Category Archives: Education

How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa (8): Part 2

Title: How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa (8): Part 2

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, Higher Education, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PUCHE), DPhil (PUCHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Circle, completeness, consummate, finish, full-circle, incompleteness, research.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 5: 2

1. Background

Looking back to the outcomes of articles one to seven so far published it seems that a dynamic Research circle of Completeness did not truly arrived in our present-day research culture and environment. This, notwithstanding the fact that it is forcing to the foreground the development of a totally new research playing field and foundation, and requires the advent of new research agents with manifold needs and demands.1-111

The present-day unhappiness and suppression that White academics and researchers are experiencing through ANC Black Cadres Lives Matter (ABCLM), Black Academic Research Economic Empowerment (BAREE) and White Academic Research Economic Disempowerment (WARED), have also become part of the Black academic and research community as a result of cadre deployment and their exploitation by the ANC-elite. Here, other than the passive-slavish acceptance of the situation of their suppression and discrimination by Whites, the Black reaction at present shows a clear violent intention and substructure, with the intent to rectify the imbalances and wrongdoings against them. The ANC’s ABCLM/BAREE/WARED can cost them more than an arm and a leg in the near future.111-119

We are at the moment clearly possessed by an academic and a research acatalepsy.29 It is thus no surprise that one university’s research output declined for the academic year 2020 with 44%. It is also understandable why many South African universities are not on the various 2021 lists of African universities acknowledged for outstanding research and learning.  The earlier quoted remark of Goolam Ballim29, the chief economist of Standard Bank on the delinquent ANC-regime, sounds clearly in our ears also on the doubtful status of our present academic and research leadership: “There are no adults in charge.” More and more, we are becoming academic and research nincompoops.62:13

1.1. Introduction

The present-day chaos inside the South African research environment and its absence of a true (completed or full) Research-circle of Completeness must be read as a corollary of the immediate post-1994-contaminated politics which has been imposed onto the country’s higher education through ABCLM/BAREE/WARED. This outcome will be addressed undermentioned in the section 3.1. The roles of stonewalling and obstructionism against the establishing of the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa.

1.2. Aims of Article 8 (Continues from Article 7)

The purpose of this article as a continuation of its intertwined Article 7, titled: “How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa (7): Part 1”, is to provide a framework with the primary aim to rehabilitate or at least to restart our present incomplete Research-circle of Completeness by making it a fullResearch circle of Completeness.1-14,31

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues from Article 7)

The information applies to dissertations by master’s students and to theses by doctoral candidates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues from Article 7)

The research was been done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case with the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. Through this method the focus is on being informative as to the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources include the guidelines of universities on the writing of the article-thesis for the period 1975 to 2020.

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues from Article 7)

3.1. Roles of stonewalling and obstructionism against the establishing of the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa

3.1.1. Overview

So far much has been written on how to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa, without a focus on the role of stonewalling by various obstructionists against its attainment. Various actors essentially make it impossible at the moment to obtain such a positive outcome. Prominent among these are two primary obstructionists: firstly, the henchmen of the ANC regime who are driving BAREE in line with ABCLM/WARED; and secondly, the present-day practitioners of the still well-established and functioning Old-Age Academia.62-136

ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and the Old-Age Academia are intertwined with each other and all three are also entangled with the present delinquent politics of the ANC regime. All of them are characterized by their nefarious influences on the country’s present research. It was decided to describe them underneath in-depth to make it clear how and why it is difficult, almost impossible, to set the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa into motion and to attain it.136-141

3.2. ABCLM/BAREE/WARED inside the ANC’s broken link of Intelligentsia

3.2.1. Post-1994 contaminated politics

The present-day chaos inside the South African research environment and the absence of a true (completed or full) Research-circle of Completeness, must be read with the immediate post-1994 contaminated politics which is now, as mentioned, bluntly and blindly imposed onto the country’s higher education system through ABCLM/BAREE/WARED. This outcome does not seem to be a point of concern for the present class of university leaders, namely that extreme consequences are awaiting the universities through the implementation of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, bringing the same chaos as ANC-cadre deployment did in the public service. But the present university leaders all seem happily engrossed in the power and benefits of the ANC’s corrupted and delinquent ways.  Professor RW Johnson29, in his book29: “How long will South Africa survive?”, that was published in 2016, suddenly opened for us the door to this chaos of a downward spiraling academic and research culture and the devastating impact of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED. With clear insight and vision on education at all levels, he writes29:117,129:

South Africa’s universities are now flooded with often uneducable black students produced by these poor government schools. Some of these students, to their great credit, rise to the challenge and get good degrees. But a far large number scrape through only thanks to merciful marking – itself the result of strong government pressure to increase the pass rate. It is precisely the beneficiaries of such ‘affirmative marking’ – they are often barely literate – who form the next generation of teaching [and surely academics and research]. To grasp the nettle, one would need to begin by taking a far more robust attitude towards meritocracy in university entrance and marking. This too would meet huge social resistance and most universities, knowing this, would be horrified at the thought of raising their standards (p. 117).

