Where excellence shines through 1

September 11, 2008

As ever, my old friend Kevin Sharpe in his opinion article harks back to a non-existent golden age of academia ("A lighter weight of paper", 28 August).

A recent perusal of several PhDs published in my field in the 1970s and 1980s, from British and American universities, left me quite taken aback at the massive gap in quality between the best and the worst.

But so what? There is a difference between the excellent PhD that launches the high-flyer's academic career and the more mundane effort that demonstrates basic research competence only - just as there is a difference between a first-class degree and a third. Wasn't it ever thus, and shouldn't it remain so?

Neil Gregor, Reader in history, University of Southampton.

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