Susan Bassnett (Soapbox, THES , January 10) is right to deplore the confusion over the criteria and processes by which PhDs are awarded in the humanities. She is less justified, however, in expecting candidates to know what original lines of research they will pursue before they begin. That seems to imply there is no point in spending three or four years getting the degree. One expects PhD candidates to have shown some signs of capacity for original thinking in their undergraduate work.
To get to a topic means plunging into sources, reviewing evidence and discovering opportunities for original contributions.
University of Aberdeen