Faculty HDR Milestone Introduction

Milestone reviews at UQ are an opportunity for HDR candidates and their advisors to take stock of progress, to plan the next stages, and to identify and resolve any problems, with input from others with relevant expertise. They are an essential mechanism by which the University ensures that students are progressing through their HDR program, have access to high-quality supervision, mentorship and access to suitable resources. Each milestone consists of a piece of written work, an oral presentation, and an interview with the Review Committee.

UQ Medicine milestone reviews are organised by the HDR candidate and their advisory team, with assistance from the HDR Liaison Officer (HLO). The recommended timeframe to begin organising your milestone is 8 weeks prior to your due date. You can check your next milestone date either through my.UQ and SI net. The Graduate School will send out reminders to all students 8 weeks out from the student’s milestone due date. Your HLO’s will send both the Student and Principal Advisor information on how to access due dates and download forms Research Quarter of the due date of your milestone. 

Meeting your Milestone due date is a compulsory requirement of your Candidature.

 In some instances, you may not be able to meet your Milestone date. If the reason for the delay is research-related, it is recommended you put a request for a Milestone extension via my.UQ. If the reason is personal i.e. sickness, caring duties, or work commitments you will need to put in an interruption of candidature request also via my.UQ.

At least 1.5 hours should be set aside for each milestone review to ensure adequate time is available for discussion.

For HDR Candidates

If the milestone will proceed on time, at least 4 weeks before the Milestone due date:

  1. Complete your Milestone written document/s (see specific milestone details below for what is required for each milestone), submit your milestone documentation via iThenticate and download the similarity report. 
  2.  Meet with your advisory team. At this meeting, you need to discuss: 
    • The milestone document and iThenticate report
    • Who will be on your review committee (2 Readers and Chair). Readers can be anyone who has a good knowledge of your area of research, so long as they are not part of your immediate group or your advisory team. The Chair needs to be affiliated with UQ, and have HDR advisory experience and prior experience on milestone review panels, as they need to be familiar with the milestone process, rather than just with the topic of your research. The Chairs may come from the units in which you are located. It is recommended that, if possible, the same Readers and Chair are kept throughout the whole of the PhD/MPhil, so that they are familiar with the progress of your work over time. However, sometimes this is not possible, so there are no restrictions on changing Readers or the Chair.
    • Potential times and dates for the seminar/interview. You need to liaise with your advisory team and review committee to arrange for a suitable time and date (including room bookings) for the milestone review. If you or other parties involved in the process are physically remote, the process can be facilitated by Zoom, video-link or tele­conferencing.
    • Confirm if a confidentiality agreement is required for review committee members and/or seminar attendees and prepare the documentation.
    • If Applicable, requirements to upgrade from an MPhil to a PhD. 
    • Please note: if you have concerns about the project that requires escalating before the Milestone meeting, please contact your DRT.
    •  
  3. E-mail the completed S1 form (which you will have received from the HLO) with your milestone document/s to hdr.med@enquire.uq.edu.au.
  4. The HLO will send your milestone documents and guidelines to the Readers and Chair. The HLO will also advertise your milestone seminar on the Faculty of Medicine website, but you are also encouraged to advertise your seminar widely amongst people in your place of work.
  5. Hold the Milestone seminar/interview. Contact the IT helpdesk for any computer or Zoom issues. On the day of the milestone review:
    • Present your seminar (between 30-45 min, including question time).
    • Meet with the review committee and your advisory team to discuss any issues. You and your advisory team will be given an opportunity to speak separately and confidentially to the review committee.
    • The review committee will assess whether you are developing the UQ graduate attributes, and if your research project is feasible and of sufficient scope so that it is likely to result in sufficient data for a Research Higher Degree thesis. In assessing the Graduate attributes, you will be given a score out of 500. A score of 300 or above means that you are considered to be progressing satisfactorily. The committee will also consider some specific questions regarding the research project. Ensure you read the milestone-specific S3 document before your milestone, so that you are familiar with what the review committee is assessing.
    • If you are not successful in obtaining a score of 300, or if the questions regarding the research project cannot be answered satisfactorily, then the review committee will make recommendations for what you need to do to meet the milestone requirements. You will be given a set period of time in which you will need to meet those requirements, after which time the committee will reconsider their recommendation.
  6. Once the milestone committee has made their recommendation, the Chair sends the S3 form to the HLO, who will organise for the committee’s recommendations to be reviewed by the DRT. Once the DRT has approved the form, you will receive a copy of the S3 document.
  7. You then need to log into my.UQ to submit a milestone attainment /milestone extension request (depending on the outcome of the milestone). If your milestone has been approved, please ensure the completed S3 is attached as evidence of completion. If the Milestone Committee recommended that you need to do more work prior to attaining the milestone, you must submit a milestone extension request. 

