Candidature progression -
from confirmation to thesis review

About candidature progression

Following induction and orientation, candidature progression is monitored through the confirmation, mid-candidature, and thesis review milestones (PPL 4.60.05). Milestones are mandatory for all HDR candidates. Achieving each milestone plays an important role in the academic development and progress of the candidate, resource allocation (including advisory team commitments) for the enrolling AOU, and quality assurance for UQ.

The requirement for each milestone will reflect the discipline specific expectations of the enrolling AOU. At each milestone a panel should comprise a Chair and at least one reviewer (both of whom are external to the advisory team). The milestone panel will assess both the written and oral work of the candidate. The Chair should also conduct a confidential 1-on-1 interview with the candidate and the advisory team. Each milestone interaction should be appropriately recorded and candidates should receive written feedback. Where possible, the Chair should remain consistent for the duration of candidature, including the oral examination.

As an advisor you can access information about the candidates you currently supervise, or have previously supervised through your Individual Activity Profile, as well as through your Academic Portal in UQ researchers. 

Organising milestones

In general, the Principal Advisor, in dialogue with the candidate, is responsible for organising milestones. Each candidate can access their milestone due dates through my.UQ. For Principal Advisors, due dates for candidates under their supervision are available through Academic Portal (UQ Researchers). The Principal Advisor is responsible for selecting the appropriate reader(s) and organising the Chair of Examiners, with assistance and endorsement from the DHDR as appropriate.

Confirmation (milestone 1)

Confirmation of candidature takes place within 12 months FTE for PhD candidates and 6 months FTE after commencement for MPhil candidates. The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that the candidate receives appropriate feedback in relation to the viability and progress of the thesis project and that the resources required to complete the program of research within the recommended timeframe are available. It is also an opportunity to ensure that the candidate has demonstrated the capacity and capability to successfully complete the thesis in a timely manner.

As part of the confirmation milestone requirements, candidates will need to complete the research integrity module and obtain an ORCID. This is also the time to discuss broader career development activities that the candidate would benefit from.

Mid-candidature review (milestone 2)

The mid-candidature review milestone occurs within 12 months FTE after the completion of the confirmation milestone for PhD candidates and 6 months FTE after the confirmation milestone for MPhil candidates.

The mid-candidature milestone is used to ensure that the candidate’s progress toward completion of the thesis is on track and that the candidate's research, transferrable and other professional skills are developing appropriately. It is expected that a plan that will ensure a successful thesis within the remaining duration of candidature is produced at this time.

Thesis review (milestone 3)

The thesis review milestone is to ensure that the work is of a standard to be examined by the expected submission date. The candidate receives important feedback about any final changes that should be made before submission. Also, this is the time for the advisory team to consider potential examiners.

Thesis review milestone is completed 12 months FTE after the mid-candidature milestone for PhD candidates or 6 months FTE after the mid-candidature milestone for MPhil candidates. Perhaps more importantly, thesis review should be conducted when the candidate’s thesis is genuinely close to complete with a view to sending the thesis to examiners within 3 months. The review should consider any final issues that might need addressing, including the most effective organisation of the thesis document. Thesis review also provides an opportunity to conduct a practice oral examination.

The advisory team should discuss potential examiners and confirm the Chair of Examiners (login required). Successful attainment of the thesis review milestone will trigger a request to the Principal Advisor (PA) to nominate examiners through the Candidature Management System (CMS). In nominating examiners, it is helpful for the Principal Advisor to make initial, informal contact with potential examiners to determine their availability and willingness to be nominated. It is important that examiners are provided as accurate a timeframe as possible for thesis completion. Ideally, the nomination, invitation and acceptance of examiners should be completed prior to the thesis being submitted for examination to avoid unnecessary delays.

Nomination of examiners

Nominating appropriate examiners is an important step for you to manage with your candidate in the examination process. Examiners must be research active, and have sufficient expertise relating to the thesis, or a substantial part of the thesis. Advisors should also consider the conflict of interest guidelines as described in the Australian Graduate Research Good Practice Principals. When selecting examiners it is often helpful for you, the principal advisor, to make informal contact with the examiner to determine their interest and availability to perform the examination. When contacting examiners we recommend you cover the details of the program, thesis topic, expected date of submission, and mention that they are only being nominated and, if selected, a formal invite from a UQ system will follow after the candidate uploads their thesis. You may also wish to refer them to UQ's examiner’s guide for further information.

Upon successful attainment of the thesis review milestone, the Graduate School will initiate a nomination of examiners request to you, the principal advisor, through the myUQ Candidature Management System (CMS) (login required). The due date for this form to be returned is set for 1 month prior to the submission date, which is when the first reminder will be sent. A justification on the relevance and expertise of each examiner should be provided in the comments section of the Electronic Nomination of Examiners Form that is sent to you via my.UQ/CMS.

Once nominated, a preliminary conflict of interest (COI) (refer to guidelines) check is conducted[1] and if no COI is apparent the nominee will be formally invited by the Dean of the Graduate School to examine the thesis. If the nominee is not able to assist with the examination or does not respond to the formal invitation, the Graduate School will move to the next nominee on the form.

From this point, all correspondence with examiners should be conducted through the Graduate School. While it is generally understood that all theses are dealt with in a confidential manner by examiners, in some cases examiners may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement if the thesis contains commercial in confidence material or is subject to a third party agreement.

[1] Note: If there is a COI then this will go to the Dean for review, who may still proceed with the examiner, or request an additional examiner as a replacement. If the nominee is not able to assist with the examination or does not respond to the formal invitation, the Graduate School will move to the next nominee on the form.