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Scandinavian model for PhD theses

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  • Will Hopkins
    My institutional colleagues and I have been pushing for a PhD thesis format that we proclaim as the Scandinavian model.  We thought we had succeeded, but we
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 12, 2008
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      My institutional colleagues and I have been pushing for a PhD thesis format
      that we proclaim as the Scandinavian model.  We thought we had succeeded,
      but we have encountered strong resistance now that one of my PhDs has
      submitted a thesis in this format.  It looks like the rules will be changed
      to prevent theses being presented in this format again. We need evidence to
      convince the Luddites, so I am hoping people on this list can help provide
      it.  Please note that the opposition in no way reflects the quality of the
      student’s thesis, which in my view is outstanding.

      We call the model Scandinavian, but for me at any rate that’s based on
      limited experience of browsing Scandinavian journals in a library more than
      10 years ago.  (At that stage at least some PhDs in Scandinavia were being
      published as supplements in Scandinavian journals.)  I have no idea of what
      currently passes as best practice for PhD thesis presentation in
      Scandinavia, and I have little idea of the extent to which this model is
      used elsewhere.  I know that all of my colleagues here and overseas are 100%
      in favor of it, but our doctoral studies boards seem to be made up of people
      with more conservative ideas.

      Be it Scandinavian or not, the kind of thesis format I regard as
      self-evidently superior to anything else is the following:
      • an abstract of no more than 400 words;
      • an introductory preface, in which the student explains in a first-person
      plain narrative style why they did what they did and what each chapter is
      about;
      • one or more literature reviews, each as a chapter with a focused title
      that need reflect only part of the original research in the rest of the
      thesis and each written as a manuscript for a journal;
      • a series of original-research chapters, each written as a manuscript in
      the format of the journal to which it has been or is intended to be
      submitted, and presented as the published PDFs, if these are available at
      the time of submission of the thesis and if the journal gives its permission
      for their inclusion verbatim and formatim (I just made up that word);
      • a concluding chapter in which the student reflects on all the findings of
      the PhD in some coherent non-repetitive manner and which in some
      circumstances could be written as another literature review or as a
      plain-language report for a magazine;
      • a series of appendices representing other relevant creative output during
      the course of the PhD (magazine articles, minor-author articles, website
      material, conference abstracts, industry reports…);
      • no list of cited references, because each section of the thesis contains
      its reference list.

      I put “Scandinavian model ‘PhD theses’” into Google and found a document
      from the University of Limerick http://www2.ul.ie/pdf/547176012.doc that
      summarizes the advantages.  I did not see anything else relevant on the
      first page of hits.

      Please post comments to me or to the list.  I will post a summary.  (I
      haven’t yet posted a summary of my enquiry about problems with
      Excel-Powerpoint figures in the Office 2007 suite, because I am still
      waiting for my IT people to resolve it.  It looks like we will have to
      revert to the 2003 version and hope that the next version of the Office
      suite is usable.)

      Will
      Will G Hopkins, PhD FACSM
      Institute of Sport and Recreation Research
      AUT University, Akoranga Drive
      Private Bag 92006
      Auckland 0627, New Zealand
      Cell +64 21 804 736
      Landline +64 9 921 9793
      Fax +64 9 921 9960
      Skype WillTheKiwi
      will@..., will.hopkins@...
      Sportscience http://sportsci.org
      Statistics http://newstats.org
      Be creative: break rules.
    • Michael Hamlin
      Hi Everyone, ������������I am certainly moving toward the Scandinavian model for PhD thesis format for a few reasons. The first is that I have been fortunate
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 14, 2008
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        Hi Everyone,
                    I am certainly moving toward the "Scandinavian model" for PhD thesis format for a few reasons. The first is that I have been fortunate to be the examiner of both the more traditional style of thesis and also what Will calls the “Scandinavian style” recently, and in my opinion the Scandinavian style wins out on a number of areas.

        Its more concise, usually better planned and written. It creates less work overall for the supervisor and candidate because the format is in the journal style and ready for publication. It probably requires more effort for the candidate because each chapter needs to be very specific and concise.

        The other reason is of course that here in New Zealand, as well as elsewhere, I presume, much of the government funding of universities is tied into research and therefore research output. The Scandinavian method gets the candidates research out into the journals much sooner, with less effort of the supervisor.

        The one problem that this style of thesis preparation does have, is that if one of the final examiners of the thesis has a major problem with a part of the research which may have already been published, otherwise I would endorse this style and intend to use it with my students.


        Mike

        The one problem that this style of thesis preparation does have is that if one of the final examiners has a major problem with a part of the research which may have already been published, otherwise I would endorse this style and intend to use it with my students.

        Mike Hamlin, PhD
        Senior Lecturer, Environment Society and Design Division
        P O BOX 84
        Lincoln University
        Lincoln 7647
        NEW ZEALAND
        Ph:       00 64 (3) 325 3820
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