For the Principal Advisor and Advisory team:

  1. Discuss the milestone requirements with the candidate at least 8 weeks before the milestone due date. You can find the due date of your student’s next milestone through the Academic Portal. To access due dates, log into the portal and navigate to > Profile > RHD Advising (Under Teaching and Supervision on the left-hand menu).
  2. Review the Candidate’s Confirmation document and the iThenticate report to identify areas where the work of others needs to be appropriately attributed.
  3. Complete the S2 form (which you can download from HDR Student Support web page), which asks you to give your opinion of how the candidate is progressing. In order to complete it, you will also need to discuss with the Candidate who to nominate as Readers and Chair for the Milestone Committee. Readers can be anyone who has a good knowledge of the area of research, so long as they are not part of your immediate group or the advisory team. The Chair needs to be affiliated with UQ, and have HDR advisory experience and prior experience on milestone review panels, as they need to be familiar with the milestone process, rather than just with the topic of your research. The Chairs may come from the units in which you are located. It is recommended that, if possible, the same Readers and Chair are kept throughout the whole of the PhD/MPhil, so that they are familiar with the progress of the candidate’s work over time. However, sometimes this is not possible, so there are no restrictions on changing Readers or the Chair.
  • Please note: if you have concerns about the project that requires escalating before the Milestone meeting, please contact your DRT.
  1. Send the completed S2 directly to hdr.med@enquire.uq.edu.au at least 2 weeks prior to the interview/seminar.
  2. On the day of the milestone review and after the seminar, you and the Candidate will meet with the review committee to discuss and resolve any issues. You will be given an opportunity to speak confidentially to the review committee without the Candidate present, as will the candidate. The committee will provide verbal feedback on the day, and will also provide written feedback using the milestone specific S3 form. It is advisable to read through this form prior to the milestone, so that you are familiar with what is being assessed by the committee for each milestone.
  3. Once the milestone committee has made their recommendation, the Chair sends the S3 form to the HLO, who will organise for the committee’s recommendations to be reviewed by the Director of Research Training (DRT). Once the DRT has approved the form, you and the candidate will receive a copy of the S3 document with the written feedback of the committee.
  4. The Candidate will initiate a milestone attainment request if the milestone has been approved, or a milestone extension request if the committee have requested further work to be done. You will then receive an automated email asking you to log-in to approve this request. If you are sure that the Candidate has initiated the milestone attainment request, but you do not get this email asking you to approve it, you can check for assigned requests by checking your Unitask Portal (Candidature Management Portal) at any time. If you are having trouble with the system refer to the Graduate School guide here. 

For the Readers

Readers are an essential part of the review panel and Milestone process. Readers can be anyone who has a good knowledge of the area of research of the Candidate, so long as they are not part of the same immediate group as the Candidate or Principal Advisor, or part of the advisory team.

  1. You will be approached by the Candidate or their advisory team, asking if you are prepared to act as a Reader for the Milestone review.
  2. Once you have indicated your willingness to participate, you will be sent the documentation prepared by the Candidate, together with a link to the Readers guide for the type of questions that we would like you to address at each milestone. 
  3. Please read the Candidate’s written document and provide some written feedback. Things to consider when preparing the written feedback for each milestone level are detailed below. If the feedback is extensive, or you identify major issues with the document, please send that feedback to the candidate, the advisory team and the Chair of the milestone committee (cc’d to the HLO) at least one week prior to the Milestone meeting, to give the candidate time to consider your comments.  
  4. On the day of the milestone review, the Candidate will present a seminar, and then the Candidate and Advisory team will meet with the review committee so that any issues can be discussed and worked through. You will then assist the Chair of the milestone committee in completing the Milestone-specific S3 form (Chair’s report) document, and discuss the outcome of the review with the candidate.

Things to consider when reading a Confirmation of Candidature document:

Are the theoretical approach, methodology and/or experimental design sufficient?

•   Does the student have a sound grasp of the literature, conceptual background, objectives and hypotheses being tested?

•   Does it appear that the relevant skills and techniques needed to solve the research problems raised by the project have already been gained by the candidate? Or if not, is there a plan in place to acquire these skills?

