Monday, August 29, 2011

Practical procedures to help Ph.D students

Most universities now have various procedures that graduate students have to complete to continue with their research degree. At UQ there are three milestones: confimation, mid-candidature review, and thesis review.

I consider that the more rigorous, organised, and disciplined the process, the more helpful it is for the candidate and the more effective it is at preventing problems.

By far the most important milestone is confirmation of candidature after one year of enrolment. It should include writing a literature review, giving a seminar, an interview with the confirmation committee, and written feedback to the candidate from the committee. It is important that this stage is implemented with rigorous deadlines. Otherwise things can get drawn out, students coast, and problems get even worse. The student should go thru the process within 12 months (for full-time students). Weak students may be given a 6 month extension with specific goals to meet. If they do not, their candidature should be terminated. This difficult step can save everyone concerned a lot of wasted time if an unsuitable student is allowed to continue.


  1. 1) i totally agree. my personal experience is that the further you get, the less people care unless you are lucky enough to have an adviser that shepherds you through with diligence. if the student isnt very self-directed the system fails. makes me wonder when i read books like 'outliers' if the 10,000 hrs are somehow wasted away with bad management for the non-truly-passionate in grad school...

    do you take requests?
    can you talk about going from a research dependent (when your projects are fed to you) to someone able to write single author papers? no magic bullet but maybe some useful habits or something.

  2. Thanks for the request. I just posed something on the subject. I hope it is helpful.