On the other hand, the traditional intelligentsia remained cowed and intimidated. This was particularly visible in the two institutions which had provided intellectual leadership for the anti-apartheid struggle, the churches and the universities. After 1990 the churches fell into a deep somnolence from which they could not be awakened. The ANC insisted, of course, that the churches belonged at their side and the churches seemed unable to muster the courage to declare their independence (p.129).

A similar lack of courage afflicted the universities. They were, in any case, in decline. Wits…has lost its old primacy. The University of KwaZulu-Natal was in tatters. The University of South Africa…was a shadow of its former self. By 2014 four universities were under administration. In addition, Walter Sisulu University …had to be shut down in 2013 because strike action by its faculty, already the best paid in the country although among the least distinguished, had brought the university to the brink of bankruptcy (p. 129).

In general, the universities were subservient. At the height of the controversy over the Aids denialism which made Mbeki an international leper, UCT gave him a special African Leadership Award. Once Jacob Zuma came to power the vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor William Makgoba…quickly declared that Zuma was the perfect man to be president and that Mbeki was a ‘classic dictator of our times’, comparing him to Mobutu, Idi Amin, Mugabe and other African monsters’. Thus, even at a time when educated opinion, both in South Africa and internationally, had become highly critical of the ANC, South African universities sounded no critical note. There was none of the bravery and independence of mind that the universities showed under apartheid (p.129).

Johnson29 takes this incorporation of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED into the soul of the universities much further. This contaminated process, what he softly described as the ANC’s imposition of autocracy on “public intellectual life” and wherein a stifling and ANC-centred version of “political correctness” ruled, he in-depth pinpointed when he states29:129-131:

All the universities practised affirmative action, both in their admissions and their faculty appointments. The results were damaging: a high failure and drop-out rate, as students who often should never have been admitted, departed; and a situation in which most worthwhile research and publication was carried out by an ageing core of mainly white males.  As this latter group exited the system standards were bound to nose-dive. The entire strategy was based on a historically obvious mistake: one simply cannot create an instant new intelligentsia by affirmative action. In the main the universities knew this but, with few exceptions, were so craven that they voluntarily submitted to this self-destructive policy which bound to lower standards for the coming generations of black students. It was a classic trahison des clercs.  Inevitably, South Africa continued to suffer a damaging brain drain. (p. 129);

Behind the curtain of this new ‘progressivism’ high culture was dying. To go to the theatre, opera, ballet or orchestral recital was to see the same sea of grey-headed whites. It would be a surprise if any of these art forms still existed in 20 years’ time. Under the ANC South Africa was retreating at speed to a less-cultured, less-educated, less-skilled society. Unwittingly, and while preaching the doctrines of progress and liberation, the ANC was leading South Africa further and further backwards (pp.130-131); and

This quietism and deference to power of the universities and those who policed public intellectual spaces sat in strange contrast to these facts, as if almost no one was willing to look truth in the face [basically because they knew they were monitored and would be acted on to prevent any political dissidence. (p.131).

The above outcome of the successfully establishing of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED by the ANC, follows from the manoeuvring by Nelson Mandela from day one in 1994 to overwhelm every sector of the South African society with the ANC’s dogma, principles and power-grabbing. Johnson states2 9:126: “Mandela, both intimidated and charmed most South Africans. Many whites were, belatedly, stricken with guilt over apartheid and shared in the general euphoria of the ‘new South Africa’. This permitted a rampant and ANC-defined political correctness which gave lasting legitimacy to ANC rhetoric with its stress on ‘transformation’, an ‘African renaissance’, affirmative action, black economic empowerment, and so on.  All the powerful groups in the white, Indian and coloured communities scrambled to stay onside with their new masters.”

