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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.

Manage My Degree (MMD) eForms

Most of the approvals you need can be submitted via Manage My Degree (HDR) eForms. eForms sits within ISIS and supports an integrated approvals and reporting process, meaning that when you submit something, it goes to the right person for approval.

You must have your Chair of Panel and Primary Supervisor (this might be the same person, see Supervision and your panel) listed in ISIS in order for your eForms to find their way to the correct person. Without the panel members listed, your eForm application will not be processed and the application will just sit in limbo until the panel information is updated. If you do not have a Chair of Panel or Primary Supervisor listed you must let the HDR Administrator know so that they can update your supervisory panel information in the student system so that it appears in ISIS.

Any request dated from 'today' onwards can be processed via eForms and can be submitted 3 months in advance, no more. If you are making a 'retrospective' application or request, e.g., you want to apply for leave that you have already taken, or you want to backdate something, then you will have to fill out a paper form, in which case you should contact the HDR Administrator.

The following functions are included in MMD eForms:
  • Apply for leave
  • Change enrolment (add or drop coursework courses)
  • Apply for extension of program
  • Apply for extension of scholarship
  • Change of intensity (full or part time)
  • Voluntary discontinuation or program withdrawal
  • Apply for extension of eCOE (electronic confirmation of enrolment)

See below for information relating to specific eForms.

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. A panel is comprised of at least three people. You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding unless your panel has been appointed and your TPR approved.

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/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 unless your annual plan has been submitted.

Mandatory research integrity training

All students must complete research integrity online training within six 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 eligible for Crawford HDR student funding until you have successfully completed your research integrity.

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 all coursework is completed.

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 repeat Thesis Proposal Reviews are 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.

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 your TPR.

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.

NOTE: New students combine their first annual report with their first PhD thesis seminar presentation.

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. You will not be eligible for Crawford HDR student funding unless your annual reports are up-to-date.

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

Second PhD thesis seminar presentation (aka Mid-Term Review)

The second PhD thesis seminar presentation (aka Mid-Term Review) 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.

Milestone submission can be found via your ISIS account by following
  • Main Menu > ISIS > Research > Research Reports > Begin eForm.

Third 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

You will not be able to graduate until this milestone is achieved. Kinda important.

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.

Program and scholarship leave (aka 'suspension of program')

If you are unable to pursue your research program for personal or professional reasons, you may take leave from the program. This is not the same as Annual leave.

Any program and/or scholarship leave must be formally approved and an application should be submitted online well in advance of the date on which leave is envisaged to commence. You should write, in the first instance, to your supervisor explaining why you wish to suspend your course, and this should be endorsed by your supervisor. You should not assume that any request for leave will necessarily be supported. Be aware that unapproved leave could result in your being in breach of the conditions of admission or scholarship award or, for international students, your visa conditions. You can apply for a minimum of 7 days' leave or up to a maximum of 12 months' leave at a time. If more time is required, another online application needs to be submitted towards the end of the existing leave period. All applications for leave need to be approved by the chair of you panel and the Delegated Authority.

Scholarship leave is generally applied for when you apply for program leave. There is a section on the eForm application that asks you to list any scholarships you are on; this is because scholarships are not paid whilst you are on leave (except for paid medical leave), and payments need to be suspended for the duration of the leave. Things are slightly different if you are on an Endeavour award, in which case contact your Endeavour administrator.

The conditions for applying vary according to the type of scholarship you are on and whether you are an international or domestic student. International students must check their visa conditions and email the Office of Policy & Regulation before applying. You will be advised about the effect your leave may have on your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) and the possible consequences for your student visa. More information on visa requirements can be found on the International Office website.

More information about Research program leave can be found on the ANU's Postgrad research students website.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following
  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

Change to program intensity

If you are a domestic student, you can change from full-time to part-time study and vice versa. Commonly this occurs for health, family, or employment reasons. A change in program intensity should be discussed with the Chair of your supervisory panel. The application is approved by the Delegated Authority (the HDR Director). If you hold an APA or University scholarship you must remain full-time, or else you will forfeit your scholarship.

International students cannot normally change their program intensity.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following
  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

If the change being applied for is retrospective (i.e., the start date for the leave is earlier than 'today's' date), then you will need to contact the HDR Administrator.

Change of research program

It is possible to change your HDR candidature to another school or college within the University. If you believe that you would benefit from such a change, you should discuss the matter with the Chair of your supervisory panel and your area's HDR Convenor. If it is agreed that you should change research program, then you need to find a new Chair of Panel who will agree to take you on. You will then need to consult with HDR Administrator about which form to fill out and who it should be signed by. You will need to fill out the Application for Change of Research Program form.

Changes to research program can only become effective on four dates a year, i.e., there are quarterly restrictions on when you can move to another area. Contact the HDR Administrator for more information.

For more information, see the Research program change page at the ANU's Postgrad research students website.

Extension of program

If your thesis will not be completed and submitted by your maximum submission date, you must request an extension of program. This should be requested two to three months before the end-of-program date.

A request for extension of program can be made only on academic grounds, that is, it must be related to progress of the research, and you should not assume that any request for extension will be granted automatically. Indeed, a request for extension of program is unlikely to be granted unless you have completed all the relevant progress milestones to date and evidence has been provided of substantial progress on the thesis. There must also be a strong indication that your thesis will be completed and submitted within the period of extension requested. The maximum extensions that can be sought at any one time are 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time.

Extension of program and extension of scholarship are separate processes. You must take this into account if you are looking to extend either or both.

For more information on extensions, visit the Extension of a research program page page on the ANU's Postgrad research students website. Please note that you can only submit a program extension request via eForms if you have not gone past your maximum submission date; further, you can only apply via eForms if you are within 3 months of your program end date and not before. You are required to finish your PhD within 5 years (if you are full-time); this includes time taken for leave. You can apply for extensions after the 5-year limit, although the Delegated Authority might not approve your application.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following
  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

If the change being applied for is retrospective (i.e., the start date for the leave is earlier than 'today's' date), then you will need to contact the HDR Administrator.

Extension of scholarship

Stipend scholarships such as APAs and ANU PhD Scholarships are usually awarded for a period of three years with the expectation that PhD programs will be completed within that time. In exceptional circumstances the University may grant up to a six-month extension of scholarship but only 'where the research has been delayed by circumstances beyond the scholar’s control' and where those circumstances are related to the research rather than being of a personal nature. If you have another Australian government or ANU-funded scholarship, then you need to check the conditions of award. Three months before expiry of the scholarship, you must discuss with your supervisor whether or not you are likely to submit within this period, and if necessary begin without delay the progress of applying for a scholarship extension, in liaison with the HDR Administrator.

As noted above with respect to extensions of program, requests for extension of scholarship can only be made on academic grounds related to progress of the research and you should not assume that any request for extension will be granted automatically.

Extension of program and extension of scholarship are separate processes. You must take this into account if you are looking to extend either or both.

For more information, visit the Research scholarship information page on the ANU's Postgrad research students website.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following
  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

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 suspend your program 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.c