Nomination of examiners
The examination of a higher degree by research thesis is complex. Examiners must judge a candidate's understanding of a body of existing knowledge, their approach to research, construction of hypotheses, arguments and analyses. The selection of examiners is of critical importance as a special relationship exists between examiners and students - if the degree is awarded students and examiners will become peers.
Further detail on the nomination process is outlined in the Preparing for Examination section of the research student handbook and guidelines attached to the Nomination of Examiners form. Before completing the form make sure you understand the conflict of interest guidelines for the nomination of Higher Degree by Research thesis examiners and avoid nominating an examiner who may have a real or perceived conflict of interest.
Note that once the examiners have been nominated communication between an examiner and the student under examination or an examiner and that student's supervisors/School can invalidate the examination process, consequently, it is important to relay any questions you may have to the Adelaide Graduate Centre.
Examiners have the right to remain anonymous and whilst it is acceptable for a candidate to be aware of the names of the pool of examiners under consideration, candidates will not be advised of the names of those examiners finally recommended by the relevant School or appointed by the University. Further information can be found in the Preparation for Examination section of the research student handbook.
It is expected that examiners listed on a Nomination of Examiners form have agreed to examine the thesis. In order to ensure that supervisors are providing examiners with complete information about the examination process and what to expect from a University of Adelaide examination, a template for correspondence has been developed to assist with this task. Use of the template is optional.
Examiner payment and conditions
Upon receipt of a complete report from an examiner, the Graduate Centre will arrange an honorarium payment as per the fee schedule below. Forms for claiming the honorarium are provided to examiners along with the thesis for examination. Any enquiries regarding honorarium payments or forms should be directed to the Graduate Centre.
Signing off on a thesis for examination
A Principal Supervisor is required to sign off on their student’s thesis prior to submission for examination. This, hopefully, ensures that in the majority of cases examinations will be smooth and provide positive outcomes.
That said, from time to time examiners do take a contrary view and the examination is prolonged by the need for additional examiners to be identified and reports sought from supervisors. In amongst this latter group are a small group of theses which, having been approved for examination, do in the light of examiners' reports attract harsh critiques from the supervisors, and, on occasions, outright condemnation. This latter type of supervisor report is of deep concern as a supervisor may be challenged in a student appeal in regard to performance of their responsibilities.
While few people enjoy a confrontation it is important that supervisors who are about to sign off on a thesis reflect carefully on advice they have previously given to students. If, in the view of the supervisor, the thesis is flawed and not suitable for examination, this should be conveyed in detail, in writing, to the student, prior to any further action to submit the thesis. Normally this should be the last step in a series of probably frustrating conversations during which a supervisor's advice has been ignored. However, it is an important step to protect supervisors against unfair criticism after an examination. A supervisor report, post examination, is NOT the appropriate place to vent one’s spleen on a student work.
If you can't or don't wish to sign off on a thesis, and you have told the student, in writing, your reasons, they may apply to the Dean of Graduate Studies for permission to submit the thesis on their own recognizance. Each case is considered on its merits and the student is advised of the possible/potential consequences. Of course, examiners are not made aware of these submissions until after the examination outcome is determined and then only, if as happens on occasion, they provide a critique of supervision.
If you are have concerns regarding signing off on a thesis for examination please contact the Graduate Centre.
All examinations at the University of Adelaide are conducted electronically. Examiners are sent a link to a website where they are able to download the thesis as well as forms and other information required to complete the examination.
Examiners are asked to complete the examination and provide their report by a specified due date, determined in consultation with the principal supervisor. The due date is usually between four to eight weeks from receipt of the thesis. The Graduate Centre team monitors due dates and sends reminders to examiners as required to ensure students receive a timely outcome.
Students are, however, advised that an examination takes on average 3 months which allows for delays in the examination which are generally due to late forms or examiner reports.
Consideration of the examiners reports
It is important to remember that the final outcome of an examination is determined by the University and not by the examiners. In making the final decision, the Dean of Graduate Studies or Student Matters Sub-Committee (SMS) will consider all the examiners reports, together with, where applicable, the recommendations from the School and the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee. Further information can be found in the Examination section of the research student handbook.
Revised and resubmitted theses
Under normal circumstances, the revised thesis will be examined by the original examiners. However, for valid academic reasons, the Student Matters Sub-Committee (SMS) of REDC may decide that the thesis be examined by different examiner(s). Such a decision is very rarely undertaken and will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Examiners will be advised where a thesis has been revised and resubmitted, and will be instructed to check whether or not the requirements for additional work specified during the original examiners and supervisor(s)' report and outcome email, have been addressed.
Examiners must not introduce new areas of substantive concern in the re-examination and cannot recommend an outcome of 'revise and resubmit' as the University's rules only permit a student to revise and resubmit his/her thesis for examination once.
Following consideration by the SMS, the outcome of the re-examination will be to award the degree (with or without amendments), or, to not award the degree.
Further information can be found in the Examination section of the research student handbook.