Dancers

photo: Jon Green

Detailed Guidelines

Below is a detailed perspective on the complete examination process following the generic guidelines for doctoral examination produced by the Australian Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies, August 2005.5  
Because Australian higher degrees examination processes differ in some ways from those of elsewhere, their features need to be more widely understood and endorsed.  The most distinctive features are:

  • External, independent expert examiners to make written recommendations to the university on the acceptability of the thesis;
  • Processes are transparent and arm’s-length; and
  • The appointment of the best examiners available conditional on the parameters of studies which may involve ‘live’ performance/demonstration and thereby may diverge from the usual Australian requirement of international benchmarking.

In Australia, doctoral theses are examined by two or three examiners (at least one (masters) or two (doctorate) of whom must be external to the candidate’s university).  Each examiner independently submits a detailed written report on the thesis covering its component parts - practice and exegesis where applicable (multi-modal) - and makes a summary recommendation to the university’s Postgraduate Studies Committee, which considers all of the reports and makes a final decision concerning the award of the degree.  Most commonly, the candidate is required to make some amendments to bring the thesis (including components parts) to the highest possible standard before the university confers the degree.  
Crucially, the Australian doctoral examination is a formative process – “an exercise in giving feedback in an effort to assist the candidate in further developing and improving their work” (Mullins & Kiley 2001).  It is important to stress this to both examiners and candidates.

 

Guidelines Explanation/Comment

The doctoral thesis

In order to obtain a doctorate, a doctoral student presents, using one or more media, a substantial and intellectually coherent product or product(s) known as a thesis; comprising of a written dissertation or creative artefacts/processes and exegesis (multi-modal) for submission to external examination.

The thesis constitutes the material outcomes of a sustained program of research that has produced original findings. The thesis is the evidence upon which examiners evaluate the quality of the research and the candidate's ability to communicate the significance of the research and work as an independent researcher. 

The thesis constitutes a coherent and cogent argument and/or experimental investigation that communicates the significant aspects of research in practices, processes and writing undertaken in a period of time equivalent to three to four years of full time work. In a doctoral program, the thesis (including all component parts) is normally the sole basis on which the decision to award the degree is made and represents the major part of work executed in the program.

 

Prior to examination of theses

Candidates should be prepared for examination, informed of the criteria by which their theses will be evaluated and the form that the examination of their thesis will take.

 

Formal confirmations of candidature and exit seminars internally examine and even certify some elements of the candidate’s research. These neither preclude nor constrain the examiner’s autonomy.  Nevertheless, universities should advise examiners of the nature of the internal institutional processes that precede the formal examination and theses must identify any published/performed work by the candidate that is included in the thesis.

Presentation of thesis

Before the thesis is submitted for examination, the candidate (with the guidance of their supervisors) should ensure that a very high standard of scholarly and artistic (where applicable) presentation has been achieved.  This includes ensuring that the thesis:  

  • Presents a title/subtitle indicative of its content;
  • Includes an Abstract or Summary that gives a clear and accurate account of its main design/arguments, methodology/experimentation, and scope;
  • Uses academic and/or articulate language appropriate to the discipline (guided by journal/dance publications). In the case of multi-modal degrees, the purposes of the research may be served by the use of different voices/languages to convey the intention or even the argument of the investigation;
  • The written component is free of typographical and grammatical errors;
  • Any ‘live’ performance, process demonstration or artwork needs to be of a professional level of technical delivery coherent with the medium/media of presentation and the articulated resources of the study;
  • The final reproduction quality of performance and process documentation (usually digital) is sufficient to enable examiners (as a memory aid to ‘live’ components or as an artefact in itself) to assess all aspects of the work . Such documentation is preserved in the library as a record of the contribution to knowledge and stand as an example of the university’s standards;
  • Extraneous material does not detract from the presentation of the findings, research design and/or the argument; and
  • Universities should set upper limits on the length of written theses and exegesis components for each higher degree program they offer.

A thesis may, in most institutions, be presented in a digital format but once again coherency and clarity need to be guiding factors. Digital formats will become increasingly beneficial for dance studies in enabling audio-visual material to be included as citations or examples to illustrate investigations but as in written and performance components, digital formats need to acquire a technical level of execution that is exemplary and articulates the research for examiners and future researchers.

An important element of research training is the acquisition of skills in the scholarly and artistic presentation of research.  A masters or doctoral thesis must demonstrate these skills at a very high level.

