Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Graduate Research and Scholarships
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Conflict of Interest and Independence of Examiners

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

At The University of Western Australia, examination of theses prepared for Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) is wholly external. The process for examination and classification of theses assumes that examiners undertake the task independently, without bias. Professional and personal relationships between examiners and a student and their supervisor/s, and relationships between examiners and the University, have the potential to introduce bias and thus reduce the independence of the examination, in fact or perception. Sometimes it is not clear to examiners and their nominees what might constitute a conflict of an examiner's interest that must be declared.

This policy sets out the principles for independent thesis examination.


Policy statement:

1.1 Examination of Higher Degree by Research theses must occur free of bias.

1.2 Bias might be introduced to the examination process via a range of prior or current personal, professional or legal relationships between the examiner and the student, the supervisor/s or other examiners. In addition, bias can occur when an examiner has a prior or current relationship with the University or an interest of more than an academic nature in the outcomes of the research.

1.3 Where there is a likelihood that bias might occur or be seen to occur in the context of the examination of an HDR thesis, a potential for real or perceived conflict of interest must be declared to the body responsible for the thesis examination (ie the Board of the Graduate Research School or the relevant faculty, as applicable).

1.4 Any party concerned with the examination of a thesis who becomes aware of the potential for a real or perceived conflict of interest anywhere in the examination process has the responsibility to declare it to the body responsible for the thesis examination. This remains the case notwithstanding that the conflict might not be their own.

1.5 When the body responsible for examination of a thesis receives a declaration of real or perceived conflict of interest with respect to an examination it must consider the matter according to this policy and its own practice and either: (a) determine that a prima facie conflict of interest exists and exclude the relevant party from the examination process; or (b) determine that no prima facie conflict of interest exists and allow the party to continue to be involved in the examination process. In either case, the rationale for the determination must be recorded in the relevant minutes and on the student file.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Associate Director, Graduate Research & Scholarships

Related Policies or legislation:

Board of the Graduate Research School - Examples of Conflict of Interest