Where excellence shines through 2

September 11, 2008

Kevin Sharpe asserts that the requirement for PhDs to make an original contribution to knowledge "has gone even from elite universities" and is being replaced "in many institutions" with a need to demonstrate only "whether the dissertation reasonably reflects three years' work".

The making of an original and significant contribution is the foundation of research at a doctoral level, and a quick look at the regulations of the elite universities shows that none has removed the requirement for the dissertation to demonstrate originality.

Any watering down of this requirement will devalue the PhD and will surely not be acceptable to the stakeholders in the PhD process, be they students, employers, funding bodies or the institutions themselves. I doubt that any elite university, including Sharpe's own, would consider such a move.

Nigel Mehdi, London.

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