Ph.D. examiner reports: Discrepant readings, conflicting discourses

Year: 1996

Author: Kamler, Barbara, Threadgold, Terry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We have observed over the past twelve months an increasing tendency for examiner's reports on higher degree theses to award radically different and often incompatible results to the same thesis. The problem is not entirely new but it does seem to be occurring more frequently. In this paper we attempt to make sense of some of the reasons for these incompatible readings, including the changing nature of the postgraduate population, the breakdown in divisions between disciplines and the conflicting discourses of economic rationalism and quality assurance on the one hand and British transmission models and liberal humanism on the other. We make reference to the examination of theses in different disciplines at different universities to demonstrate the impossibility of objective assessment practices and unmotivated readings. We suggest the need for a different set of criteria located within a better theorised postgraduate pedagogy.