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2. Criteria for the Appointment of Research Degree Examiners


Normally two examiners should be nominated of whom one is a member of academic staff of the University and one who is external to Warwick, usually a member of academic staff at another institution of higher education or research institute.


A candidate's supervisor(s) should not serve as internal examiner. Any potential conflict of interest should be declared to the Doctoral College at the time of nomination, as specified in section 2.12. Where there is no suitable member of staff within the department to act as either internal examiner or examination advisor, every effort should be made to identify a suitable member of staff elsewhere in the University. If there is no other suitable internal
examiner, a second external examiner should be appointed in place of an internal examiner.


Where the candidate is, or has been, within the 12 months prior to the submission of the thesis, a member of the academic staff, research staff, administrative or library staff of the University as defined by University Ordinance 10 (1) on membership of Departments (see Part I Section 2), the examination shall be conducted by two external examiners, unless the candidate is a full time student, in which case it will not be necessary to nominate two external examiners. However, any potential conflicts of interest should be declared to the Doctoral College at the time of nomination, as described in Section 2.12. Exceptionally, where the candidate is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate who has not been based on the University campus whilst pursuing their research, a case may be made for the appointment of one internal and one external examiner.


Probationary staff shall normally not be appointed to examine higher degrees by research.


Examiners are normally expected to have previous experience of supervising and examining theses for the degree they are being nominated to examine.


Examiners for a higher degree by research must normally hold a qualification or a record of completed research comparable to that required for the higher degree in question.


Where a proposed examiner does not have a qualification equivalent to that of the higher degree being examined or equivalent record of research, has little or no previous experience of supervision and examination at research degree level and/or is a probationary member of staff, departments are required to make a special case for the appointment of the proposed examiner. This case should be attached to the form for nomination of examiners and address the examiner's particular suitability to examine the thesis concerned. A curriculum vitae setting out the nominee's research record should also be included. It is recognized that staff have to gain experience as examiners and the pairing of a relatively inexperienced internal examiner with an experienced external examiner will usually be acceptable as long as the internal examiner has relevant subject expertise, a case has been made as outlined above, and an examination advisor has been appointed. The appointment of inexperienced external examiners will only be considered in exceptional circumstances; for example, for very specialized projects for which it was difficult to identify an experienced external with the necessary subject expertise. In such cases a very experienced internal examiner would be normally be regarded as essential.


In addition to the two examiners described in Section 2.1, an industrial examiner should be appointed for the degree of Doctor of Engineering (EngD). It is not necessary for an industrial examiner to hold a qualification or record of completed research equivalent to the degree being examined, nor to have previous supervisory or examination experience to the level being examined. However, the proposed industrial examiner should normally be working in a senior
position in a commercial organization with relevance to the subject of the research, and generally have experience of working at this level with other organizations. A copy of their curriculum vitae should be provided with the nomination of examiners form, which demonstrates a sustained level of achievement, identifying them as an expert within the field.


An external examiner shall not normally be a former member of staff at the University unless at least three years have elapsed since their leaving date from the University.


Honorary staff of the University shall not be appointed as external examiners for higher degrees. Where an Honorary member of staff is appointed as internal examiner an Examination Advisor shall also normally be appointed.


Emeritus Professors and Readers may be considered for appointment as internal examiners if they have only recently retired from the University or remain research active, Emeritus staff from other universities may be considered as external examiners on the same basis (a maximum interval of three years may be taken as a guideline of appropriate recency).


Departments should disclose details of any situations which have the potential to impair the ability of the examiner(s) to make a fair and impartial assessment of the student’s thesis. A non-exhaustive list of potential sources of conflict is provided below:

(a) Nominated examiner’s substantial involvement in the student’s research, for example direct and sustained input/advice into the work being examined. Membership of an annual review panel should not compromise the ability of an individual to act as internal examiner, unless they undertake a more active role in the student’s research;
(b) Close personal relationship between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisor or other nominated examiner;
(c) Close professional relationship between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisor or other nominated examiner for example joint holding of grants, co-authorship of papers, working in the same Institution (in the case of two external examiners). This may be mitigated by the size and relative independence of the research team;
(d) Nominated examiner having acted as personal tutor to the student;
(e) The work of the nominated examiner is the focus of the student’s research;
(f) In cases where the student’s research has involved collaboration with or funding of research by an external party, the nominated examiner not being independent of that relationship;
(g) Nominated examiner having direct commercial interest in the outcomes of the research;
(h) Nominated examiner working in the same institution/department as another nominated examiner.

The existence of a potential conflict of interest should not necessarily be a bar to the appointment of a nominated examiner. However, departments, examiners and students are required to declare any potential conflicts which may affect the integrity of the examination process at the point of nomination, or in the case of situations that only become apparent after examiners have been appointed, as soon as reasonably possible.

Next = SECTION: 3 - Appointment of the Examination Advisor