|Effective date||1 January 2020|
|Review date||12 November 2021|
|Owner||Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation|
|Author||Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training & Development|
|Print version||HDR Submission and Examination Procedure (PDF 214 KB)|
This procedure provides the rules for submission and examination of research towards a higher degree by research at RMIT.
Higher Degrees nby Research Policy
This procedure applies to all staff responsible for higher degrees by research (HDR) management and supervision, and all HDR candidates of the University and its controlled entities (known as the RMIT Group).
1.1. To be eligible to submit their research for examination, candidates must have:
a) been enrolled for at least the minimum duration of candidature in accordance with Section 5.6 of the Higher Degrees by Research Policy (HDR Policy)
b) successfully completed all prescribed coursework components of the program
c) successfully completed all compulsory milestone reviews, or received an exemption from the milestone
d) a current enrolment.
1.2. Should a candidate wish to submit earlier than the minimum duration of candidature:
a) no exemptions will be granted for completion of the third milestone
b) the senior supervisor must submit a statement to the SGR confirming that:
• the candidate’s research is of an examinable standard
• the candidate has achieved all the learning outcomes of the degree
• in their opinion, the candidate may submit for examination without prejudice
c) permission to submit earlier than the minimum duration of candidature is subject to review by the ADVC RT&D.
2.1. Appointment of examiners is in accordance with Section 5.17 of the HDR Policy and the Australian Council for Graduate Research Conflict of Interest in the Appointment of Examiners Guidelines.
2.2. Supervisors must have begun the process of identifying and approaching examiners by the third milestone review.
2.3. All panels of examiners must be approved by the time the candidate submits for examination. SGR expects to receive a recommended panel of examiners for approval at least two months ahead of the candidate’s intended submission date.
2.4. Candidates should notify SGR and the enrolling school of the date they intend to submit to facilitate efficient coordination of the examination arrangements.
2.5. Candidates may request the exclusion of specific individuals as their examiners. The request including broad justification, should be provided to the senior supervisor and SGR at least three months prior to submission.
2.6. The senior supervisor must approach potential examiners who will be recommended for the examination of research for a higher degree. Each potential examiner will be provided with:
a) the candidate’s name
b) an abstract of the research
c) likely submission date for the research
d) relevant RMIT Guidelines to HDR examiners.
2.7. Before completing the Recommended Panel of Examiners Form, supervisors should satisfy themselves that:
a) examiners are available at the necessary time
b) where a confidentiality agreement is required, that examiners are willing to sign such an agreement in principle
c) examiners have the necessary knowledge and experience to examine the topic
d) no perceived or actual conflict of interest exists between the examiner and the candidate or members of the supervisory team.
2.8. Where a perceived conflict of interest exists, supervisors must declare this at the time of proposal. SGR will provide advice on how this can be managed.
2.9. Supervisors must inform potential examiners that:
a) they will be provided with access to an electronic copy of the examinable outputs for examination
b) they must complete and submit a final recommendation and report within six (6) weeks of receiving notification from SGR
c) their name will be disclosed to the candidate if an in-person presentation (e.g. oral presentation, exhibition, performance or demonstration) is involved
d) (if they are not required to attend an in-person presentation), their identity shall remain undisclosed during the examination process but may elect to have their name revealed to the candidate at the conclusion of the examination.
2.10. If a proposed examiner is not in the same/related discipline or field as the candidate, the senior supervisor must include justification of the recommendation, including a full curriculum vitae, with the Recommended Panel of Examiners Form.
2.11. The school HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) must review the recommended panel of examiners for any conflicts of interest before forwarding to the SGR for approval.
2.12. SGR will check examiners’ credentials for suitability and the results will be presented to the ADVC RT&D who approves the examination panel.
2.13. The ADVC RT&D will not approve a panel of examiners consisting only of RMIT graduates.
2.14. In cases where a confidentiality agreement is required, SGR will prepare and arrange execution of an examiner’s confidentiality agreement prior to formal appointment.
3.1. Examination submissions must include a thesis or dissertation which provides the:
b) scholarly or practical context for the research
c) process and methodology
d) presentation of the results, analysis and conclusions of the research.
3.2. Candidates are required to upload their thesis or dissertation at least two weeks ahead of the next census date to avoid future fee liability should the submission be returned due to not meeting the submission requirements.