The willing induction into political, social, economic and official delinquency by most of the present-day South African universities’ leaderships – mostly because of their own political, economic and personal creed – is undoubtedly true; but intimidation and fear, together with personal losses and the inborn inferiority of cadre-deployed university leaders and academics inside an autocracy, also drive even the strongest leader sometimes successfully into subordinate behaviour, as Boon30 points out30:72:

Autocrats very seldom create excellent teams. People usually work very hard and do what they should out of fear. In teams led by autocrats there will be a corresponding lack of trust because of fear. People can be fired or severely disciplined by the autocrat with very little resource. There can be no openness, no honesty and no sharing of weakness for fear of dismissal or retribution.  There can be no trust, because each member of this team runs to his own agenda in the effort to protect himself at all costs. To achieve this involves currying favour with the powerful and occasionally treading on colleagues.

To think for one second that ABCLM/BAREE/WARED will bring renewal in the form of good standards of research or the bettering of our universities by speeding up the appointment of Black leaderships and a crowd of Black academics and researchers of whom many are already bathing in refined racism and cadre dysfunction and are comprehensively lacking in good qualifications and experience, is wishful thinking par excellence.

3.2.1.1. ANC’s lack of real intelligentsia in its inner circle

The failure and delinquency of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED started from the ANC’s inner circle’s failure to understand advanced learning, to master it and to incorporate it into their political mindset. From the beginning the ANC was handicapped by the fact that it had no real intelligentsia in its inner circle: those that could be labelled as such in the ANC leadership were Whites and many times Jews! And although a handful of later ANC leaders considered themselves to be intellectuals (as some are still trying to do today), it is sorely clear that their qualifications for such a designation were spare to non-existent, writes Johnson.29:128 He continues:29:128 “Few ever wrote books or were formally well educated. Thus, the movement lacked the first requirement for cultural hegemony, an organic intelligentsia”.

  • ANC’s BAREE intelligentsia in charge of our universities

This mess inside the ANC’s inner circle did not improve, but instead has worsened since 1994 with the BAREE appointments of ANC beneficiaries and party representatives at universities. If the above statement is doubted, just look at the present failures and pathetic outcomes created by many members of the ANC’s BAREE intelligentsia in charge of our universities, to see that ABCLM/BAREE/WARED is struggling to make successful inroads and that the ANC’s creation of an exclusive contingent of Black academics and researchers is often a failure. The chaos of debts owed to universities by non-paying students, shows that the leadership of the South African universities, as their ANC master, do not understand the handling of other people’s money and have as the ANC elite that grabs, also started to give away as Santa Clauses others’ (taxpayers’) money. The most prominent aspect here is the build-up of student debts totaling nearly R13bn that in most cases will have to be written off to quell anarchy and revolution, but is again just another form of “state capture”, the stock phrase used every day in the media. The historic debt owed to some of the SA universities is: University of KwaZulu-Natal: R1.6bn; Wits University: R1bn; University of Western Cape: R445.7m; Nelson Mandela University: R313m; University of the Free State: R300m; Durban University of Technology: R289m; North-West University: R194m; University of Cape Town: R88m. The immense discrepancy between R1.6bn (UKZN) and R88m (UCT) also tells a story on ineffective top management, their lack of business knowhow and how correctly enact transformation.  But, this management chaos at the South African universities goes far back, as Johnson already stated.15-29,113,119

Johnson29 goes on, clearly showing the extent of the ANC’s failure as a regime and especially its failed leadership, captured by cadre deployment and nincompoops inside BBBEE and the later ABCLM/BAREE/WARED — coming from 1994 and continuing still in 2021– when he comments as follows29:104-105:

In that time the ANC has provided the country with four presidents, starting with a man nearly 76 years old when he took office, who quite publicly made it clear that he wanted to give it up as soon as possible. He was followed by a man disabled by his paranoia and grandiosity, who was responsible for inflicting well over 300 000 unnecessary Aids deaths on his own people. Thirdly and briefly, there was an old communist and trade union militant who might just have passed muster as a backbench Labour MP in Britain. And finally, there was an only just literate Zulu tribesman whose vision did not rise above the feudal. Apart from the generally downwards tendency, the most striking thing about this group is that they were all already part of the ANC elite in 1994. If one asked who the coming man was in 2014, it was Cyril Ramaphosa, already a major figure in the 1980s. There is no renewal. It is quite a stretch to imagine that a movement with such leadership will lead the country to their promised land.

