THESIS BY COMPILATION FAQ

IS THERE A PREFERRED FORMAT FOR THESES AT CRAWFORD?

No. The unitary, monographic-style thesis that presents a synthesised, narrative argument is probably more common in non-statistical fields. This is primarily because many theses, particularly in the social sciences, humanities, and more qualitative disciplines, are more appropriately written as a single, coherent document that contains a sustained central argument (i.e., a thesis), than as independently published papers. Thesis by compilation, however, allows you to spend most of your writing time on getting published (i.e., submitting, revising, and resubmitting papers) rather than on composing a unitary thesis with a single narrative (please note that ANU rules don’t formally describe this unitary form). Having publications accepted by the end of your PhD can be important if you're seeking an academic career.

DO I AND MY PANEL NEED TO AGREE ON DOING A THESIS BY COMPILATION?

Yes. Some panels will want their students always to do a thesis by compilation, some will want their students always to write a unitary thesis, and others will go either way, depending on what the panel thinks best suits the project. It is essential that you and your supervisory panel discuss and agree upon the format of your thesis in the first six months or so of your candidature. You should already have an idea of the kind thesis your panel would want you to write before you start your PhD, i.e., you should have checked this out before getting here. If, however, you end up disagreeing on what format would be best, or if you really would prefer to write one style of thesis over another, then you might need to seek another panel. You must do this early on: you cannot leave it until two years into your candidature.

IS THERE A STANDARD TEMPLATE FOR A THESIS BY COMPILATION AT CRAWFORD?

No, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to thesis by compilation. The best thesis by compilation format for you will depend on both the area you’re in, and the detailed nature of your particular thesis, so you must seek detailed guidance from your supervisory panel and not assume that what another Crawford candidate did is OK or best for you.

WHAT IF MY PAPERS AREN'T ACCEPTED IN TIME FOR SUBMISSION?

Getting papers published takes time and effort for drafting, submitting, resubmitting, etc. This runs risks of key chapters not being published or accepted in time, and thus holding back the thesis submission. If a key paper is rejected by a journal, your panel may (or may not) advise doing more work on that (or another) chapter, either of which could delay submission by a few months. If you’re unlucky enough to have several rejections of your submitted papers, you may have to revert to a unitary thesis, so you may need to keep a unitary thesis in mind as a 'Plan B'.

WHY DO I HAVE TO APPLY FOR APPROVAL BY THE DELEGATED AUTHORITY FOR SUBMISSION OF A THESIS BY COMPILATION?

It is a requirement of the ANU that your decision to submit a thesis by compilation is approved by the Delegated Authority (in Crawford's case, the HDR Director, see section 16, TbC Procedure). The approval process ensures that you have received important, discipline-specific guidance on the appropriate quantity and quality of papers for submission as a thesis and essentially means, 'Crawford agrees you have a sensible-looking plan for submitting a thesis that mainly comprises published papers'. This in no way constitutes approval to submit now. You must seek approval to submit a thesis by compilation at least 12 months prior to submission, and no later than 6 months prior to submission.

IS APPROVAL TO SUBMIT A THESIS BY COMPILATION THE SAME THING AS APPROVAL TO SUBMIT MY THESIS?

No. They are two different things. Approval by the Delegated Authority for submission of a thesis by compilation means only that you have permission to submit a thesis in this format. You need separate approval to submit your thesis -- regardless of format -- once the final compilation is complete.

WILL EXAMINERS KNOW THAT I’VE WRITTEN A THESIS BY COMPILATION?

No. The ANU HDR Exams Office does not tell examiners that you’ve chosen to write your thesis in thesis by compilation format. Crawford strongly advises that

  • Your supervisor, when asking potential examiners if they are willing and able to examine the subject area of your thesis, should mention that it will be a thesis by compilation, include links to both Crawford's Thesis by compilation protocol and the ANU's Procedure: Higher degree by research - thesis by compilation and thesis by creative works, and ask if they are comfortable with examining a thesis by compilation

  • You should mention, very early in your introductory chapter, that this is a thesis by compilation following the School’s protocol (of course, you cannot state this if it does not, in fact, follow the School's protocol!).

HOW MUCH INPUT MERITS CO-AUTHORSHIP?*

The Vancouver Protocol provides some uniform requirements for submitting manuscripts and provides a useful guide to determining authorship. It states, in part, that,

  • All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content.

  • Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contributions 1) to conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data, and 2) to drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and 3) on final approval of the version to be published. Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

  • Editors may ask authors to describe what each contributed, this information may be published. The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Because the order is assigned in different ways, its meaning cannot be inferred accurately unless it is stated by the authors. Authors may wish to explain the order of authorship in a footnote.


See the Structuring a thesis by compilation page for advice on how to describe the contributions that each each author has made to a paper.

*This information was taken from the 2014 'Supplementary brief on thesis by compilation (TbC)', prepared for the Fenner School by Frank Mills and Jack Pezzey).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

©2018 by Crawford PhD