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Guidelines for midway assessments at the Faculty of Social Sciences

General information about the midway assessment at the Faculty of Social Sciences

1. Purpose
The purpose of the midway assessment is to:

  • stimulate the candidates to maintain progress in their writing by establishing another milestone, thereby strengthening throughput,
  • give the candidates closer supervision during the programme, through extensive and systematic feedback on the thesis work at a point where important decision have been made, but when there is still reasonable time to incorporate feedback and criticism before final submission.
  • to help the candidates gain practice in presenting their work to a wider audience
  • to ensure that questions concerning quality and progress becomes a collective responsibility of the research communities of the Departments

2. Presentation

The candidate will present the work on the thesis thus far in an open meeting where fellow PhD students and other academic employees (including supervisors) are invited to participate

3. Written preparation

A written document must be prepared and made available beforehand. This document should outline status of the thesis, and if available include draft for chapters or articles included in the thesis.

4. Opposition

At least one opponent is appointed (not the supervisor). The opponent gives the candidate feedback immediately following the presentation. The floor will also  be opened for comments by other present.

5. Academic assessment

A formal academic assessment (pass/fail) is also given. The assessment may be undertaken by the head of the PhD programme, or by others appointed by the head. If the presentation is considered as failed, a new midway assessment is undertaken within the next 2-6 months.

6. Date and time of the midway assessment

The date and time, as well as the framework around the midway assessment is decided by the units themselves in a manner that ensures the overarching purpose of the midway assessment. The midway assessment shall be a mandatory milestone of the PhD programme, and the time and date should not be significantly altered to accommodate the progression of the candidate unless warranted by special circumstances (such as illness or leave of absence).

7. Responsibility
The responsibility for holding midway assessments lies at the individual PhD programmes, within the framework set by the Faculty.

8. Regulations
The implementation of the midway assessment is pursuant to the PhD regulations with reference under § 4 to the University of Oslo Assurance System for the Quality of Education, which reads: ”All candidates shall present their research results and account for their progress midway in the programme, in a relevant environment.”

 

Psychology

The purpose of the midway assessment is to bring to the awareness of both the supervisor and the candidate the work that has been done, and the work that remains. The candidate will receive systematic feedback on the progress of the thesis, as well as the opportunity to discuss what is needed to ensure that research and the thesis is completed in a satisfactory manner within the given time frame.

The midway assessment is completed as a part of the candidate's participation in mandatory research seminars. As of today, the research seminars PSY9201-PSY9209 are divided into three mandatory semesters (PSY920x A-C) as well as a mandatory presentation (P). By including the midway assessment as a mandatory activity under PSY920x-P we ensure that all candidates complete the midway assessment without exhausting the elective credits available in the programme. The Faculty has agreed to this solution.

Who: All candidates admitted starting with January 1st 2011 shall complete the midway assessment. Candidates admitted earlier can also complete the midway assessment, but it is not mandatory.

When: The candidate is responsible for notifying the seminar leader by the end of each semester whether they wish to hold the midway assessment the next semester. Date and time will be decided together with the candidate and the supervisor(s). The research consultants are then notified, and they will proceed to enroll the candidates in the midway assessment module (FS/StudentWeb). Dates are added to the timetable of planned research seminars.

Opponent: The supervisor will together with the seminar leader find an opponent. The opponent might be one of the regular participants of the seminar group, or an external person with knowledge of the topic and willing to act as an opponent. In addition, the Candidate and supervisor may invite interested professors and candidates otherwise not participating in the seminar.

Form: Minimum 1 week before the midway assessment the candidate submit a written presentation outline distributed to all participants. The document outlines the work on the thesis and forms the basis of the approximately 30-minute presentation. The weight of the presentation should  be on methodical and written status, so that the opponents can gain an impression of the progress of the thesis. Discussion of theoretical and other issues, including article drafts, can also be addressed, but only to the extent this is relevant for completion. If discussion of other theoretical or methodical considerations is necessary, the candidate will be given the opportunity to bring these up during regular seminars.

Approval: The approval means that the assessment and the plans for the road ahead is presented. The seminar leaders report to the Department whether the midway assessment has been passed or not. If changes have been suggested but the midway assessment nevertheless is passed, the candidate and main supervisor shall submit a list over suggested changes to the Head of Research at the Department. If changes are needed that cannot be immediately addressed during the assessment, a new, shorter assessment will be held within the next 2-6 months, where the candidate will present and justify proposed changes. If the opponent conclude that the thesis cannot be submitted within reasonable time despite proposed changes, the Head of Research shall be notified. This will conclude the midway assessment, which thereby is passed as a mandatory activity.

Human Geography

The midway assessment is incorporated into SOS9005 or SGO9005 and shall be completed in the fourth semester for candidates on a three-year scholarship, and in the fifth semester for candidates on a four-year scholarship. The midway assessment consists of presentation of a status report on the thesis as well as a draft for a chapter/article. Fellow candidates serves as a opponents providing feedback.

Economics

To motivate an early start on the thesis, all candidates shall present a piece of work at a workshop held during the 3rd semester of the programme. The presentation must include a written draft. Supervisors are expected to attend, and external opponents are invited. The presentation shall be approved by the doctoral committee.

Social Anthropology

When should the midway assessment be completed?

