Postgraduate Examiner Conflict of Interest Guidelines
Examiners of doctoral theses and masters research theses/portfolios (of 90 points or more) and University staff members involved in the appointment of examiners.
To avoid any substantive conflict of interest, or perception of conflict of interest, between parties involved in thesis and research portfolio examinations.
The independence of examiners is critical to the quality of the examination process. Listed below are examples of different types of conflict of interest that may arise in the examination process. This list is indicative and should not be considered to be exhaustive. Some potential conflicts are of a lesser nature (marked *) and must be declared but may not preclude appointment.
1. Personal, legal, professional and social conflicts:
- Examiner is a relative, friend, associate or mentor of the candidate, or a relative or close friend of a member of the supervisory team
- Member of the Examination Committee or chair of the oral examination is a relative of the candidate or a member of the supervisory team
- Examiner or member of the Examination Committee or chair of the oral examination has an existing or previous personal or legal relationship (i.e. marriage, de-facto, civil union, co-resident, common household, legal family, guardian or dependent) with the candidate or a member of their supervisory team
- *Examiner or member of the Examination Committee or chair of the oral examination has, or has had, a professional, business or social relationship with the candidate
- *Examiner has, or has had, a business relationship with a member of the supervisory team
2. Conflict in working relationship between external examiner and candidate:
- Examiner has been involved in the supervision of the candidate as supervisor, co-supervisor or adviser
- Examiner is, or has been, involved in any research collaboration with the candidate or provision of advice to the candidate beyond a minor consultative role on some aspect of the candidate’s research
- Examiner has employed the candidate or been employed by the candidate, or is in negotiation to employ or be employed by the candidate, or has acted as a referee for the candidate
- *Examiner has been employed by the institution at which the candidate completed their qualifying degree, in the same or a related discipline and at the time the candidate was studying for their qualification
3. Conflict in working relationship between examiner and supervisory team:
- Examiner was a candidate of a member of the supervisory team within the last 5 years
- Examiner has co-supervised with a member of the supervisory team within the last 5 years
- Examiner is or has been involved in substantial research collaboration with a member of the supervisory team within the last 5 years
- Examiner had directly employed or been employed by a member of the supervisory team within the last 5 years or is in negotiation to directly employ or be employed by a member of the supervisory team
4. Conflict of external examiner with the University:
- Examiner is currently in negotiation with the University regarding a work contract (other than thesis examination)
- Examiner currently holds an appointment, paid or honorary, at the University or has held such an appointment during the candidate’s enrolment in the degree under examination (other than thesis examination)
- Examiner has graduated from the University in the last 5 years
- Examiner has/had a formal grievance with the University
5. Conflict with examiner over subject matter:
- Examiner has a direct commercial interest in the outcome of the research
6. Conflict between examiners:
- Examiner works in the same institution as another examiner
- Examiner is married to, or is closely related to, or has a close personal relationship with another examiner.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Examination Committee refers to the committee formed for the purpose of considering the examiner/s evaluations of theses and portfolios. The composition of the committee varies according to the type of thesis under examination (see PhD Statute for composition of doctoral theses examination committees and the Instructions to Examiners and Assessors for masters theses/portfolios).
Chair of the oral examination is the person appointed by the Board of Graduate Studies to act as an independent chair of a doctoral oral examination. The chair must be a member of the academic staff of the University, but will not be a member of a faculty in which the candidate is registered.
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
Document management and control
Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate studies
Date approved: March 2018
Review date: March 2021