Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Admission to candidature

An intending candidate must complete an application form for admission to PhD candidature. Application forms are available from the Research Training and Support Branch. This application must have the approval of the head of the department or director of the centre in which the candidate wishes to work, and a supervisor must be named and a field of study given. The latter need be stated in general terms only. The application is considered by the Arts faculty board, which then makes a recommendation to the PhD and Scholarships Committee. The candidate is subsequently notified by letter of the committee's decision on the application and asked to contact the Research Training and Support Branch immediately and advise the expected commencement/enrolment date. Deferments up to a period of twelve months are permitted. Candidature will normally lapse unless enrolment or deferment takes place within three weeks of the date of the acceptance letter.

Probationary PhD candidature

When the head of department/director of centre is unsure about a candidate's qualifications, previous experience or research potential, probationary enrolment may be recommended for the first year for full-time candidates or the first and second years for part-time candidates. Candidature will be confirmed subject to receipt of a satisfactory report of the candidates progress at the end of the probationary period.

The Committee for Graduate Studies has recommended that the following procedure be adopted when confirming PhD candidature.

1 As evidence of satisfactory progress the department/centre should submit to the PhD and Scholarships Committee first, a written statement of support from the candidate's supervisor and, second, a substantial submission from the candidate which details the proposed research, reports on progress to date and provides a timetable for completion of each phase of the research program.

2 The submission document should demonstrate the investment of a full year's work. Whereas candidates' initial applications normally state the proposed fields of study in general terms, the requirements of this submission include a definition of focus, explanations of methods and clarification of the limits of the research project, together with a statement placing the work in the context of the scholarly literature. The submission may be supported by any written work which the candidate, in consultation with the supervisor, feels would reinforce the case. A bibliography of works consulted to date should be supplied. Due attention should be paid to matters of clarity, readability and presentation. The document need not be lengthy (5000-10,000 words would be sufficient in most cases), and conciseness is a favoured property. Candidates are reminded that the dual aim is to gain approval from senior departmental staff and from the Committee for Graduate Studies.

3 In some cases, candidates seeking to continue enjoying the benefits of scholarships may be well advised to consider how they have spent the public's money over the previous year and why they deserve continuing financial support. Such reflections may improve the substance and quality of the report.

Length of PhD theses

Although no thesis length is prescribed, students are advised that PhD theses would not normally exceed 100,000 words. Where it is proposed that a thesis will exceed this length, a request must be submitted to the PhD and Scholarships Committee. Examiners have from time to time adversely commented on theses of excessive length.

Supervision of PhD candidates: guidelines

A candidate for the PhD degree pursues a course of research under the direction of a supervisor, who reports formally to the PhD and Research Committee each year on the candidate's work and progress. The supervisor will also report whenever in his or her opinion the student is not making satisfactory progress in his or her work, is otherwise not fulfilling the conditions laid down for him or her, or appears unlikely to reach the standard of the degree at which he/she aims.

The supervisory relationship is an idiosyncratic one. The degree of supervisor direction and conversely the degree of student autonomy, will depend upon the working relationship that the supervisor and student negotiate. The faculty recommends that early in the working relationship the supervisor and the student discuss their respective expectations and assumptions. Factors recommended for discussion include the meeting schedule, a time line, responsibility for the selection of the topic, degree of supervisor direction in the development of the research, degree of supervisor direction in the writing of the thesis, responsibility for the standard of the thesis, and responsibility for finishing within the minimum time period. While all of these factors need to be clarified and negotiated on an individual basis, the Arts faculty has constructed written guidelines and responsibilities for supervisors and students. Candidates should read the `Code of practice for supervision of PhD candidates'.

Monash University has accepted the following objectives for the fulfilment of the requirements of the PhD degree: the degree of Doctor of Philosophy shall be awarded for a thesis which in the opinion of the examiners is a significant contribution to the knowledge or understanding of any field of study with which a faculty in the university is directly concerned and which demonstrates the capacity of the candidate to carry out independent and original research.

In working towards such objectives, graduate students in different faculties and disciplines will have various needs and will place different demands on the intellectual and physical resources of the university. There are certain common issues and responsibilities which apply to all faculties, departments, centres, supervisors and candidates, regardless of their discipline or area of research. It is the objective of these guidelines to set out those fundamentals.

