European/International Joint Ph.D. in S.R. & C. Research Center and Multimedia Lab, Sapienza University of Rome (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 1014-1026
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1231
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
The paper discusses the issue of the doctoral thesis format in the light of the current debate about the outcomes of the doctoral education and the changing scenario of the career prospects for the PhD holders both in and outside academic context.

Although – as stated in the EUA-CDE workshop “The outcomes of doctoral education” (Izmir, Turkey, 23-24 January 2013) call for paper - “only a small minority of doctorate holders have traditional research careers” and therefore “the definition of outcomes of doctoral education has become increasingly relevant”, “the doctoral degree is still obtained through rigorous research presented in the form of a thesis”.

At the same time there is a diffused trend to move from the traditional format of the thesis to the collection of articles to varying degrees according to the disciplines, countries and institutions. This trend is discussed enlightening the new assessment culture that skews evaluations towards approaches, which also in the social sciences are seen as more likely to fit with natural sciences. The progressive de-evaluation of the “book” format in favor of collection of articles is coherent with an academic culture that is more and more dominated by the quantification ethos of scientific output, assessed with bibliometric indicators. The competitive pressure to publication occurs in the changing scenario of the editorial world in the digital era and in a climate where new tools for disseminating knowledge are constrained by the impetus for fast and short communication, although scientists are well aware that thinking, creating, innovating and disseminating scientific knowledge is not just twitting.

A document elaborated by internationally recognised social psychologists convened in the Small Group Meeting: ‘Developing diversity in European Association of Social Psychology (EASP)’ (Lausanne, June 12-14, 2013), to reflect on the new conformism dominating the research practices in social psychology and to raise a debate state: “excellence and quality seem increasingly equated with scientism resulting in publications of brief research reports and the use of limited criteria for deciding about careers, prestige and funding. Scientific quality is critical for the viability of any discipline and for making an informed and responsible contribution to societal debates. But the sole emphasis on number of publications, impact factors, H-index and the like, contributes to an unwelcome homogenisation of the field in general, and of European social psychology in particular.”

Our contribution is aimed to share expertise and experience regarding form of the thesis adopted by an international joint doctoral programs. Leading since 1993 the European/International Joint Ph.D. in Social Representations and Communication ( - a training structure including 25 Universities in 10 EU and 6 extra-EU countries, 1 national research centre, 1 international company, 2 SMEs - has been not only a privileged arena to discuss, define and adopt shared criteria for the doctoral thesis (and its double book and article formats and language) in our Joint Doctorate, but it is also a top observatory of the changing practices ongoing in the doctoral research training in the various countries and institutions involved in the program.