MILESTONES & PROGRESS

Making sure you don't fall behind

OVERVIEW

The School expects full-time sponsored students to complete their degree within three years with a possible extension under some circumstances. Progress is recorded on your file and monitored closely by supervisors and the Delegated Authority, through the completion of milestones, annual plans, seminars, and annual reports. If progress is not considered satisfactory, the Delegated Authority may recommend that your program be significantly revised, converted to an MPhil (early in your candidature), or terminated. You will not be able to apply for Crawford HDR student funding unless all your milestones are up-to-date.

MANDATORY RESEARCH INTEGRITY TRAINING

All students must complete research integrity online training within three months of the commencement of your candidature. See Mandatory research integrity training on the Ethics, research, and legal issues page for more information. You will not be able to submit any other milestones until this milestone is complete. You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until your milestones are up-to-date.

APPOINTMENT OF PANEL

Until the Chair of the panel or primary supervisor is appointed, the Delegated Authority, or a provisional supervisor appointed by the Delegated Authority, will oversee your candidature. Normally within one month of your commencement a Chair of the panel is appointed. Normally within three months of commencement a primary supervisor is appointed. Also within this period the remainder of the panel should be appointed. In practice, however, students in POGO, RE&D, and NSC are often given up to six months to appoint their panel. ACDE students should have their panels appointed no later than 12 months into the candidature, regardless of any advice to the contrary. A panel is comprised of at least three people. You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until your milestones are up-to-date.

ANNUAL RESEARCH PLAN

New students submit a detailed annual plan for the course of the degree within three to six months of commencement. The plan should include details of supervisor and candidate contact, fieldwork plans if known, required coursework, and progress milestones for the duration of the degree. The annual plan needs to be endorsed by the supervisory panel and the candidate, and included in your student file. This plan is matched with progress recorded in the first annual research report. The annual plan, like most other milestone reports and paperwork, is submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

 

You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until your milestones are up-to-date.

FIRST PhD THESIS SEMINAR AND THESIS PROPOSAL REVIEW (TPR)

A Thesis Proposal Review is a formal University requirement. The normal expectation is that you will present your thesis proposal to a seminar advertised and open to the public and attended by your entire panel (attendance via video link, Skype, or similar is fine for both parties), academic staff, and students approximately nine to twelve months (pro-rata for part-time students, and up to 18 months for IDEC students) after your course has commenced and before undertaking any fieldwork. If coursework is a requirement of the degree, the review may be postponed until most of your coursework is completed.

Please note that you must not submit your TPR milestone online via eForms until you have actually presented your TPR publicly, for example, in a Crawford seminar series. The TPR needs to be advertised to the public. Contact your PhD Seminar Co-ordinator to schedule your seminar.

The Thesis Proposal Review seminar should lay out concisely the nature of your research project, the significance of the project, how it relates to existing literature in the field, your research questions or hypotheses, a discussion that includes the proposed research framework and/or justification of research hypotheses (where applicable), and a justification of research methods in relation to your research questions. All members of the supervisory panel must attend your thesis proposal presentation (again, they can Skype in, if necessary). The accompanying written research proposal should also contain an outline of expected fieldwork, an indicative list of the proposed chapters of the thesis, and a preliminary bibliography. Your written thesis proposal and your first annual report should be included as part of your first PhD thesis seminar presentation. You should provide your written research proposal to your panel members; you do not need to distribute your written research proposal to people who attend your seminar.

If the Thesis Proposal Review is regarded as unsatisfactory, you may be required to repeat the exercise within six months. If the repeat Thesis Proposal Review is also unsatisfactory, a department can institute steps to terminate the candidature. You will not be allowed to undertake fieldwork until a satisfactory Thesis Proposal Review has been completed.

Contact the PhD Seminar Co-ordinator in your area to arrange your seminar. Please bear in mind that staff and students are often on holidays between the end of November and late January, so you would do well to schedule any seminars outside of those times. All member of your panel must attend this seminar. Read more about PhD seminars, including how to book one.

Milestone submission can be found via your ISIS account by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

 

You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until your milestones are up-to-date.

See below for some examples of research proposals.

Economics

NSC

POGO/SPIR

RE&D

ANNUAL RESEARCH REPORT (AKA ‘ANNUAL REPORT’)

In addition to the PhD seminar requirements, you are required to report annually on work completed and progress towards your degree, and present a plan for the coming year. The due date for each of your annual reports can be found on ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

 

The annual report must be completed and submitted by the due date via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

 

The annual report must include

  • An update on chapters drafted or completed

  • Tentative submission dates for individual thesis chapters

  • A projected submission date for the overall thesis

  • Reference to any still-unresolved or challenging conceptual problems

  • The status of field research (either upcoming, underway, or completed)

  • The extent to which the project’s fieldwork has strengthened or transformed the research design

  • An indication of any concerns about supervision, and

  • A report on any delays predicated on illness, personal circumstances, work/tutorial responsibilities, absence of key panel members due to leave, etc.

