Graduate Research School Policy & Procedure Procedure Nomination of Examiners

Procedure Nomination of Examiners

HDR Nomination of Examiners Procedure

Intent & Scope

To outline the process to be followed in nominating examiners of theses and other examinable outputs of the research produced by a candidate for a Higher Degree by Research (HDR), PhD by Prior Publication or a Higher Doctorate.

Definitions

Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Policy Glossary in the Learning and Teaching domain of the University Policy Library, and in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements.

Procedure

1.         At least 3 months before thesis submission the Candidature Committee should discuss the names of a pool of 4-5 examiners with the candidate.  In the case of HDR candidates whose examination involves the examination of creative outputs as well as a thesis, the examiners should be nominated prior to the examination of the creative outputs, which will normally precede the examination of thesis.  In cases where the HDR candidate will be having an oral examination, please refer to the Guidelines for Conducting an Oral Examination.

2.         At least 2 months before thesis submission the Primary Advisor should approach the preferred external examiners informally (see Appendix 1) to ascertain their willingness to examine the thesis.  In the case of HDR candidates whose examination involves the examination of creative outputs as well as a thesis, each examiner should be available for the examination of both the creative outputs and the thesis and should be advised of the intended timing of both when approached informally by the Primary Advisor.

3.         At least 1 month before thesis submission the Advisory Panel must complete and submit NEX-FORM-01 HDR Nomination of Examiners Form to the Graduate Research School for the examiners to be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research.

4.         For a Research Masters degree, two (2) external examiners are required; for a doctoral degree at least two (2) external examiners are required (and is usual at JCU), but up to three (3) examiners may be used.  A replacement examiner should also be nominated at the same time as the other examiners but their availability need not be confirmed at this time.

5.         An examiner must have demonstrated research activity in the previous 5 years in a field of study relevant to the subject of the thesis.

6.         At least one examiner should be a person with experience in examining Australian theses at the appropriate level.

7.         No examiner should be chosen about whom the candidate has expressed concerns in writing to their College Dean or the Graduate Research School. Such concerns must be placed on the candidate’s file at the Graduate Research School.

8.         Conflicts of interest in thesis examination must be explicitly addressed in order to ensure that a thesis may be assessed independently and free from any perceived or actual bias.

9.         Conflicts of Interest of examiners may be with:

  • the University
  • any other involved institution
  • a member of the Advisory Panel
  • the candidate
  • another examiner

and include

  • working relationships
  • personal relationships
  • legal relationships
  • business/professional/social relationships

10.       Conflicts of interest may be major, which would disallow the examiner from being nominated.  Conflicts of interest may also be minor.  Minor conflicts must be recorded on NEX-FORM-01 HDR Nomination of Examiners Form and may in combination if there are several, disallow the approval of the nominated examiner. Please refer to Table 1 and Appendix 2 for examples of major/minor conflicts of interest.

11.       If there is any doubt as to whether a Conflict of Interest exists, the matter should be referred to the Dean, Graduate Research.

Table 1: Conflicts of Interest that are major and must be avoided, or minor, in appointing the examiners of a HDR thesis.

Nature of relationship

Working

Personal

Legal

Business

Professional

Social

Other

Examiner – Candidate

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

MINOR

MAJOR

MINOR

MAJOR

MINOR

 

Examiner – Advisory Panel

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

MINOR

MAJOR

MINOR

MAJOR

MINOR

 

Examiner – University/ Involved Institution

MAJOR

MINOR

   

MAJOR

MINOR

 

MAJOR

Examiner – Subject Matter

      

MAJOR

Examiner – Examiner

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

MAJOR

   

Appendix 1 - Sample Approach Letter from Primary Advisor to External Examiners

Dear [EXAMINER’S NAME],

I am contacting you to ascertain your willingness to examine a JCU [INSERT DEGREE] thesis. The thesis is titled [TITLE] and has been written by [CANDIDATE’S NAME].A copy of a brief thesis abstract is enclosed for your information.

The thesis requires examination by two examiners of international standing who are external to JCU, who each prepare a qualitative formative report and provide summative recommendations from a designated list of options.

If you are willing to examine the thesis, the JCU Graduate Research School will approach you formally and will suggest a six (6) week turnaround time.

Please advise by return email if you are willing to examine this thesis.

Yours sincerely,

[YOUR NAME AND AFFILIATION(S)]

Appendix 2 – Examples of Conflicts of Interest

Examples of Major Conflicts of Interest Resulting in the Non-Appointment of an Examiner

1. Conflict with the Candidate

Working Relationship

  • Examiner has co-authored a paper with the candidate within the last five years.
  • Examiner has worked with the candidate on matters regarding the thesis, e.g. previous member of the Advisory Panel or is known to have reviewed sections of the thesis.
  • Examiner has employed the candidate or been employed by the candidate within the last five years.
  • Examiner is in negotiation to directly employ or be employed by the candidate.
  • Examiner has acted as a referee for the candidate for employment.

Personal Relationship

  • Examiner is a known relative of the candidate.
  • Examiner is a friend, associate or mentor of the candidate.
  • Examiner and the candidate have an existing or a previous emotional relationship, are co-residents or are members of a common household.

Legal Relationship

  • Examiner is or was married to the candidate.
  • Examiner is legally family to the candidate (e.g. step-father, sister-in-law).
  • Examiner is either a legal guardian or dependent of the candidate or has power of attorney for the candidate.

