Milestones for HDR Students

Milestones for HDR students

As a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student, you will undertake 3 performance-appraisals in the course of your research thesis. The University of Queensland calls these performance-appraisals ‘milestones’. The 3 milestones are Confirmation, Mid-candidature Review, and Thesis Review. Each milestone takes place at a set time in your candidature. See HDR milestone timelines.

Purpose:

Milestones help you to write the best possible HDR thesis and to finish it on time. Performance-appraisals test whether your research project continues to be viable and whether you are employing an appropriate method. Milestones assist you in refining your project-design and your arguments. They encourage you to work steadily on your research thesis instead of leaving all the writing to the last minute. Your milestone is also a chance for you to reflect appropriately on the professional development that you could do before your next milestone or the submission of your thesis.

Process:

There are specific requirements for each milestone. However, each milestone will consist of 3 components: written work, an oral presentation, and an interview. Some milestones will require that you deliver a public presentation of your research. At least 14 days before any milestone, you must email your milestone documents to the members of your milestone committee and the School’s HDR Liaison Officer (HLO). Your principal advisor should approve your milestone documents prior to your circulating the documents to your committee.

Your milestone committee will consist of your advisory team, the Discipline’s Research and Research Training (RRT) Advisor and in some instances an additional staff-member or honorary member of the School. On the basis of your milestone components, committee members will decide whether or not you meet the milestone’s specific performance criteria.

You will be told the outcome of your milestone in a letter from your milestone committee. If you do not meet the performance criteria for a given milestone, the letter from your committee will advise what you need to do in order to pass and you will be given a date when the milestone will run again. Therefore you get two chances to attain each of your milestones.

Once you attain your milestone, you will need to submit a request for attainment of milestone through your student portal. Upload the feedback letter from your milestone committee as evidence that you have passed.

If you have questions about the milestone process or milestone extensions, talk to your HDR Liaison Officer. If you have questions about the academic expectations and content of your milestone materials, it is best to discuss this with your advisory team or RRT Advisor.

Read the information below detailing Confirmation, Mid-candidature Review, and Thesis Review.

Confirmation

The first milestone is confirmation. Full-time HDR students are expected to attain their confirmation milestone within 6 months of commencement if doing an MPhil, or within 12 months of commencement if doing a PhD. See HDR milestone timelines for part-time variations and additional information.

Prior to this milestone you must obtain your principal advisor’s approval of the following documents and then email the documents to the members of your milestone committee and the School’s HDR Liaison Officer (HLO) hdr.hapi@enquire.uq.edu.au at least 14 days before your milestone meeting:

  1. Your HDR portfolio with all sections filled in
  2. A thesis chapter of at least 5000 words for a PhD or 2500 words for an MPhil
  3. The text of your seminar.

As part of your confirmation, you will give a public seminar of 30 minutes (20 minutes for the paper and 10 minutes for questions). Afterwards your milestone committee will interview you for at least 15 minutes. The members of this milestone committee are your HDR supervisors, the Discipline’s Research and Research Training (RRT) Advisor and another staff-member or honorary member of the School, so there are at least four people on your confirmation milestone committee.

In order to attain your confirmation, you need to demonstrate to the committee members that you meet all of the following performance-criteria: 

  1. You have a sharply defined research project with clear parameters.
  2. Your proposal is viable within the scope of a PhD or MPhil.
  3. Your method is appropriate for realising your project.
  4. You are engaging with current scholarly debates pertaining to your field of research.
  5. Your project has logically developed since your commencement.
  6. You have a high-quality draft of at least 1 thesis-chapter of no less than 5000 (PhD) or 2500 (MPhil) words.
  7. You are appropriately considering your training needs in research-related and generic skills.

 

Mid-candidature review

The second milestone is the mid-candidature review. Full-time HDR students are expected to undertake their mid-candidature review within 6 months of confirmation if doing an MPhil, or within 12 months of confirmation if doing a PhD. See HDR milestone timelines for part-time variations and additional information.