Every discipline should provide candidates, supervisors, and examiners explicit technical guidelines for presentation in all components of a thesis.

Theses should be printed on both sides of the paper wherever practicable

Conciseness is an important element of good scholarly communication.  Over-length theses seldom find favour with examiners.  Material that is supportive of the main findings of the thesis may be placed in an Appendix; if lengthy, such material may be more usefully presented in an appropriate medium, such as CD/DVD.

Acknowledgement in the thesis of the work of others

Candidates must preface their thesis with a signed affirmation that, to the best of their knowledge, the thesis contains no material previously performed, published or written by another person except where due reference is made in the text of the thesis/exegesis.

  • Collaborations for performance/artworks are likely to be incorporated into the study, particularly but not limited to multi-modal theses. It is incumbent on the candidate to clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of each collaborator. Examiners must be fully aware of these contributions to make their assessment of the candidate’s achievements.
  • The Council’s Policy on Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors should be considered for adoption by member institutions.  http://www.ddogs.edu.au/cgi-bin/papers.pl?cmd=d&fid=33347

The candidate must also affirm that the material in the thesis has not been the basis of the award of any other degree or diploma except where due reference is made in the text of the thesis and formal permission has been received from the relevant university committee or officer.

 

Since the doctoral thesis is normally the sole basis for the award the degree and since the originality of the research is a defining feature of the doctoral degree, examiners must have all necessary information to be able to judge the extent to which the most significant work presented in the thesis is the candidate’s own.
Research in most disciplines is increasingly conducted in teams or by informal collaboration, and research candidates are encouraged to access assistance beyond their supervisory panel including technical, editorial, or statistical support provided by their university, external collaborators or even commercial providers. 

Universities should also establish clear guidelines for the amount of work done outside the supervised period of research that may be incorporated in the thesis. In dance, partnerships to resource professional performance are likely to come under consideration here. Such initiatives are acceptable as long as contributors are meticulously acknowledged.

 

 Examiners

Masters’ theses must be examined by two examiners at least one of whom is external to the university of presentation and doctoral theses must be examined by at least two examiners who are external to the university in which the thesis is presented. 

  • Each university should make public its criteria and its processes for the nomination and appointment of examiners.
  • Candidates must be given an explicit opportunity to provide a written list (giving reasons, wherever possible) of individual (and/or categories of) examiners who they believe would be inappropriate.
  • In some universities, candidates may be invited to participate in a discussion with their supervisors and other appropriate staff about the composition of a panel of names from which the examiners to be chosen by the university will be selected.

At the conclusion of the examining process, examiners should be

  • Formally thanked; and
  • Informed of the outcome of the examination, and sent (on request) de-identified copies of other examiners’ reports. This procedure can be a useful element in examiner training.

Dancing between diversity and consistency respondents observed that examiners ideally should possess the following attributes: an ability to be fair and assess work against the work’s stated research design; be conceptually discriminating and  intellectually flexible; have expertise in  the knowledge of the practice and/or area of research; be supportive in his/her collegial attitude and enthusiastic about innovation and risk-taking; have the  time and self-reflexivity to consider the work and be fearless.


Examiners perform a very significant service to the candidate, the university, to the discipline, and to the research community.  This should be borne in mind by the university when choosing examiners and communicating with them, and by examiners in accepting and fulfilling the duty.

The relationship between the university and examiners must always be professional and at arm’s-length.  The independence of examiners is a critical feature of the Australian doctoral examination.

Many universities recommend and/or mandate an international representative, however, while in many instances desirable, for multi-modal degrees restricted resources may prohibit international examiners being brought in to witness the ‘live’ performance/process component. Some universities are moving towards reliance on digital documentation as acceptable for one of the three examiners, however, consideration must be given to this method on a case-by-case basis.

 

Expertise of examiners

Expertise in the field of research is the principal consideration in the selection of examiners.
Examiners usually should have appropriate academic credentials (especially expertise in the research area and/or methodology of the thesis).
Multi-modal degrees highlight the relationship between academia and the professional dance industry, making a case for the integration of doctoral-qualified examiners to examine in parallel with expert practitioners from the industry. Some tension remains in this alignment due to different expectations of a university-based study from that of performances/artworks in the industry. However, it is recommended that expert practitioners can play a vital role in specific assessments and their participation is likely to support a continuing fluidity between the two sectors.  

