Choice of Topic
You are strongly encouraged to consult with academic staff in your chosen discipline prior to submitting an application for admission, to explore options regarding research projects which can be supported.
You are encouraged to consult widely within your chosen School in order to arrive at a suitable choice of topic for research. Wider consultation may be necessary in the case of interdisciplinary programs. Your description of the research topic must be available by the end of the first semester of enrolment in the case of a Masters program and by the end of the second semester of enrolment in the case of a Doctoral program.
Your Head of School will be responsible for advising your Assistant Dean Research Training of the research topic chosen.
Prior to admission, your Head of School will also discuss with you and your nominated supervisor the resources needed to pursue your proposed research. Your Head of School will advise your Assistant Dean Research Training on the suitability of your proposed research topic, both in terms of availability of supervision and of resources, and the likelihood of the research topic satisfying the requirements of your proposed degree in terms of depth of study and duration of your program.
Any special requirements of your project, such as access to equipment or support from external sources, should be clearly indicated in writing to all concerned.
Preparation of the Research Plan
The type of research plan you adopt and the time frame for that plan will depend on a number of things such as your level of experience, the discipline in which you are working and whether you are carrying out Masters or PhD level research. The plan presented below, prepared through the Learning Support Program, is a sample one which is not specific to any particular discipline or degree and does not contain a definite time-frame.
Remember that every step of your plan needs to be devised and undertaken with the support and direction of your supervisor. The Learning Support Program can provide assistance for certain aspects of the preparation of your plan. Remember also that research plans are unlikely to be carried out as smoothly as this one suggests. You can expect to reassess and reorganise some aspects of your plan, for example, the time frame, a number of times over the course of your research.
|Define area of interest|
|Carry out an initial literature survey of that area|
|Refine area of interest - isolate an area which needs more research/find a niche for your own research|
|Define/construct your research question||This step may have to be repeated. At this point, and beyond, you may benefit from having a mentor with whom you can discuss your work|
|Estimate the components of the work ahead of you and map out a timetable which takes realistic account of each component|
|Carry out detailed research|
|Analyse results and assemble arguments into a logical discussion||Try to find a coherent theme for your thesis|
|Organise thesis dissertation into chapters/sections|
|Write up first draft||At this stage, have someone knowledgeable read your draft|
|Re-draft||A third draft is not unusual|
|Binding||Printing, collating and binding may take several weeks|
Preparation of the Thesis and its Submission
It is your responsibility to notify your supervisor, Head of School and the Office of Graduate Studies of your intent to submit the thesis, at least two months before the anticipated submission date. Failure to do this may delay the examination process. A form is available from the Office of Graduate Studies.
Upon receipt of this advice, the Office of Graduate Studies will initiate appointment of examiners for the thesis and provide you with a copy of the Thesis Examination Guidelines and the Thesis Examination Application form (Word).
Responsibility for the general organisation and composition of the thesis rests with you, and you must discuss it with, and note the comments of, your supervisor. Your supervisor must see the thesis in final form and content prior to submission.
- Your thesis should be written in English unless otherwise approved by your Assistant Dean Research Training prior to submission; it should be your own account of the research undertaken;
- Your thesis should be of a form consistent with the normal publication requirements of your discipline. This will require that references be correct and cited in a consistent and accepted manner. Errors in spelling or of a typographical or syntactical nature should not occur;
- In the creative and performing arts, your thesis may primarily consist of items such as an exhibition, a design project, a portfolio of literary or musical compositions, a sequence of recitals or creative productions, however, on submission it must be accompanied by a substantial written work of critical analysis;
- Your thesis should conform to the University's requirements for typing, printing and binding, as set out in the document Thesis Examination Guidelines;
- Your thesis must also meet the requirements set out formally in the Rules Governing Research Higher Degrees and it is essential that you refer to those requirements.
