Monograph thesis – University of Copenhagen

Monograph thesis: What makes it a one-time endeavour? Why isn’t it a book?

During the hours that I assigned for my dissertation yesterday, I had a bit of a genre-identity crisis. I was editing and revising parts of a chapter in the morning when I discovered that I have been following no more than an idea ‘in my imagination’ of what a dissertation should look like… (

Most of us have had at least one experience, whether as a doctoral student or supervisor, of creating a monograph thesis – the traditional form of theses in the humanities and social sciences. Despite its book length, it is not a book and individuals are often surprised by this fact when they move after graduation towards publishing the results of their inquiry. In fact, the monograph thesis involves doctoral students in writing in a way they will never write again. So, what makes this genre unusual – and poor practice for future academic work? And, how can we use our knowledge of this in both studying doctoral experience and supervising the thesis?

Your task

Before September 15 2018, please 

  1. Choose three articles and read them through. 
  2. For each article, write a brief response using this structure:

Your name: 

Your responses

Author and article number

The most interesting thing I learned


Questions it raised in my mind

At least two ideas it generated about my own research and practice

  1. Upload your responses.

Before the meeting

  1. Read through others’ responses.
  2. Compare with your own. 


  1. Trafford, V., Leshem, S. & Bitzer, E. (2014). Conclusion chapters in doctoral theses: some international findings. Higher Education Review, 46 (3), 52-81.
  2. Thompson, P. (2005). Points of focus and position: Intertextual reference in PhD theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes4(4), 307-323.
  3. Odena, O. & Burgess, H. (2017). How doctoral students and graduates describe facilitating experiences and strategies for their thesis writing learning process: a qualitative approach. Studies in Higher Education, 42(3), 572-590.
  4. Kawase, T. (2015) Metadiscourse in the introductions of PhD theses and research articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 20, 114-124.
  5. Sharmini, S., Spronken-Smith, R., Golding, C., & Harland, T. (2014). Assessing the doctoral thesis when it includes published work. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education.
  6. Paré, A. (2017). Re-thinking the dissertation and doctoral supervision. Journal for the Study of Education and development, 40(3), 407-428.
  7. Mason, S. & Merga, M. (2018). A current view of the thesis by publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences. International Journal of Doctoral Studies 13, 139-154
  8. Wisker, G. (2015). Developing doctoral authors: engaging with theoretical perspectives through the literature review. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52(1), 64-74