A brief statement to the central committee (or officer) who approves examiner nominations that gives the reasons why each examiner is being nominated is recommended.

The statement of the reasons for nominating particular examiners may be useful when considering conflicting reports, particularly in the case of multidisciplinary theses.  Some universities require a statement only when expertise is not evident from the nature of an examiner’s current appointment.

Experience of examiners

Examiners should:

  • Normally hold a degree equivalent to that which they are examining; and
  • Have substantial recent research or relevant professional experience relevant to the thesis examination process: at least one member of each examining panel should have experience in the examination and/or supervision of Australian Masters/Doctoral theses.

 

The lack of an equivalent degree should not be an absolute disqualification but if one is not held, the university must be satisfied that the examiner has appropriate qualifications, expertise, and experience to examine research higher degree theses at this level.

 

Conflict of interest in the examination

It is crucial that all examiners act, and are seen to act, with integrity so that they can assure quality to the institution, to the research community, to the discipline, and to the public.

  • Before accepting a thesis for examination, examiners must be asked to declare that they have no conflict of interest with the candidate, supervisor, or project and
  • Examiners with readily identifiable conflicts of interest should not be nominated

Potential examiners who should be excluded (or decline to examine) include those:

  • Who have had substantial direct involvement in the candidate’s work;
  • Who believe they are likely to fail the thesis on the basis of the research paradigm or methodology;
  • Who have supervised this or another thesis by the candidate;
  • Who are close working colleagues of the candidate; and
  • Who have co-authored a paper or co-created an artwork with the candidate; or whose own work is the focus of the research project.
  • The supervisor must not be an examiner.

Where the candidate is also a staff member of the university (or has a close association with it), it is strongly recommended that all examiners be external to that university.

Conflicts of interest are more likely to become apparent to examiners if they are sent an abstract or summary of the main approach and findings of the thesis before agreeing to examine.  This is strongly recommended.

Universities should establish clear guidelines about what might constitute conflict of interest.  Some universities set a period (e.g., five years) that must have elapsed since an external examiner has had any formal attachment to, or significant presence in, the department or the location of the candidate’s research or employment.

Because good supervisors encourage candidates to present their work and to network with the relevant research community, it is likely that candidates may have met, and discussed some aspects of the thesis with, researchers who are subsequently nominated as examiners; these discussions may have contributed to the thesis.  This alone would not, prima facie, constitute conflict of interest.  “Substantial direct involvement” with the supervisor, candidate, and/or project is usually the test.

 

 

Oral examinations

Where oral examinations are mandated or optional, candidates must be informed:

  • At enrolment of their purpose, nature and the extent of their use; and
  • Of how, and under what conditions, they may be requested; and provided with good preparation for the event.

 

 

The additional use of oral examinations may be appropriate in some cases, but an oral examination must not in any case replace the formal written reports by examiners.

Oral examinations may be used to supplement the written reports to:

    1. clarify particular matters of concern,
    2. provide candidates with additional pedagogical experience

 

 

Confidentiality of the examination process

The thesis

Examiners must not divulge any (unpublished) content or findings of the thesis – before or after the examination – without the consent of the author.  The thesis under examination is a confidential document in whatever form in which it is presented.




The candidate

There must be no contact between candidates and examiners during the period in which the examiners are preparing their written reports; if inadvertent contact occurs, it is never appropriate to discuss any aspect of the thesis or its examination.

The examiners

Each examiner must submit an independent report.

In multi-modal degrees, examiners are likely to be assembled together for viewing performance or process. It is assumed that they will maintain professional etiquette and guard their independence on these occasions.

Where the university permits it, examiners may consult with each other only via an approved process (preferably through the Dean or Chair of the appropriate committee); and
after reading and witnessing the component parts of the thesis but before submitting their report.

If universities offer examiners the option of concealing their identity from the candidate, examiners should be informed that Freedom of Information legislation might limit the effectiveness of this option.



The Thesis

A thesis is sent to examiners for the sole purpose of examination and is a privileged document carrying obligations to preserve and protect its confidentiality.
Universities may offer candidates the option of an examination that is more formally confidential if legal, commercial, or cultural issues justify it. In this case, examiners will be required to sign an undertaking of confidentiality before receiving the thesis.

