Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to examine a PhD thesis

In the UK and most European countries a PhD in a subject is the way to gain entry to serious academic discussions of that discipline. The structure of the PhD examination is designed to achieve this. The two criteria are:

(a) does the thesis make a contribution to knowledge?

(b) is the candidate a reliable member of the academic discipline?

As you can see, both the thesis and the person are being examined. Both aspects are crucial.

The understanding of what is a contribution to knowledge, across almost all disciplines, is that the candidate has conducted a systematic investigation into a question of interest to the academic discipline and has established a new (surprising) result. The words "systematic" and "established" imply that the thesis contains a rational defence of the result, which a sceptical member of the academic discipline will find convincing.

For the second criterion, about the person, examiners will start with the literature review that the thesis contains. The examiners will want to see that it includes references to all previous material that is directly relevant to establishing the new contribution, including papers that prompted the research and provided the framework or starting points, and papers that have reported results that appear relevant to the investigation. The way that these papers are reviewed is important: the PhD examiners will carefully consider the fairness and accuracy of the candidate's judgements on these previous contributions to the subject. Are any important contributions missing from the review? Are the candidate's judgements of the work of others well-founded?

In both cases, in the viva voce examination the examiners will probe any areas of doubt.

For the quality of the investigation and the reliability of the conclusions the examiners will want to check the research methodology and the coherence of the argument. A thesis is well-argued if all statements made in the thesis either are previously established knowledge or have been established by the candidate's investigation. There should not be repetition or non-sequiturs. The methodology and the breadth of the investigation will be satisfactory if they support the claims that are made for the generality of the conclusions. That is, even if the evidence that has been gathered has been correctly evaluated, what confidence can there be that further evidence would not yield different results?

For the adequacy of the candidate's knowledge and judgement, the examiners will carefully consider the list of references supplied and the way they are dealt with in the literature review. All bona fide members of the academic discipline will immediately notice any important omissions, especially of recent work relevant to the thesis. For the purposes of the thesis while it is important to acknowledge the first source of an idea, it is even more important to cite more recent work. And irrelevant material should not be included, as this would indicate that the candidate does not really understand the academic discipline.

So, in a typical case a PhD examiner will start with the research overview (typically in Chapter 1), will check whether a contribution to knowledge is claimed at all (first and last chapters) and if so, whether it really is a worthwhile contribution to knowledge. If the research turns out not to be in an area of interest to the examiner, or there is no contribution to knowledge, the process may well stop at this stage.

Next the examiner will consider the list of references, and then work in detail through the thesis, making careful notes. These notes will generally be of the following kinds:

(1) typographical or grammatical errors, or other inappropriate use of language

(2) factual errors about the academic discipline or its history, gaps in the reasoning or unsubstantiated assertions

(3) missing or irrelevant references or inappropriate comments on literature

(4) poor methodology or evaluation, or over-enthusiastic generalisation

Finally the examiner will check that the abstract is an accurate summary of the thesis, and return to the two criteria mentioned at the start of this article.

39 comments:

  1. Dear Malcolm
    Thanks. I would like to see something on 'publishing from your PhD work' - providing some practical 'tips' and 'hints' so that fellow researchers would get benefit from your and other memebers knowledge and expertise.
    best wishes
    Krishna

    ReplyDelete
  2. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!


    PhD Thesis

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Malcolm you have written fantastic and so usefull for students. I would like to pay thanks for your this quality writing. Best wishes for you. I suggest you to check the service of TheHarvardWriters i've listen about them that they are very good at Research paper

    ReplyDelete
  5. this is my second visit to your page and i admire that you always share useful and relevant information with us. these are the tips that i needed thanks!

    Affordable dissertation

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a great blog. We designed this website for the purpose to help you with this challenging aspect in essay writing services.

    Custom Writing // Best Essays // Write my Essay

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, you have posted such precious and informative article which gave me lot of information. I hope that you will keep it up and we will have more informative and helping news from you. Thanks | Thesis Writing Services

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am very agitated that I have discovered your post because I have been penetrating for some information on this for about two hours. You have helped me a lot undeniably and by reading this article. I have found much new and valuable information about this subject. I was guessing if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be grateful if you could involved a little bit more.
    Thanks for sharing it.
    Online Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  9. Get the best Dissertation & Custom Essay Writing Service from our Qualified Writers. Trust the best and never regret. Try our Essay Help and see the difference in your grades.
    Dissertation Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  10. Accounting Homework Help by Certified Tutors. Send Your Assignment Now to Get Assignment Help done at Most Reasonable Prices.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We provide custom coursework writing service. Coursework UK Help Available. Buy Coursework now at reaonable prices.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Email your Assignments & Get the fastest College Homework Help! 24/7 Tutors & Writers available in all Subjects including accounting, finance, business, statistics! Essay, Dissertation Editing Service Available.
    Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  13. Statistics Assignment Help Available! SPSS or Excel? Send us your Statistics Assignments and Get them completed on time at rock bottom prices!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You probably have gone through all that. However, there is a best coursework writing service site you must know. It is Coursework Writing Help. The site will make sure you present the best coursework to your University.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Many students out there find spending long hours on writing dissertation papers quite monotonous and boring. There are lots of students out there as well who are not capable enough to produce quality writing because of their less amount of knowledge in grammar or they may not be well-acquainted with the ways that help writing papers in a structured way. Dissertation Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  16. Especially what scares them from writing these academic papers such as essays, dissertation papers, term papers, thesis or research papers is the expectation of the evaluators, to write these papers in the specified format, style, language-standard, flow, arguments maintenance and arriving at a conclusion, with due authenticity of references and citations etc.for more details click here - Dissertation Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  17. College Homework Help is just few clicks away. Any subject, any time, just email us the details.

