One of the cliched things that well-meaning people say to PhD students is that it’s important to remember that the PhD is ultimately an exam with specific criteria for passing. These criteria are fairly consistent across university systems, but also include quite a lot of subjective judgement. For instance, who decides whether a contribution is ‘original’ or ‘significant’? The simple answer is: your examiner.
Last month there was a workshop here at The Open University (UK) for PhD supervisors and examiners. Because our team were in Cape Town attending OE Global and running the annual GO-GN seminar it wasn’t possible for us to go. However, the organisers have kindly shared the materials from the session. These are likely to be of interest to all PhD students who wish to get a better understanding of how the examination process works.
- Lovitts (2007) What is a significant contribution?
- Lovitts (2007) Understanding dissertation quality
- Lovitts (2007) What is an original contribution?
- Moses (1985) Reading the Drafts
- Research Supervisors Forum (The Open University, UK) – Expectations and preparing for examination
- Research Supervisors Forum (The Open University, UK) – Supporting students during the writing up phase
- Faulkner (2017) Supporting Students During the Writing-Up Phase
The specific examination requirements of individual institutions can vary, but the underlying principles are pretty consistent across institutions. It’s worth trying to read your own work from the perspective of an examiner, and also worth thinking about whether your supervision is meeting the standards described in these documents.
Please note that these materials are provided ‘as is’ and for information only. Feel free to discuss them below!