Saturday, January 19, 2008

Magnum Opus

In Australia, the magic number in doing a PhD is 3 1/2 years which is the time frame for completion. At the end of this period the objective is for a PhD candidate to complete a thesis that is rigorous and original: "a well-written thesis [that] reveals independence of thought and approach, a deep knowledge of the research topic and has made a significant original contribution to knowledge consistent with 3-4 years of full time research".

The thesis, more often than not, is perceived as a candidate's 'life's work'. It is that work that would practically consume postgrads during their candidature as their thesis is regarded as the definitive outcome. However, I agree with Caroline Hamilton that the thesis should be intended as a gate way rather than an endpoint. I am of the view that more than the end product and the consequent nominals after one's name, the process provides that fertile ground to develop high order skills and deep understanding - "undertaking the PhD develops a habit of mind that is able to synthesise ideas, understands concepts and communicated logically" (Kevin Donnelly's, In pursuit of a dinosaur).

As Garry of Sydney (Pressure on PhDs to meet the grade) would have it: Qualifications give you a start, you still have to perform.

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