This article reports on a study of the processes that experienced examiners go through, and the judgements they make before writing their reports.

Experienced examiners make judgements about the quality and quantity of students' work based on their own extensive experience. These examiners 'know' what constitues a passable or outstanding thesis, as demonstrated by the students' capacity to undertake independent research. These examiners make the judgements by the time they have read the first two chapters, often sooner.

The positive indicators that lead to these initial judgements include:

1. 'sparkle' sense of confidence with the material;

2. cohesiveness and clarity;

3. a student who makes the ideas his/her own, with some originally of presentation;

4. professionalism as demostrated by mature comments, and the accuracy of the logic;

5. style and sophistication.

The final, substantive judgement is determined by:

1. the student's confidence and independence;

2. a creative view of the topic;

3. the structure of the argument;

4. the coherence of theoretical and methodological perspectives; and

5. evidence of critical self-assessment by the student.

Many characteristics they described for a poor thesis or PhD were:

1. lack of coherence;

2. lack of understanding of the theory;

3. lack of confidence;

4. reserching the wrong problem;

5. mixed or confused theoretical and methodological perspectives;

6. work that is not original;

7. not being able to explain at the end of thesis what had actually been argued in the thesis.

I am hoping everyone can make an outstanding thesis as a well-sculpted piece of work....then you are becoming much more academic researcher in the future.

Best of luck to all PhDs krab.....