A Good Choice

In most institutions PhD candidates can talk to their supervisors and discuss possible examiners. There may be hundreds of names that could fill the roles. What makes for a good choice? Who do you pick? How do you pick?

I like creative thinking tools. There’s a lot of them, and many approaches aimed at finding a creative solution to a problem propose divergent thinking – trying to find as many ideas as possible – followed by convergent thinking – using tools to narrow down possibilities to the most suitable choices.

Some questions to open up the space of possible examiners:
Who have you cited?
Who have you met at conferences?
Who has particular interest in the kind of research you’ve done?
Who has a reputation for being excellent?

Some questions to narrow the field:
Who is just an absolute no? (for whatever reason)
Whose name would be a useful reference?
Whose work have you criticised?
Whose work do you find particularly influential?

These questions can be useful, but I think you first need to have some idea of good examiner qualities. The overall question is far more personalised than people usually take it: instead of “what qualities should you want in a good examiner?” the question needs to be “what qualities do I want in my examiner?”

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