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PhD dissertation: Sweden
PhD by publication
PhD education
PhD thesis
PhD programme
third-cycle courses


Writing a compilation thesis in history: The challenges and opportunities for students and faculty

This article explores the challenges and opportunities of writing and defending a compilation thesis (composed of several articles and an extensive introduction) in Sweden in the discipline of history, which traditionally leans towards monographs. The authors explore PhD education as an interstitial field, combining elements of education and research, that is governed by partially conflicting expectations about forms of academic publication and evaluation. The investigation encompasses challenges and opportunities faced by PhD students during their postgraduate education, self-reported, as perceived by senior scholars, and structural, embedded within PhD education.

Empirically this study builds on two types of data. First, it presents an extensive survey of the literature on the academic quality of compilation theses in several disciplines, with a special focus on history. Second, it builds on in-depth interviews with three former PhD students in history (from the 1990s to the 2020s) who are still active in the field, and their experiences of writing a compilation thesis and its impact on their subsequent careers. The issues they raised ranged from academic independence and control to the resistance they encountered in the discipline and how they dealt with it. The article makes a number of practical recommendations for how postgraduate education in history could address and alleviate some of the challenges of writing a compilation thesis.

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