The submission of research reports, dissertations and theses
Research reports, dissertations and theses are usually submitted for examination with the approval of the supervisor or the supervisory committee. This entails the signing of a Faculty Submission of research form, on which the supervisor also records any pertinent information relating to the student s research publications and the supervision history itself. A student may submit his or her work without permission; in this situation, a supervisor who may (in the case of a Masters research report only) act as the internal examiner stands down. However, to submit without permission is a serious step and should be avoided if at all possible. If there is disagreement between the student and the supervisor, it is preferable to consult either the Head of Discipline or Head of the School concerned. If this yields no result, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies should be asked to assist. In general terms, though, it is very much in a student s interest to rely on the judgement of the supervisor and not to aim to submit prematurely. If the project is not quite ready for assessment, the candidate may run the risk of forfeiting a distinction or even failing outright. Many referrals for revision can unfortunately be linked to over-hasty submission. An intention to submit form should be completed and signed by both the supervisor and the student three months prior to submission. This will eliminate delays in getting the supervisor to nominate examiners.
The Examination Process
Masters Research Reports
Research reports are assessed by an internal and an external examiner, each of whom awards a mark. In the case of Masters Research Reports, the supervisor may act as an internal examiner. If the marks are relatively close (within the same class), correspond closely to the student s coursework record, and only minor corrections are required, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies will determine the final mark to be awarded. If there are significant differences between the examiners marks, or if other discrepancies arise (e.g. a question of revision), the final mark is awarded on the advice of a nominated panel of members from the Graduate Studies Committee, after a process of careful consultation. Fifty per cent constitutes a pass, and marks of 75% or above constitute a distinction. MA (by coursework and research report) students may thus achieve a distinction for the coursework alone, for the research report alone, or for the entire programme. The marks for the coursework and the research component are not integrated to give a single final figure.
Masters dissertations are not given precise marks; a dissertation may fail, pass, or be awarded a distinction. These dissertations are marked by both an internal examiner, who may be, but is not always, a Wits academic staff member, and an external examiner who is from outside the University. If both examiners recommend the same result (e.g. a pass or a distinction), and only minor corrections are required, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies will sanction the award of the programme. In all other cases, a nominated sub-committee of the Graduate Studies Committee will read the examiners reports before reaching a joint decision as to whether the programme should be awarded and the extent of any revision required.
A PhD thesis may either fail or pass; no distinctions are given. PhD?s are marked by one internal examiner, who may be, but is not always, a Wits academic staff member, and two external examiners from outside the University. If all the examiners recommend the same result, and only minor corrections are required, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies will sanction the award of the programme. If there is a difference of opinion among the three examiners, or if any complicating factors present themselves (e.g. a call for revision), the decision is referred to a nominated sub-committee of the Graduate Studies Committee. Its members will read the examiners reports and make a final recommendation. In rare cases of substantive disagreement among the examiners, an external assessor is appointed to adjudicate among the contending evaluations and to give the final decision, which is binding on all concerned.
Administrative requirements for submission of research
Wits uses the following terminology: the written submission for a PhD is a "thesis"; the written submission for a Masters programme by research is a "dissertation"; the written submission for the research component of a Masters programme by coursework and research is a "research report".
Deadlines for research submission
- A full-time PhD candidate: thesis to be submitted two to five years after registration.
- A part-time PhD candidate: thesis to be submitted four to six years after registration.
- A full-time Masters by research candidate: dissertation to be submitted within one year of study.
- A part-time Masters by research candidate: dissertation to be submitted within two years of study.
- A full-time Masters by coursework and research candidate: research report to be submitted by the end of the first year of study.
- A part-time Masters by coursework and research candidate: research report to be submitted by the end of the second year of study.
NB: Consult your Faculty for dates, since these vary from programme to programme.
The two/three unbound copies of theses/dissertations/ research reports, which are handed in on submission, are kept in the Faculty Office. These can be retrieved by candidates who need to carry out any corrections or revisions required by their examiners. Candidates insert the corrected pages or chapters into the unbound copies, which are then returned to the Faculty Office with a note from the supervisor to confirm that the corrections have been satisfactorily completed.
ETD (final submission of corrected research)
Once your work has been examined, and you are ready for graduation, you will need to submit two corrected unbound copies of your work and an ETD form, R160 (2012) for administration costs and a copy on CD of your work in PDF format, the abstract must be in a seperate attachment on the same CD. Please note that you will not be permitted to graduate unless all this information has been submitted to the Faculty Postgraduate Office at least 6 weeks prior to graduation. More information about this procedure can be found on the University's Library website under ETD submissions. The examination of a thesis, dissertation or research report can take up to eight months. If the submission is problematic (e.g. extensive revision is required), the period of examination can take substantially longer. There is no 'final' date for submission of theses, dissertations or research reports for graduating at any particular ceremony. The examination of a doctoral thesis may include an oral examination. Although candidates are expected to register in January, they will not be charged fees if they submit their work before 15 February in any a year.
A list of all candidates who have submitted their work for examination is sent to the Graduation Office. The Graduation Office then advises each candidate of the next graduation date and encloses tickets for this ceremony. It should be noted, however, that a candidate may not graduate until all examiners reports have been received by the Faculty Office, corrections have been completed, and the Graduate Studies Committee has agreed to the award of the programme and all ETD requirements have been met. The candidate must also have paid all the fees due to the University.