Guidelines for confirmation of candidature - PhD

Initial admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature is on a provisional basis, and an application for confirmed candidature must be made as follows, unless otherwise approved by Academic Board:

  • Doctoral candidates: within 12 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 24 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.
  • Masters candidates: within 6 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 12 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature (to be introduced in 2016)

In order for candidature to be confirmed, the Candidate must complete such processes as determined by the Academic Board to demonstrate that a viable PhD research program has been developed, satisfactory progress has been made, and the degree requirements can be completed within the period allowed.  Details of the Confirmation requirements and process are provided in the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Management Procedure.

Objectives and requirements

The purpose of the confirmation process is to provide:

  • A formal mechanism for the provision to the candidate of sound advice on the viability of the proposed research project early in the period of candidature.
  • Evaluation of, and feedback on, the quality of the proposed research project to the candidate.
  • A means of ensuring that the key questions, scope and objectives of the project are clearly articulated, that the study design is in accord with discipline conventions, and that the project is not designed beyond the scope of the resources available to support its execution.
  • A means of ensuring that the candidate is making satisfactory progress and has a high probability of completing the degree requirements within the time period allowed.
  • An early warning mechanism for the detection of difficulties with the proposed research project or that the candidate might be experiencing.
  • A means of applying natural justice in the termination of candidature in the situation where such candidature clearly has a low likelihood of success.

Preparing for your confirmation

Candidates are encouraged to:

  • Work closely with their supervisor(s) to ensure that their written proposal and oral presentation are progressing in a timely way and that the confirmation requirements are being adequately addressed;
  • Submitted an application for Ethics approval, where appropriate;
  • Attend other confirmation of candidature oral presentations;
  • Participate in Graduate Centre sessions relating to confirmation of candidature; and
  • Avail themselves of opportunities to make oral presentations in other forums. E.g. School seminars, conferences, rehearsal with supervisor(s) etc.

Further information for candidates is available in our Confirmation of Candidature Guideline.

The Principal Supervisor is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the candidate is made aware of the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature as specified in Regulation 5.1 and these Guidelines;
  • Explained the requirements for Ethics approval and advising the candidate of the correct procedure.
  • Assisting the candidate with the preparation of their written proposal and oral presentation; and,
  • Alerting candidates to, and encouraging them to participate in, opportunities for developing their presentation skills.  For example, attendance at seminars, or conferences.

Process for Confirmation of Candidature

Timeline: confirmations must be held within 12 months of commencement for full time or equivalent Doctoral probationary candidates and 6 months full time or equivalent commencement for Master by Research candidates. Confirmations can be held at any time of the year.

StepsResponsibleComments
1.Probationary Candidate /Supervisor MeetSupervisor / Probationary CandidateProbationary candidate and their supervisor meet to discuss the requirements of confirmation, ensuring that the probationary candidate is made aware of the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature as specified in this procedure.
2.Notification of Application for Confirmed CandidatureProbationary candidateProbationary candidate to advise Research Services, ADR and Supervisor of their intention to confirm in writing at least four weeks prior to their confirmation date.
3.Confirmation panel formedChair of Confirmation Panel (ADR or nominee)

The Chair will nominate panel members for the confirmation meeting. The panel will normally consist of:

  • The Associate Dean (Research) (Chair) or nominee
  • The Principal Supervisor
  • An academic staff member from Federation University with relevant disciplinary experience and knowledge.
  • An experienced supervisor or discipline expert, from either Federation or another University.
  • An industry partner, where appropriate.

The Panel members will be provided to Research Services at least three weeks prior to the confirmation date. Failure to provide this information in a timely manner will result in a delay in the organisation of the Confirmation.

4.Submission of written proposalProbationary candidateProbationary candidate to submit to Research Services a written proposal, in accordance with the Confirmation Proposal Guidelines, at least two weeks prior to the confirmation. The body of the written proposal will be no more than 10 000 words for Doctoral probationary candidates and 5 000 words for Masters by Research probationary candidates, including the main text, footnotes and captions, and excluding references. There will be no more than 2 000 additional words in the supplementary information. Words in excess of these counts will not be considered.
5.Confirmation meeting takes placeProbationary candidate, Confirmation Panel

The Probationary candidate makes an oral presentation of no more than 25 minutes for Doctoral probationary candidates and 15 minutes for Masters by Research probationary candidates to a Confirmation Panel (and any additional audience) as outlined in the Confirmation Proposal Guidelines. The Probationary candidate will be required to answer any questions arising from their presentation or written submission.

Experts external to the University may provide written feedback on the candidate's submission in advance.