•   Has the student made sufficient progress in their experimental work and produced data of high quality?

•   Does the student have a clear idea of the next steps?

•   Is the timetable for completion of the project reasonable?

•   Is there a need for a contingency plan in the event of project difficulties?

•   Do you consider that the proposed project is of sufficient scope for a PhD (or MPhil) and is feasible within 3.5 – 4 years (or 1 – 2 years for MPhil)?

•   Do you have specific questions for the student?  If so, please ask them in your report, so that the student may respond to them either prior to the oral presentation or make preparations to respond at the presentation itself.

Things to consider when reading a Mid-Candidature Review document:

  • Does the written work, particularly the proposed thesis structure, indicate that an assessable thesis is likely to result?
  • Does the written work conform to the accepted format for this field of research?
  • If a multi-author paper has been submitted for consideration, is the contribution of the Candidate to the study clear?
  • Has the research moved according to plan? 
  • Has the Candidate met the time-lines proposed at Confirmation? 
  • Is the standard of academic written English proficiency adequate?

Things to consider when reading a Thesis Review Milestone document:

  • Based on the work submitted, do you anticipate that the candidate will be able produce a thesis of acceptable quality within 3 months (for PhD) or 1.5 months (for MPhil)? When considering this question, please keep in mind the questions that Thesis Examiners are asked:
    • Does the thesis demonstrate a significant and original contribution to knowledge (PhD) or show originality in the application of knowledge (MPhil)?
    • Does the thesis engage with the literature and the work of others?
    • Does the thesis show an advanced knowledge of research principles and methods relating to the applicable discipline?
    • Is there a clear and discernible coherence in the presented research, its arguments and conclusions?
    • Is the thesis convincingly written?
  • Is there a clear timeline to completion?
  • Are there any factors hindering progress?

    For the Chairs

    The role of the Chairperson is to facilitate a discussion with the candidate, the advisory team and the Readers to determine if the candidate is developing the attributes that are desirable in a graduate of The University of Queensland, as outlined in the UQ Higher Degree by Research Candidate Charter, and whether the research project is feasible and of sufficient scope for a MPhil/PhD degree. As the Chair, you need to be affiliated with UQ and have prior experience on milestone review panels, as you need to be familiar with the milestone process, rather than just with the topic of the research.

    1. You will be approached by the Candidate or their advisory team, asking if you are prepared to act as the Chair for the milestone review.
    2. Once you have confirmed your willingness to participate, the HLO will send you a copy of the S1, S2 milestone document/s and a blank S3 and a link to the Chair guidelines. The S1 and S2 may contain confidential comments made by the candidate and the Principal Advisor, respectively. Please read these prior to the milestone meeting.  The S3 form is what you and the 2 Readers complete during the course of the Milestone meeting (see point 4 below).
    3. On the day of the milestone review, the Candidate will present a seminar. Then the Candidate and Advisory team will meet with the review committee to discuss and work through any issues. It is the Chairperson’s responsibility to offer the candidate an opportunity to speak to the review committee members without the Advisor/s present, and to offer the Advisor/s an opportunity to speak to the committee without the candidate present. During this time, please follow up on any issues raised by either the candidate or the advisors in the S1 and S2 forms that you received earlier (please respect the confidentiality of any comments made, particularly those that could be taken in a negative context).
    4. In consultation with the Reader/s, make a recommendation as to whether or not the Candidate has met the requirements of the milestone. The S3 form contains a scoring matrix to help decide if the UQ graduate attributes are being attained by the candidate, and some questions regarding the research project. Please make any additional comments in the freeform boxes at the end of the S3. The contents of that document will constitute the Review Committee’s written feedback to the candidate.  Please also relay the Committee’s recommendation verbally to the candidate (noting that this recommendation is not final until approved by a Director of Research Training (DRT)) and discuss any major issues with them, so that there can be no misinterpretation of written comments.
    5. Send  the completed S3 to hdr.med@enquire.uq.edu.au within 1 week of the milestone review. This will then be reviewed by the relevant DRT who ultimately decides whether the milestone is approved, based on your recommendations in the S3.

    If you have any question about the process, or any issues arise, please contact the relevant DRT or HLOs (contact details are provided on the first page of the S3 document.