Responsibilities at the department and centre level

It is the responsibility, normally of the head of the department or the director of the centre, who may, however, delegate this responsibility to a graduate student coordinator, to ensure:

1 the student is appropriately qualified for admission to candidature;

2 the student appears to have the capacity required to undertake the PhD course successfully;

3 the research project proposed is appropriate for the degree;

4 the department or centre is the most appropriate one in which the research is to be undertaken;

5 the project is feasible in terms of time, facilities, equipment, source material and funding for the expected duration of the research required for the PhD degree. (It should be noted that the expected duration of candidature should usually be less than the period of candidature allowed under the regulations.);

6 due recognition is given to the research interests and ability of the student in determining the project;

7 the proposed supervisor is sufficiently expert in the area of research to offer the student proper supervision;

8 a supervisor is not put in charge of more than five students, or such other number not exceeding eight as the department may in special circumstances consider to be appropriate, having regard to the need for the supervisor to be able to discharge the responsibilities set out below;

9 the workload of the supervisor is such as to allow sufficient time to give proper supervision to the candidate, according to the guidelines;

10 proper supervision is provided and maintained throughout the research period;

11 if the proposed supervisor is to be absent in excess of six weeks an alternative supervisor is appointed;

12 joint supervisors or associate supervisors are appointed as required for interdisciplinary or highly specialised research projects, and supervisory responsibility is clearly designated and understood by both supervisors and candidates;

13 an academic staff member within a department is appointed to act as a coordinator of graduate studies, to monitor the general progress and welfare of postgraduate candidates and act as ombudsman where necessary;

14 written information is produced and distributed to all potgraduates by the department with details on requirements and procedures relating to all postgraduate matters administered at departmental level including:

15 mechanisms are in place to promote regular consultation between departmental staff and candidates, and which include: 16 postgraduates are encouraged to make submissions regarding the provision of adequate human and physical resources within the department;

17 the candidate's research program is not unreasonably influenced or redirected by political, commercial or industrial factors.

Responsibilities of the supervisor

It is the responsibilty of the supervisor to:

1 give guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected, about the choice of the research topic, about the planning of the research program and presentation of a research proposal, about literature and sources, attendance at taught classes (where appropriate) and about requisite techniques (including arranging for instruction where necessary);

2 be particularly sensitive to the need to ensure productive use of the candidate's time, especially in the first year of candidature;

3 give detailed advice on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of work so that the whole may be submitted within the scheduled time;

4 establish and maintain a schedule of regular (at least monthly) meetings with the candidate in accordance with faculty/departmental policy and in the light of discussion of arrangements with the candidate;

5 request written work, interim reports or research results as appropriate and return such work with constructive criticism within one month at most or withing a shorter time frame which has been determined as appropriate within the department;

6 ensure that the candidate is adequately trained in safe working practices relevant to the field of research and adheres to the guidelines established by the university's Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee and as adopted by Council;

7 ensure that the candidate is fully aware of the need to follow ethical practices appropriate to the particular discipline and relevant profession, and as specified by the university's Standing Committees on Ethics in Research on Humans, Animal Experimentation and Biosafety and the ethics guidelines set by any relevant funding body. (It should also be noted that the AVCC has laid down appropriate guidelines for the conduct of research);

8 arrange as appropriate for candidates to make presentations of their research work to departmental seminars;

9 arrange as appropriate for the student to meet other researchers in the field, and to attend meetings or conferences;

10 ensure that a research candidate whose major work is being conducted away from the university department or in a joint project with a commercial or industrial partner, plays a full and active role in the intellectual life of the department;

11 oversee the candidate's work to ensure that the design of experiments, and the processes of acquiring, recording, storing, examining and interpreting data and preparing material for publication have been undertaken by the student;

12 ensure the direction of the work is entirely under the control of the university and candidate in accordance with university policy;

13 ensure that agreement is reached between the candidate and supervisor concerning authorship of publications and acknowledgment of contributions during and after candidature. There should be open and mutual recognition of the candidate's and supervisor's contribution on all published work arising from the project. It should not be automatically assumed that the supervisor's name or candidate's name will appear on all such published work;

14 ensure adherence to the university policy and departmental guidelines on intellectual property;

15 ensure that the candidate is made aware of inadequate progress or of standards of work below that generally expected, by specifying the problems and suggesting ways of addressing them;

(If supervisors think they may become obliged to recommend that a candidature be terminated because of unsatisfactory progress, by decision of the Professorial Board (Meeting 3/75), they must give the candidate a preliminary written warning to that effect, and send copies of the warning note to the head of department and to the secretary of the PhD and Scholarships Committee.)

