Broadening the Dissertation

As the core of the PhD, the doctoral dissertation is diversifying in its forms and content. This segment will provide resources, guidelines, examples, and reports to facilitate continuing dialogue on the topic.

Report of the CAGS Taskforce

On the Dissertation (September 2018)

Shifts in the academy and society over the last few decades have led to a world-wide conversation on rethinking approaches to the doctoral dissertation. This report offers an overview of the changes occurring in the dissertation and summarizes the consultations held with the Canadian graduate education community over the past two years. It concludes with a call to action for universities.

Download document (English)Télécharger le rapport (français)

Consultation Document

The Doctoral Dissertation (August 2016)

Informing the series of recommendations published in the final report above, this earlier document outlines CAGS’ nationwide consultation process to facilitate the conversation on the dissertation’s purpose, content, structure, and assessment.

Download document (pdf)

Resources on Broadening the Dissertation and Engaged Scholarship


Barker, Derek (2004) The Scholarship of Engagement: A Taxonomy of Five Emerging Practices, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement.

Bartha, Miriam (2010) “Serious Work: Public Engagement in the Humanities”, Western Humanities Review.

Bartha, Miriam and Georgia Nigro (2013) “Assessing the Practices of Public Scholarship”, Diversity & Democracy.

Bauer, Martin J. and Pablo Jensen (2011) “The Mobilization of Scientists for Public Engagement”, Public Understanding of Science.

Bjarnason, Svava and Patrick Coldstream (Eds.) (2003) The Idea of Engagement: Universities in Societies. Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Bowdon, Melody A. and Russell G. Carpenter (Eds.) (2011) Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Community Partnerships. ISR.

Boyer, Ernest L. (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Jossey-Bass.

Boyer, Ernest L. (1996) “From Scholarship Reconsidered to Scholarship Assessed”, Quest.

Bridger, Jeffrey C. and Theodore R. Alter (2010) “Public Sociology, Public Scholarship, and Community Development”, Community Development.

Brooks, Peter and Hilary Jewett (2014) The Humanities and Public Life. Fordham University Press.

Burawoy, Michael (2005) “For Public Sociology”, American Sociological Review.

Case, Karen I. (2014) “Community-Based Research in Graduate Education: Implementing Program Decisions Across the Disciplines”, Journal of Public Scholarship in Higher Education.

Cassuto, Leonard (2016) “What will Doctoral Education Look Like in 2025?”, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Coghlan, David and Mary Brydon-Miller (2014) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research. SAGE.

Colbeck, Carol L. and Patty Wharton-Michael (2006) “The Public Scholarship: Reintegrating Boyer’s Four Domains”, New Directions for Institutional Research.

Gibbons, Michael et al. (1994) The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. SAGE.

Gilbert, Rob (2004) “A Framework for Evaluating the Doctoral Curriculum”, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

Gould, Julie (2015) “How to Build a Better Phd”, Nature.

Hawkins, Harriet et al. (2011) “Organic Public Geographies: ‘Making the Connection'”, Antipode.

Hikins, J.W., & Cherwitz, R.A. (2010). “The Engaged University: Where Rhetorical Theory Matters”, Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Holmwood, John (Ed.) (2011) A Manifesto for the Public University. Bloomsbury Academic.

Jay, Gregory (2010) “The Engaged Humanities: Principles and Practices for Public Scholarship and Teaching”, Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

Jongbloed, Ben et al. (2008). “Higher Education and its Communities: Interconnections, Interdependencies and a Research Agenda”. Higher Education.

Kindon, Sarah et al. (2007) Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods: Connecting People, Participation and Place. Routledge.

Mahoney, Nick (2012) “Social Science Research and the Creation of Publics”, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.

Mauser, Wolfram et al. (2013) “Transdisciplinary Global Change Research: The Co-Creation of Knowledge for Sustainability”, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

Metzler, Michael W. (1994) “Scholarship Reconsidered for the Professoriate of 2010”, Quest.

