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Important note

These rules apply to students enrolled from 1 January 2018. The guidance will be also be helpful as a reference point for students enrolled before that time and who are pursuing thesis by compilation. See also Structuring a thesis by compilation and Thesis by compilation FAQ.

Thesis by compilation does not apply to Economics students. The Economics thesis is not a thesis by compilation.

Overview and equivalence 

A thesis by compilation can be submitted in place of a thesis by standard format (i.e., a unitary, monographic-style thesis that presents a synthesised, narrative argument). While recognising that a thesis by compilation in its nature differs from the unitary PhD thesis by standard format, a thesis by compilation must still make an original contribution to knowledge and a contribution to the subject with which it deals that is commensurate with that expected of the thesis by standard format. Items included in a thesis by compilation must be closely related in terms of subject matter and must form a cohesive research narrative. 

Crawford recognises that there is a degree of variation between the fields of studies encompassed within the School and acknowledges the importance of maintaining an equality of work conducted by students, i.e., students should neither be advantaged nor disadvantaged in terms of the amount of work required for the PhD by choosing one thesis format over another.  

Your approach must comply with the ANU’s Procedure: Higher degree by research - thesis by compilation and thesis by creative works. We provide the following guidance below to help Crawford students wanting to complete their thesis by compilation. 



A thesis by compilation will typically consist of a portfolio of published papers or works (or paper or works accepted for publication) based on original research as well as an introduction, context statement, or exegesis and conclusion drawing together the published papers or works in a cohesive manner. The exegesis should indicate how the individual items link to the theory and methodology adopted and evaluate the contribution that the research in the items makes to the advancement of the research area. 



In proposing a thesis by compilation, you will need to balance the number and status of your papers so that there is commensurability with a thesis by standard format. This means being mindful, for example, of how many papers will be sole-authored and how many will be co-authored with you as lead author, and how many papers will be either published or accepted for publication and how many will be submitted for peer-review. A further consideration will be the ranking of the journal(s) you wish to publish in.  

Crawford recommends that at least two of your thesis by compilation papers are sole-authored and have been accepted for publication, and that in the instance of co-authored papers you are the lead author for each paper. We also recommend that there be no more than four co-authors on co-authored papers, that is, you as lead author with three co-authors. If you choose to deviate from this recommended guidance, then you need to make sure that your panel supports your plans and that your approach complies with the university’s policy on thesis by compilation. Any such alternative approaches must be approved by your panel as well as the delegated authority in discussion with HDR convenor in your area.  

In the case of co-authored papers, you will be required to provide a statement specifying the extent to which the research is your own and the statement must be signed by each co-author and incorporated into the thesis. 
In developing a list of papers for inclusion, you and your supervisor should consider the following: 

  1. The importance of the overall body of work that these published papers or works will represent and the contribution the combined body of work makes to the discipline, and  

  1. The reputation of the publication, the international standing of the editors, its readership, the rigour of its peer-review process, and the publisher's reputation. 

In the case that individual and collective contributions of Indigenous knowledge have been made to your research, the ANU’s Procedure: Authorship and the ANU’s Procedure: Higher degree by research - thesis by compilation and thesis by creative works must be adhered to. 


To gain permission to submit a thesis by compilation at Crawford, you will need to fill out the Application for approval by the Delegated Authority for submission of a thesis by compilation (Crawford School) form and have it endorsed by all panel members before an application will be accepted. You should talk with your supervisors about any plans to complete a thesis by compilation early on in your candidature.

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