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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 Rule.
  2. This procedure supplements the information provided in the Higher Degree by Research Submission and Examination of Theses Procedure. Where information is not varied or detailed in this procedure the Higher Degree by Research Submission and Examination of Theses Procedure prevails.
  3. This procedure outlines the minimum requirements and may be supplemented by College / School specific guidelines.

Thesis by compilation

  1. A thesis by compilation consists of papers (e.g. research articles, chapters in books) of which the candidate is the sole or joint author and which are in the process of being published, have been accepted for publication, or have been published.
  2. Where the paper is jointly authored it is expected that at least the majority of the first draft is written by the candidate.
  3. All papers submitted in a thesis by compilation must follow the ANU Responsible Conduct of Authorship guidelines.
  4. A thesis by compilation, in addition to its component papers, contains
  1. An introduction to the field of study and the hypothesis or research questions of the thesis, how these are addressed through its component papers, and a general account of the theory and methodological components of the research where these elements may be distributed across separate papers.
  2. Linking text to establish the relationship between one paper and the next, such as through a foreword to each paper.
  3. A conclusion drawing together the published papers in a cohesive manner, and addresses how the individual publications link to the theory and methodology adopted and evaluate the contribution that the research makes to the advancement of the research area.
  1. Papers in the following categories may be included within the thesis:
  1. Published papers;
  2. Manuscripts accepted for publication;
  3. Manuscripts under revision following reviewers reports;
  4. Manuscripts submitted and under review by reviewers; and
  5. Manuscripts in preparation for submission.
  1. Unless otherwise approved in writing by the Delegated Authority, a thesis by compilation must consist primarily of papers in categories (a) and (b) of section 8.
  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 candidates admitted to a PhD program as a staff member under the Research Awards Rule.
  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 disciplines depending on their norms.


  1. A thesis by compilation includes a signed declaration that specifies:
  1. Title, word length, 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 developing the research questions, creation and collection of data, analysis and interpretation of the data, and to the writing of the paper.

  1. For each paper for which the candidate is not the sole author, the collaborating authors sign the declaration. Where this is not possible the lead author signs the declaration on behalf of the collaborating authors, unless the lead author is the candidate or a panel member, in which case another author should sign the declaration.
  2. 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.
  3. The non-published parts of the thesis should be formatted as per the Higher Degree by Research Submission and Examination of Theses Procedure. Published papers or manuscripts should be formatted as published.


  1. Candidates submitting by compilation will obtain endorsement from their supervisory panel, and approval from the Delegated Authority about the format of their thesis no more than 12 months prior to submission, and no later than 6 months prior to submission.
  2. In considering the request the supervisory panel will provide the candidate 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. The Delegated Authority may permit the approval of a thesis by compilation and the composition of that thesis less than 6 months prior to submission in exceptional circumstances.
  4. Following submission of the thesis the standard ANU examination procedures will apply.


  1. Candidates 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 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 and program of study 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. Possible examination outcomes for the approved components of a Thesis by Creative Works are the same as for Thesis by Standard Format and Thesis by Compilation: Pass without revision, Pass with revisions, Revision and Resubmission, and Fail. Each component of a Thesis by Creative Works may receive a different examination outcome.
  3. In the case of resubmission being required only that component that has failed to meet the appropriate standard is required to be resubmitted.
  4. If one component of a Thesis by Creative Works receives a final assessment of Fail then the whole Thesis by Creative Works is to be assessed as a Fail.

Examination of creative work other than a written 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.
  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
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, Students-Graduate
Category Academic
Topic/ SubTopic Students - Higher Research Degrees
Effective Date 13 Jan 2021
Next Review Date 13 Jan 2026
Responsible Officer: Dean, Higher Degree Research
Approved By: Vice-Chancellor
Contact Area Office of the Dean, Higher Degree Research
Authority: Research Awards Rule 2021
Delegations 425, 426

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