Doctoral Appointment of Examiners Policy and Procedures
University staff members involved in the appointment of examiners for doctoral examinations, other than the examination of coursework components of named doctorates.
To specify the policy and procedures that apply to the appointment of examiners for doctoral examinations, other than the examination of coursework components of named doctorates.
1. All examiners for doctoral examinations, other than the examination of coursework components of named doctorates, must be appointed by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).
2. Appropriateness, relevance and equivalence, where invoked in this policy and associated procedures, are determined by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).
3. Nominations for examiner roles are to be made with a view to an examination process that is rigorous, fair, impartial and timely.
4. Candidates must not be advised as to the identity of nominees for examiner roles or as to the identity of appointed examiners (except as allowed in the final stages of the examination process under the Doctoral Examination Procedures) or under the DocFA Submission and Examination Procedures where applicable).
5. Any breach of clause 4 may result in the nullification and reset of the examiner appointment and/or examination process.
6. All examiners must be research active and have an appropriate record of relevant research experience.
7. All examiners must be expert in the topic and/or methodology of the work under examination and be sufficiently experienced to evaluate whether or not the submitted work fulfils the requirements for the degree.
8. For PhD, MD, DHSc and EdD thesis examinations, examiners must be academics associated with an institution of appropriate standing or persons based in industry or research organisations.
9. Subject to clause 13, examiners for PhD MD, DHSc and EdD thesis examinations must hold one of those doctoral degrees (or an equivalent doctoral degree) and an appropriate record of published research.
10. Examiners for creative practice named doctorates (Doctor of Fine Arts, Doctor of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts) must hold a doctoral degree, or have equivalent expertise and experience; examiners must have an appropriate record of scholarly creative practice research outputs.
11. At least one examiner for a PhD that presents scholarly creative practice work as part of the thesis requirement must have appropriate experience in scholarly creative practice research.
12. Subject to clause 13, examiners for the Doctor of Clinical Psychology (”DClinPsy”) must hold a doctoral degree and be either academics associated with an institution of appropriate standing or in appropriate professional practice; examiners must hold an appropriate record of published research.
13. A nominee who does not hold a formal qualification in accordance with clause 9 or clause 12 may be appointed as examiner only where the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) is satisfied that the nominee’s publication record, research (and clinical achievements in the case of examiners for the DClinPsy) and experience of doctoral supervision and examination are equivalent to or greater than the requirements of clauses 8 and 9 (for PhD, MD, DHSc and EdD thesis examinations) or the requirements of clause 12 (for DClinPsy examinations). For the avoidance of doubt, this will be a highly exceptional circumstance.
14. At least one examiner must be based outside New Zealand.
15. There is no requirement for an examiner to be based in either New Zealand or Australia.
16. At least one examiner must be available to attend an oral examination in person if required by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).
17. Examiners must be available to satisfy any additional attendance requirements stipulated by the regulations for the creative practice named doctorates (Doctor of Fine Arts, Doctor of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts). Academic units are responsible for the costs of attendance pursuant to this clause.
18. Examiners must not:
- have been involved in the supervision of the candidate as a main supervisor, joint supervisor, co-supervisor or adviser
- be, or have 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 for this or any other degree
- be currently enrolled in a degree in the same subject and at the same level as that being examined
- currently hold any appointment, paid or honorary, at the University or have held such an appointment during the candidate’s enrolment in the degree under examination (other than thesis examination)
- have any current or previous familial or personal relationship with either the candidate or members of their supervisory team
19. Examiners must not normally:
- have been employed by the institution at which the candidate completed their qualifying degree (for the doctoral programme), in the same or a related discipline and at the time when the candidate was studying for their qualification
- be, or have been, involved in any substantial research collaboration with any of the candidate’s supervisory team within the last 5 years
- have been supervised by the candidate’s supervisor within the last 5 years
- have co-supervised with members of the candidate’s supervision team during the candidate’s enrolment
- be a graduate of the University in the same or a related discipline unless the examiner’s degree studies were completed prior to the candidate’s enrolment for the degree under examination
20. The Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may approve exceptions to the exclusions at clause 19, where the Board (or delegate) is satisfied as to the integrity and defensibility of the appointment with regard to conflict of interest as defined at clause 21.
21. Conflict of interest pertains to actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest, and the capacity for the performance of examiner duties to be biased, or reasonably perceived to be biased, by any other interest or experience.
22. All known information relevant to assessment of conflict of interest must be declared by the supervisor and Academic Head at the time examiners are nominated.
Note - Supervisors should consult the Postgraduate Examiner Conflict of Interest Guidelines prior to nominating examiners and make appropriate enquires with the nominees for examiner roles.
23. The Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) will assess all nominations in relation to clause 21, with a view to the integrity of the examination and the protection of all persons involved in the nomination, appointment and examination processes.
24. The Academic Head or the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may decline any nomination where they are not satisfied as to the appropriateness and/or defensibility of an appointment to an examiner role.
25. Over-reliance on a particular examiner by an academic unit will not be permitted.
26. The supervisor must approach potential nominees for the examiner roles informally as to their availability and willingness to serve as examiner.
27. Prior to nominating any persons, the supervisor must check with nominees:
- as to the nominees’ suitability to examine the thesis subject matter
- as to the nominees’ capacity to complete an examination report within 6 weeks of receipt of the thesis
- for any conflict of interest with the candidate or member of the supervision team
28. Supervisors may provide potential nominees with an abstract for the thesis or summary of thesis topic. Supervisors must not dispatch the thesis itself or advise a potential nominee as to the supervisor’s estimation of the quality of the work.
29. The supervisor will nominate two examiners via Wahapū, or via a Doc 3 where access to Wahapū has not been granted to a candidate.
30. The supervisor must provide a statement as to nominees’ suitability to serve as examiners in the respective case.
31. Candidates must not be advised as to the identity of nominees (or as to the identity of appointed examiners [except as allowed in the final stages of the examination process under the Doctoral Examination Procedures or under the DocFA Submission and Examination Procedures where applicable]).
32. Any breach of clause 31 may result in the replacement of the relevant nominee(s)/examiner(s).
33. The Academic Head will then support or decline one or more of the two nominations.
34. Where the Academic Head supports both nominations, the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) will assess the nominations, all material supplied by the supervisor and Academic Head and any other material relevant to the nominations. The Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) will then either appoint or decline one or more of the nominated persons.
35. Where a nomination is declined, the nomination and appointment process will recommence for that examiner role.
36. Where an appointed examiner, at any stage in the examination process, declares themselves, for any reason, unsuitable for the role or unable to proceed with the examination (within an acceptable timeframe), the examiner will be recused and the nomination and appointment process will recommence for that examiner role.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic Head refers to the head of the academic unit in which the candidate is enrolled or their nominee.
Academic unit refers to the faculty, large scale research institute, school or department in which the candidate is enrolled.
Candidate refers to a candidate for a doctoral degree at the University.
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
Supervisor refers to the (acting) main supervisor or joint supervisor.
Thesis is a substantial presentation of the outcome of an original and coherent doctoral research project. It situates the research in the broader framework of the disciplinary field(s), and entails a cohesive written document.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Wahapū is the University’s online doctoral candidature management system.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
Document management and control
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies, Senate and Council
Date approved: October 2021
Review date: October 2024