3.3. Candidates and senior supervisors must confirm that the research complies with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and has been prepared in accordance with legislative copyright and privacy requirements.
3.4. The candidate must declare that the published research outputs included in their submission:
a) are by the candidate
b) have appropriate attribution and authorship recorded (refer to the Disseminating Research Outputs Procedure and Authorship of Research Outputs Procedure
c) have been generated by the candidate during the course of candidature.
3.5. Where two or more candidates collaborate on a project which will form the content of their submission for examination:
a) the contributions of each candidate must have sufficient individual value to the discipline or practice to be worthy of separate examination
b) each collaborator’s contributions to the overall research outcomes must be declared in each of the uniquely-titled research submissions.
3.6. The senior supervisor and school HDR DA must approve the candidate to submit via the Supervisor Centre and DA Centre in the Student Administration and Management System (SAMS). These approvals certify that the School believes the candidate’s work to be of an examinable standard.
3.7. Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria to submit may choose to submit without school approval, by completing and lodging an Intention to submit without approval form to SGR. Candidates choosing this option should contact SGR for advice, to ensure they are aware of the implications of submitting without school approval.
3.8. Candidates choosing to submit without school approval must meet the criteria in Section 1.
3.9. Candidates’ submissions must adhere to the format prescribed RMIT format as well as the standards and conventions for scholarly work which apply in the relevant discipline or field, such that they may be assessed without prejudice by leading experts of that discipline or field.
3.10. Supervisors must ensure that candidates understand the normal standards of research submission for their field and have taken account of these standards in the original research project design.
3.11. Following submission, providing all submission requirements are fulfilled, SGR will approve the thesis or dissertation for examination.
3.12. The submission date is the date that the thesis or dissertation is uploaded via the digital repository, provided it is approved for examination by the ADVC RT&D.
4.1. An electronic copy of the thesis or dissertation must be uploaded to the HDR digital repository in PDF format.
4.2. Attachments in other formats may also be permitted subject to approval by SGR.
4.3. The thesis or dissertation shall contain the following in the order outlined below:
a) a title page in the prescribed RMIT format
b) a declaration by the candidate on authorship and, where relevant, sponsorship and editorial assistance received
c) acknowledgements, if any (for example, where the candidate’s research has been supported by the Research Training Program, or other grant, contract or sponsor)
d) a table of contents and, where applicable, lists of diagrams, tables, images etc. contained in the submission
e) a summary (abstract) of the research in not more than 1,000 words
f) the main text of the thesis or dissertation
g) a list of all references cited in the preparation of the research in a format appropriate to the discipline
h) appendices, as required.
4.4. The thesis or dissertation shall be in English and be formatted in clearly readable font (no smaller than ten point).
4.5. 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.
4.6. The pages of the thesis or dissertation from the title page (4.3a)) to the table of contents pages (4.3d)) inclusive must be numbered in Roman numerals.
4.7. From the summary or abstract (4.3e)) onwards, Arabic numerals must be used.
4.8. The letter of approval from an authorised RMIT committee for any research with humans or animals, involving genetic modification or any other activity relating to institutional biosafety, must be included as an appendix in the work.
5.1. PhD candidates must provide a doctoral citation to the SGR to be eligible to graduate. The citation is included in the graduation program and the Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS).
5.2. Candidates must submit a citation with their initial submission to prevent delay at the point of completion. If necessary, candidates may amend their doctoral citation at the point of archival.
5.3. The citation must be written in a manner such that the nature of the research, its significance or potential for impact may be understood and appreciated by those with no specialist knowledge of the field or its technical terms.
5.4. It is the responsibility of the senior/joint senior supervisor to ensure the citation meets the stipulated criteria.
6.1. Individuals may be readmitted for the purpose of examination within three years of their cancellation date, if their HDR candidature has either:
b) been cancelled by them
c) been cancelled for exceeding maximum duration.
6.2. Individuals must submit a completed, examinable draft of their thesis or dissertation to their former senior supervisor or HDR DA if the senior supervisor is no longer available.
6.3. The senior supervisor or HDR DA overseeing submissions following readmission is responsible for:
a) nominating examiners in accordance with Section 2
b) providing a statement attesting that the research topic is current and has not been superseded by subsequent research in the field; and
c) recommending that the work is ready for examination to the Dean/Head of School or HDR DA.
