By Liezel Frick (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Professor Liezel Frick is a colleague in the Special Interest Group that focuses on doctoral writing. She has long considered the dimensionality of the candidate and their text and adds South African experience to our generally Australasian perspectives.
Unlike the traditional monograph style of thesis (a collection of sequential chapters, each reporting on a specific aspect of the project in a linear fashion), a publication-based format has greater variation in form. For example, it may consist of an introductory and conclusive chapter that explain the logic of the dissertation, and a number of publishable and/or published works that may include articles, book chapters and/or published conference proceedings (see Mason and Merga, 2018 for a multitude of options this format might take on), or a hybrid of the above-mentioned formats (see Odendaal and Frick, 2016 for a conceptual frame on this hybridity).
Often students do not have (or feel they have) control over deciding on the format of their doctoral dissertation – institutional policies, disciplinary practices, and supervisor preferences may govern their decisions. The publication-based doctorate is gaining more impetus internationally and across disciplines, yet both students and supervisors are increasingly being confronted by this choice without having the necessary pedagogical knowledge or tools to make an informed decision.
In addition, the forces that drive the push to publish have not always originated from the noble intention of developing PhD students into responsible scholars. Adherence to quality assurance mechanisms and addressing slow and low completion rates at the PhD level underlie many managerialist policies and practices. However, what is often not explicit in these debates is whose interests are primarily served by publishing during the PhD – institutional stature and ranking, the supervisors’ academic credentials, or the scholarly development of the student? Continue reading