This chapter focuses on the impact of digitization on the conception, development and examination of the doctoral thesis in the contemporary university.
The approach taken is that of reflective inquiry. The author has taken a lead role in the editing of two handbooks for Sage: one on e-learning research and the other on the digital dissertation/thesis, and this chapter reflects on the changes taking place in higher education as a result of digitization. A number of examples are used to illustrate the possibilities afforded by digitization not only at doctoral levels but also in all dissertations.
It is proposed that digitization affects not only the conception and direction of doctoral research for the student but it has implications also for supervisors, those who ‘upgrade’ work from MPhil to PhD levels and also for examiners and librarians. Changes in the format of the presentation of the digital thesis allow moving image and sound, as well as still images, to be incorporated into the main body of the text rather than be relegated to an appendix (e.g. in a CD-Rom). The storage of the completed thesis in digital form, via a number of different repositories, allows for greater access and use.
One of the major implications of the digital thesis is that all universities must regularly re-visit their regulations to ensure that the parameters for doctoral research are clear, and that they are appropriate for the kind of research that is undertaken by students. Many universities are now making a digital copy of the thesis for principal submission, with print copies as optional.
Originality and significance
Consideration of the implications of the digital thesis for students and universities is essential not only in terms of knowledge creation but also in terms of validation of such knowledge and its dissemination and use.
Andrews, R. (2014), "New Directions for the Doctoral Thesis", Investing in our Education: Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 75-92. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-362820140000013004
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