The Candidate

The involvement of students in the selection of examiners and/or the stage at which they are informed of the identity of their examiners varies between (and perhaps within) universities.  In the majority of Australian universities, the names of examiners are not revealed to the candidate during the examination. Examiners should be informed of the university’s practice.

The Examiners

The independence of examiners ­ from the university, the candidate, and each other is a keystone feature of Australian masters’ and doctoral examinations.
If consultation between examiners occurs, a statement of the nature and extent of the consultation should be reported to the university along with (but separate from) the examiners’ reports.
Examiners should consider very carefully before requesting anonymity, because the benefits of the Australian doctoral examination system include:

  • Inducting graduates into the research community; and
  • Providing networking opportunities for candidates; and transparency of process.

Duration of examination

When invited to examine, examiners must indicate their willingness and ability to submit their reports to the university in a timely manner.  If they are unable to do so:

  • The university should find another examiner; or
  • If the particular examiner is crucial to the examination, the student (and, if necessary the candidate’s funding body or employer) must be informed that there will be a delay.


If it becomes apparent that the original agreed return date cannot be met, an examiner must negotiate a realistic revised due date with the university as soon as possible.  If the new return date is significantly later than the original, the university should inform the candidate (and, if necessary the candidate’s funding body or employer) and give consideration to appointing a replacement (reserve) examiner.

Australian universities have a number of different protocols in place for the timing of submission of the different components of the thesis.

The general consensus attends to the philosophical intertwining of practice and writing and hence recommends a reasonable proximity between exposures to the two components for examiners, normally up to six months. Too big a gap does suggest a candidate may be disadvantaged even though some institutions maintain alternative procedures.

Visual arts’ academics tend to favour submission of the exegesis prior to the viewing of the art works but this procedure rules out the element of evaluative reflection that performance modes consider as integral to critical performance research. This variance is no doubt a by-product of the relative immediacy of spectator response in performance and, consequently should be understood as a discipline specific element of methodology.

Timing is probably the most vexing issue for candidates and administrators. The period of thesis examination is an extremely stressful time for candidates whose careers, job applications, promotions, and other significant life-choices depend upon a timely outcome. Examiners must be conscious of this when they agree to examine within the time requested by the university.

When examiners are appointed, at least one reserve examiner should be nominated.  If an examiner fails to meet the renegotiated return date or the proposed date is unacceptably late (considering the candidate’s circumstances), the university must consider using the reserve examiner or appointing a new one, although this alternative does not necessarily guarantee a timely conclusion to the examination.

 

Performance or the ‘live’ environment assessment/examination

Audience presence is a natural environment for performance and it is generally recommended that examination of the performance component takes place within that environment. However, this situation varies dependent on the study in question: a ‘live’ presentation of process may, for instance, be justifiably accommodated in a presentation solely for the examining panel.

The circulation of a ‘framing’ research design document, outlining the research questions, intentions and processes of the study is perceived as crucial to the examination process of any ‘live’ component. Examiners need to be given as clear a picture of what they are being asked to examine before witnessing the ‘live’ practice. It is the prerogative of individual examiners to choose to delay the reading of the ‘framing’ document if they so wish.

Interpretations/ideas may shift in the intervening time of evaluation - and be articulated in the written component/exegesis - but the original thrust of the research in practice plays a vital role in the examiners’ capacity to assess the research’s effectiveness and significance in performance/demonstration environments.

The criteria must enable an examiner to distinguish clearly in scope and quality between a doctorate and a research Masters degree. The university’s criteria may have discipline-specific addenda.

Criteria for the award of the degree

The university’s criteria for the award of its research higher degrees must be available to candidates, supervisors, examiners, and others.  The criteria should include:

  • Value of original contribution to knowledge in the field: its value to other researchers, originality, aesthetic insight/publishability, applicability, and (potential) impact;
  • Engagement with the literature and the work of others;
  • Grasp of methodology or processes of creation;
  • Capacity for independent, critical thinking; and
  • A coherent research program, including its experimental design, arguments and conclusions; quality of presentation, taking into consideration the limits of production resources.

 

The criteria must enable an examiner to distinguish clearly in scope and quality between a PhD and a research masters degree.  The university’s criteria may have discipline-specific addenda.