Prior to this milestone you must obtain your principal advisor’s approval of the following documents and then email the documents to the members of your milestone committee and the School’s HDR Liaison Officer (HLO) hdr.hapi@enquire.uq.edu.au at least 14 days before your milestone meeting:

  1. Your HDR portfolio with all sections filled in
  2. A thesis chapter of at least 5000 words for a PhD or 2500 words for an MPhil that is different from the chapter that you submitted for your confirmation
  3. The draft of your thesis as it currently stands as one consolidated Word document
  4. The text of your seminar.

This milestone requires you to give a second public seminar of 30 minutes (20 minutes for the paper and 10 minutes for questions). Afterwards you will have an interview of at least 15 minutes. The members of your milestone committee are your HDR supervisors and the Discipline’s RRT Advisor.  

In order to attain your mid-candidature review you need to demonstrate to the committee members that you meet all of the following performance-criteria:

  1. You continue to have a sharply defined research project with clear parameters.
  2. Your project remains viable within the scope of a PhD or MPhil.
  3. Your method remains appropriate for realising your project.
  4. You continue to engage with currently scholarly debates pertaining to your field of research.
  5. Your project has logically developed since your confirmation.
  6. You have a high-quality draft of at least 2 thesis-chapters of no less than 5000 (PhD) or 2500 (MPhil) words each.
  7. You have a rough draft of at least 30 percent of your thesis.
  8. You continue appropriately to consider your training needs in research-related and generic skills.

 

Thesis review

The third and final milestone is the thesis review. Full-time HDR students are expected to undertake thesis review within 6 months of mid-candidature review if doing an MPhil, or within 12 months of mid-candidature review if doing a PhD. See HDR milestone timelines for part-time variations and additional information.

Prior to this milestone you must obtain your principal advisor’s approval of the following documents and then email the documents to the members of your milestone committee and the School’s HDR Liaison Officer (HLO) hdr.hapi@enquire.uq.edu.au at least 14 days before your milestone meeting:

  1. Your HDR portfolio with all sections filled in
  2. A thesis chapter of at least 5000 words for a PhD or 2500 words for an MPhil that is different from the ones that you submitted as part of your first two milestones
  3. The draft of your thesis as it currently stands as one consolidated Word document.

For the thesis review you are required to give a presentation of 10 minutes about your HDR thesis to your milestone committee. This committee consists of your HDR supervisors and the Discipline’s RRT advisor. The chair of this committee may invite other school-members to join it. After your presentation committee-members will interview you for at least 30 minutes. This milestone committee will ask you as many as possible of the following 10 questions:

  1. What are the most original parts of your thesis?
  2. How does your thesis advance knowledge or thinking in your field of research?
  3. Why did you choose this topic for your PhD or MPhil thesis?
  4. How did the focus of your research change over time?
  5. What are the most-important methods that you employed in your thesis?
  6. Why did you choose these methods over others?
  7. How does the evidence that you collected or the set of sources that you studied support your conclusions?
  8. How do your results confirm or contradict the consensus in your field of research?
  9. What is the significance of your thesis for future research in this field?
  10. Do you have a follow-on or postdoctoral research project in mind?

You will attain your thesis review milestone if you demonstrate to this milestone committee that you meet all of the following performance-criteria:

  1. Your thesis meets the standard for a PhD or MPhil.
  2. Your thesis clearly engages with current scholarly debates pertaining to its field of research and contributes to such debates.
  3. Your project has logically developed since your mid-candidature review.
  4. You have a complete or near-complete draft of the whole thesis.
  5. You are clearly going to submit within 3 months, if you are doing a PhD on a full-time basis, or within 6 weeks, if your thesis is an MPhil.
  6. You continue appropriately to consider your training needs in research-related and generic skills.
Once you pass your thesis review, you are expected to submit your thesis for examination within 3 months if you are doing a PhD full-time or within 6 weeks if you are doing an MPhil full-time. If you are enrolled part-time, you are expected to submit your PhD thesis 6 months after thesis review or your MPhil thesis 3 months after thesis review.

See the Graduate School’s website on preparing your thesis for submission and examination.