School of
Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Confirmation is considered a key milestone of PhD & MPhil candidature.  The aim of this milestone is to determine whether a research proposal has the potential to translate into a good quality dissertation within the timeframe of candidature.  Through this process, the candidate will have the opportunity to demonstrate their research achievements to date as well as explore the potential outcomes of their project. 

The confirmation process provides the candidate with the opportunity to show the Confirmation Committee that they are able to disseminate their research effectively, both in written and oral formats; It also assists the candidate in affirming that they are undertaking a worthwhile project that will contribute knowledge in their chosen field of research.

The confirmation process also provides a valuable medium upon which a candidate can review their own work.  The expert panel of academics assembled may be able to provide the candidate with useful and constructive feedback on the research, its feasibility and direction.  The panel may help identify problems and difficulties that could hinder the successful completion of the project and provide guidance on possible research directions and resources that can enrich a candidate's project.

Timing
  • PhD: 9 -12 months after commencement for full-time candidates, 18 - 24 months for part-time candidates.
  • MPhil: 4 - 6 months after commencement for full-time candidates, 8 - 12 months for part-time candidates.
Deliverables
  • Written Report.
  • Oral Presentation: 30-40 minutes (presentation of report & plan) followed by questions and answers.
  • Interview with the Confirmation Committee.
Assessment Process
  • Completion of the ITEE Confirmation Form.
  • Prepare a concise (up to 10 pages) written report that needs to be submitted to the committee.  This report will be assessed by the Confirmation Committee, who will provide written feedback:
    • Report is acceptable - with or without minor amendment
    • Report is not acceptable and requires major amendments or needs to be re-written.
  • When the report has been passed as acceptable by the Confirmation Committee the candidate will make an oral presentation on the project of 30-40 minutes duration.
  • The candidate will then be expected to verbally defend their proposed research project to the satisfaction of the Confirmation Committee.
  • If the candidate's written report or oral presentation is judged as not acceptable on two occasions by the Confirmation Committee, the student's candidature may be subject to either conversion to Masters or termination proceedings.
  • Note - the intention of the Confirmation Committee is to provide feedback similar to that given when reviewing an ARC grant application, international journal or conference publication.  The page limit on the report is designed to encourage the candidate to develop a clear and concise writing style and to enable feedback from all committee members in a timely fashion.  The recommendation from the committee is communicated to the candidate by the Chair in consultation with the Confirmation Committee.
  • Completion of milestone attainment request in the Candidature Management Portal. Please ensure you upload the above supporting documents into the portal as attachments to your request.
Recommendations
  • Milestone achieved
  • Extension of milestone
  • Review of candidature as per Graduate School guidelines

The Confirmation Committee

A Confirmation Committee will be formed by the candidate's Principal Advisor or Co-Advisors and will be approved by the School's Postgraduate Coordinator. The Committee generally consists of:

  • The candidate's advisory team (including all associate advisors).
  • Two colleagues from the candidate's research group:
    • One of these research colleagues will chair the Confirmation Committee and act in the role of Chair of Examiners when the candidate submits their thesis.
    • The chairperson, who will act as the independent internal examiner, cannot therefore be a member of the candidate's advisory team.
  • A minimum of one (but preferably two) research group leaders from outside the candidate's research group (or nominated senior staff from other research groups).

The role of the Confirmation Committee is to assess how the candidate is progressing within their candidature.  They also need to assess the candidate's academic potential to successfully complete their studies. The Committee will consider the following in their deliberations:

  • The scope of the project:
  • Has a feasible research project been proposed?
  • Has the candidate developed clear goals & objectives?
  • Will the conceptual framework, design and methodology of the project address the research questions?
  • Is the project viable within the given timeframe?
  • Does/will the candidate have access to the resources needed to complete the study?
  • Does the supervisory team have the appropriate academic expertise and background to advise the candidate?
  • Does the candidate have, or are they able to acquire, the requisite skills to undertake the project?
  • Is the standard of written and oral communication satisfactory?
  • Has the candidate demonstrated capacity to effectively report original research?
  • Is the candidate able to critically evaluate research literature and develop a theoretical framework for the research?
  • How will the research make an original contribution to knowledge in the field?
The Written Report

FORMAT:

  • 12pt font - Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Single spacing.
  • Maximum of 10 pages (not including the timeline, bibliography, publications list or appendices).
  • Submitted as an electronic version only (preferably as a PDF).

