"Fail better": doctoral examination and the creative field

Jen WEBB, Sandra BURR, Donna Lee Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anyone working in the creative arts is likely to have to deal with ‘failure’ at some stage. This paper briefly outlines the rhetoric associated with the concepts of success and failure, and then moves to how these terms and the values associated with them are applied in the process of examination. We critique the pervasive focus on ‘positive’ results, and posit what may be alternate ways to think about creative processes and their outcomes. Drawing on data gathered for an Australian government funded project, ‘Examination of doctoral degrees in creative arts: process, practice and standards’, we discuss failure in the light of current examination practices and processes in the creative arts, and from the point of view of candidates, supervisors, examiners and research higher degree administrators. We provide definitions for ‘failure’ in this context, and explore whether – and how – failure can be useful in doctoral level creative arts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue numberOctober
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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