The Role of Publications and Other Artefacts in Submissions for the UK PhD

The UKCGE report released today predicts steady growth of an integrated format’ towards a significant minority of PhD submissions. 

The Role of Publications and Other Artefacts in Submissions for the UK PhD

This report is based on a survey of opinion and practice at 50 UKCGE member universities, and investigates the changing role being played by publications, and other artefacts, in submissions for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the UK, and the developments anticipated across the sector for the future.

Lead Author Professor Bruce Christianson (University of Hertfordshire) said,

The traditional examination format for PhD degrees in the UK is the chapter-based dissertation as the basis for oral examination. However pressures to publish prior to thesis submission and hence to allow incorporation of publications as well as other artefacts within the assessment paradigm are challenging this conventional approach.”

The emerging alternative integrated format” allows publications to comprise an integral part of the PhD submission, but requires examiners to read the original publications in order to assess the dissertation.”

The key findings of our report are;

  • the integrated format is already in use at the majority of institutions surveyed
  • uptake of the integrated format is highly discipline-specific, and it is currently most popular in STEM areas
  • some institutions expressed concern that there was an opportunity cost to the institution if the PhD regulations rejected the integrated format and forced candidates to rewrite the material in the papers
  • uptake of the integrated format is set to increase, in five years they are predicted to constitute a significant minority of PhD submissions
  • the integrated format will run alongside the traditional format for the foreseeable future, and equivalence of standards will need to be assured
  • although the integrated format is not likely to replace the traditional PhD dissertation format, it may soon displace the old PhD by published work in those institutions adopting unified doctoral degree regulations

The publication was developed in response to UKCGE members identifying a need to capture sector practice regarding the role of publications in PhD submissions. The scope was extended to cover other artefacts so as to include issues with performance- and practice-based PhDs.

Carolyn Wynne, UKCGE Principal officer said

All UKCGE activities are delivered by colleagues who work in the sector, for the wider benefit of the sector. As an organisation, we are most thankful to Bruce and Martin for developing this report on behalf of UKCGE and we look forward to formally launching the publication at the Council’s residential event in Bristol later this month.”

If members and supporters feel there is a particular issue they would like to explore with UKCGE (and its members), please do not hesitate to contact either me or my colleagues in the UKCGE office.”


Report: The Role of Publications and Other Artefacts in Submissions for the UK PhD