Research Higher Degree Student Charter Policy and Procedure

Policy Research Education Research Higher Degree Student Charter Policy and Procedure

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One of the major functions of a university is to provide education and training in research and scholarship. Indeed, universities are the only institutions that are funded directly by the Australian Government to engage in research training for degree purposes. The institutional purpose is to graduate students whose research skills equip them to perform successfully in both academic and industrial environments in a global context. In turn, the work of postgraduate research students is essential for the intellectual vibrancy of the institution and constitutes a powerful driver of research capability.

University research training involves the active participation of both staff and students. The task of ensuring that it is conducted in the most efficient and effective manner is shared by all parties: the institution, its academic staff and students all have legitimate expectations of each other. University policy in the area of research and research training is designed to provide a set of principles and statements of good practice with respect to matters such as supervision, school management, infrastructure support, monitoring of progress, and examinations. The policies incorporate reasonable student expectations about their research training. The completion of a research higher degree represents a considerable investment from a number of sources which may include the student, the student’s family, the University, industry partners, Australian and/or other governments. The purpose of this document is to set out the student’s expectations of University research higher degree training, and the corresponding expectations that the University has of its research higher degree students.

1. Student Expectations

1.1 General

Research Higher Degree students can expect:

1.1.1 Student representation in relevant forums at school, faculty and University levels;

1.1.2 Opportunities to form scholarly relationships with staff in an environment of mutual respect and trust;

1.1.3 Information on University, faculty and school policies on matters such as enrolment, resources, research and professional ethics, intellectual property, and workplace health and safety;

1.1.4 Access to library support, information services and IT infrastructure;

1.1.5 Access to training in the skills necessary to complete their thesis and to prepare them for their chosen career in research, academia or industry;

1.1.6 Equitable access to the basic resources required for their project;

1.1.7 Access to academic and personal counselling;

1.1.8 Appropriate mediation and/or resolution of grievances that are related to candidature;

1.1.9 Information on the appeals processes relating to the examination of theses and to be able to appeal the outcome of thesis examinations where there is some doubt or suggestion that due process was not observed.

1.2 Advisor Relationship

Research Higher Degree students can expect:

1.2.1 That Advisors will assist students in selecting their topics and planning the study program, including career planning and generic skills;

1.2.2 To be supervised by a staff member who is engaged actively in research in the general field;

1.2.3 That high quality supervision can be provided and maintained throughout the research period;

1.2.4 That Advisors will provide guidance about the nature and scope of the research, relevant literature sources and methodology, and the expected standard of research, analysis, writing, and presentation;

1.2.5 That Advisors will, on behalf of the school and the University, monitor the student’s progress relative to the standard required for the degree, and advise the student when progress falls below the standard generally expected;

1.2.6 To have access to reasonable levels of advice and support from Co-Advisors and/or Associate Advisors (where appointed), in areas of particular expertise or as back-up during the absence of the Primary Advisor, bearing in mind that primary responsibility for directing the research remains with the Primary Advisor;

1.2.7 To have regular access to Primary Advisors as agreed at the beginning of candidature, preferably via a student-Advisor agreement;

1.2.8 To be given, at the beginning of candidature, the criteria on which a decision about confirmation of candidature will be made;

1.2.9 That Advisors will encourage attendance at relevant conferences and will assist in the preparation of work for publication or other appropriate forms of dissemination. (It is intended that the University will provide assistance to attend relevant conferences in accordance with the approved policy on the Minimum Standard of Resources and Facilities and other Support Provided for Research Higher Degree Students.);

1.2.10 That Advisors will maintain a mutually-agreed level of contact and that agreed-upon submission of work can continue when either the Advisor or student is away from the University campus;

1.2.11 That Advisors will discuss outlines and read drafts of theses to advise the student about the acceptable standard of scholarly and technical presentation in a timely manner as agreed in the Research Advisor Panel Agreement.

1.3 School Support

Research Higher Degree students can expect:

1.3.1 To be able to identify poor supervision without reprisal and to have valid complaints investigated promptly;

1.3.2 Frankness in relation to the school’s ability to offer appropriate supervision, funding for the direct research costs, and appropriate infrastructure support;

1.3.3 To be informed prior to enrolment of all financial arrangements which might affect them and the proposed project. These could include external grant funds that will support the research and factors that might impact on funding continuity;

1.3.4 To be informed at the time of enrolment of intellectual property, confidentiality and authorship considerations and how these matters will be handled in the event that candidature is terminated, the student changes Advisor, school or university, or the student withdraws from candidature;

1.3.5 To be informed, prior to enrolment, of the implications that third party involvement might have for the candidate’s project. These could include, for example, the rights of the third party, the level of commitment the third party has to continuance of the project, and the effects of the withdrawal of the third party during the course of the project;

1.3.6 To receive resources for their project at least at a level, which accords with the University’s approved policy on the Minimum Standard of Resources and Facilities and other Support Provided for Research Higher Degree Students;

1.3.7 To be advised as soon as possible of any changes to funding arrangements that may affect the conduct of their research.

