Annual Progress Reviews

In place of a review in absentia, part-time PhD students will now be required to undertake 30 minute review provided their previous review had not resulted in an unsatisfactory or marginal. In this shortened review, students will only make a brief statement on their progress. The panel will only comprise the PGC, expert reader and the main supervisor.

Each year, in keeping with GRS policy, the School convenes a review of the progress of each postgraduate research candidate. The School appoints a panel including the Postgraduate Research Co-ordinator (PGC) and one other member of the School (the “expert reader”). The candidate’s supervisor and co-supervisor (or joint-supervisor) are also expected to attend the annual progress review (or APR), but they are not members of the panel. It is a condition of continued enrolment in all research degrees (Masters and PhD) at UNSW that candidates participate in this review procedure.

Annual progress reviews are designed to help you complete your research degree on time by providing you with collegial quality feedback on your research throughout your candidature, and by identifying and remedying any problems that may be hindering the progress of your work.

For this reason most candidates find the experience interesting and rewarding rather than ‘testing’.

It is nonetheless an administratively complex process so please read the following carefully & follow the procedures.

Key Requirements for Annual Progress Review

In summary, for your review you will be required to:

1. submit a written paper and related documents to the review panel

2. complete an online Annual Progress Review form

3. attend a review meeting to present an oral report on your research

Further details on each are below.

1. Submission of written papers for the review

Word count

PhD candidates are expected to submit a 7000 word paper.

MA (Research) candidates are expected to submit a 5000 word paper.

In addition, the Annual Progress Review panel requires:

• a 350 word abstract of your thesis

• a chapter outline

• timeline for completion.

For first reviews these are folded into research proposal – see below. Please note that failure to produce all the above items may result in a marginal or unsatisfactory outcome.

All above documents are now provided by candidate online via the online review form system (see 2 below.) However, should you encounter any technical difficulties (or delays) in uploading your documents on the online review form system, please email them promptly to Anne Houtjes, our PG Administrator, at PGC-SOSS@unsw.edu.au.

Members of your review panel will read your documents before your review presentation so they need to be supplied ahead of the scheduled review. Please ensure your documents are provided at least one week before your review date. Failure to do so is likely to result in your receiving a marginal or unsatisfactory outcome.

If you are in the first year of your candidature and are undergoing your first annual review, your paper should take the form of a Research Proposal, based on the “Framework for Research Proposal” below. Use the sub-headings listed there to structure your proposal. Your supervisor will provide you with a brief report after the review

Second or Third Annual Progress Review

If this is your second or third review your paper should be in the form of a polished sample chapter of your thesis with references. Your supervisor will advise you on this requirement and it may be subject to their discretion. Candidates in the later years of their candidature will be expected to demonstrate substantial progress towards completion of the thesis. If you submit your thesis before the review date there will be no need for you to be reviewed. Alternatively, if you have handed a completed final draft to your supervisor the review may be waived.

Part-time candidates

If you are a part time candidate, you are required to undergo a review every year. You are encouraged to produce your proposal at the first review, but are not obliged to do so.

Candidates will be required to submit written content every year, but this will be guided by the milestones agreed at the previous review.

2. Annual Progress Review Form (online)

Candidates are required to complete an APR form and questionnaire online. This provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their progress over the year.

School of Social Sciences APR form 

School of Social Sciences APR October/November Confirmation Review form

It is your responsibility to complete the student sections of the online review form as per the instructions below. Please also upload your proposal or written papers as one consolidated document, preferably as a PDF.

A student guide to the online Annual Progress Review form can be found at the following address [go to 'Online APR student guide' link on right]: http://research.unsw.edu.au/annual-progress-reviews

Once you have ‘submitted’ your comments via the online Annual Progress Review system, your supervisor will be given access to complete her/his section. Please make sure that your supervisor is given ample time to complete his/her section in order to avoid late submission of your material.

3. Review Meeting

First Annual Progress Review

If this is your first review and you are presenting a proposal, your review meeting will take approximately 1 hour and will consist of the following:

10 minute oral presentation by the candidate

This presentation should include:

• a concise summary of your thesis project and its original argument

• a summary of the research you have conducted so far

• an indication of the current state of your research

• a chapter outline

• a timeline for the completion of your thesis.

You should also mention any difficulties you are having. Please speak from notes for this presentation rather than reading a written paper.

10-15 minutes feedback from the review panel.

This feedback will include responses to your written paper, to your oral presentation and to any problems that you raise. The PGC, expert reader and your supervisors will discuss the general progress of your candidature. Also be prepared to answer any questions that the panel may have in relation to your research project.