Sorely so far, the well-steered so-called “new ANC intelligentsia” under the cover of their BAREE politics at universities, seems not to bring with them much by way of new academic and research expertise, or managerial and leadership talents. Looking critically at many of the CVs of this contingent of much-praised ANC academics and research cadres and comrades, they often lack evidence of any academic and research prowess to be able to improve on the academic and research qualities of the White lecturers being kicked-out. The ANC’s broken link of intelligentsia on all levels of the country’s leadership, notwithstanding the ANCs imposition of BBBEE and ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, and their political misuse of their false ANC African nationalism and liberation to get their radical politics established, is just steaming on. Just note the chaotic situation of our country’s basic education and the devastating road it followed as guided by BBBEE (which was nothing less than legalised anti-White racism). The road the universities are now precisely travelling under the guidance of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED: chaos is not only waiting for research and academic standards, but the universities’ discipline, campus and class order, the safety of students and staff are endangered, while poisonous anti-White racism is incorporated into it.62-87,96-133 Read what Johnson29 writes underneath on the chaos and anarchy already present in 2016 at our schools and makes a comparison of what is waiting for the universities caught in the grip of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED.

Johnson states the following29:117:

In addition, the union [SADTU] called for a halt to all disciplinary actions against teachers and also demanded that school governing bodies be prevented from “encroaching in schools”. SADTU also refused all school inspections or other measures aimed at monitoring teacher quality or behaviour. Teacher absenteeism, neglect and abuse of their pupils, is rampant. Without doubt the poor quality of teaching in government schools is one reason why South Africa came next-to-bottom (out of 149 countries) in maths in a recent survey by the World Economic Forum. And yet SADTU protects and perpetuates that poor quality. It is perfectly obvious that South Africa can make no real progress towards producing a better educated workforce unless SADTU is tamed – but it is a matter of belling the cat and government ministers are frankly scared of the union’s power.”

In line with the above delinquent school setting, Johnson29 reflects also on the BBBEE and ABCLM/BAREE/WARED cadres’ and comrades’ senseless hunger for wealth and power, seeing in them a lack of any insight into the disastrous consequences of their politics inside the fake ANC African nationalism and liberation and the ANC’s ability to keep up its pretense of a healthy economy that would enable it to pay in future the salaries and other large-scale benefits of BBBEE/BAREE cadres and comrades.29

  • Hypocritical Whites enthralled by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED

On the so-called “recruited” ANC intelligentsia, especially those hypocritical Whites totally enthralled by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and their specific view of it as a justified adjustment to the so-called inequality in tertiary education by bringing tertiary education to all students and to the so-called potential Black lecturers held back by Apartheid, Johnson29 shows up their hypocrisy when he writes29:234: South Africa’s great inequality has weighed heavily upon the country’s ‘conventional wisdom’ intellectuals. For some time now it has been common for such folk to issue striking appeals for the hyper-wealthy to give away some of their wealth. This marks out those who issue such appeals as progressive, forward-thinking and unselfish – though it is notable that none of them diverted themselves of any of their own assets.” A more honest critic of the actions of these Whites caught up in the ANC’s ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, would describe it as academic and research prostitution par excellence.  

Notably here for many of the Whites, caught-up in their immense academic foolishness and blindness created by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, they ignore the fact that it is the ANC’s dreadful economy policy, our equally dreadful education system and the superimposition of the unproductive and wealthy new ANC elite, built on the old pre-1994 class structure that is blocking progress and constructive development. It is missed by the intelligentsia when they hear the ANCs speaking of their fake ANC African liberation which prescribes that there should be a new parasitic elite (ANC cadres) taking and grabbing all opportunities at the cost of the forced-out so-called White elite as well as that of the mass of poor Blacks outside BBBEE.  Ironically, the continuing ABCLM/BAREE/WARED is going to gobble up the delinquent White intelligentsia long before they can enjoy their nothing-else-than crooked pensions.2,29

  • Joker Surprise in politics

For many good Whites who are specifically working in public tertiary education, there is no light in the Future South Africa, both for quality education, as well as their personal future. It seems that not even in the 2024 national elections will the ANC regime and its devilish ABCLM/BAREE/WARED be removed. But is this pessimism, based on a country having been in permanent chaos for two decades, justified? Yes, if we looked at the downward spiraling since 1994 of South Africa into a total failure under the ANC. No, when we start to read the signs of changes that are taking place unnoticed. A prominent element here is the slow build-up of resistance and counter-action by the majority of the Black population who are not part of the ANC’s crooked BBBEE and ABCLM/BAREE/WARED. We need to take a look at the present-day political setup in South Africa and the possible sudden political changes that the Joker Surprise can bring even this year, making a 2024 national election to get rid of the ANC unnecessary. Looking very carefully at our current governmental setup, the coming of the Joker does not seem so much of a Surprise anymore: it is here.62-87,96-133

Underneath in section: 3.2.2. The exploitation and doing of injustice to the majority of Blacks by the ANC since 1994 as the basis for the coming of revolution and regime change, there will be more information on the permanence of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED versus its erasure from our Universities.