6.4. If the readmission and Recommended Panel of Examiners Form are endorsed by the Dean/Head of School (or HDR DA) the HDR administrator must submit the documentation to the SGR for approval by the ADVC RT&D.
6.5. The candidate is required to submit their thesis or dissertation via the digital repository within 10 working days of re-enrolment.
7.1. Research for examination is uploaded, submitted and provided to examiners via the prescribed digital repository.
7.2. SGR must provide all examiners with the relevant RMIT Guidelines to HDR Examiners and any relevant supplementary guidelines or advice for the examination.
7.3. Only the ADVC RT&D (or nominee) may communicate with examiners on behalf of RMIT while the research is under examination.
7.4. With the exception of contact during an experiential presentation forming part of the examination process:
a) supervisors and candidates must attempt no contact with examiners during the examination process.
b) no contact is permitted between examiners while the research is under examination.
c) the examiners’ identity must not be disclosed to the candidate until after the final classification has been given, and only with permission of the examiner.
7.5. The examination period extends from the date examiners are provided with the research submission to the date they provide their reports.
7.6. Examiners must provide their reports within six weeks of receipt of the submission.
7.7. Where an experiential presentation of the research is required, examiners will be provided with the digital submission four weeks prior to the presentation event and must provide their final reports within two weeks following the event.
7.8. Examiners must prepare independent and individual, written reports of their assessment and submit these directly to the SGR examinations team, accompanied by the Examiner’s Report Form indicating a recommended classification.
7.9. If, at any time during the completion of the examiner’s report, an examiner identifies a significant query on any aspect of the submission, they should contact the SGR examinations team who will coordinate a response.
7.10. If any examiner is unable to complete the examination within the allotted time period, including any agreed extensions, SGR will provide a written request to the HDR DA seeking recommendations for the appointment of a replacement examiner.
7.11. Candidates will be informed of a delay to the examination outcome if the examination duration exceeds 12 weeks of their submission being provided to examiners.
7.12. Requirements for experiential presentation for examination
a) The examination must be in an appropriate venue at a time and date arranged by the School and approved by the ADVC RT&D.
b) Examiners are required to attend the experiential presentation in person. Where appropriate, attendance by use of communication technology will be arranged by the school.
c) Examination must be convened by a person appointed as Convenor by the ADVC RT&D. Persons who have acted in a supervisory or consultative capacity must not be appointed as the Convenor.
d) Experiential presentations of research for examination must not occur without the appointed Convenor being present.
e) It is the responsibility of the Convenor to explain the process for examination including any oral presentation, to examiners, including the amount of time they have to review the work, and ensure the examination is conducted in accordance with the HDR Policy and this procedure.
f) In the case of an oral presentation by the candidate, the time allowed is:
• PhD candidates – one-hour oral presentation plus half- to one-hour discussion with the examiners;
• Masters by research candidates – half-hour oral presentation plus up to half hour discussion with the examiners.
7.13. Examiners may consult the Convenor if they have questions during the presentation but must refrain from expressing evaluative judgements which may influence another examiner’s evaluation at any time.
7.14. The examination panel may meet in camera, with the Convenor present, to obtain further clarification if required.
7.15. The Convenor is not permitted to comment on the content of the research and is responsible for ensuring that each examiner is uncompromised in their ability to make an independent evaluation of the research.
7.16. Discussion and questions from the public, if allowed by the School, must be directed through the Convenor to the candidate only after examiners have indicated they have no further comments for the candidate.
7.17. The experiential presentation of the research will be recorded digitally to enable electronic archival.
8.1. In the event of an examiner or any other relevant party raising concerns about the integrity of the research during the examination process, the SGR examinations team will immediately refer the matter to the ADVC RT&D.
a) SGR will suspend the examination and notify the examiners, school and the candidate
b) A Designated Person will conduct an investigation in accordance with the Management of Breaches of Research Integrity Procedure
c) Recommendations arising from the investigation may include application of the Student Conduct Regulations.
d) In all cases, all parties will be notified of the outcome.
9.1. Both examiners’ reports will be reviewed, and the examination will be classified by the ADVC RT&D as per Schedules 1-3.
