Selecting Examiners

I like things to be just right. I’m not fussy, I’m particular.

Which means I’m never satisfied by Christmas selection boxes: a collection of chocolate bars in one festive package. My grandmother would say, “You mustn’t eat them all at once or you’ll spoil your appetite!”

Well, I couldn’t eat them all at once. Because I didn’t like the bars with nuts in. And I wasn’t keen on the chewy one. And that other one has a funny texture…

So many treats aren’t to my taste even though there’s nothing wrong with them. I’ve not found a selection box that is just right for me.

For similar reasons I think many capable examiners would feel unsuitable for any candidate. There’s nothing wrong them, but their selection would feel wrong.

There are no universal criteria for good examiners. There are criteria that academics must satisfy  – a length of time in post or level of experience – but after that everything comes down to personal taste of the candidate.

Have you cited your examiners? That could feel right for some but not for others. Are they an expert in your field? A lot of candidates could find that scary! A friend of your supervisor? Is that really the best thing to focus on?

So much of what would make an examiner feel right to a candidate comes down to what matters to the candidate.

Fundamentally, you can’t choose your examiners but you can talk with your supervisor. You can make a case for what you think would work well. Reflect in advance on what you would ideally like.

  • What are you really looking for?
  • What criteria would make for someone who is close to perfect?
  • How do you find academics who meet your requirements?

Your supervisor will ultimately nominate your examiners but you can put forward ideas for the kinds of people who would be just right for you. Be particular.

Find the best selection for you.