 

Annual reports need to be balanced, indicating both potential problems as well as your achievements. The annual report is reviewed by the Chair, who assesses your progress against previous annual reports and comments if required. The Chair will deem progress to be satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or marginal and in the latter two cases make recommendations for remedial action. You will be given access to the comments made in your report by the Chair.

It is really important that you get your annual report in and that you fully report on your progress or otherwise: the reports are important documents that help to track progress of the thesis and can be crucial in determining the outcome of any submission for extension of scholarship or program.

If you do not submit your thesis within the expected period, you must nevertheless continue to submit annual reports every 12 months.

You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until you have successfully completed this milestone.

SECOND PHD THESIS SEMINAR PRESENTATION (AKA ‘MID-TERM REVIEW’)

The second PhD thesis seminar presentation (aka Mid-Term Review) is not a formal milestone; however, some supervisors prefer that you undertake it. And anyway, it's still a good exercise to get feedback on your work, part-way through. The presetation is typically based on an original chapter and usually occurs 18-24 months after beginning your course of study and/or shortly after completing any fieldwork. The seminar should be attended by your supervisory panel. The Mid-Term Review presentation should be designed to answer the following questions:

  • How has the project evolved since the Thesis Proposal Review?

  • What challenges have been posed by the research undertaken so far?

  • How have you had to redefine the project?

  • Where are you currently at in the overall project/thesis as it was planned?

 

Following your presentation you will receive a report from your supervisor that will be incorporated into your Mid-Term Review as a measure of your progress. For the remainder of the course following the Mid-Term Review, you should work closely with your supervisory panel.

Contact the PhD Seminar Co-ordinator in your area to arrange your seminar. Please bear in mind that staff and students are often on holidays between the end of November and late January, so you would do well to schedule any seminars outside of those times.

FINAL PHD THESIS SEMINAR PRESENTATION (AKA ‘ORAL PRESENTATION’)

For this milestone you are expected to deliver an oral presentation, advertised to the University and open to the public, three to six months before your intended thesis submission date. The third seminar presentation is typically based on an additional research chapter or on an overview of the key results of the entire thesis. You are expected to demonstrate, in front of your supervisory panel, your

  • Independent command of the material

  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely the analysis of the material and findings

  • Ability to respond appropriately to constructive comment and criticism

 

A minimum of your Chair and Primary Supervisor as well as one other panel member must be present at the seminar (and yes, they can Skype in if they are not in Canberra). You will not be able to graduate until this milestone is achieved. Kinda important.

Please note that you must not submit your Oral Presentation milestone online via eForms until you have actually presented your Oral Presentation publicly, for example, in a Crawford seminar series. The Oral Presentation needs to be advertised to the public.

Contact the PhD Seminar Co-ordinator in your area to arrange your seminar. Please bear in mind that staff and students are often on holidays between the end of November and late January, so you would do well to schedule any seminars outside of those times.

Milestone submission can be found via your ISIS account by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

 

You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until you have successfully completed this milestone.

UNSATISFACTORY PROGRESS, TERMINATION, AND WITHDRAWAL

In the event that the Chair, in consultation with the supervisory panel, deems your progress to be marginal or unsatisfactory you will be advised of this assessment in writing and notified that a failure to remedy this situation could result in the termination of your candidature. The Chair will then work with you to develop an action plan to assist you to get back on track. This plan should feature clearly defined tasks and associated delivery dates, and should also be put in writing. The Chair will then closely monitor your progress towards the accomplishment of these tasks. If your progress is being affected by personal issues, then you and the Chair should consider whether you should should take program leave for a period to allow these issues to be addressed.

If, however, you cannot meet the standard required, a recommendation for termination of candidature will be presented to the College Dean who will provide you with 20 working days to present a case, orally or in writing, as to why this should not occur. The Dean will then decide if the termination is to be put into effect. Following the Dean’s decision to terminate a candidature, you have two further rights of appeal through the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

If you meet the requirements of the action plan then you will return to the standard progress monitoring cycle utilising the annual report (aka ‘Research Report’). If you do not, the HDR Director will make a recommendation to the College Dean that your candidature be terminated.

You can withdraw from your HDR program at any time by providing notice in writing to the University Registrar.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

WORRIED ABOUT YOUR PROGRESS?

If you are worried about your progress, talk to someone: your supervisor, the HDR Administrator, or the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor. Don’t waste time hoping it will all sort itself out; the longer you wait, the less time you have to finish. We will help you get back on track, if possible.

THE PHD ISN'T FOR ME

Congratulations! You’ve realised something that many people find hard to acknowledge! There’s no shame in it: the PhD really isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of people out there who have started PhDs and never finished them and gone on to live happy, fulfilling lives. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb or a failure; in fact, it means you’re probably a lot smarter than those people who continue in the PhD even though they absolutely hate it. It’s best if you realise all this early on so you can terminate your candidature and move on to better things, but if it takes a couple of years to dawn on you, then so what? Withdraw from your HDR program by providing notice in writing to the University Registrar and get on with your life. Now, let us never speak of it again.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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