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Vol. 54. Issue 1.
Pages 56 (January 2018)
Vol. 54. Issue 1.
Pages 56 (January 2018)
Letter to the Editor
DOI: 10.1016/j.arbr.2017.11.011
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PhD by Prior Publication: An New Approach to the Doctoral Thesis
Tesis por compendio de publicaciones: la innovación del doctorado
José Ignacio de Granda-Orive
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Corresponding author.
, Victoria Villena-Garrido
Servicio de Neumología, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
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Dear Editor,

Presenting a doctoral thesis (DT) for a postgraduate degree can improve work opportunities, inspire a teaching career, improve academic skills, promote personal development, and expand knowledge. However, the problem often attributed to DTs is that they contribute little to the current body of knowledge, since most (70%) are never disseminated among the scientific community.1 Factors explaining this phenomenon have been identified as the author's lack of confidence in the quality of their work, lack of support and guidance by thesis supervisors, lack of skills and training on how to write a research paper for publication, and the fact that publication is not a priority for many authors.2

For all these reasons, universities have been considering (some for over 5 years) introducing a new approach to the DT: a clearly innovative format, known as PhD by prior publications (PPP).3 PPP does not consist of a mere collection of publications; instead, these papers must meet certain conditions and demonstrate coherence, and the author must make an original and meaningful contribution to an area of knowledge.3

Traditional DTs may have some advantages: they may be a better representation of the work of the doctorate student; they can be written rapidly; the word count is not limited; certain examining boards might find them more acceptable; they may be more coherent; and the analysis of the results can be presented together. The disadvantages include less confidence in the scientific findings, and a lack of subsequent supervision for developing publication skills.3

The advantages of PPPs are that they promote a greater output and increase the impact and visibility, not only of the doctorate student, but also of the university. They generate greater experience in research methodologies, diffusion and collaboration.3 Moreover, independent feedback is received on the progress of the work, the chances of completing the project are higher, new ideas are more easily developed, and the chances of collaborating in the right groups are higher.3 In contrast, there are disadvantages to the PPP approach, including a lack of overall subject matter consistency among the papers, ending up in a mere compilation of studies. It may be difficult to establish the candidate's contribution as author, and PPP supervisors are required to dedicate themselves fully to the task. More concerns are that the pressure to publish on the doctorate student may lead to undesirable practices, such as cutting the work up into several smaller papers, and copyright issues may be difficult to clarify.3

The experience may be very positive4 once the essential factors for undertaking a PPP have been determined: university requirements, supervisors’ attitudes, the selected research subject matter, intellectual property, working style and capacity, and co-authorship questions. Another practical aspect is the usefulness of the thesis as a tool for analyzing research activities5: as an indicator of trends, it identifies the output, the results, and the social structure of the university.

PPP is a clearly innovative development in the presentation of a DT, and has become a reality. PPP generates knowledge and visibility, and is perhaps a more effective investment of time and work.

V. Larivière, A. Zuccala, E. Archambault.
The declining scientific impact of theses: implications for electronic thesis and dissertation repositories and graduates studies.
Scientometrics, 74 (2008), pp. 109-121
S. Timmons, J. Park.
A qualitative study of the factors influencing the submission for publication of research undertaken by students.
Nurse Educ Today, 28 (2008), pp. 744-750
Ortega Martínez E. Las tesis por compendio de publicaciones ¿Innovación del doctorado en España? Available from: [accessed 11.3.17].
L. Robins, P. Kanowski.
PhD by publication; a student's perspective.
J Res Pract, 4 (2008), pp. M3
Available from: [accessed 12.3.17]
E. Jiménez Contreras, R. Ruiz Pérez, E. Delgado López-Cózar.
El análisis de las tesis doctorales como indicador evaluativo: reflexiones y propuestas.
RIE, 32 (2014), pp. 295-308

Please cite this article as: de Granda-Orive JI, Villena-Garrido V. Tesis por compendio de publicaciones: la innovación del doctorado. Arch Bronconeumol. 2018;54:56.

Copyright © 2017. SEPAR
Archivos de Bronconeumología (English Edition)

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