 

 

Examiners’ reports

  • Each examiner’s report must be sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to fulfil both the summative and formative objectives of the thesis examination. A report that is shorter than two pages is unlikely to serve these purposes.
  • The report should discuss both the strengths and the weaknesses of the thesis.
  • In multi-modal degrees, examiners should be encouraged to devote as much attention as is possible to the practice/s involved and to the integration of the practice and the writing.
  • While examiners recommend rather than determine examination outcomes, an examiner’s recommendation must not be overturned or overlooked lightly.
  • An examiner may submit a confidential addendum to the university.

Because the archival copy of the thesis ­– normally preserved in the university library – is, inter alia, a record of the university’s standards for the award of the degree, it is important that one outcome of the examination process is a thesis that reflects the university’s standards.
Candidates should:

  • Be given clear, written guidance about what must be done to make the thesis satisfactory for the award of the degree; and
  • Address all reasonable recommendations by examiners for the improvement of the thesis before the degree is conferred.

This requirement raises challenges for practice research, if involving compositional revisions because of resources needed to remount a performance and/or section of the performance. However, where revision can be made within workshopping conditions, such revision should be encouraged for the knowledge value to the researcher as well as for the discipline and subsequently documented as an addendum to the performance documentation.

 

Examiner reports are critically important:

  • summatively, to the university in reaching its decision about the outcome of the examination;
  • formatively, to the candidate in bringing the thesis to the highest possible standard for the award and in pursuing their future research, publications, and career.

The transparency of Australian doctoral examinations includes the provision of – in almost all circumstances – full copies (with examiners’ names concealed in some cases) to enable candidates to make their corrections and responses in full knowledge of the examiners’ assessment and as an enduring record for their own career files.

 

Examiners’ summary recommendations

Examiners’ reports must be accompanied by summary recommendation to the university’s decision-making bodies on the level of acceptability of the thesis.
It is recommended that the summary report offer examiners five un-numbered options:

  • Confer the degree without any amendments;
  • Confer the degree when minor amendments have been made and certified by a local authority (e.g., Head of School) within one to three months. For multi-modal degrees, the process may include adjustments to minor aspects of the performance/processes which should be duly documented and included in the final lodgement of the thesis;
  • Confer the degree when substantive amendments have been made and certified by a local authority, or by the examiner, within three to six months; or when questions submitted by the examiner to the university regarding the work in the thesis have been answered to the satisfaction of the examiner. Again, for multi-modal degrees, the process may include substantial adjustments to aspect/s of the performance/processes which if accepted should be duly documented and included in the final lodgement of the thesis;    
  • Revise the thesis, and after a period (12 months) of further research, substantial reorganisation, or reconceptualisation [including performance component where applicable], submit it for re-examination by (wherever possible) the examiners who recommended this outcome; or
  • Fail, with no opportunity to revise and resubmit.  An examiner making this recommendation may be asked to advise the university whether it might consider the award of a lower degree.

 


It must be clear to examiners that their summary recommendations provide guidance on what needs to be done rather than a summative score, grade, or rating for the thesis. To emphasise this to examiners and candidates, universities should avoid the use of (a), (b), (c) or numbered recommendations.

It is strongly recommended that examiners be told how long the candidate will normally be given to make each category of correction. The periods indicated here are the most common among Australian universities.

Universities must establish explicit and transparent processes for handling examiners’ recommendations and for reaching an agreed level of acceptability of the thesis. The responsibility for the acceptance of the thesis and the awarding of the degree lies clearly with the university.

 

Synthesis of instructions to candidate

When one or more examiners recommend substantive amendments to the thesis, the university should appoint an internal Chief Examiner (such as the Head of School or nominee) to work with the principal supervisor and candidate to produce an integrated list of revisions that must be made before the thesis is certified by a local authority, or by the examiner, or revised and resubmitted for re-examination.

 

 

Discrepant recommendations

Each university must make known to all parties (including examiners) before the examination begins its clearly enunciated transparent processes for handling discrepant examiners' recommendations.
If the delegated university-level committee or officer is unable to resolve discrepant recommendations, an additional examiner or an adjudicator should be appointed.
An adjudicator or an additional examiner must be a senior researcher in the field, and experienced in the assessment of Australian doctoral theses, and external to the university.

The internal process for resolving discrepant examiners' recommendations must involve a university-level committee or officer acting with or without submissions from supervisors, candidate, Head of School etc, as deemed appropriate.
There are two external processes in common use for resolving discrepant decisions:

  • An additional examiner, who receives the thesis but not the reports of previous examiners. The university must set out how the report of the additional examiner will be used to affect the outcome.
  • An adjudicator who, after reading the thesis and the examiners’ reports, advises the relevant university committee that will make the final decision.

