Theses and Dissertations: pros and cons of traditional and alternative formats

Scientific communication undergoes changes and evolves in the same way as science itself. The scientific article, its format, Best Essays UK, and means of publication, dissemination, and exchange, underwent significant alterations since the emergence of the first scientific journals in the 18th century. The Internet, in the 1990s, drastically changed the communication paradigm of science, an event only comparable to the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1440, which allowed the dissemination of articles and magazines for other cases, beyond the academy.

Dissertations and theses are monographs that constitute elements of scientific communication, but their main function is to demonstrate that the candidate for an academic degree is capable of conducting and communicating independent and original research.

The editorial of the Nature issue of July 7, 2016, provides a particular piece of information: “according to frequently cited statistics that should be true, but probably are not, the average number of people who read a doctoral thesis from the beginning in the end, it is 1.6, and this includes the author”. The text continues the questioning of what would be the number of theses that the typical researcher - and reader of Nature - have read in its entirety. According to the editorial, it might not hit the 1.6 marks. The thesis volume, however, Best Dissertation Writing Services UK, will continue to grow, as thousands of master's and doctoral degree candidates around the world will face this rite of passage that is the doorway to the academic world or the professional market. 

Given this scenario, everyone could win if theses and dissertations were concise and objective.  Information from the largest doctoral thesis database indicates that the average number of pages in a thesis increased from about 100 in the 1950s to about 200 today, a fact mentioned in Julie Gold's article in Nature. 

Although the thesis itself has a similar structure in many countries, there is great diversity in the way the candidate is evaluated and questioned. The defense of the thesis, viva voce (in Latin), or defense (in English) has different formats in the countries. In the Netherlands, the defense has several examiners and a brief presentation of the work by the candidate, which is open to the public. In Australia, the printed volume of the thesis is sent to the examiners, who make written comments and return them to the candidate. He or she will make a presentation later, but this will not influence the final result. In Brazil, there are institutions that carry out thesis defenses open to the public, others that do so in a session that includes only the candidate, the advisor, and the examining jury.

Evaluation of thesis:

In order to expedite the writing and evaluation of the thesis, institutions and graduate programs in several countries, including Brazil, are opting to allow candidates who have published articles derived from the master's or doctorate degrees, to substitute the writing of the chapters of the thesis by these articles, headed by an introduction, conclusion, and review of the scientific literature. The criteria to judge which articles can replace the writing of the thesis is in charge of the coordination of the postgraduate programs. CAPES, the body that assigns grades to postgraduate courses throughout the country, recognizes this type of thesis, as well as FAPESP and the Research Support Foundations of other states, in granting scholarships and grants.

Not exhaustive includes postgraduate programs in Brazil that specifically include the thesis option in an alternative format to the regulations of postgraduate programs. It is interesting to note that large universities leave the adoption of this thesis format to the discretion of each program since there are significant differences between the areas of knowledge in what has to do with publication in scientific journals.  The areas of Engineering and Computer Science have as an important channel of communication of the results of the investigations the proceedings of the congresses and the technical manuals.