Doctorate is just the start

August 21, 2008

The debate on the qualities and respective merits of a traditional PhD versus a taught doctorate will probably rage long ("Scholars remain unconvinced about the value of professional doctorates", 14 August).

However, scholarly contributions to the generation of knowledge do not usually occur as a result of a "one-hit wonder" thesis, whatever background led up to this. Getting a doctorate is the beginning of an academic career, not the end point.

Surely, therefore, the calibre of academic discipline and cognitive depth attained from any such programme of study is really reflected in the output of postdoctoral work?

This perspective, it would seem, given that taught doctorates are in some subjects in their infancy, is a better way of expending energy and is one with a real chance of addressing the real issue - that of maintaining a robust academic standard for the benefit of society.

Angela Grainger, Assistant director of nursing - education and research, King's College Hospital, London.

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