9.2. Masters candidates commencing on or after 1 January 2016 will receive a numeric grading for a successfully completed masters by research degree at RMIT. Refer to the Masters by Research Grading Procedure.
9.3. In a first examination, the examination may be referred to a College HDR Examinations Advisory Committee (CHEAC) by the ADVC RT&D where examiners’ recommendations differ on whether:
a) the work should receive a pass classification, or
b) the candidate should be afforded the opportunity to revise and resubmit.
9.4. The CHEAC will recommend to the ADVC RT&D whether the candidate should be given the interim classification, Revise and Resubmit (C4) or whether the examination should be referred to an external adjudicator for review.
9.5. In convening a CHEAC, the committee terms of reference must be followed, and the committee recommendation must be in accordance with Schedule 2.
9.6. Where the CHEAC recommends the appointment of an adjudicator, the ADVC RT&D must approve the recommendation before commencement of the process:
9.7. Appointment of an adjudicator
a) The senior supervisor is responsible for approaching a potential adjudicator and providing them with the following information to enable them to decide whether to agree to the adjudication:
• name of the candidate
• an abstract of the research
• a copy of the relevant RMIT Advice for HDR examination adjudicators
• the proposed timeline for the adjudication process.
b) The senior supervisor must inform the candidate that an adjudicator is being appointed and the supervisory team must provide guidance to the candidate in preparing a response to the examiner’s reports. Refer to the Guidelines for HDR candidates on preparing a response to examiners.
c) The candidate must prepare a response to the examiners’ remarks to acknowledge the need for amendment or to provide evidence in defence of their research as appropriate.
d) The candidate must submit their response to the SGR Examinations Team.
e) The senior supervisor must submit the Adjudicator Appointment Form to the DA for authorisation and then to SGR for ADVC RT&D approval.
f) The appointment of the adjudicator must be in accordance with Section 2.
g) Adjudicators’ identities must not be disclosed to the candidate until after the conclusion of the examination, subject to their consent.
h) Adjudicators are required to submit their recommendations for final classification for the examination outcome directly to the SGR examinations team within four (4) weeks of receipt of the examined work, in accordance with Schedule 3.
i) The examinations team will provide the adjudicator’s recommendations to the ADVC RT&D for approval.
10.1. Where a candidate is given the interim classification C4 Revise and Resubmit for re-examination, the following conditions apply:
a) A re-examination is undertaken with the original examiners, if they are willing and available to re-examine the revised submission, or with replacement examiners such that the revised work still receives assessment from two independent, external experts.
b) All material submitted, and recommendations made in the context of a re-examination supersedes all previous material and recommendations, with the exception of the candidate’s response to the examiners’ remarks provided in the initial examination.
11.1. SGR will:
a) notify the candidate’s supervisors of the interim classification and supply de-identified examiners’ reports to enable them to provide guidance on the candidate’s response and revisions
b) notify the candidate of the interim classification and instruct them to contact their supervisors to begin revising their research and preparing a response to the examiners’ remarks, which may acknowledge the need for amendment or present evidence in defence of their research as appropriate
c) invite the original examiners to re-examine the revised work at the end of the one-year revision period; if one or both examiners are not available, SGR will initiate replacement arrangements
d) contact the candidate and supervisors at regular intervals during the revise and resubmit period to obtain an update on the progress towards re-submission, to enable a swifter conclusion to the re-submission process.
11.2. SGR will not supply examiners’ reports direct to the candidate to ensure the candidate receives the appropriate academic guidance and support required to address the examiners’ remarks and complete the necessary revisions.
11.3. International candidates who receive a C4 classification may complete revisions and be re-examined in a way that does not require them to stay in/return to Australia.
11.4. Resubmission of a revised thesis or dissertation follows the same process as initial submission with the addition of 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.
11.5. If any of the original examiners re-examine the research they must be provided with their own original examiner’s report.
12.1. After the examination outcome has been classified in accordance with the HDR Policy and Schedules to this procedure, SGR must send a notification to the candidate, their supervisors, the HDR DA, and the Dean/Head of School and the examiners, to advise them of the examination classification.
12.2. SGR must forward the examiners’ reports to the candidate’s senior supervisor to enable them to provide academic guidance on any necessary amendments.
