Appointment of Examiners - Guidelines

The nomination and appointment of examiners is based on the principle that higher degree by research (HDR) candidates should receive an impartial examination by high quality examiners in the field of research. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure the robust and transparent appointment process, recognising that this is a key step in the quality assurance of HDR thesis examination.

Examiners of HDR theses are appointed by the University Research Committee, following advice and information provided by Faculties. Supervisors are asked to nominate potential examiners as per the Higher Degree by Research Policy – Schedule 2 Roles and Responsibilities of the Supervisory Team.

Three examiners will be appointed for all HDR thesis examinations, all of whom shall be external to the University. In exceptional circumstances, two external and one internal examiner may be appointed if approved by the Director, Research.

The current Charles Sturt University Regulations relating to HDR thesis examination matters can be found in the Higher Degree by Research Policy.

Identifying Potential Examiners

Academic Examiners shall be of high academic standing in the field in which the candidate's research was conducted and, for professional doctorate examiners, shall demonstrate knowledge of the professional area in which the thesis is being examined. This is to the advantage of both the candidate and the University, preserving the value of the award and bringing the work of the HDR candidate to the attention of the scholarly community.

The Principal Supervisor and/or supervisory team should consult with the candidate prior to contacting any potential examiners, the candidate is able to make suggestions, indicate preferences and are also encouraged to state who they would not want as an examiner, for example where they are known to have strongly opposing views, methodologies and/or practices. However, the candidate should not be told the names of the examiners who have been nominated. This information remains confidential until the examiners reports are returned.

Ideally, at least two examiners of a doctoral thesis and one examiner of a masters thesis will have previous HDR thesis examination experience.

Examiners with identified or perceived conflicts of interest should not be nominated. In the appointment of examiners, CSU applies the Conflict of Interest Guidelines that have been adopted by Universities Australia and the Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in Australia.

Potential examiners who should be excluded (or decline to examine) include those:

  • who have had substantial direct involvement in the candidate’s work;
  • who believe they are likely to fail the thesis on the basis of the research paradigm or methodology;
  • who have supervised this or another thesis by the candidate;
  • who are close working colleagues of the candidate or supervisor;
  • who have co-authored a paper with the candidate or supervisor; or
  • whose own work is the focus of the research project.

Contacting potential examiners

Once potential examiners have been identified it is expected that the Principal Supervisor and/or supervisory team will contact them to:

  • advise of the dissertation topic and the degree for which it is submitted;
  • advise of the approximate size and scope of the thesis;
  • make them aware of the anticipated submission date and that their examination report would be required within 8 weeks;
  • ascertain their willingness and availability to examine the thesis

If the examiner is willing and available the supervisor will also need to request a current CV so the Faculty Sub-Dean Graduate Studies and University Research Committee can assess for any conflict of interest.

A small honorarium is paid to external examiners. Charles Sturt University applies honorarium rates as recommended and periodically reviewed by Universities Australia.

Appointment Process

Once the Principal Supervisor gains agreement and receives current CV’s from the potential examiners they shall complete the Notification of Readiness to Submit Thesis & Appointment of Examiners form and forward all documents to the relevant Faculty Sub-Dean Graduate Studies.  Justification of the selection of potential examiners must be provided. This justification should be provided in terms of the person’s position, research record, qualifications, experience etc.

This process should be completed not less than two months prior to thesis submission.

If the Sub-Dean agrees that the examiners meet all requirements and should be recommended to the University Research Committee for appointment, the Sub-Dean endorses the form and forwards to the Research Office. If they do not agree, the supervisors are asked to nominate other examiners.

The Research Office facilitates consideration/approval of the nominations by the University Research Committee (or nominee). Following approval of the Appointment of Examiners and the thesis submission, the Research Office then coordinates the examination process.