20-35 minutes of 'house-keeping'

This section of the review involves a ‘musical chairs’ process and consists of four distinct phases. In the first phase, both the candidate and his/her supervisors leave the room in order to allow the PGC and the expert reader to discuss the candidate’s progress privately. In the following phase, the candidate re-enters the room (but not his/her supervisors) and discuss his/her supervisory relationship with the PGC and expert reader. The School is committed to monitoring the supervisory process, so if you have any concerns or issues, please take this opportunity to do so (alternatively, if you have any issues you would like to raise prior to the meeting, please contact the PGC). This process is then reversed when the candidate leaves room (third phase) and the supervisors have the opportunity to briefly discuss the candidate’s progress with the panel. In the fourth and final phase, the candidate re-enters the room again in order to be informed whether his/her progress has been 'satisfactory,' ‘marginal’ or 'unsatisfactory'. The APR’s outcome will also be ‘published’ to you via online system after review along with agreed goals/milestones for forthcoming year. If your progress is not deemed ‘satisfactory’ a follow-up review will be recommended for the purposes of reassessment in 3-6 months time. The panel will set clear goals to be met by the follow-up review date.

Second or Third Annual Progress Review

If this is your second or third review, the review meeting may take less time than the first & will consist of the following:

10 minute oral presentation by the candidate

This presentation should include or reference:

• a concise summary of your thesis project and its original argument

• a summary of the research you have conducted so far

• an indication of the current state of your research

• a chapter outline

• a timeline for the completion of your thesis

You should also mention any difficulties you are having.

Please speak from notes for this presentation rather than reading a written paper.

10 minutes feedback from the review panel.

This feedback will include responses to your written chapter, to your oral presentation and to any problems that you raise. The panel will discuss the general progress of your candidature. Please be prepared to answer any questions that the panel and your supervisors may have in relation to your progress.

10-25 minutes of 'house-keeping'

This section of the review involves a ‘musical chairs’ process and consists of four distinct phases. In the first phase, both the candidate and his/her supervisors leave the room in order to allow the PGC and the expert reader to discuss the candidate’s progress privately. In the following phase, the candidate re-enters the room (but not his/her supervisors) and discuss his/her supervisory relationship with the PGC and expert reader. The School is committed to monitoring the supervisory process, so if you have any concerns or issues, please take this opportunity to do so (alternatively, if you have any issues you would like to raise prior to the meeting, please contact the PGC). This process is then reversed when the candidate leaves room (third phase) and the supervisors have the opportunity to briefly discuss the candidate’s progress with the panel. In the fourth and final phase, the candidate re-enters the room again in order to be informed whether his/her progress has been 'satisfactory,' ‘marginal’ or 'unsatisfactory'. The APR’s outcome will also be ‘published’ to you via online system after review along with agreed goals/milestones for forthcoming year. If your progress is not deemed ‘satisfactory’ a follow-up review will be recommended for the purposes of reassessment in 3-6 months time. The panel will set clear goals to be met by the follow-up review date.

Further Notes for Oral Presentations

• Ideally simply speak naturally to your project from limited notes. This is always the most effective mode of presentation

• Do not use PowerPoint

The rooms used for Annual Progress Reviews are usually not equipped for audio-visual presentations and PowerPoint presentations can easily cause delays. As you are presenting to a very small group, PowerPoint is also somewhat redundant. You may provide the panel with hardcopy notes, in PowerPoint format if you like, on the day. However, even these are not essential as the Panel will have read your written documents.

Appendix

Framework for Research Proposal for MA (Research), MSW (Research) and PhD candidates preparing for their first Annual Review

Review panels appreciate that not all research proposals will necessarily follow the traditional research report format that the headings below draw on. Some theses may be more essayistic in design, for example. However, in a multi-disciplinary school it is important that all candidates can speak to these classical expectations in some appropriate form and that the format of a proposal should be intelligible to an academic outside the candidate's immediate area of expertise.

The recommended research proposal framework is as follows:

Title: What title reflects the focus of your research? (Deciding on a title helps you to refine and direct your research. Try to keep it short but relatively descriptive. A title and sub-title may help your focus).

Rationale/ Research Aims: What is your research about, why is it important, and what original argument do you wish to make in your thesis?

Research Questions: What questions will you investigate in your research? What problems or issues will you address?

Literature Review: What have other people said about the topic? What are the major assumptions and ongoing debates which organise scholarship on this topic? What is the gap in existing knowledge which you have identified and why does this gap need to be filled? What is the significance and originality of your research project in relation to previous work in your field?

Research Approach: This is another term for methodology. What theoretical, analytical or scholarly approach or method have you chosen to help you conduct your research and analyse your findings? Why this one?

A Provisional Timeline: What timeline have you planned for the conduct of your research?

Ethical Considerations: (Required by the Research Code of Conduct). Are there any ethical issues arising from your research (such as the use of sacred or culturally sensitive artefacts, texts, names, or knowledge) and how will you deal with these issues?

Anticipated Problems: Can you anticipate any problems or constraints in undertaking your research?

A Provisional Chapter Outline: How many chapters? What are their titles? Most importantly, how does each chapter develop the argument of the thesis?

Draft Introduction: A 2000-3000 introduction to the issues covered in the thesis. This is part of the overall 5000 (MA) or 7000 (PhD) word limit.

References: The Bibliography of your Literature Review plus a range of primary and secondary sources.