The midway assessment shall be completed after the most significant part of the data collection process is completed, and at a time when the writing of the thesis itself is underway. For candidates on a four-year scholarship the midway assessment will be held some time during the second half of the 5th semester. For candidates on a three-year scholarship the midway assessment takes place during the second half of the 4th semester.

Schedule for the midway assessment:

The candidate will start with an oral presentation lasting about 30 minutes on the progress of the thesis work thus far. During the following 60 minutes the opponents will provide feedback and points for discussion with the candidate. An additional 30 minutes is reserved for comments and questions from others present, and for summarizing, concluding comments. The total estimated duration of the midway assessment is up to two hours.

Written outline

A written document outlining the presentation for the midway assessment must be submitted and made available for anyone interested 3 weeks before the date for the midway assessment. The outline shall include:

a) a tentative overview of the thesis topic, choice of theory, research methods, and chapters - including a short progress report and a writing plan. (in total minimum 2.000 words, maximum 3.000 words)

b) a thesis draft of at minimum 10.000 words, maximum 18.000 words. It is up to the candidate to choose what to present - it can for instance be a draft for one or more articles (if the thesis is a monograph), or it might be a draft for one or two articles or the introductory section (if the thesis is article-based). Also Included in the outline should be approximately half a page stating the intended role of the text(s) in the thesis, how far the work on the text(s) has come, and how much that remains.

Who shall be present?

The following four persons should be present: The head of the PhD programme, the main supervisor of the candidate as well as two anthropologists with academic expertise equivalent of associate professor or professor (usually recruited from the Department's permanent staff - but not always) - the last two acting as opponents. Others interested are also invited to participate.

Execution of the midway assessment

The head of the PhD programme (or deputy) functions as a moderator for the midway assessment.

As mentioned, two will function as a mix of opponents, questioners, and supervisors. These will be appointed formally by the Head of the Department. They will collaborate on the preparations for the midway assessment including the division of labour for the session, and will provide feedback immideately following the presentation.

The opponents will use up to 60 minutes on the "opposition," either by taking 30 minutes each, or by any other agreed division. In any case, the 60 minutes of "opposition" should include two key elements:

  • First, both should spend some time giving the candidate feedback on the written outline and the presentation itself.
  • Second, both should engage the candidate in dialogue and discussion on the work of the candidate: they are expected to present opinions and questions for the candidate to respond to.

After the opposition, others present are invited to present questions or comments. Finally the candidate and/or the two opponents may present summarizing and concluding remarks.

Estimated time for this section is 30 minutes.

Assessment

As soon as possible - and no later than two hours after the midway assessment - both opponents along with the Head of the PhD programme shall reward the presentation with either a "pass" or a "fail." A failed midway assessment means a new one will be held 2-6 months later.

Sociology

The midway assessment is incorporated into SOS9005 or SGO9005 and shall be completed in the fourth semester for candidates on a three-year scholarship, and in the fifth semester for candidates on a four-year scholarship. The midway assessment consists of presentation of a status report on the thesis as well as a draft for a chapter/article. Fellow candidates serves as a opponents providing feedback.

Political Science

Technology, Innovation and Culture

  • The midway assessment is mandatory for all candidates admitted starting January 1st 2011, and is incorporated as a part of the mandatory seminars in the programme plan (TIK9101). Completed series of seminars, including midway assessment is awarded a total of 5 credits.
  • The midway assessment shall take place in the period between 50% and 70% completed mark of the PhD programme. It is the responsibility of the Head of the PhD programme to inform the candidate and supervisors of the date of the midway assessment in due time.  A preliminary date for the midway assessment is written into the candidate's course plan and is available on the candidate's StudentWeb.
  • The most important function of the midway assessment is to give feedback and constructive criticism to assist the completion of the thesis.

The assessment has to parts:

1. Seminar
2. Meeting with those closest involved

The midway assessment is divided into four main components:

Presentation

  • The candidate presents the progress on the thesis thus far in an open seminar. The duration of the seminar is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • The candidates begin by presenting his or her work. This part lasts about 30 minutes, followed  by a approx. 60 minutes long discussion together with two appointed opponents. The opponent decide ahead of the presentation the division of labour between themselves. At the end, 15 minutes are reserved for questions and comments by other participants.
  • The Head of the PhD  programme acts as a moderator of the seminar. The candidate, opponents, supvervisors, and the Head of the PhD programme shall all be present at the seminar, but others interested are also welcome.

Written outline

  • The candidate shall be submitted and made available for anyone interested three weeks before the midway assessment is held. The outline shall contain an overview over the entire thesis thus far, including key research questions, theoretical framework, and research methods. The outline should also contain a plan over the remaining work. At least 1 article/chapter should be submitted along with the outline, preferably 2. Total page count is a maximum of 50 pages, including articles/chapters.

Opposition

  • Two opponents are appointed. These are typically reqruited from amongst senior researchers at the Department of Technology, Innovation and Culture, but TIK-alumni and other external researchers with a close attachment to the Department can be considered. The supervisor is normally out of consideration. The intention is that the opponents from the midway assessment can function as mentors towards the end of the dissertation process.

Academic assessment

  • Immediately following the seminar the candidate, supvervisors, opponents and the Head of the PhD programme meet to sum up the seminar. Opponents and Head of the PhD programme evaluate the presentation made by the candidate, either as "passed" or as "failed." Failure to pass the midway assessment entails a new midway assessment, held 2-6 months later.

 

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Published June 25, 2015 3:16 PM - Last modified Nov. 9, 2016 12:51 PM