PhD by Prior Publication – Information for Prospective Applicants

What is a PhD by Prior Publication?

The PhD by Prior Publication is suitable for established researchers with a significant historical record of refereed publications who wish to gain a formal qualification to recognise their standing within a field. During the program, the candidate must develop a thesis for examination comprising of the prior publications and a significant integrating essay that demonstrates both a capacity for independent research and a significant, original and scholarly contribution to knowledge or understanding.

This is not a short-cut to a PhD. Admission to the program is subject to external assessment and requires the demonstration of a significant body of quality academic publication that will be drawn together, with minimal additional research, as a doctoral thesis. It is important also to differentiate this program from a Doctor of Philosophy whereby the research is undertaken during the course of the degree and a series of publications may be generated.

More about this process as follows:

  • Who is eligible for admission?

    Applicants must meet the entry requirements for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program as outlined in the Charles Sturt University Admissions Policy. Candidates must provide the following evidence to demonstrate that they are an experienced researcher with a significant historical record of refereed publications of doctoral standard:

    • the publications (which may include books and non-print materials) that will be included in the submission presented for examination;
    • any information on the quality and citations of the publications to be included in the submission;
    • a statement making clear the applicant's contribution to all jointly-authored publications;
    • a statement from the co-authors of any jointly-authored publications confirming the extent of the applicant's contribution to these publications;
    • the  names of two persons who are able to provide academic references relevant to the proposed PhD candidature.  
      a statement of no more than five pages that:
      • indicates the way in which the work has developed;
      • demonstrates the contemporary relevance of each publication;
      • makes clear the way in which the publications make an original scholarly contribution to knowledge;
      • provides a thematic overview which serves to link the individual publications into an integrated whole;
      • confirms the papers have not previously been submitted as part of a degree;
      • includes a statement indicating whether or not additional research activity may be required in order to convert the publications to an integrated whole, and if so, an outline of the necessary work.

    The application for the Doctor of Philosophy by Publication will be subject to external assessment.


    The identified field of research needs to be one in which CSU has supervisory expertise and capacity. This is determined by the Faculty.


    An applicant who has already been awarded a PhD will not be admitted to the degree.

  • Who approves admission to the PhD by Prior Publication program?

    The University Research Committee (RC) approves doctoral candidates in accordance with the University’s Academic Policies. The RC will review all of the documentation provided at the admission application stage and consider the recommendation of the external assessor. This input is utilised as advice about suitability for admission only; it is not part of the examination process.

  • What is required to be undertaken during the candidature?

    There are minimum and maximum enrolment requirements which guide the length of enrolment. Enrolment would be for six to twelve months full-time-equivalent. In this period under the guidance of a Principal Supervisor, the candidate will prepare a thesis that incorporates their previously published research and a substantial integrating essay, which may involve additional introductory and concluding chapters. While some minor research element may be permitted in this period, the primary focus of the candidature is preparation of the thesis for examination.

    The requirements for the research to be reported in a PhD by Prior Publication thesis are described in the Higher Degree by Research Policy: “A Doctor of Philosophy by Prior Publication candidate is required to demonstrate the originality and significance of a body of relevant research published prior to enrolment in the program. These prior publications and a significant integrating essay are presented in the thesis. In the published research and the thesis, candidates must have demonstrated advanced theoretical and methodological knowledge and have demonstrated how the research has made an original and significant contribution to knowledge or understanding.” The size of the integrating essay or additional chapters is prescribed to be not more than 20,000 words.

  • How is the PhD by Prior Publication examined?

    Examination of the thesis is undertaken by three examiners, all of whom are external to the University. Examiners are nominated by the Principal Supervisor, endorsed by the Faculty and approved by the Research Committee. Included in the examination criteria is the requirement that: “A Doctor of Philosophy by Prior Publication thesis must be an original and significant contribution to knowledge of the subject”.

  • More information and how to apply?

    Please refer to the Higher Degree by Research courses page for information about programs, admission requirements, contacts and how to apply.

    Alternatively, you are welcome to contact the appropriate Faculty Sub-Dean Graduate Studies to discuss your options in more detail.

    Charles Sturt University also offers a free-call contact number for course information – phone 1800 334 733.