"It's a PhD, not a Nobel Prize": How experienced examiners assess research thesis

Gerry Mullins, Margaret Kiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Citations (Scopus)


Research to date on the examination process for postgraduate research theses has focused largely on the deconstruction of examiners' reports. This article reports on a study of the processes that experienced examiners go through, and the judgements they make before writing their reports. A sample of 30 experienced examiners (defined as having examined the equivalent of at least five research theses over the last five years), from a range of disciplines in five universities was interviewed. Clear trends emerged with regard to: the criteria used by examiners and the levels of student performance expected by them; critical judgement points in the examination process; the examiners' perceptions of their own role in the process; the influence on examiners of previously published work, the views of the other examiner(s) and their knowledge of the student's supervisor and/or department, and the level of perceived responsibility between student and supervisor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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