One of the core recommendations is to make sure that [in] the examination process we have a clear understanding that the practice is to be experienced live. This is challenging, there are cost / time implications to consider, and equality, the examiners feel they have the ability to think about what the practice is doing in relationship to the knowledge generation of the thesis. Often we see an examiner not willing to offer the same ‘corrections’ to practice as they do for writing. I don’t necessarily want them to be standardised processes, but it’s about a certain level of awareness of the practice itself being in itself a knowledge bearing element, being epistemic in nature, rather than being something that is what we are examining is the writing about the practice, and the examiners having the confidence to do that. (Vida Midgelow, Looking Forward: Artistic Doctorates in Dance and Movement Practices, Visioning the Future Seminar, 2020)
When developing regulations around examination, consider the following points:
- The timeframe for examining practice. Consider whether the practice is examined during the degree or after the submission and close to the Viva, and define a clear examination time frame. As discussed in Examination Considerations for Staff, this will have resulting logistics implications for the candidate / examiners / supervisors. Ensure all parties are aware of those.
- Clarity on the process and logistics of examination. Students want to know what to expect for their examination, in particular, with regards to the practice, and potential exhibition / performance / screening formats. Ensure guidelines are clear and easily accessible for students.
- The purpose and role of the chair. The chair ensures that regulations are followed and that the Viva is conducted in a fair and collegiate manner, chairing the discourse without taking part in critical discussion. If an independent chair is assigned by the university, they too – as the external examiner – should be familiar with the regulations and protocols around examining Artistic Research. Supply a short document outlining the specificities of the examination of an artistic doctorate or request them to familiarise themselves with your regulations in advance.
The moments that have been the most difficult are when there is an argument going on and actually it needs a third eye to say, look, this is what’s happening here right now, just deal with what’s happening here right now. And that’s very difficult for a chair to do especially in academic environments where they may be sitting in front of a titled person who is a long-established professor of X. And in whose domain they are [in]. So, having the training to intervene as a chair and bring everyone down to earth and go ‘okay what are we doing here’ is really, really important’. (Yvon Bonenfant, Artistic Research Doctorate Examination, Visioning the Future Seminar, 2020)
- How examiners are briefed in the regulations of the institution. A student’s doctoral submission may be appropriate within the school’s regulations but perceived as not so from someone coming from a different context, as there are different models of Artistic Research across fields and geographies. Ensuring your external examiners are well briefed in the regulations of your institution counteracts this potential challenge. Provide examiners with an outline of the criteria, the submission formats, and the regulatory context where the student operates, or a copy of the regulations before examination.