    Confirmation of candidature

    Confirmation of candidature will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after commencement. The aim of this milestone review is to determine:

    • Is there a clear hypothesis and rationale for the study?
    • Does the Candidate have a solid grasp of the literature, or do they need to expand their knowledge base?
    • Is the research plan sound and feasible, and are methodologies clearly indicated and understood?
    • Has adequate progress been made?
    • Is the Candidate starting to develop the qualities, skills, knowledge and abilities set
      out in the UQ Statement of Higher Degree by Research Graduate Attributes

    IMPORTANT - Please read the “Milestone process” section above before proceeding for general information applicable to all milestones. 

    1. Forms Relevant to the Confirmation Milestone:

    2. Requirements for Confirmation Review Document:

    The Confirmation document will outline the area under study, including a full citation of the directly relevant literature. It will establish the research objective and pose the formal hypotheses if these are relevant. The proposal will also concisely and clearly describe the proposed research methodology and scheme of analysis, and briefly describe work already completed.

    As a guide the following elements are usually included in the Confirmation document:

    (a)   Title page (name of candidate, title of project, names of advisors and their signatures to indicate that they have read the document).

    (b)   Brief summary/introduction (1 page max) to define the key concepts of the project and the rationale for the project (i.e. why do this study?)

    (c)   Literature review (15 to 20 pages, using 1.5 line spacing). Critical up-to-date review, which should demonstrate a good knowledge of the field and identify knowledge gaps.

    (d)   Hypothesis development and Aims of the project (~1 page). This should be related to issues identified in the literature review.

    (e)   Research methodology, including a clear statement of the methods to be used, resource requirements (are all pieces of equipment and funds to complete the study available to you, or do you need to look for collaborators who can provide these?), data analysis methodology to be used, ethics requirements etc.

    (f)   Preliminary data (if any; max. 5 pages).

    (g)   Timeline for the proposed work to complete your thesis.

    (h)   Reference List.

    (i)    Appendices (only if applicable).

     

    3. The Confirmation Review Seminar

    • 20 minutes presentation and 10 minutes question time, open seminar.

     

    4. The Confirmation Review Interview

    • Interviews should take place immediately after the oral presentations (i.e. on the same day), with discussion of the direction, scope, planning and feasibility of the project and any areas of concern.
    • The review committee will make a recommendation whether candidature should be confirmed. The committee’s recommendation will normally be communicated verbally to the candidate and the advisory team at the conclusion of the interview, with written advice following within the next few days. Please note the committee’s recommendation is not final and may be revised by the relevant Director of Research Training (DRT). The recommendation can be:
      • Confirmation of Candidature.
      • Additional work required. The Candidate must respond to points identified by the Readers and any problems identified within the time-frame set by the review committee. Once the Committee members are satisfied that these points have been addressed, then confirmation of candidature will be recommended.
      • (For PhD only) Program of study should be changed from PhD to MPhil.
      • Withdrawal of Candidature. The candidate is not progressing adequately. This recommendation would only be made if the candidate had first been given an opportunity, with appropriate assistance and guidance from the advisory team and the review panel, to improve their work.

     

       

      Mid-candidature review

      Mid-candidature review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the official confirmation milestone due date.  MPhil candidates may combine MCR with Thesis Review under certain conditions (See this webpage, click on Procedures tab at top, and scroll down to 6. Accelerated MPhil Milestones)

      The aim of this milestone review is to determine:

      • Does the Candidate have a well-developed understanding of the research area, and where it sits within the broader literature.
      • Is the project on schedule and is there a clear timeline to completion.
      • Are there any factors hindering progress, and how can they be overcome.
      • Has the Candidate progressed in their development of the qualities, skills, knowledge and abilities set out in the UQ Statement of Higher Degree by Research Graduate Attributes.

      IMPORTANT - Please read the “Milestone process” section above before proceeding for general information applicable to all milestones. 

      1. Forms Relevant to the Mid-candidature Review Milestone:

      2. Requirements for Mid-candidature Review Document:

      (a)   Summary of completed work (max 5-10 pages).

      (b)   Detailed plan/outline for completing the thesis.

      (c)   One of the following: Completed or draft ‘results’ chapter, or a draft journal paper  to which the student has contributed substantially.

      (d)   Plans for conference attendance.

      (e)   Career development plan.

      3. The Mid-candidature Review Seminar:

      • 20 minutes presentation and 10 minutes question time, open seminar.

