Guidelines for confirmation of candidature - higher degree by research

Admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature is on a probationary basis, and an application for confirmed candidature must be made as follows:

  • Doctoral candidates: within 12 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 24 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.
  • Masters candidates wishing to upgrade to PhD: prior to 12 months of commencing full-time Masters candidature or 24 months part-time candidature.
  • Masters candidates: (Commencing 2018) within 6 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 12 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.

In order to progress from a probationary to confirmed candidature, the applicant must complete processes determined by the University's Academic Board, consistent with the Higher Education Standards (Thresholds Framework) 2015 to demonstrate that a viable Postgraduate research program has been developed, satisfactory progress has been made within the initial twelve month period, and the degree requirements can be completed timely within a preferred three year timeframe.

Full details of the confirmation requirements and process are provided in the document titled: 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 of evaluation and feedback to the applicant by a panel of specialists on the quality and viability of the proposed research project, based on the oral and written presentation of the candidate .
  • A means of ensuring that the project's key research questions, scope, methodology and objectives are clearly articulated, that the study design is in accord with discipline conventions, and that the project is designed within the scope of the resources available to support its execution within the given time frame.
  • 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.
  • Implementation of strategies by Faculty if required, to support a candidate deemed to have the potential to progress, with additional guidance.
  • 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) during the probationary year to ensure they understand what is required of them to confirm their candidature;
  • Ensure they have met the requirement of participating in the Graduate Centre induction program within the first six months of the probation year.
  • Attend other confirmation of candidature oral presentations, to both support and learn from peers across the University;
  • Participate in other Graduate Centre sessions relating to confirmation of candidature;
  • Ensure the progress of their written proposal and oral presentation develops in a timely way with confirmation requirements adequately addressed, in readiness for their Confirmation of Candidature;
  • If applicable to their project, applicants may need to submit an application for either Human, Animal and/or Institutional Bio-safety Ethics approval, around this time;
  • Avail themselves of opportunities to make oral presentations in other forums. E.g. School seminars, FedUni HDR conference, external conferences and rehearsal with supervisor(s) etc to develop public speaking skills.

Further information for candidates is available in the document titled: Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines.

Process for confirmation of candidature

StepsResponsibleComments
1. Probationary Candidate /Supervisor Meet Supervisor / Probationary Candidate Probationary candidate and their supervisor meet at 6mths of candidature to discuss the requirements of confirmation, ensuring that the probationary candidate is made aware of the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature as specified above in 'Preparing for your confirmation'.
2. Notification of Application for Confirmed Candidature Probationary candidate Probationary candidate to advise Research Services (RS), Associate Dean Research (ADR) and their Supervisory team in writing of their intention to confirm, at least four weeks prior to their confirmation date.
Note: A template is currently being developed to formalise this process, ensuring all required information is provided by the candidate.            
3. Confirmation panel formed Chair of Confirmation Panel (ADR or nominee) The Chair will nominate panel members for the confirmation meeting. The panel normally consists of:
  • The ADR (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 names and contact details of panel members will be provided to RS at least three weeks prior to the confirmation date.

Note:  Failure to provide this information in a timely manner to RS may result in a delay in securing an appropriate venue, thereby delaying the Confirmation process.

4. Submission of written proposal Probationary candidate

Probationary candidate to submit to RS a written proposal, in accordance with the Confirmation of Candidature 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. This includes

  • project title,
  • aims,objectives and research questions,
  • review of literature, constructed within an appropriate analytical framework to provide new knowledge, rather than a descriptive summary
  • main text of the candidate's proposed contribution to the field of research - appropriate to the degree being sought
  • footnotes and captions,

Note:

  • Referencing: An additional 2000 word (maximum) 'supplementary' is provided for referencing - it is not included in the initial word count.
  • Written proposals in excess of these guidelines will be returned to the candidate for revision and re submission
5. Confirmation meeting takes place Probationary 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 of Candidature 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 if they are not able to attend in person or via video conferencing or Skype.

6. Panel provides recommendation to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC). Chair, Confirmation Panel, Panel members Confirmation Panel will deliberate and recommend to the RHDC 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 RHDC via Research Services.

7. Panel provides feedback to the candidate / probationary candidate Panel 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 RHDC
  • "candidature confirmed" or
  • "candidature confirmed subject to conditions", or
  • "candidature not confirmed"); and,
  • Feedback on the substance of the candidate's research project.

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 presentation Probationary candidate Probationary 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 Services Probationary candidates who are not confirmed will be requested to show cause (see Show Cause section of the HDR Candidature Management Procedure) as to why their candidature should continue. Supervisors and the Faculty are responsible for providing guidance to probationary candidates throughout this process.
10. Recording of Confirmation undertaken Research Services Research 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 within 6mths of candidature of responsibilities as outlined in Regulation 5.1
  • Meeting with candidate at 6mths to discuss progress and / or any issues they may face preparing for their Confirmation of Candidature
  • Providing probationary candidate with feedback and guidance in both the written and oral presentations required for confirmation
  • Advising probationary candidate of readiness in preparation, knowledge and capacity to undertake confirmation process
  • Actively participating on the confirmation panel
  • Providing helpful feedback to the probationary candidate after their presentation to the panel
  • 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 (RS) and Associate Dean Research (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 the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines
  • Submitting the written proposal at least two weeks in advance to RS for provision to the Confirmation Panel
  • Ensuring the confirmation location meets the technical requirements of their presentation (e.g.video conferencing and projectors are available)
  • Providing any revisions to the Panel within the requested time period
  • Preparing for a subsequent oral presentation if required, 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 Higher Degree by research project, made satisfactory progress within the probationary period, and is deemed to have the competency to complete the degree requirements within the preferred period of three years - see the relevant section of Regulation 5.1 - Part C, PhD Section 12, or Part E, Masters Degree (Research). The confirmation panel will recommend to the Research Higher Degrees Committee one of the following outcomes:

  • that candidature be 'confirmed'
  • that candidature be 'confirmed subject to conditions'
  • that candidature be 'not confirmed'.

In all outcomes 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 with five days of the candidate's oral presentation. The feedback should be constructive and encouraging and contain the following two elements.

  1. The confirmation panel's recommendation to the RHDC (Confirmed; Confirmed subject to conditions, or Not Confirmed)
  2. 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. 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.

For further information, please contact the Higher Degree by Research Team via email or over the phone on (03) 5327 9508