Phd by Publication Method Unpacked
UKZN’s Acting Academic Leader of Research in the School of Clinical Medicine, Dr Veena Singaram, recently conducted a workshop on the Perils and Pleasures of PhD via Publication.
The workshop at the Nelson R. Mandela Medical School aimed to empower and motivate academics in the College of Health Sciences to consider the PhD by Publication method of obtaining a PhD.
The workshop was organised by the Women in Leadership and Leverage Committee (WILL) for Postgraduate students and UKZN staff interested in completing a PhD through published work.
Singaram discussed the benefits and challenges of writing publications for a PhD study and described how to structure the studies, thesis and the examination process. She also shared her experiences of being a doctoral student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands where journal review process exposed her to a wider academic and professional community within her research domain introducing her to new perspectives and enhancing her analytical and writing skills.
Singaram said factors be considered prior to embarking on a doctoral study via publications included university requirements, supervisors’ experience and pedagogical stance, the research subject matter, capacity and working style, intellectual property-transfer of ownership to publishers and issues of co-authorship.
To achieve a PhD via publication, the submission should take the form of a collection of three to five original papers, an introductory and discussion chapter. The student was expected to be the first author in all the submitted publications.
Singaram supports obtaining a PhD via publication as an alternative from the traditional route of thesis submission as it has great advantages. The route facilitates the peer-review process, and therefore gives the candidate a greater chance of success in obtaining the degree as the quality of the work has been already assessed.
‘Since many candidates move on to academic careers and postdoctoral positions, it’s good to have the work already published to a wider audience and an established research profile,’ she said.
‘To some, the writing of papers is less daunting than a single monograph, and the acceptance of their first papers in a recognised peer-reviewed journal, motivates and guides them to completion.’
She said all of this had to be done in close consultation with the supervisor and university structures, since the work has to represent a clear body of knowledge relevant to the research topic.
Professor Irene Mackraj, Acting Academic leader of Teaching and Learning (LMMS), said the current challenge at tertiary institutions was to increase the cohort of PhD students and also their research output. Workshops assisted in facilitating this process.
‘WILL aims to empower young women in academia and provide them with the tools needed to obtain success in the completion of their postgraduate degrees and research endeavours. We hope the workshop will provide PhD candidates and those thinking of embarking on PhDs, with the necessary information on how to obtain the degree through the publications route,’ Mackraj said.
- Nombuso Dlamini