Thesis by publication
A thesis may be submitted in the form of a series of published papers. Rule 50 of the Rules Governing Research Higher Degrees applies and states:
A thesis submitted in the form of a series of published papers shall conform to the following:
a) a full explanatory overview shall be included to link the separate papers and to place them in the context of an established body of knowledge;
b) a literature review shall be included;
c) if detailed data and descriptions of methods are not otherwise given, they shall be included as appendices;
d) the papers must be published, in press or submitted to scholarly media only, i.e. refereed publications classified by national journal rankings and refereed conference papers, however at least 50% of the papers must have been published. Papers published up to three years prior to enrolment may be included provided they were published in scholarly media and do not represent more than 50% of the total papers;
e) publications submitted for another degree may only be referred to in the literature review;
f) the number of papers submitted should be sufficient for the body of work to constitute a significant and original contribution to knowledge;
g) the candidate must be the lead author in at least 50% of the papers written in the time of their formal Research Higher Degree candidature. Any published paper of which the candidate is a joint author may only be included in the thesis provided the work done by the candidate is clearly identified. The candidate must include in the thesis a written statement from each co-author attesting to the candidate’s contribution to a joint publication included as part of the thesis. These statements must be endorsed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (or nominee).
h) the Head of School or Pro Vice-Chancellor may seek the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to include a paper that is outside the scope of these rules.
There is an information sheet on thesis by publication available to download.
Your supervisor is required to sign the Thesis Examination Application concerning the acceptability of the thesis for examination in terms of format, not content. This form is to accompany your thesis at submission, and relates only to the preparation and layout of the thesis and not to its academic content. If your supervisor does not certify your thesis as acceptable for examination, your Assistant Dean Research Training will decide whether or not to send your thesis for examination.
Three copies of a Masters thesis and four copies of a Doctoral thesis are required. A candidate awarded the degree is required to submit an electronic copy of the corrected thesis within one month of official notification of the examination outcome. The University will retain any soft bound office copies of the submitted thesis until such time as the final electronic copy is submitted to the University's institutional digital repository. The candidate has the option of lodging a hard bound copy with the University library.
Release of Thesis
Your thesis and its public availability are a necessary part of the research higher degree process, and normal library access should be allowed unless there are significant reasons for not doing so. The University wishes to encourage collaborative and contract research with private or public organisations outside the University and accepts that in order to do so, it may, in exceptional circumstances, be necessary to restrict access to some theses for a short period of time following submission. You or your supervisor may make application before submission to your Assistant Dean Research Training for approval of restriction of access for a limited period. Restriction is normally for one year but may be extended for an additional year in exceptional circumstances.
Acknowledgment of Collaboration
Your thesis on submission must contain a statement by you, endorsed by your supervisor, indicating that the contents of the thesis relate to your own work, taking into account normal candidate-supervisor relations. If any of your work has been done in collaboration with other researchers, or carried out in other institutions, this should be clearly indicated in your statement. It is recognised that collaboration is not necessarily a disadvantage to successful submission of the thesis in satisfaction of your program.
Submission of Thesis and Re-Enrolment
You must be enrolled at the time of submission of your thesis.
If your thesis is submitted before the census date of a given semester, you will be withdrawn from any courses for that semester (and for any future semesters by the Office of Graduate Studies).
If you are a creative arts student who has an exhibition or performance as part of your examination, you will be withdrawn from your course(s) as of that date.
If your thesis is submitted after the census date in a given semester, you remain enrolled for that semester and you are required to pay all fees and charges which may be due.
Semester 1 Census date: 31 March,
Semester 2 Census date, 31 August.
If you are an international student and submit your thesis before the census date, you will not be required to pay tuition fees. If you submit before April 30 / September 30 you will be required to pay 50% of your tuition fees for Semester 1 / Semester 2 respectively. If you submit after these dates you will be required to pay full tuition fees for the semester.
Your scholarship terminates on the expiry of the period for which your scholarship was granted, or 14 days after submission of your thesis, whichever is the earlier. If your scholarship provides for a thesis allowance, you should submit your claim with your thesis, or as soon as possible thereafter.
If you are an international student and wish to remain in Australia during the thesis examination process you need to contact DIMIA to clarify your visa status. It is not a requirement of the University of Newcastle for you to remain in Australia during this examination process.
Following the examining process you may be required to revise and resubmit the thesis for further examination within one year. During the time of revision you must be fully enrolled and your enrolment will be processed by the Office of Graduate Studies after confirmation from you of your preferred enrolment load (full-time or part-time). The examination of the revised thesis follows the same procedures as for the original thesis; the original examiners will be invited to assess the revised thesis.