6.Panel provides recommendation to the Research Higher Degrees Sub-Committee (RHDSC).Chair, Confirmation Panel, Panel members

Confirmation Panel will deliberate and recommend to the RHDSC on confirmation of candidature in accordance with the directions contained in the Confirmation Panel Report. The Panel will normally recommend that the candidate be;

  • Confirmed; or
  • Confirmed subject to conditions: or
  • Not confirmed (candidature may be terminated)

If the candidate is 'Confirmed subject to conditions', the panel report will include details of tasks that will need to be completed. If the candidate is 'Not confirmed' the Panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision. The Panel Report should be provided to RHDSC via Research Services.

7.Panel provides feedback to the candidate / probationary candidatePanel Chair –  Research Services

Feedback will be provided to the candidate within five business days of the confirmation. Feedback should contain;

  • The Confirmation Panel's recommendation to the RHDSC (i.e. "candidature confirmed", "candidature confirmed subject to conditions", or "candidature not confirmed"); and,
  • Any feedback on the substance of the candidate's research.

In cases where conditions are set, including a recommendation that the candidate be required to re-present either the written proposal and/or the oral presentation for confirmation, the feedback will include details of what needs to be addressed, scheduling and the next step in the confirmation process.

8.Probationary candidate submits revisions / organises further oral presentationProbationary candidateProbationary candidate undertakes revisions, and/or additional oral presentation as per instructions from the panel report.
9.Probationary candidate attends Show Cause meeting in the instance of 'not confirmed'.Supervisor, Probationary candidate, Research ServicesProbationary candidates who are not confirmed will be requested to show cause (see Show Cause section of this procedure) as to why their candidature should continue. Supervisors are responsible for providing guidance to probationary candidates throughout this process.
10.Recording of Confirmation undertakenResearch ServicesResearch Services will record outcome of the confirmation process and any further action to be undertaken on the candidate record.

Responsibilities for Confirmation

The supervisor is responsible for:

  • Advising probationary candidate of responsibilities as outlined in Regulation 5.1
  • Meeting with candidate to discuss progress and / or any issues they may face preparing for confirmation
  • Providing probationary candidate with feedback and guidance in preparing for confirmation
  • Advising probationary candidate of readiness to undertake confirmation process
  • Forming part of the confirmation panel
  • Providing feedback to the probationary candidate
  • Supporting the probationary candidate in any changes / revisions to their confirmation documentation and / or presentation
  • Supporting probationary candidate through Show Cause procedure, should they be deemed 'not confirmed'

The candidate is responsible for:

  • Advising their supervisor, Research Services and ADR of their intention to confirm at least four weeks in advance of their preferred date
  • Reading Regulation 5.1 as it relates to confirmation of candidature
  • Preparing a written submission and oral presentation in accordance with Guidelines for Confirmation Proposal
  • Submitting the written proposal at least two weeks in advance to Research Services for provision to the Confirmation Panel
  • Ensuring the confirmation location meets the technical requirements of their presentation (e.g. projectors are available)
  • Providing any revisions within the requested time period
  • Preparing supplementary oral presentation within the requested period.

The Role of the Confirmation Panel

The role of the Confirmation Panel is to determine if the candidate 'has developed a viable PhD research program, made satisfactory progress, and is able to complete degree requirements within the period allowed' (see Regulation 5.1 Doctor of Philosophy, section 6). The Confirmation Panel will recommend to the Research Higher Degrees Sub-Committee one of the following outcomes:

  • that candidature be "confirmed";
  • that candidature be "confirmed subject to conditions";
  • that candidature be "not confirmed".

In instances when the recommendation is that candidature be "not confirmed", the Panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision. If the Panel is of the view that the candidate should be given a further opportunity to apply for confirmation of candidature, its report will include details of what tasks will need to be completed (for example, revisions to the written proposal  and a further oral presentation, or revisions to the written proposal  only) with associated timelines. Only in exceptional circumstances will more than two attempts to gain confirmation of candidature be permitted.  In the case that a candidate is not confirmed the panel will recommend that the candidate be invited to 'Show Cause' on why candidature should not be terminated.

Feedback to Candidate

Feedback will be provided to the candidate by the Principal Supervisor and the SRC (or Head of School if the SRC is the Principal Supervisor) as soon as is practicable after the candidate's oral presentation. The feedback should, as far as possible, be constructive and encouraging and contain the following two elements.

  1. The Confirmation Panel's recommendation to the RHDC (i.e. confirmation recommended or confirmation not recommended)
  2. Any feedback on the substance of the candidate's research. In cases where a further opportunity to apply for confirmation is recommended, the feedback will include details of what needs to be addressed, what will be the timing and nature of the next step in the confirmation process

For further information, please contact the Higher Degree by Research Team via email or over the phone on (03) 5327 9058