June 16, 2020, by Lisa Chin
Examining a doctorate online
A session exploring the topic of examining a doctoral thesis online
In response to the C0VID-19 pandemic, the University has introduced a number of exceptional regulations to ensure teaching and learning continues, as well as research progresses throughout this period. With the new regulations in place, we offered an interactive webinar to academic staff who are undertaking or expecting to undertake the role of internal examiner and/or independent chairperson of a doctoral thesis within an online setting.
The webinar was held on Wednesday 10 June 2020 and it included discussions between colleagues drawn from a range of disciplines as well as a live Q&A session. Chaired by Professor Deborah Hall, Vice Provost (Research & Knowledge Exchange), the webinar also involved a panel consisting of those who have experiences in examining doctoral theses in an online environment, namely: Dr Hazel Melanie Ramos, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning for the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences; Dr Kasturi Muthoosamy, Associate Professor at the Department of Foundation in Engineering; and Dr Risky Harisa Haslan, Assistant Professor at the Division of Organisational & Applied Psychology.
Areas of discussion
The webinar was timely and relevant for all research supervisors regardless of the extent of prior experience as it considered and discussed the latest doctoral examination requirements for the online environment.
“We are here specifically to talk about examining a doctorate online but these exceptional guidelines are part of the whole suite of guidelines that the University has put together in response to managing research progression amidst campus closure. I do realise this is a very challenging and can be sometimes stressful experience but the intention of these new guidelines is to try and smooth the process as much as possible, to try and adopt a business-as-usual approach as much as possible. But primarily it is about keeping everybody safe and well, and enabling as much a normal university activities to continue while we are all in the situation of working at home and practicing social distancing,” said Professor Hall.
The panel took turns in sharing their experiences as chairperson and internal examiner of online viva voce examination. These sharings described and outlined the arrangements as well as processes involved before, during and after an online viva. The revisions applied to the roles and responsibilities of the chairperson as well as internal and external examiners were also discussed and clarified.
In addition to ways of overcoming challenges in examining doctoral theses, the panel shared some hints and tips on how research supervisors can support their students especially during this period of uncertainty to prepare for examination in an online setting. The topic of technological considerations was also highlighted, taking into account of the many possibilities of technical problems.
Feedback and reflection
The participants seemed appreciative towards the timely offering of the webinar as we are heading into a busy period for viva voce examinations.
We hope that the webinar was useful in assisting our academics to identify how they can best prepare themselves in their role as examiners, and further prepare their students for online examination in their role as research supervisors.
Upcoming related webinar
If you are an early career academic gaining experience of PhD supervision and examination, you may also find the webinar Contemporary Issues in Supervising Research Students useful.
This webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 29 July 2020 so please look forward for the advertisement email in the coming week.
For any query or more information, please email to RAD@nottingham.edu.my.