Guidelines for confirmation of candidature - higher degree by research

Admission to all Higher Degree by Research programs is on a probationary basis. Candidates progress from probationary status to confirmed candidate after successful completion of the milestone Confirmation of Candidature (CoC), within designated time-frames:

NOTE: All HDR candidates who commence from January 2019 must complete a number of core and elective units from the Skills Development Program (SDP) to be able to successfully complete the Confirmation of Candidature milestone. Please refer to the Skills Development web page for SDU program details.

  • Masters by Research candidates: within 4-6 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 8-12 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.-applicable for all Masters by Research candidates commencing from 1 January 2019.
  • Masters by Research candidates who wish to upgrade to PhD candidature, will still undertake the Masters by Research CoC process within 4-6 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature (from 2019) or within 8-12 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature - then as a confirmed Masters by Research candidate may elect to upgrade to PhD candidature, by undertaking the PhD milestone between 9-11 months of commencing full-time Masters by Research candidature or within 18-22 months of commencing part-time candidature. Transfer to the PhD program will proceed following a successful upgrade confirmation.
  • Doctoral candidates: ideally between 9-11 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 18-22 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.

Further information for candidates: Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines.

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 of Candidature milestone process is to provide:

  • the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and progress of their project to date; share information on research literature that highlights the novel nature of their particular proposal, and advise a timeline of what they hope to achieve by conclusion of candidature, in both a written report (up to 5000 words for Masters by research candidates, and 7000-10,000 words for PhD candidates and for Masters by Research candidates wishing to upgrade) and an oral presentation (10-15 mins for Masters by Research, and 20 minutes for PhD candidates and for Masters by Research candidates wishing to upgrade).
  • formal evaluation by a panel of specialists in the candidate's area of research and written feedback to the candidate on the quality and viability of the proposed research project, based on the oral and written presentation of the candidate, Q&A following the presentation, and successful completion of the required Skills Development Program 1st year modules.
  • 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 conclusion within program's designated 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 minimum time period..
  • an early warning mechanism for the detection of difficulties with the proposed research project or challenges that the candidate might be experiencing.
  • implementation of strategies by the School 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 there is a low likelihood of success.

This process is a requirement of the Higher Education Standards (Thresholds Framework) 2015 4.2:1C and is endorsed by Federation University's Academic Board, and is supported by University Policy, Procedure and Guidelines to assist and support Candidates, Supervisors and Schools.

Candidate preparations

Candidates are encouraged to:

  • work closely with supervisor(s) during the probationary months to ensure an understanding what is required  to confirm candidature within the given time frame;
  • become familiar with FedUni Regulation 5.1 as it relates to confirmation of candidature as well as the relevant FedUni Candidature Management and CoC policies, procedures and guidelines.
  • participate in the Graduate Research School's HDR Skills Development induction session within the first six months of the probationary year, and successful completion of other required core and elective modules from the HDR Skills Development Program (SDP). Note: There are core and elective modules for each year of candidature, however the first year modules are a prerequisite for successful CoC confirmation.
  • attend other CoC presentations, particularly within the same discipline to both support and learn from peers across the University;
  • prepare for the oral presentation via other forums, e.g. the annual HDR Research conference, which is also a part of the HDR Skills Development Program; external conferences and rehearsal with supervisor(s) etc to develop public speaking skills.
  • prepare the written submission and oral presentation in accordance with the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines.
  • be prepared to take questions from the panel and audience following their presentation.
  • advise the Graduate Research School (GRS) of the preferred date/s for the oral CoC presentation, with sufficient notice to ensure the appropriate facilities will be available, and panel members can be sourced.
  • submit the written research report (Word & PDF) to the GRS two weeks prior to the presentation date, for timely distribution to the panel;
  • determine if Ethics approval is required for your project. If applicable, applicants must submit the appropriate ethics application for either Human, Animal and/or Institutional Biosafety, and advise the Panel of either the approval number or the ethics application number.
  • following the presentation, provide any revisions to the Panel Chair within the requested time period, as per the Panel's formal report.
  • if required, prepare for a subsequent oral presentation, within the requested period, as per the Panel's report.

Supervisor responsibilities

Supervisors are encouraged to;

  • from January 2019, ensure probationary candidates attend the Graduate Research School's (GRS) HDR Induction within the first six months of enrolment and complete the required first year core and elective modules offered in the HDR Skills Development Program (SDP). Successful completion of these first year modules is now a mandatory prerequisite for a successful Confirmation of Candidature milestone.
  • guide the probationary candidate through the responsibilities as outlined in Regulation 5.1,and FedUni CoC Policy Procedure and guidelines.
  • meet with the candidate in the early months of enrolment to discuss the CoC process and associated timelines.
  • observe the candidate's progress to date and any note any issues they may face in their research and preparations.
  • mentor to ensure readiness, knowledge and capacity to undertake the CoC process, including the new HDR SDP requirements, within the required timelines so as not to jeopardise the successful continuation of their candidature.
  • provide the probationary candidate with timely feedback in preparation of both the written and oral presentations.
  • the principal supervisor is a member of the Panel. Associate and co-supervisors are an integral part of the audience, and are generally invited to sit in on the discussions with the panel after the oral presentation, however only Panel members are involved in the deliberations involving the outcome.
  • following the seminar, support the candidate in preparing any required conditions to confirm candidature.
  • provide mentoring and support to the probationary candidate through Show Cause procedure, should they be deemed 'not confirmed'

The role of the confirmation panel

It is the role of the panel to determine:

