Monograph v. manuscript: exploring the factors that influence English L1 and EAL candidates’ thesis-writing approach

Cassi L. Liardét*, Luke Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Writing a doctoral thesis with publications or by publication (TBP) has become an increasingly popular choice for PhD candidates seeking a competitive edge in the post-doctoral job market. However, many candidates continue to write traditional chapter monographs. While research into the TBP has steadily grown over the past two decades, there remains few studies examining candidates’ decision to write traditional theses. Further, despite the widely documented increase of international candidates pursuing their PhDs in OECD countries, there is very limited research examining what role, if any, a candidate’s language background has on the thesis-medium decision. The present study seeks to explore the factors both ‘native’ English (L1) and English as an Additional Language (EAL) candidates consider when choosing which thesis-writing approach to adopt. It reports on questionnaire data from 75 PhD candidates, supported with qualitative interview data from fourteen of those candidates and four doctoral supervisors. We found that EAL candidates were almost twice as likely to pursue a TBP whereas their English L1 peers equally pursued the two thesis-writing approaches. We report in depth on the reasons candidates cite for their chosen approach and discuss how an understanding of their decision-making process may better inform doctoral candidate orientation, support and training.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    JournalHigher Education Research and Development
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2020


    • doctoral education
    • thesis by publication
    • thesis monograph
    • higher degree research

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