Millican, Juliet and Tom Bourner (2011) “Student-Community Engagement and the Changing Role and Context of Higher Education”, Education + Training.

Mitchell, Katharyne (2008) Practising Public Scholarship: Experiences and Possibilities beyond the Academy. Wiley-Blackwell.

MLA Task Force (2014) Report on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature. Modern Language Association.

Monaco, Anthony and Cheryl de la Rey (2015) “World University Rankings Blog: Should Global League Tables Consider Community Engagement?”, Times Higher Education.

Newell, Jonathan (2014) Symposium Summary Report: Re-imagining the PhD: New forms and Futures for Graduate Education. UBC Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

Nyquist, Jody D. and Bettina J. Woodford (2000) Re-Envisioning the Ph.D.: What Concerns to We Have?. University of Washington.

Peker, Efe (2016) “Five Lessons on Rethinking the PhD”, UBC Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

Peker, Efe, Jennifer M. Phelps, Serbulent Turan, Susan Porter (2017) Report on the Pilot Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) 2015-2017, UBC Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

Pielke Jr., Roger A. (2007) The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politcs. Cambridge University Press.

Polk, Merritt. (2013) “Achieving the Promise of Transdisciplinarity: A Critical Exploration of the Relationship between Transdisciplinarity Research and Societal Problem Solving”, New Directions in Sustainability Science.

Porter, Susan D., and Jennifer M. Phelps (2014) “Beyond Skills: An Integrative Approach to Doctoral Student Preparation for Diverse Careers”, Canadian Journal of Higher Education.

Porter, Susan D., and Jennifer M. Phelps (2015) “Reimagining PhD Paths at UBC”, CAGS.

Ramaley, Judith A. (2006) “Public Scholarship: Making Sense of an Emerging Synthesis”, New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

Robinson, John (2008) “Being Undisciplined: Transgressions and Intersections in Academia and Beyond”, Futures.

Rowe, Gene et al. (2009) “Public Engagement in Research Funding: a Study of Public Capabilities and Engagement Methodology”, Public Understanding of Science.

Rowe, Gene and Lynn F. Frewer (2005) “A Typology of Public Engagement Mechanisms“, Science, Technology & Human Values.

Schuetze, Hans G. and Patricia Inman (2010) The Community Engagement and Service Mission of Universities. NIACE.

Shaw, Claire (2013) “University Public Engagement: 20 Tips”, The Guardian Higher Education Network.

Strand, Kerry et al. (2003) Community-Baed Research and Higher Education. Jossey-Bass.

Van de Ven, Andrew H. (2007) Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford University Press.

Vannini, Peter (Ed.) (2012) Popularising Research: Engaging New Genres, Media and Audiences. New York: Peter Lang.

Walker, George E. et al. (2008) The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century. Jossey-Bass.

Warren, Mark R. et al. (2016) “The Formation of Community-Engaged Scholars: A Collaborative Approach to Doctoral Training in Education Research”, Harvard Educational Review.

Watson, David (2007) Managing Civic and Community Engagement. McGraw-Hill.

Watson, David et al. (Eds.) (2011) The Engaged University: International Perspectives on Civil Engagement. Routledge.

Weisbuch, Robert  and Leonard Cassuto (2016) Reforming Doctoral Education, 1990 to 2015: Recent Initiatives and Future Prospects. Mellon Foundation.

Wharton-Michael Patty et al. (2006). “An Explication of Public Scholarship Objectives”, New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities (2013) Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, McGill University.

Whiteford, Linda and Elizabeth Storm (2013) “Building Community Engagement and Public Scholarship into the University”, Annals of Anthropological Practice.

Woods, Leah et al. (2013) “Building Community Engagement in Higher Education: Public Sociology at Missouri State University”, Journal of Public Scholarship in Higher Education.

Woodward, Bettina J. (2005) The Responsive PhD: Innovations in US Doctoral Education. Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.