  • the probationary candidate has developed a viable higher degree by research project,
  • that satisfactory progress has been made within the probationary period.
  • the probationary candidate is deemed to have the competency to complete the degree requirements within the minimum candidature submission time frame, in compliance with FedUni Regulation 5.1 - Part C, PhD Section 12, or Part E, Masters Degree (Research)
  • the candidate can provide evidence of successful completion of the required first year modules from the HDR Skills Development Program.
  • if applicable, that issues related to cultural awareness have been, or will be, addressed
  • if applicable, that any ethical issues relating to the conduct of research involving humans, animals or institutional biosafety have been, or will be, addressed
  • ensure data collection has not commenced without the appropriate Ethics approval or consultation and approval of the School.
  • that issues relating to data retention and management have been, or will be, addressed
  • that issues relating to Intellectual Property (IP) have been, or will be, addressed

The panel will consist of the following:

  • Chair: School ADR, 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 agenda for the seminar process is as follows:

  1. Supervisor introduces the candidate
  2. Oral presentation from candidate
  3. Questions from the floor (chaired by supervisor or panel chair)
    Informal proceedings end - audience leaves and candidate waits outside

    Panel convenes to discuss the outcome
  4. Chair asks supervisors to discuss candidate's progress to date and suitability of project for timely completion
  5. General panel discussion regarding outcomes
  6. Chair completes Panel Report Form
  7. Invite candidate to return (supervisors leave)
  8. Candidate invited to discuss supervision and any other relevant matter
  9. Chair forwards Panel report to the Graduate Research School for updating candidate record and distribution..

Outcome options following CoC:

Following deliberations after the seminar, the Chair of the panel will recommend to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC), via the Graduate Research School (GRS) one of the following outcomes:

  • Confirmed
  • Confirmed subject to minor conditions
  • Re-Confirm in 3 months due to major amendments
  • Not Confirmed

In all outcomes the Panel will provide a written report to the candidate via the Graduate Research School within five days of the presentation, outlining the reasons for its decision.

  • When Confirmation is subject to minor conditions, these will be clearly detailed and a due date advised by when conditions are to be met.
  • 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, with associated timeline for rescheduling the confirmation process. 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.

Step by step process for confirmation of candidature

StepsResponsibleComments
1. Probationary Candidate /Supervisor Meet Supervisor / Probationary Candidate Probationary candidate and their supervisor meet in the early months of candidature to discuss the requirements of confirmation, as detailed in Policy, Procedure and Guideline documents, ensuring that the probationary candidate is made aware of the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature.
2. Notification of Application for Confirmed Candidature Probationary candidate

Probationary candidate to advise the Graduate Research School (GRS), after consultation with their Supervisory team, of their intention to confirm - provide approx four weeks for the proposed confirmation date to ensure room bookings and required technology is available.

3. Confirmation panel formed Principal Supervisor The panel nominated by the Principal Supervisor is approved by the ADR (or nominee) and the CoC seminar is scheduled (with assistance from the GRS where necessary) at a time which is suitable for nominated panel members
  • Chair: School ADR or nominee
  • Principal Supervisor
  • Academic staff member from Federation University with relevant disciplinary experience and knowledge.
  • Experienced supervisor or discipline expert from either Federation or another University.
  • An industry partner, where appropriate.

The names and contact details of panel members need to be provided to the GRS, approximately one month prior to the confirmation date to ensure appropriate facilities will be available.

4. Submission of written proposal Probationary candidate

Probationary candidate to submit to the Graduate Research School 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 up to 5000 words for Masters by Research CoC,  between 5000 and 10 000 words for Doctoral CoC and Masters by Research candidates upgrading to PhD candidature.

The project report should include:

  • 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.
  • Should the candidate submit a 'Turnitin' report with their research report, it will not be included in either word count.
  • Written proposals in excess of these guidelines may be returned to the candidate for revision and re submission prior to the proposed oral presentation date.
5. Confirmation seminar takes place Probationary candidate, Confirmation Panel The Probationary candidate makes an oral presentation (10-15mins Masters by Research; 20-25 for Doctoral and Masters by research candidates who are upgrading)  to the Confirmation Panel (and any additional audience) as outlined in the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines. The Probationary candidate will then take questions from the Panel and audience, arising from their presentation and/or written submission.

Panel 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. Skype for Business attendance is available.

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

The Confirmation Panel will deliberate and recommend an outcome to the RHDC on the milestone, in accordance with the directions contained in the Confirmation Panel Report.

The candidate and/or supervisors may be required to be in attendance at the request of the Panel Chair during deliberation,

The Chair has authority to request anyone not on the panel to leave should their attendance not be required during the deliberation process.

Associate Supervisors will have speaking, but not deliberative rights during this process.

The Panel will recommend that the candidate be either;

  • Confirmed
  • Confirmed subject to minor conditions
  • Re-Confirm in 3 months due to major amendments
  • Not Confirmed

In all circumstances, the panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision.

If the candidate is 'Confirmed subject to conditions'  the panel report will include details of tasks that will need to be completed and the timeline.

If the candidate is 'Not confirmed' the Panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision.

The Panel Report will be provided to RHDC via the Graduate Research School.

7. Panel provides feedback to the candidate / probationary candidate Panel Chair –Graduate Research School

Written feedback will be provided to the candidate within five business days of the Confirmation. The Panel's report will contain feedback on the substance of the candidate's research project, and  the Panel's recommendation to the RHDC of either

  • Confirmed
  • Confirmed subject to minor conditions
  • Re-Confirm in 3 months due to major amendments
  • Not Confirmed

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, Graduate Research School 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 Schools are responsible for providing guidance to probationary candidates throughout this process.
10. Recording of Confirmation undertaken Graduate Research School The Graduate Research School will record the outcome of the confirmation process and any further action to be undertaken on the candidate record.

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