Thinking about writing a thesis by publication? Some reasons for and against

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By Cally Guerin

 While the thesis by publication is very common in some disciplines and in some national doctoral systems, debate continues to rage about this model. On the whole, I’m in favour of the article-based/compilation format reporting on research done during candidature, but with some important caveats. Here I outline some reasons for and against presenting doctoral work as a series of publications. Continue reading

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Questions to get started on refining the research question

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By Cally Guerin

It’s the start of the new academic year in Australia, and my thoughts have turned to those new PhD candidates who are just starting out on their projects. It’s an exciting and challenging time – for students and supervisors. I’ve put together a few ideas about those early steps related to refining research questions when commencing a new project. Continue reading

Managing supervisor/candidate falling out over doctoral writing

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By Susan Carter

It’s common for supervisory relations to grow tense somewhere during a doctorate. It’s also usual for the parties involved to work through such tension, and move on, that very usual process in most human relationships. Now and then, though, emotions grow intense, and the disagreement between candidate and supervisor threatens to obstruct the doctorate. And while some tensions may emerge from differing personalities, some relate to differences in writing processes or style preferences. A few times I have worked with supervisor/candidate couples in strife, and this post describes my suggestions for managing discord. Continue reading

Internal alignment in doctoral writing: questions, methods, theory….

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By Susan Carter

I’m writing this as I prepare a two-hour workshop for a group of doctoral students who mostly work in Education. Our thinking work together will be premised upon an article that I have just read (Twining, Heller, Nussbaum, and Tsai, 2017). If you are able to access this, you’ll have a good resource for doctoral students, who often have difficulty with how they are expected to write about their study’s epistemology and ontology.

I’ve sent this article in advance to the students who’ll be coming to my class, since it devotes a few paragraph to the need for ‘internal alignment’ in research writing. If you cannot access the article, it would still be possible to run a workshop in which doctoral students talk about how their research design links to their epistemological position, and how the bits of their thesis tie logically together within that framework. Continue reading

Doctoral writing: How good is good enough?

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By Susan Carter

Commonly there is some uncertainty about when a doctorate is ready for submission. The criteria for a PhD are expressed in rather broad terms. Exactly how patently must critical analysis of literature be demonstrated to reach doctoral standard?  Just how significant must the contribution to knowledge be in a doctoral thesis compared to a masters thesis? How thoroughly must understanding of theory and methodology be shown? This post considers how supervisors and candidates can judge when the doctorate is good enough to face examination. Continue reading

Scholarship as collaboration: Towards a generous rhetoric

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By Anthony Paré

Anthony Paré is a Professor at the University of British Columbia. He’s also an inspiring researcher who took a lead in researching doctoral writing, with wise articles based on practice as well as data.

Who is the speaker of academic texts? What is their relationship to readers? With what authority and conviction do they speak? Is their task to contest, criticize, and rebuke, or is it to cooperate, assist, and collaborate? In scholarly practice, and in the training of students, is academic discourse regarded as a field of combat, where opponents’ positions are attacked and one’s own arguments advanced triumphantly? Or do we approach academic writing as a fundamentally social act through which understanding and knowing are built collectively?

Since I believe that knowledge-making is a social enterprise that depends on collaborative work, these are questions I’ve frequently considered over many years of teaching and studying writing, and they were the questions I addressed in my presentation at the recent International Academic Identities Conference in Hiroshima, Japan. The Conference theme was The Peaceful University: Aspirations for academic futures – compassion, generosity, imagination, and creation, a powerful and poignant theme in a city that experienced such horrendous violence in August, 1945. In this blog entry, I offer the written version of that talk. Continue reading