    Statistics Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  18. Best Accounting Homework Help Available Since 2005! Get Assitance from Best Tutors, Best Services at Best Prices. No Registeration Required, Just Email Us.
    Accounting Assignment Help

    ReplyDelete
  19. One such professional service provider is DISSERTATIONUK.CO.UK, a name you can trust when important writing work is required to be completed soon. It has been their forte to provide high quality writings without any compromise to the clients on almost any desired subject. With their team of expert writers all you need to do is send the requirements on their email address info@theessayhelp.com rest will be taken care of by them. They are highly professional and adhere to the deadlines extended by the clients each time. Apart from that they offer affordable service with easy payment options. if you want to more details about us so click here - Dissertation Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  20. Finance Homework Help is the perfect one-stop solution to manage your fiscal projects with our expert professional and get it back on time. When you find it really difficult to solve down your problems and you need guidance to solve all your answers perfectly, then Finance Homework help comes in to you. We have the best professionals that help you in your projects so that you can get top grades in them.for more details click here - Finance Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  21. Get Accounting Homework Help and assistance with other Subjects by Tutors.

    Statistics Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thesis Writing Service or Dissertation Help, just send us an email and we will get that done by our qualified writers within deadline for resonable rates.

    Thesis Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  23. Student life has become quite difficult owing to immense pressure from the tough college and university syllabi. A student has so many papers to write on tough subjects and hectic topics. A student also finds it hectic to go through all the necessary authentic sources required to complete the coursework. One cannot concentrate on writing a thorough researched paper in such circumstances. The fear of failure makes matters worse. Courseworkwritingservice.co.uk can come to your aid here.if you want to more details about us click here - Coursework Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  24. All you have to do is tell us the details of your assignment and we shall offer you the most reasonable quote regarding the project and promise to deliver in the stipulated time. Accounting Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. These Essay Writing Service are going to decide your progress in studies. Your object of joining that course is to get credible marks and come out meritoriously as a graduate, to take up your future career confidently. Besides, your social status also depends upon how educated you are.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Get Coursework Writing and Editing Help. Professional Services Available at Affordable Prices for Coursework Help.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Get College Homework Help by Experts. Contact us for other subjects including Accounting, Finance, Statistics & other Assignments. College Assignment Help

    ReplyDelete
  29. My Dissertation Writer can help you with your dissertations, essays, research papers & thesis. Qualified Experts & Reasonable Prices. Simply Email us the Details.

    ReplyDelete
  30. We at Statistics Homework help offer you the perfect solution to sort down your complex assignments. No matter, from which part of the world you belong to, we offer you the top qualified tutors to solve all your queries. Statistics Assignment Help

    ReplyDelete
  31. Essay Writing Help comes up with all the essential attributes that will get you most amazing academic writing pieces at your budget.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Need Your Essays and Academic Papers Written? Don’t Worry – Here are Professional Experts!
    Essay Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  33. They are a leading academic guidance which can assist students with their Coursework Writing Help as well assignments. The online service has a tie up with reputed tutors and brilliant writers who can guide the scholars to complete their assignments accurately.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The services that the Dissertation Writing USA provides are:
    1. Proof reading
    2. Course work
    3. Dissertation
    4. Research papers
    5. Term papers
    6. Essay
    7. Literature reviews
    8. Paraphrasing
    9. Case study
    10. Book reviews and many more
    So, go ahead and try the service. You will never get any scope to repent on your decision.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dissertation Proposal Writing Service or a thesis is the art of organizing the specifics of the thesis. A prim and proper proposal trails a detailed mapping of necessary methodology that a person will undergo to complete the whole project.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Studying various subjects and faculties in colleges and Universities invariably involves heavy writing work. The student’s capacity is assessed and awarded marks and grades only through their Dissertation Writing UK, Term Papers, Work Assignments, Reports, Reviews and such other course work assigned to them.

    ReplyDelete


  37. This is really very informative blog which I have found luckily while searching something similar on the net. Buy Cheap Dissertation Online

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing Thesis Writing.

    ReplyDelete