 

Revised and resubmitted theses

A candidate is permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis when the university decides that:

  • It contains flaws that have the potential to affect its substantive conclusions; and
  • These flaws can only be remedied by a significant period of further research, rewriting, reorganisation and/or reconceptualisation; and
  • If the additional specified work is done satisfactorily, the thesis is likely to fulfil the requirements of the doctorate. 

It is therefore desirable that the re-examination be conducted by the examiners who originally made this recommendation and whose advice has formed the basis of the recommendations to the candidate for the remediation of the thesis.
The examiners of a revised and resubmitted thesis must be made aware of the:

  • University’s substantive advice to the candidate for the revision of the thesis (this might include copies of the original examiners’ reports and must include the integrated list of agreed revisions);
  • Comprehensive statement from the candidate outlining the substantive changes that have been made to the original thesis and a concise defence against any recommendations for changes that have not been accepted; and
  • University’s policies and procedures for dealing with revised & resubmitted theses.

 

 

The most difficult issue in relation to Revised & Resubmitted theses is the extent to which it is reasonable for examiners to raise new areas of substantive concern.

While a revised and resubmitted thesis is not normally regarded as being presented for an entirely new examination, it is certainly possible that the work done in the task of such a major revision might alter the substantive conclusions of the thesis.  

In such cases, new areas of substantive concern that would prevent the immediate award of the degree may become apparent. Irrespective of the specifications of the original examiners and the advice of the university committee, the revised and resubmitted thesis must satisfy the university’s criteria for the award of the degree.
If examiners’ reports on the original thesis are made available to other examiners, permission may need to be sought from the candidate (who might argue that they are prejudicial) and the examiners; at the very least, examiners need to be informed in advance that this is the university’s practice.

Australian universities do not normally permit a revised and resubmitted thesis to be revised and resubmitted a second time.

Examiner training

Training for inexperienced examiners should be provided as part of supervisor training programs.

Because of the relative ‘newness’ of multi-modal arts research, investigators of the Dancing Between Diversity and Consistency consider examiner training to be a priority and recommend the regular institutionally based workshops, mentorship programs, circulation of de-identified examiner reports and the development of examiner/ supervisor/postgraduate symposia to exchange ideas and foster critical articulation skills. These symposia should embrace academics/practitioners of the more traditional theses so as to benefit by the diversity of approaches in the discipline of dance.

 

Appeals

All research higher degree candidates must be made aware of the university’s appeals procedures. 

Appeals are normally directed to matters of process and not matters of academic judgment.  Quality of supervision is not a ground for appealing the outcome of a thesis examination.

 

The status of the thesis after the examination

  • It is a condition of the award of the degree that an enduring copy or record (“archival copy”) of all component parts of the thesis is provided to and retained by the university.
  • This copy will normally be in the public domain, normally now collated digitally by the Australian Digital Theses data-base.
  • Each university must have clear guidelines for considering requests to delay or limit access to a thesis (in whole or in part).
  • Only in very exceptional circumstances set out in the university’s guidelines, and with the approval of the appropriate university body or officer, should public access be delayed beyond a limited period.
  • The candidate must retain copyright in the thesis.

 


 

Doctoral theses are an important contribution to knowledge and therefore, wherever possible, the outcomes of that contribution should be disseminated. 
At the very least, a copy of the thesis (including an enduring record of all material assessed for the award of the degree) should be placed in the public domain: this is customarily in the university library. 
Increasingly, theses are made digitally available (in whole or in part) through, for instance, the Australian Digital Theses Project.

Reference

Tinkler, P. & Jackson, C. (2004) The doctoral examination process: A handbook for students, examiners and supervisors.   SRHE, Berkshire.

5 The original guidelines, adopted here to reflect nuances pertinent to dance studies, were developed by the Australian Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies, from surveys of members’ practices, and from several working parties.  The guidelines do not supplant the policies of individual universities, but seek to inform the further development of such policies.  In developing these Guidelines, the Council seeks to guide best practice.  It believes that greater commonality in practice among Australian universities will lead to greater clarity in the minds – and hence the recommendations – of examiners; and a greater assurance to candidates, examiners, the public, government and other funding bodies, and employers that the highest standards are maintained across the sector.