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CBE PhD Thesis by Compilation Guideline

1. Introduction

This Guideline details the College of Business and Economics’ (CBE’s) requirements for a thesis by compilation and the process that PhD candidates must follow when applying to submit one.1 The Guideline should be read carefully in conjunction with:

As well as reading the Guideline and associated materials, PhD candidates wishing to submit a thesis by compilation:

  • Should discuss this intention with their supervisors and School HDR Convenors as early in their candidature as possible; and
  • Must follow the process outlined in this Guideline to apply to the CBE Delegated Authority for permission to do so. Unless in receipt of this approval, PhD candidates will be required to submit a standard format thesis.

Importantly, submitting a standard format thesis does not preclude PhD candidates from organizing the thesis into a multiple-study/essay structure.

2. Structure and Content of a Thesis by Compilation

A thesis by compilation submitted by any CBE PhD candidate must comprise no less than three (3) peer-reviewed journal articles that have been researched and written during the course of the candidature. These publications must revolve around a central theme and be presented in a cohesive manner. Taken together, these requirements mean that, in addition to its constituent papers, a thesis by compilation must include:

a.  An introduction to the field of study and the hypothesis or research questions of the thesis, how these are addressed through the constituent papers, and a general account of the theory and methodological components of the research;

b.  Linking text to establish the relationship between one paper and the next, such as through a foreword to each paper; and

c.  A conclusion that draws together the published papers in a cohesive manner, addresses how the individual publications link to the theory and methodology adopted and evaluates the contribution that the research makes to the advancement of the research area. 

3. Requirements of a Thesis by Compilation

The collective scope and quality of the research included in a thesis by compilation must be commensurate with that presented in a standard format thesis. Importantly:

  • At least two (2) of the minimum of three (3) papers required in a thesis by compilation must have either been published, or accepted for publication, in an A- or A*-ranked journals at the time of the candidates’ application to submit their thesis in this format;2,3  
  • The publications included in a thesis by compilation can be either single-authored or co-authored;
  • In the case of co-authored paper/s, the number of co-authors included must be sensible for the discipline. Moreover, the CBE PhD candidate must: be the lead author; have contributed significantly to the writing of the paper/s; and provide a statement clearly detailing the nature and extent of their contribution to each co-authored paper/s that, wherever possible, is signed by all co-authors. The Statement of Contribution Template may prove helpful in preparing this statement, a copy of which is available at the link included in the Application and Approval Process section; and
  • All papers submitted in a thesis by compilation must comply with the ANU policies Responsible Conduct of Research and Code of Research Conduct.

4. Application and Approval Process

As noted previously, PhD candidates should discuss their wish to submit a thesis by compilation with their supervisors and School HDR Convenors as early in their candidature as possible. At the latest, this should happen before their Thesis Proposal Review. This will allow candidates to develop a realistic research plan that takes into account the (often lengthy) peer-review and publication process.

PhD candidates must also obtain endorsement from their supervisory panel and approval from the CBE Director of HDR as the Delegated Authority to submit a thesis by compilation.  They must do this no less than 6 months prior to submission. The application requires candidates to:

a.  Complete the Thesis by Compilation Statement of Contribution (a template is available here) for each of the co-authored papers, detailing the extent of the contribution of the candidate to developing the research questions, creation and collection of data, analysis and interpretation of the data and to the writing of the paper;

b.  Have the Statement signed by all co-authors of the papers and endorsed by the supervisors; and 

c.  Apply to change their thesis format via Manage My Degree eForms through ISIS. Candidates should read the application process here before they proceed.

In reviewing an application to submit a thesis by compilation, the CBE Delegated Authority will take into account relevant University HDR Policies / Procedures and the CBE requirements set in this Guideline. Wherever necessary, the CBE Delegated Authority may also request further information from the candidates and supervisors.

5. Publishers’ Agreements

PhD candidates wishing to submit a thesis by compilation need to ensure publishers’ agreements do not preclude the inclusion of the published work in their thesis. They need to do this before submission. Please see here for further information. For any questions, please contact: 

ANU Copyright Officer:
Roxanne Missingham
T: 02 6125 2003
E: Roxanne.missingham@anu.edu.au

6. Thesis Submission and Examination 

The submission and examination procedures for a thesis by compilation are the same as those for a standard format thesis and are detailed in ANU HDR thesis submission and examination policies and procedures.


1 Only in exceptional circumstances will approval be given to a candidate for a Master of Philosophy or Professional Doctorate to submit a thesis by compilation.

2 In the case of business and economics publications, A and A* journals are as defined by the Australian Business Deans Council List. For other publications, journal rankings are determined with reference to Thomson Reuters Impact Factors, with the top 5% of outlets in the discipline nominated by Thomson Reuters regarded as A* and the next 20% regarded as A.

3 This requirement ensures that the quality of the research conducted by candidates is commensurate with that expected of the unitary PhD business and economic disciplines, and to reduce examiners’ potential concerns about the rigour of journals’ peer-review processes.

Updated:   29 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team