SECTIONS:

Section A - Title of thesis

Section B - Abstract (maximum of 1 page)

  • Outlines what problem or gap in the research that the work addresses.
  • Explains the importance of addressing the issue.
  • Outlines how the investigation was/will be undertaken Provides an overview of what was found/ is expected to be found and what it signifies.

Section C - Introduction (between 3-6 pages)

  • Introduces the subject and rationale for the research project.
  • Describes the context of the research (e.g. industry support, team structure and collaborators).
  • Outlines the broad research question/s or hypothesis being addressed.
  • Critically reviews the relevant research and theory to establish:
    1. Why the particular approach has been taken.
    2. How the work will contribute to knowledge in the field.

Section D - Methodology (between 2-3 pages)

  • Provides an outline of the methodological approach including a theoretical justification of the approach.
  • Describes any analytical techniques and research designs, if appropriate.

Section E - Outcomes (between 2-3 pages)

  • Describes the results to date and expected outcomes of future studies.
  • Discusses the findings.

Section F - Timeline for completion of thesis (between 2-3 pages)

  • This must include a clear plan for the completion of experiments, write up of papers (including a targeted list of suitable journals and conferences) and write up of the thesis.

Section G – Bibliography

Section H - Copies of publications produced during candidature

Section I - Other Appendices

  • For example: tables of results, comprehensive literature review, annotated bibliography, ethics applications, intellectual property agreements.
  • Must not include any material that is required to be read to understand or appreciate the main body of the report.
Oral Presentation & Defence

All candidates are expected to present their work to the Confirmation Committee.  The presentation should include:

  • A brief introduction to the research question and the project aims.
  • The candidate's contribution to the research field.
  • An explanation of the methodological approach.
  • A review of the research findings to date and what they mean.
  • A description of how the project will be completed.

After the presentation, the candidate will be expected to field questions from the panel.

Tips - Preparing for Confirmation

Writing:

  • Start early.
  • Try to formulate a plan for your report at the end of your first 4-6 months of candidature.  This plan will change as your understanding develops, however it will form a base upon which you can develop your research strategy.
  • Talk to your supervisors about the confirmation process - make sure that you have a good understanding of the expectations and specific school requirements.
  • Spend some time to work out a feasible and detailed timeline.  Consider carefully the implications of each task and what will be needed to accomplish them before assigning a timeframe for completion.

Presentation:

  • Try and attend other confirmation seminars within the School. This will help you to become familiar with the format of both the presentation and oral defence.
  • Develop your presentation skills by seeking out opportunities to give seminars or talks.
  • Practice your talk several times in front of your supervisors and peers. They will be able to give valuable feedback, both on the content and on your presentation skills.

The Defence:

  • Consider carefully what questions the panel might ask so that you are able to adequately defend your research.
  • Don't be afraid of the process. Confirmation is the first opportunity you will get to receive feedback from a wider audience on your research. Although feedback can be daunting, try to remember that the panel's objective is to inform and develop your research.
Resources

Writing:

  • How to Write a Thesis: A Working Guide by R Chandrasekhar (2002) -http://ciips.ee.uwa.edu.au/pub/HowToWriteAThesis.pdf
  • D. Lindsay, A Guide to Scientific Writing.  Melbourne, Australia: Addison Wesley Longman Australia, 2nd ed., 1997
  • Monash University - How to write a thesis - http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/hdr/write/5.1html
  • Writing a Literature Review - Bryant, J., Campbell, A.J., Chan, A., Devonshire, E., Hughes, I., Mahony, M.J., Neville, V. & Saetherskar, T.A. (2003)
  • A structured approach to presenting theses: notes for students and their supervisors by Chad Perry 2002 -http://users.ugent.be/~dgosseli/Presentations/PhD-Thesis-Approach.pdf

Presenting:

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