The doctorate in pieces: a scoping review of research on the PhD thesis by publication

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Solli, Kristin & Lynn P. Nygaard (2022) The doctorate in pieces: a scoping review of research on the PhD thesis by publication, Higher Education Research & Development. DOI:

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The thesis by publication (TBP) – a collection of standalone articles aimed at publication and accompanied by an explanatory narrative – has grown in popularity over the last two decades. Although research on the TBP is beginning to emerge, it is thus far fragmented. We carried out a scoping review of the literature on the TBP for the years 2000–2020 to assess the current state of knowledge about the TBP and emerging knowledge needs. We identified 65 studies that met our criteria and analyzed what kind of research is emerging (as well as where it is emerging from), what topics are covered, and what recommendations are called for. Our analysis shows that the literature has been dominated by studies focusing on individual TBP experiences and on solving practical challenges surrounding the TBP. We argue that important next steps in research on the TBP will be to move from micro-level analysis of individual experiences to more conceptual studies that seek to analyze the TBP from a meso or macro level – exploring the links between thesis format, doctoral education, and the production of knowledge in a longitudinal perspective.

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