Thursday, January 12, 2012

Changes to the English dissertation?

Quick note about the MLA (that's Modern Language Association, not the Medical Library) considering changing the format or guidelines for dissertation in InsideHigherEd.  When I was pursuing doctoral studies in public health, the standard format of a dissertation was well on its way out.  It was no longer considered relevant to a future in epidemiology to write a book-length tome.  Instead, the outputs of the research were expected to be several articles to be submitted for publication.  This is what the faculty did - few wrote whole books.  This is not to say that the quality of the work was expected to be lowered, just the length of each output.  I would guess that the total amount of pages would actually accumulate to be more than a dissertation, but it would be more practical training for the future.

Which is what the MLA and others in English graduate programs are trying to do themselves.  They suggest greater flexibility on format, including more creative works, writing for the Web, and collaborative work.  This could impact the kinds of resources that academic libraries provide to support these students.  Perhaps adding more resources on writing for the Web and marketing the collaborative workspaces to the English students.

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