      4. The Mid-candidature Review Interview:

      • Interviews should take place immediately after the oral presentations (i.e. on the same day), with discussion of progress, plans for finishing the thesis and the thesis structure, future career plans.
      • The review committee will recommend whether the candidate has met the conditions for attainment of the milestone. The committee’s recommendation will normally be communicated verbally to the candidate and the advisory team at the conclusion of the interview, with written advice following within the next few days. Please note the committee’s recommendation is not final until approved by the relevant Director of Research Training (DRT). The recommendation can be:
        • Approval of Mid-candidature.
        • Additional work required. The candidate should provide additional explanation of points identified by the readers or any other problems identified within a time frame set by the review committee. Once the Committee members are satisfied that these points have been addressed, then it will recommended that the milestone conditions have been met
        • (For PhD only) Program of study should be changed from PhD to MPhil.
        • Withdrawal of Candidature. This recommendation would only be made if the candidate had first been given an opportunity, with appropriate assistance and guidance from the advisory team and the review panel, to improve their work.

      Thesis review

      Thesis review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the official mid-candidature milestone due date. The aim of this milestone review is to determine:

      • Will the Candidate have an examinable thesis ready to be submitted within 3 months full-time equivalent for a PhD or 1.5 months full-time equivalent for a MPhil.
      • Are there any factors hindering progress, and how can they be overcome.
      • Has the Candidate developed the qualities, skills, knowledge and abilities set out in the UQ Statement of Higher Degree by Research Graduate Attributes

      IMPORTANT - Please read the “Milestone process” section above before proceeding for general information applicable to all milestones. 

      1. Forms relevant to the Thesis Review milestone:

      2. Requirements for Thesis Review document

                (a)  Thesis preliminary pages (using the UQ template downloadable from point 5 of this webpage).

      (b)   Expanded contents/outline of thesis.

      (c)   Draft of the thesis (with at least 2 completed chapters).

      (d)   Outline of any publications that will arise from the HDR research.

      3. The Thesis Review seminar

      • At least 20 minutes presentation (max 45 min) and 10-15 minutes question time, open seminar.

      4. The Thesis Review interview

      • Interviews should take place immediately after the oral presentations (i.e. on the same day), with discussion of the likelihood that an examinable thesis will be able to be submitted within 3 months FTE for a PhD or 1.5 months FTE for a MPhil, identification of any problems with the standard of writing or layout of the thesis. A discussion of potential thesis examiners and Chair of Examiners for the thesis should also take place.
      • The review committee will recommend whether the candidate has met the conditions for attainment of the milestone. The committee’s recommendation will normally be communicated verbally to the candidate and the advisory team at the conclusion of the interview, with written advice following within the next few days. Please note the committee’s recommendation is not final until approved by the relevant Director of Research Training (DRT). The recommendation can be:
        • Approval of Thesis Review milestone.
        • Additional work required. It is deemed unlikely that an examinable thesis will be able to be submitted within 3 months FTE for a PhD or 1.5 months FTE for a MPhil. The candidate must provide further written work within a time-frame set by the review committee. Once the Committee members are satisfied that these points have been addressed and that the thesis is nearly ready to be submitted, attainment of the Thesis Review milestone will be recommended.
        • (For PhD only) Program of study be changed from PhD to MPhil.
        • Withdrawal from the Program. This recommendation would only be made if there was no evidence of any progress by the candidate, work provided by the candidate was not of a sufficient standard for award of a degree from The University of Queensland and is unlikely to be able to reach this standard, or if it was obvious that an examinable thesis would not be able to be produced by the candidate.

      Upgrading from MPhil to PhD

      MPhil students who wish to upgrade to a PhD first need to complete their MPhil Confirmation; this usually occurs 6 months (FTE) after starting the program.

      When the MPhil confirmation has been approved, you can then apply online (see “Changing your HDR program”).  You may be asked to:

      • describe how your project has increased in scope and duration appropriate for a PhD
      • state the additional resources required to extend to PhD 
      • state that your advisory team has agreed to supply the additional resources to support the project to PhD completion

      Upgrade to PhD will not be automatic as each application is considered on a case-by-case basis. 

      If the upgrade is approved you will be considered to be a provisional PhD candidate and will have to do another Confirmation of Candidature at PhD level.  The date for this Confirmation of Candidature will be set by the Graduate School and is normally 12 months FTE from the date of commencement of your MPhil, ie, 6 months FTE after the date of MPhil Confirmation.

      Milestone extension and Interruption

       In some instances, you may not be able to meet your Milestone date. If the reason for the delay is research-related, it is recommended you put a request for a Milestone extension via my.UQ. If the reason is personal i.e. sickness, caring duties, or work commitments you will need to put in an interruption of candidature request also via my.UQ.