2. University Expectations

2.1 General

The University expects advisors and students to be familiar with and adhere to relevant University rules, policies, guidelines and codes of conduct, wherever they are applicable to postgraduate work. In particular students should be familiar with policies on the conduct of research, intellectual property, Work, Health and Safety, and the requirements for data lodgement.

Research Higher Degree students can be expected to:

2.1.1 Take an active, self-motivated approach to research seeking input from other staff and research students when possible; and, while acknowledging that the Advisor’s input and guidance are crucial, accept final responsibility for the research and the thesis;

2.1.2 Follow University guidelines and regulations pertaining to their degrees (in particular to be aware of the contents of the Handbook for Research Higher Degree Students) and to raise any questions or concerns with Advisors, Head of School, Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Dean of Graduate Research Studies, whichever is appropriate in the context;

2.1.3 Develop their generic skills in the context of their career aspirations and University policy on generic skills for research students;

2.1.4 Treat University facilities and equipment used in research with due care and in an appropriate manner;

2.1.5 Obtain ethical clearances or permits for the work wherever necessary and abide by workplace health and safety policies and procedures as required;

2.1.6 Keep abreast of the latest literature in the research field in order to be aware of any developments affecting the project and to maintain a broad knowledge of the field;

2.1.7 Conduct their research in an ethical manner;

2.1.8 Have verbal and written competence in academic English at a level appropriate for the production of a thesis and for the reporting of research results;

2.1.9 See that final drafts are proofread and edited to an acceptable scholarly standard for submission;

2.1.10 Lodge a copy of their aggregate data in the school in which the data were generated.

2.2 Advisor Relationship

Research Higher Degree students can be expected to:

2.2.1 Maintain a mutually agreed level of contact with the Advisor, preferably as agreed through a

Research Advisory Panel Agreement, attend meetings prepared to make clear statements about ideas, progress and problems, and continue the agreed-upon schedule for contact and for submission of work when away from the University campus on field work or research trips;

2.2.2 Refrain from embarking on any significant variation to the topic unless agreed with the Primary Advisor;

2.2.3 Submit regular drafts of work as agreed with the Primary Advisor, and to allow the Advisor a reasonable amount of time to read and comment in detail, (preferably as defined in a student-Advisor agreement). Written work should be submitted before Advisory meetings;

2.2.4 Inform the Advisor of any personal or other difficulties (without necessarily specifying the details) which have slowed or may slow progress;

2.2.5 Be aware that if significant and intractable problems in the Advisor-student relationship should arise which cannot be resolved by discussion, the Postgraduate Liaison Officer in the first instance and if necessary the Head of School and the Dean of Graduate Research Studies should be consulted;

2.2.6 If they are off-campus students, establish and maintain a suitable means of regular contact with their Advisor(s).

2.3 School Activities

Research Higher Degree students can be expected to:

2.3.1 Present and attend such seminars as the school requires;

2.3.2 Attend such courses as are specified by the school;

2.3.3 Treat all colleagues, students and staff with respect;

2.3.4 Contribute to the intellectual and social life of the school by participation in activities such as meetings of the Postgraduate Student Committee and by attendance at school research seminars, discussion groups and other academic functions;

2.3.5 Wherever possible attend and present work at relevant conferences and to publish work in appropriate scholarly outlets.

2.4 University Procedures

Research Higher Degree students can be expected to:

2.4.1 Pursue work diligently with a view to completing their thesis within the specified time, and with a minimum of interruption;

2.4.2 Submit timely and accurate progress reports as required;

2.4.3 Ensure that no plagiarism or other form of academic misconduct is committed;

2.4.4 Ensure that the presentation and format of their thesis meets the University's requirements as set out in the Handbook for Research Higher Degree Students; and to submit their thesis in a form suitable for examination, that follows the protocols of scholarly presentation appropriate to the discipline and is, as far as possible, free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors.

This charter is modified from the charter adopted by The University of Queensland.

Approval Details

Policy sponsor:

Dean, Graduate Research Studies

Approval authority:

Academic Board

Version no.:


Date for next review:


Modification History

Version no.

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Approved by Academic Board




Approved by University Council

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