12.3. The final classification outcome for the examination will be entered on the RMIT student system along with the result for the research component of the program.
12.4. In the event of one or both examiners recommending a ‘fail’ at re-examination, the ADVC RT&D will convene a meeting of the Graduate Research Committee Executive to review and ratify a final classification of the HDR submission. The GRC Executive may refer the work to an external adjudicator where appropriate. A record of the Graduate Research Committee Executive’s decisions in respect of the examination will be transmitted to the candidate and their supervisor(s) following classification.
12.5. For research classified as C5 (Failed):
a) the candidate will not be awarded the degree for which they were enrolled and will not be permitted to revise and resubmit their research for re-examination for the same degree
b) one copy of the examined thesis or dissertation becomes the property of RMIT and shall be filed with the candidate’s official records
c) (with the exception of 12.6 below) a record of the fail will be placed on the RMIT student system.
12.6. On receiving a fail outcome for a doctoral examination, candidates may, within two (2) months of classification, apply to have their HDR submission examined for the award of the related masters by research program. In these circumstances, candidates:
a) must be enrolled in a masters by research degree program to submit for this examination
b) may choose to revise their submission over a period of two months, or submit the same version with a new cover page and references to the correct degree
c) are entitled to supervision of up to two months’ or full-time equivalent.
12.7. By pursuing a masters by research award for work originally submitted for a doctoral degree, candidates acknowledge that any assessment and commentary previously made on their HDR submission will be superseded by those made in the process of the masters by research examination.
12.8. The examiners appointed to review the work for a masters by research may not have been involved in the previous doctoral examination, except in exceptional circumstances approved by the ADVC RT&D and must not be informed that the work has been previously examined.
13.1. A candidate may apply with their senior/joint senior supervisor to the ADVC RT&D for approval of an extension to the resubmission or archival date, where the candidate cannot meet the:
a) nominated date for resubmission of their research for re-examination; or
b) lodgement date for the archival of their research.
13.2. The candidate must submit the Request for Extension of Time to Submit Amendments Form to SGR before the nominated resubmission or lodgement date passes.
13.3. Failure to re-submit or lodge a thesis by the date specified by SGR may lead to the examination being classified as “Failed”. Candidates will be notified if this process is being initiated.
14.1. 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 HDR examination. They must use the form for Appeal against the outcome of an examination by a student in a research program – University Appeals Committee.
14.2. 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 SGR of their final examination outcome. Late appeal applications cannot be accepted.
15.1. After a candidate’s research has been classified by the ADVC RT&D, any amendments requested by the examiner/s must be completed by the candidate, or a defence presented as to why they do not need to be undertaken.
15.2. Candidates must provide a list of amendments/points of defence for uploading with their final archival submission.
15.3. Completion and graduation processes require that:
a) the final electronic archival submission of the thesis or dissertation and any related digital records are uploaded to the digital repository within the timeline specified by the University and after completion of any appropriately supervised amendments deemed necessary by the University
b) the candidate is not indebted to the University
c) the candidate has fulfilled the academic and administrative requirements for the award of the degree.
15.4. Candidates must use the prescribed RMIT branded title page and declaration for the final archival submission of their research. Any archival submission which does not include the correct title page and declaration will not be accepted.
15.5. Candidates whose research includes experiential presentation or artefacts in addition to their thesis or dissertation must provide a digital record of this for archival.
15.6. Candidates may apply for an embargo in accordance with the HDR Research Embargo Procedure.
15.7. When the final archival submission has been approved for lodgement by the senior supervisor and the Dean/Head of School (or HDR DA):
a) a record of the completion is provided to the ADVC RT&D, who will approve the research for archival and recommend the candidate for award
b) the final archival is uploaded into the RMIT Research Repository after which the research will be publicly available
c) SGR will notify the:
• Academic Registrar that the candidate has satisfactorily completed all the requirements of the degree
• candidate, their supervisors, the Dean/Head of School and HDR DA in writing of the completion
d) for International onshore candidates who are in receipt of a sponsorship, the University will also inform the sponsor.
|Version||Approval date||Effective date||Summary of changes||Approval authority|
|1.0||2 October 2018||1 January 2020||New procedure||ADVC RT&D|