PHD by publication : an institutional analysis

Frick, Liezel (2016)

CITATION: Frick, L. 2016. PHD by Publication: An Institutional Analysis, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 299-312. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/18.

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INTRODUCTION: PhD1 theses generally follow one of two different formats. Firstly there is the (more traditional) monograph, which is written as a unified and coherent work, and which is most commonly found in non-laboratory areas. Secondly, the PhD by publication2 has evolved, which comprises a number of papers written during a period of postgraduate training, as well as an introduction to and summary of the papers included. The PhD by publication has become established as a form of doctoral knowledge production across disciplines. Increased demands for shorter completion times, lower dropout rates and higher so-called productivity during postgraduate study are instrumental in driving the pressure to publish internationally (Boud & Lee 2009). National funding and subsidy formulas,3 relatively low doctoral production rates and the aging profile of active researchers (ASSAf 2010; Backhouse 2008) may furthermore contribute to the promotion of PhD formats that are thought to address these issues. These trends have (at least in part) led to the two different kinds of doctoral dissertations. Both the national and international drivers of the PhD by publication format seem to originate mostly from calls for accountability and quality assurance, appraisal and excellence, and effectiveness and efficiency. Such drivers are mostly aimed at managerial imperatives and policy adherence, rather than at the scholarly development of students or the advancement of scientific knowledge (see, for instance, Giroux 2014; Altbach 2012, 2013). Scholars warn that students and supervisors alike may not be well prepared for doctoral education in general (Manathunga 2007), or for such an alternative format as such (Paré 2010), as it may demand a different doctoral supervisory pedagogy (Lee 2010).

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