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Procedure: Higher degree by research - thesis by compilation and thesis by creative works


This document outlines the content, format, and approval process for an HDR Thesis by Compilation or Thesis by Creative Works submission.


  1. This document is to be read in conjunction with the Research Awards Rules.
  2. This procedure supplements the information provided in the Submission and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Theses Procedure. Where information is not varied or detailed in this procedure the Submission and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Theses Procedure prevails.

Thesis by compilation


  1. A thesis by compilation includes papers (e.g. articles, chapters) where the student is the sole or joint author that are in the process of being prepared or approved for publication, have been accepted for publication, or have been published.
  2. A thesis by compilation contains
  1. An introduction to the field of study and the hypothesis or research questions, how these are addressed through the ensuing chapters, and a general account of the theory and methodological components of the research where these components may be distributed across separate papers/chapters.
  2. Linking text to establish the relationship between one chapter and the next, such as through a foreword to each chapter.
  3. A conclusion drawing together the published papers or works in a cohesive manner, and addresses how the individual publications link to the theory and methodology adopted and evaluate the contribution that the research in the submitted publications makes to the advancement of the research area.
  1. Papers evidenced as in the following categories may be included with each presented as an individual chapter in the thesis:
  1. Published papers
  2. Manuscripts accepted for publication
  3. Manuscripts submitted and under review by referees;
  4. Manuscripts under revision following referees reports; and
  5. Manuscripts in preparation for submission.
  1. Unless otherwise approved by the Delegated Authority, a thesis by compilation consists primarily of published papers and manuscripts accepted for publication, and not primarily of manuscripts submitted and under review by referees or manuscripts under revision following referees reports.
  2. A thesis by compilation may also include video recordings, film or other works of visual or sonic arts, computer software, digital material or other non-written material for which approval has been given for submission in alternative format.
  3. The papers must have been researched and written during the course of the candidature, except in the case of students admitted to a PhD program as a staff member under the Research Awards Rules.
  4. The scope and quality of a thesis by compilation is commensurate with the contribution to knowledge expected of a candidate for the relevant degree. The numbers of papers that constitute this requirement may vary between a single long monograph in disciplines such as mathematics to four to five peerreviewed papers in other disciplines.


  1. A thesis by compilation includes a signed declaration that specifies:
  1. Title, authorship and publication outlet of each paper.
  2. The current status of each paper (In press, Accepted, Under Review, In preparation).
  3. The extent of the contribution of the candidate to the research and the authorship of each paper.
  1. For each paper where the candidate is not the sole author, either:
  1. The collaborating authors sign the declaration; or
  2. A senior author signs the declaration on behalf of the collaborating authors
  1. The thesis may also include relevant appendices containing additional papers that are not related to the main thrust of the thesis, raw data, programs, questionnaires and other material as deemed appropriate for each discipline.
  2. The thesis is otherwise formatted as per the Thesis in Standard Format Section in the Submission and Examination of HDR Theses Procedure, although journal formatting can be preserved for appropriate sections.


  1. Students submitting by compilation will normally obtain endorsement from their supervisory panel about the format of their thesis more than 12 months prior to submission, and no later than 6 months prior to submission.
  2. In considering the request the supervisory panel provides the student with disciplinespecific guidance on the appropriate quantity and quality of papers for submission as a thesis, as well as practical guidance about realistic peerreview and publication timeframes in their discipline.
  3. Subsequent to endorsement by the supervisory panel, submission of a thesis by compilation requires approval by the Delegated Authority.
  4. The Delegated Authority may permit the approval of a thesis by compilation and the composition of that thesis later than 6 months prior to submission in exceptional circumstances.
  5. Following submission of the thesis the standard ANU examination procedures will apply.


  1. Students who are undertaking a thesis by compilation ensure publisher’s agreements do not preclude the inclusion of the published work in their thesis.
  2. Only in exceptional circumstances will approval be given to a candidate for a Master of Philosophy or Professional Doctorate to submit a thesis by compilation.

Thesis by creative works


  1. A thesis by creative works is an original work which includes one or more of the following: a multimedia or digital work, a film, an exhibition, a performance, a musical composition, a novel, a play, a series of poems, creative art work or other works considered acceptable by the Delegated Authority.
  2. The written thesis accompanying the creative work may be a dissertation or an exegesis or a combination of both as approved by the Delegated Authority.
  3. The exegesis details the development of the creative work over the duration of the course of study, and provides the broad context for the ideas and precedents which inform the development of the research program. The exegesis enables the candidate to present an account of the research, demonstrating how the work addresses the objectives of the approved research project, and how the topic(s) of the dissertation or coursework have informed the creative work-based research.
  4. For the dissertation, candidates present a substantial academic essay on a topic of relevance to the objectives of the creative work-based research project. The candidate presents a standalone paper or one that supports a lecture recital that is framed within appropriate academic methods through research, documentation and theoretical and conceptual discourse in a form that is relevant to the topic in question.

Length of thesis

  1. In the case of a combined body of a Thesis by Creative Works PhD, the written work for a PhD must be a substantial work of 30,000 to 60,000 words that complements the other work submitted.
  2. In the case of the combined body of a Thesis By Creative Works MPhil, the written work for an MPhil must be a substantial work of 15,000 to 30,000 words that complements the other work submitted.
  3. The additional material submitted or presented in the form of a public recital must be:
  1. A substantial and genuine contribution to research; and
  2. A work of equivalent quality to a written thesis using criteria appropriate to the particular medium in which it is submitted.
  1. The submission as a whole must be a coherent contribution to the advancement of knowledge and a pass standard must be achieved in all components.
  2. In the case of resubmission being required only that component that has failed to meet the appropriate standard is required to be revised.

Examination of creative work other than a printed thesis

  1. The final outcome of the creative work component of the thesis is presented for examination in the form of an exhibition, or audio-visual presentation, recital, lecture recital or in such other form as had been approved by the Delegated Authority in the candidate's research program.
  2. The Delegated Authority approves whether artistic practice is examined by a theoretical dissertation or by creative work and written thesis. If a creative work and written thesis is approved, they are be examined as an integrated whole.
  3. In cases where the creative work is presented in the form of an exhibition, audio-visual presentation, recital, lecture recital etc, the written thesis is made available to the examiners at least one month before the presentation of the creative work so that the examiners are fully aware of the context of research which has led to the work in the final presentation. Any additional items such as video of the performance, visual presentation of artwork, recording, are either:
  1. supplied to the examiners with the written thesis; or
  2. supplied to examiners as soon as the documentation is available.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Higher degree by research - thesis by compilation and thesis by creative works
Document Type Procedure
Document Number ANUP_003405
Version 11
Purpose This document outlines the content, format, and approval process for an HDR Thesis by Compilation or Thesis by Creative Works submission.
Audience Staff-Academic-Research, Students-Graduate-Research
Category Academic
Topic/ SubTopic Students - Higher Research Degrees
Effective Date 1 Jan 2016
Review Date 1 Jan 2019
Responsible Officer Dean, Higher Degree Research
Approved By: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Contact Area Office of the Dean, Higher Degree Research
Authority Research Awards Rule 2017