Expectations of PhD students under my supervision

To be read in conjuction with the School of Mathematics and Physics Postgraduate Milestones

Prof. Phil Pollett
Discipline of Mathematics
The University of Queensland

[Last updated: 4:59 15/01/2011]

The headings below are from the now defunct "School Assessment of Candidate" connected with milestone attainment (we were required to rate PhD students against disciplinary norms at each milestone).

Papers (published, submitted)

At the time of submitting his/her thesis, the average PhD student will have submitted, or have had accepted or published, 2-3 quality papers in refereed international journals (ideally ERA2010 A or A*), books (book chapters) or properly published refereed conference proceedings. Less weight is given to papers in refereed conference proceedings where those proceedings are available only to conference delegates. Non-refereed papers carry no weight. Note that publishing 10-plus papers in would be considered outstanding. However, there are examples of UQ PhD students who have published more than that in a 3-year period, and others who have coauthored books during their candidature.

Oral or poster presentations

At the time of submitting his/her thesis, the average PhD student will have made 2-3 presentations (oral or poster) at major international meetings. National and local meetings carry less weight. Invited papers are not uncommon amongst the UQ PhD student cohort. All PhD students are required to present a poster at School Poster Day in the 2nd year of their candidature (some students present each year with new material). It is not uncommon for PhD students to present their work at other institutions, both in Australia and overseas, as invited speakers.

Specific milestone document written and/or thesis chapter(s) written and/or literature review written

The average PhD student will, at the end of the 1st year of candidature, have a polished literature review, some results to show (properly written up), and a clear plan for future work. He/she will, at the end of the 2nd year of candidature, have polished written material for at least one thesis chapter, and, towards the end of the 3rd year of candidature, will have drafted his/her PhD thesis.

Quality of academic writing, drafting, editing

The written work of an average PhD student is of a high standard in terms of exposition and style, and mathematical correctness. The written work of an average PhD student requires some editing from their advisors. The written work of an above average PhD student requires very little editing from his/her advisors.

Level of interactive skill and/or performance in interview and/or performance in group, team or school/institute

The average PhD student will interact with his/her advisors during meetings and be able to defend anything at all that he/she has written. The average PhD student contributes to discussion in group seminars. The above average PhD student contributes substantially in meetings with his/her advisors, throwing up ideas for exploration, and frequently makes insightful contributions to discussion in group seminars.

Quality of oral presentations

The quality of presentations of UQ PhD students is high. It is very unusual to see a poor quality presentation. The average PhD student will be able to prepare visual materials with little input from their advisors. He/she will be able to field questions from the audience and answer them competently. Presentations of an above average PhD student are of an exceptionally high standard. He/she will field questions from the audience and answers them expertly. Evidence of above average quality could include the award of a prize for a conference presentation.

Quality of research performed

The research of an average PhD student will be of a quality such that it will lead to several good papers in refereed international journals or properly published refereed conference proceedings.

Quality and scope of project

The project of the average PhD student will be of a quality and scope such that it will lead to several quality papers in refereeing international journals or properly published refereed conference proceedings.

Level of analytical skills

The average student will have a working knowledge of the mathematical, computational and visualization tools relevant to their field of expertise, and be able to see how they can and should be employed. This knowledge would be at a level greater than that of an honours student graduating at UQ with 1st class honours in mathematics or statistics. This knowledge would develop substantially during candidature. The average student will, by the end of their candidature, have a sound working knowledge of most of the published work in their field. The above average PhD student is able to spot limitations in the work of others and see how it should be corrected/extended.

Evidence of independence and creativity and potential for leadership/career in research

By the end of his/her candidature, the average PhD student will be a capable researcher who could work on range of projects cognate to their field of expertise, under the supervision of others, and make a useful contribution to research collaboration. The above average PhD student will be an independent researcher capable of directing his/her research and the research of others. An outstanding PhD student would be successful in obtaining an ARC postdoctoral fellowship (DECRA, or equivalent, or better). Other evidence of independence might be applying for research grants or seeking nomination for research and travel awards.

Candidate's intellectual contributions to project

The average PhD student contributes to discussion in meetings with members of his/her advisory team, and throws up ideas for exploration.

Progress with project

The average PhD student will, at the end of their 1st year of candidature, have a polished literature review, some results to show (properly written up), and a clear plan for future work. At the end of their 2nd year of candidature, he/she will have polished written material for at least one thesis chapter. At the end of the 3rd year of candidature, he/she will have drafted his/her PhD thesis. The average PhD student will sustain good progress throughout their candidature. The average PhD student learns new mathematics at fast pace throughout their candidature.

Level of participation in research field, methodology and skills training & professional development

This is important. Activities may include attending conferences, keeping abreast of new developments one's area by listening to or reading the recent work of other researchers, maintaining a professional website, refereeing papers for journals and conference proceedings, editing a special issue of a journal, editing a book, local conference organization, organizing a special session at a national or international conference, serving on the organizing committee of a national or international conference, being a member of a professional society, such as the AustMS or the SSAI, serving on a committee of a professional society, such as the AustMS or the SSAI, attending professional development workshops, such as the SSAI Young Statisticians Conference or the UniQuest Postgraduate Students' Commercialisation Workshop, participating in summer schools, making and maintaining professional contact with researchers in one's area of expertise.

Responsiveness to constructive criticism and feedback

The average PhD student contributes to discussion in meetings with members of his/her advisory team, follows their advice and responds to their comments and suggestions in a timely fashion.

Engagement with School and wider institution

No engagement would be deemed below average. Activities could include tutoring in one or more courses, assisting with Open Day, schools visits and the like, lecturing part of a course, coordinating and lecturing a whole course, contributing an article to our schools magazine "Infinity", serving on a School committee, serving on a University committee, organizing a seminar series such as a Mathematics Journal Club.