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New routes to the PhD: cause for concern?

Johnston, Bill and Murray, Rowena (2004) New routes to the PhD: cause for concern? Higher Education Quarterly, 58 (1). pp. 31-42. ISSN 0951-5224

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Abstract

Recent developments suggest that the PhD is at a turning point. Professional groups have criticised the so-called 'traditional PhD'. New routes to the PhD are proposed by several bodies and endorsed by one funding council. In light of these developments, it is appropriate to ask what the implications are for the PhD and for the academy. A focus group was used to gather student responses to these developments. The findings show qualified support: students agree that the PhD should cater for different careers but challenge what they see as a simplistic channelling of PhD routes. This paper demonstrates apparent consensus on the need for change in the PhD and reveals movement beyond reconceptualisation towards reconstruction. However, we argue that there is cause for concern in the lack of attention paid to student views and the continuing neglect of quality issues in the PhD.