Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How to pass your PhD

Tara Brabazon: Road map to doctoral failure

In this ten-step guide, Tara Brabazon presents the don’ts and don’ts of the PhD process.

Part one: bibliographies

The canary in the mine

Doctoral students need to be told that most examiners start marking from the back of the script. Just as cooks are judged by their ingredients and implements, we judge doctoral students by the calibre of their sources.

The moment examiners see incomplete references or find that key theorists in the topic are absent, they worry. This concern intensifies when in-text citations with no match in the bibliography are located.

If examiners find ten errors, then students are required to perform minor corrections. If there are 20 anomalies, the doctorate will need major corrections. Any referencing issues over that number and examiners question the students’ academic abilities.

If the most basic academic protocols are not in place, the credibility of a script wavers. A bibliography is not just a bibliography: it is a canary in the doctoral mine.

UPDATE the link to the article appears to have stopped working and I can't find it anywhere on THES website but it was there! A search in google does find the page but clicking on it doesn't work either. If it comes back I'll put the link up again. Here is a link to the cached version which might disappear soon:

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