Business, Professional and or Social Relationships

  • Examiner is currently in or has had a business relationship with the candidate in the last five years (e.g. partner in a small business or employment).
  • Examiner is in a social relationship with the candidate, such as God Parent or in the same sporting team.
  • Examiner and candidate are on the same Committee or Board of a Professional Society

2. Conflict with the Advisory Panel

Working Relationship

  • Examiner was a candidate of a member of the Advisory Panel within the past five years.
  • Examiner has co-supervised with a member of the Advisory Panel in the past five years.
  • Examiner holds a patent with a member of the Advisory Panel granted no more than eight years ago and which is still in force.
  • Examiner had directly employed or was employed by a member of the Advisory Panel in the past five years.
  • Examiner is employed at the same Institution as any member of the Advisory Panel.
  • Examiner currently holds, or has held within the past five (5) years, a grant with a member of the Advisory Panel (mitigating circumstances may exist, for example, a large, multidisciplinary team where interactions were minimal).
  • Examiner has co-authored a publication with a member of the Advisory Panel in the past five years (this is a severe case of Conflict of Interest but mitigating circumstances may exist, e.g. the examiner and member of the Advisory Panel are both authors of a multi-authored paper but have had no direct contact. The examiner and/or the member of the Advisory panel must not have been lead/senior authors for this to be considered mitigating circumstances).
  • Examiner is currently examining another thesis for a member of Advisory Panel or a member of the Advisory Panel is currently examining a thesis of a candidate supervised by the examiner.

Personal Relationship

  • Examiner is in negotiation to directly employ or be employed by a member of the Advisory Panel.
  • Examiner is a known relative of a member of the candidate's Advisory Panel.
  • Examiner and a member of the candidate's Advisory Panel have an existing or a previous emotional relationship, are co-residents or are members of a common household.

Legal Relationship

  • Examiner is or was married to a member of the candidate's Advisory Panel.
  • Examiner is legally family of a member of the candidate's Advisory Panel (e.g. step-father, sister-in-law).
  • Examiner is either a legal guardian or dependent of a member of the candidate's Advisory Panel or has power of attorney for a member of the Advisory Panel.
  • Business, Professional and or Social Relationships
  • Examiner is currently in or has had a business relationship with a member of the Advisory Panel in the last five years (e.g. partner is a small business or employment).
  • Examiner is in a social relationship with member of the Advisory Panel, such as a God Parent or membership of the same sporting team.

3. Conflict with the University or any Involved Institution

Working Relationship

  • Examiner is currently in negotiation with the University or an Involved Institution for a work contract (other than examining a thesis).
  • Other Relationship
  • Examiner has received an Honorary Doctorate from the University or an Involved Institution within the past five years or is a candidate for such a degree.
  • Examiner has graduated from the University or an Involved Institution within the past five years.
  • Examiner has/had a formal grievance with the University or an Involved Institution.

Professional Relationship

  • Examiner is a current member of staff of the University or an Involved Institution or has a current Honorary, Adjunct or Emeritus position with the University or an Involved Institution or has had such a position during the candidature of the candidate or in the past five (5) years (mitigating circumstances may exist).

4. Conflict with the Subject Matter

  • Examiner has a direct commercial interest in the outcomes of the research.
  • Examiner has a fundamental objection to the research paradigm adopted in the thesis that is apparent on reading the abstract.

5. Conflict with Other Examiners

  • An examiner does not normally know the identity of the other examiners. The potential Conflicts of Interest listed below should be taken into account in appointing examiners.
  • Examiner works in the same department/school as another examiner.
  • Examiner is married to, closely related to or has a close personal of business relationship with another examiner.

Examples of Minor Conflicts of Interest that should be referred to the Graduate Research School

These following conflicts of interest are considered minor in isolation and would not normally inhibit the appointment of an examiner. However, several conflicts of interest that are individually minor may in combination be considered major.

6. Conflict with the Candidate

Business, Professional and or Social Relationships

  • Examiner has a current professional relationship, such as shared membership of a Board or Committee with the candidate (including editorial, advisory and grant decision boards).
  • Examiner has had personal contact with the candidate that may give rise to the perception that the examiner may be dealing with the candidate in a less than objective manner.
  • Examiner was the “Expert Reviewer” for the candidate’s Confirmation of Candidature Research Proposal.

7. Conflict with the Advisory Panel

Business, Professional and or Social Relationships

  • Examiner has a current professional relationship, such as shared membership of a Board of Committee with a member of the Advisory Panel (including editorial and grant decision boards).
  • Examiner has had personal contact with a member of the Advisory Panel that may give rise to the perception that the examiner may be dealing with the candidate in a less than objective manner.
  • Examiner was the “Expert Reviewer” for the candidate’s Confirmation of Candidature Research Proposal.

8. Conflict with the University

Working Relationship

  • Examiner is currently working for the University or an Involved Institution pro bono (e.g. on a review).
  • Examiner has examined for the University two or more times in the past 12 months and/or five or more times in the past five years (mitigating circumstances may involve examination for candidates across different organisational units of the university). Multiple use of one examiner by an Advisory Panel will not be approved).

Professional Relationship

  • Examiner has a current professional relationship with the University or an Involved Institution (e.g., membership of a Board or Committee).
  • Examiner has a current visiting position with the University or an Involved Institution or has had such a position during the candidature of a Board or Committee.

9. Conflict with Other Examiners

Professional Relationship

  • Examiner has a professional relationship with another examiner.

Administration

Approval Details

Procedure custodian:

Dean, Graduate Research

Approval authority:

SDVC

Version no.:

17-1

Date for next review:

November 2019

Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

17-1

  

Merged Conflict of Interest and

Nomination of Examiners Procedure