This information must be available on the enrolling AOU’s website and in clear written form to each candidate:

  • prior to supporting an application for admission to the HDR program,
  • at a formal induction session for all commencing candidates, and
  • on completion of each milestone.

7.1.4 Enrolling AOUs must ensure that candidates receive appropriate support from their advisory teams prior to and during each milestone.

7.1.5 Once a milestone has been obtained, an Attainment or extension of milestone request must be submitted to the Graduate School within two weeks of attainment.

7.1.6 Following completion of the milestone the enrolling AOU must recommend:

  • that the milestone has been attained, or
  • that an extension is required in order for the candidate to repeat the milestone, or
  • that the candidate has not attained the milestone and is liable for a review of candidature for not demonstrating satisfactory progress in accordance with PPL 4.60.11 Higher Degree by Research Candidature.

7.1.7 Candidates who fail to:

  • undertake milestones or submit the thesis by the official due date, or
  • seek an extension at least two weeks prior to the official due date, or
  • submit a milestone attainment request one month from the official due date,

may be issued with a notice of intention to withdraw in accordance with PPL 4.60.11 Higher Degree by Research Candidature.

7.1.8 A candidate who is transferring from another institution may be deemed to have completed the confirmation, mid-candidature review, and/or thesis review milestone if:

  • proof of completion of an equivalent milestone elsewhere is provided, or
  • the enrolling AOU makes a case to the Dean that, on the basis of the enrolling AOU's assessment of the candidate's research work to date, the candidate has demonstrably achieved the standard required for the milestone(s).

7.1.9 Candidates who do not achieve a milestone after a period of an additional 6 months FTE for the PhD or an additional 3 months FTE for the MPhil may be issued with a notice of intention to withdraw in accordance with PPL 4.60.11 Higher Degree by Research Candidature. The usual timeframe for milestones are as follows:

 

PhD

MPhil and professional doctorates

Confirmation

12 months

6 months

Mid-Candidature Review

24 months

12 months

Thesis Review

36 months

18 months

Submission

39 months

19.5 months

 

7.2 Research Integrity Module

7.2.1 Candidates who commenced prior to 1 October 2014 are required to complete the Research Integrity Module by attainment of their next milestone.

7.2.2 Candidates who commenced on or after 1 October 2014 are required to complete the Research Integrity Module by attainment of the confirmation milestone.

7.2.3 Milestone attainments cannot be approved by the Graduate School without completion of this module.

7.3 ORCID Registration

7.3.1 Candidates who commenced prior to 1 April 2018 are required to register an ORCID with UQ by attainment of their next milestone.

7.3.2 Candidates who commence on or after 1 April 2018 are required to register an ORCID with UQ by attainment of their confirmation milestone.

7.3.3 Milestone attainments cannot be approved by the Graduate School without confirmation of this registration.

 

8. Extension of a Milestone

8.1 A milestone extension provides more time to a candidate to continue working on their project without interruption.

8.2 Extension of milestones for PhD candidates

8.2.1 For PhD candidates who attained the Confirmation milestone prior to 1 January 2019:

Candidates may apply for:

  • up to 3 x 3 month (FTE) milestone extensions during their candidature, including submission.

8.2.2 For PhD candidates who commenced from 1 January 2019:

Candidates may apply for:

  • up to 2 x 3 month (FTE) milestone extensions during their candidature, including submission.

8.3 MPhil and professional doctorate candidates may apply for:

  • up to a maximum of 4.5 months (FTE) during their candidature, including submission, with no request exceeding 3 months in duration.

8.4 A maximum of two extensions may be used per milestone. Extensions will only be approved where the candidate experiences events which have direct impact on the progress of research, and justification for the extension must be provided, with endorsement from the Principal Advisor and the PGC.

8.5 Where an extension is being sought, an Attainment or extension of milestone request must be submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the milestone due date.

8.6 Candidates who are unable to achieve a milestone due to a change in personal circumstances (e.g. long-term illness, work commitments) that prevents them from continuing to work on their project should discuss taking a period of interruption. Milestone and submission extensions may not be approved on the basis of personal circumstances or work commitments.

8.7 If leave from study is required, including interruption of candidature, see PPL 4.60.10 Higher Degree by Research Leave and Interruption to Candidature. Leave and interruption of candidature also enable an extension of milestones and due dates as appropriate.

Custodians
Dean, Graduate School Professor Alastair McEwan
Custodians
Dean, Graduate School Professor Alastair McEwan