Stirling PhD can do journal articles instead of thesis

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by warguns, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. warguns

    warguns Member

    PhD students will be able to obtain doctorates without completing the traditional 80,000-word dissertation in what is claimed to be a pioneering initiative by Stirling University.

    Stirling said this week that it would offer PhD students the chance to submit a series of linked peer-reviewed journal articles instead of the standard thesis.
  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Not to knock them, as I don't have a problem with this approach, but isn't it only "pioneering" if they're the first ones to do it?

  3. JLV

    JLV Active Member

    I've seen this approach in Holland too. I think it is way more difficult and complicated than getting a PhD the normal route itself. The competition to get published you face is fierce while doing your PhD you compete against yourself. I doubt they graduate many people, perhaps some who have tons of experience in research and works already at that level. My two cents.
  4. laferney

    laferney Active Member

    Isn't this the same as a PHD by publication -which is offered at many European, Australian and other universiites around the world? A PhD by publication is usually a series of published papers (minimum 3-5) with a corresponding paper showing linkage- which can be quite a "mini-thesis" itself in some programs.
    (Also called such things as "context document" or "critical essay" or "explanatory essay")
    An excellent article on this is available at :

    How does the Stirling program differ from this-do they omit the corresponding paper and just use published articles or are both required?
  5. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    This has been an option at UF for some time as well.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    My understanding of the difference is that:
    • A PhD by publication usually is geared toward faculty members at the university in question who have already published scholarly papers but who do not have a doctorate.
    • The Stiling program and the others like it are geared toward incoming students who will be writing scholarly papers in the future as part of an agreed-upon plan.
  7. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Actually, this seems like more work than a dissertation because one is refining a dissertation down into the publishable articles before they are published. To have a meaningful connecting narrative one might start with an almost complete dissertation and then disassemble it into the these publishable articles while "scrapping" the rest... Sure, you might be spinning off work in the beginning but you'll be working vigorously to get the pieces published. This is way harder than a dissertation, and for many topics in budding disciplines it will be nearly impossible to get several articles published in acceptable peer-reviewed journals. It seems like it would have to be an option to the dissertation and offered alongside.

  8. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    It is more work. It also takes longer. By the time you submit an article for publication, get comments back from reviewers, submit with changes, get it reviewed again, about a year has already gone by. That's just for one article, not including the time writing it. To get a PhD this way, you usually need to have at least 4 published.

    Also there's a cost issue. Many journals charge around $100 per page. For a DL student without grant support, that could be very costly.
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Not all programs that allow a thesis to be done as a series of related articles rather than a monograph require those articles to be published in a peer-reviewed journal before they can apply to the program requirements.

    At the same time, there are journals that don't cost that much and some which cost nothing. If publication is required, then one's university should be able to provide a list of acceptable journals for this purpose. Moreover, anyone interested in the tenure track will have to publish anyway, and having four articles down by the time one's PhD is done is a non-trivial leg up on the competition.

  10. RoscoeB

    RoscoeB Senior Member

    Interesting. I thought the academic community frowned on "paying for publication."

    Is it more common in certain disciplines than others?

  11. RoscoeB

    RoscoeB Senior Member

    So true. Sometimes it takes six month (or longer) to learn an article is rejected. I've read that the rejection rate for the top journals is extremely high.

    I recently targeted a top journal in my field and received a rejection notice about four months after submission. After revising it a bit, I submitted the article to a smaller, lesser known journal. It's been accepted. But it will take about six months before it's published.

    I'm working on a research doctorate (Pretoria) and I'm finding it more useful to write the thesis and then use portions of it for journal articles. A monograph is currently in the works, and a full-length book will follow after graduation.

  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    This depends a lot on the quality of the journal. Many journals have little rejection rate.

    I would disagree that is more work. The reality is that once you get one article approved, you can play with it and have another two more articles approved just by changing things around (not in the same journal).

    The reality is that you need to publish at least few articles in order to have some credibility at the time of examination of the dissertation.
  13. ashton

    ashton New Member

    It's common in electronics. Many articles are by working engineers and the cost is picked up by the engineer's employer. Some journals will waive the fee for a person who don't have an employeer to pick up the cost.
  14. RoscoeB

    RoscoeB Senior Member

    Thanks, Gerry.


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