16 report regularly in writing, as required, on the student's progress to the head of department/director of centre and to the PhD and Research Committee;

17 advise the head/director or dean of the names of possible examiners, after consultation with the candidate.

Responsibilities of the candidate

It is the responsibilities of the candidate to:

1 be familiar with the PhD and EdD regulations and departmental guidelines and written information pertaining to postgraduate work;

2 utilise the resources, facilities and opportunities provided by the department to facilitate progress in the research, integrate with the intellectual community provided by the department, and acquire or improve the skills and knowledge required for completion of the project;

3 adopt at all times, safe working practices relevant to the field of research and adhere to the guidelines established by the university's occupational health and safety committee, and as adopted by Council;

4 adhere to the ethical practices appropriate to the discipline and relevant professional code, and as specified by the university's standing committees on ethics in research on humans, animal experimentation and biosafety and the ethics guidelines set by any relevant funding body;

5 ensure that original data is recorded in a durable and appropriately referenced form and stored safely for a period appropriate to the discipline but in any case not less than five years;

6 initiate discussion with the supervisor on the type of guidance and comment considered most helpful, and agree to a schedule of meetings which will ensure regular contact;

7 take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, however elementary they may seem;

8 maintain the progress of the work in accordance with the stages agreed with the supervisor, including in particular the presentation of written material as required, in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussions before proceeding to the next stage;

9 provide annually a formal report to the PhD and Research Committee and other reports as may be required by the PhD and Scholarships Committee or the supervisor;

10 prepare the thesis for examination, including arranging for its typing, proofreading, binding and, where appropriate, consulting the supervisor regarding matters of style and presentation.

Language of PhD theses

PhD theses submitted at Monash University will be written in English; except that in the case of the four language departments, namely German Studies and Slavic Studies, Asian Languages and Studies, Japanese Studies, Romance Languages, theses written in a language other than English may be admissible subject to observance of the following principles:

1 availability of a supervisor competent in both the field of study and the foreign language concerned;

2 availability of acceptable examiners qualified in both the discipline and the approved foreign language;

3 receipt of a formal request for permission to prepare the thesis in a (specified) language other than English in the form of a recommendation from the Arts faculty board no later than three months after the applicant's admission to candidature; and

4 recommendations will be considered only in those cases in which the topic of the proposed thesis will be an aspect of the (specified) language as such or its literature, and where the department concerned shows good cause why the topic may best be treated in the specified language.

Where conditions (1)-(4) are met the committee will then decide whether permission shall be granted.

The completed thesis shall include two summaries, one being the summary required by subsection 10.1.6 of the PhD regulations and the other being a translation of the summary into English.

Thesis presentation

When the thesis is complete, the supervisor is required to submit a statement certifying (i) to the best of his or her knowledge, the extent to which the work is that of the candidate; (ii) whether, in his or her opinion, the thesis is properly presented and is prima facie worthy of examination. In certifying that the thesis is thought to be properly presented and prima facie worthy of examination, the supervisor is not forecasting the result of the examination. He or she is stating that, in his or her opinion, an examiner who recommends the award of the degree would be acting reasonably. If a supervisor does not certify that the thesis is properly presented and prima facie worthy of examination, the PhD and Scholarships Committee still has power to determine that the thesis should be examined.

PhD students should also refer to the booklet PhD and EdD information handbook for further information. The booklet is available from the Research Training and Support Branch counter in the university offices building.

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Published by Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168
Copyright © Monash University 1996 - All Rights Reserved - Caution
Authorised by the Academic Registrar December 1996