3.2.2. The exploitation and doing of injustice to the Black-majority and White-minority by the ANC since 1994 as the basis for the coming of revolution and regime change
  • Criminalisation of the South African state

Firstly, when mentioning the words unrest, injustice and crookery associated with the ANC (and to make the present-day crooked ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and the ANC’s culture of delinquency understandable), it is needed to move back to Professor RW Johnson’s description of the 1994 start of the ANC under Nelson Mandela, when he wrote in 2016:29:47 “When Nelson Mandela was president he attracted much criticism for the shameless way in which he used South African policy as means to enrich the ANC…Mandela could see nothing wrong with this any more than he could see anything wrong with calling for ‘everyone’ to join the ANC in order to create a one-party state.” (The one-party state he successfully obtained in some way, but he failed to get everyone of the 60-million population to join the ANC: the party’s membership is less than one million in 2021.)

Under Jacob Zuma this enrichment continued, as Johnson points out29:47: …Zuma’s diplomacy …was aimed not at the enrichment of the ANC but of his own family. This was how the worst African dictators – Mobutu, Obiang Nguema, Arap Moi – had behaved. Such behaviour was new in South African history. The fact that the ANC could applaud and support it told one all that one needed to know of its degradation.” Johnson continues29:48:“…in many respects, Zuma has fulfilled the predictive vision of right-wing whites who resisted majority rule on grounds that it would bring authoritarianism, corruption and incompetence sufficient to ruin the country. The surprise is how quickly the ANC in power regressed to this sort of rule and even more, how it rallied behind Zuma, defending him against any criticism”; and29: 49: “…a belief [by the ANC on the holding of a costly feast to celebrate its ruling of the RSA that included the then Police-commissioner Bheki Cele and Jacob Zuma] that celebrity alone was quite enough to hold the law at bay, that pouring out money in such conspicuous and wasteful expenditure was perfectly acceptable in a country with 40 per cent unemployment, that ANC government was all about a small elite having the time of their lives. What these party-goers were happy about was that their patronage line [Zulus] had come to power. But what they were really celebrating, consciously or not, was the criminalisation of the South African state.”

  • Use of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and Black Nationalism in executing White-racism

Bringing us to the basis of the present-day anti-White-racism of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, Johnson29 reflects on the origin of the official racism of the ruling alliance, consisting of the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP, and its clear class structure wherein Whites versus Blacks stands on opposite sides within its planned National Democratic Revolution (NDR), which falsely alludes to the abolishment of all racial and class differences and the creation of a so-called “common society”. But, inside this creation was the clear adoption of the slogan “colonialism of a special type”. Johnson states29: 103:“…the whites (and perhaps other [racial] minorities) were cast as foreign oppressors, settlers to be got rid of…” To say that ANC politics is not based on racism is equal to saying that there is no Sun around which the earth is circling every day!

The political power to drive the NDR (that has never realized until today despite state capture, corruption, stealing and mismanagement in the name of a fake Africanism and a false Black Nationalism), means that the overwhelming, suppression and devastation of the Whites must be a first priority for the Alliance; and secondly, keeping the Alliance unlimited in power with its Stalinist socio-political order. This also means the direct disempowerment of the Whites and the planned keeping them out of government by coups, such as the present State of Emergency clearly confirms, should the Alliance and ANC fail at the ballot box. Central to this disempowerment is the use and imposition of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED at universities that forms the heartbeat of the White Intelligentsia.

  • Delinquent ANC cadre-deployment

Prominent implicated in the current wrong-doing is the delinquent ANC’s leadership and elite in which there has been no renewal since 1994. Cadre Ramaphosa is a central figure here; saturated in the ANC’s political delinquency and the man who as vice-president oversaw the crooked appointment of ANC cadres inside BBBEE and BAREE as well as ABCLM/WARED.  Indeed, is doing it still actively as President. The exclusions of Whites from the economy and work positions, driving them into poverty, has become the single obsessions within the mindset of every ANC leader.

This has led to a worse post-1994 political and socio-economic setup than the pre-1994 one, in which the ongoing revenge on the so-called White foreign oppressors and settlers is central, with the basic theme or intention to grab everything from them. ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and White hatred by the ANC elite, go hand by hand. Describing the ANC’s mess-up of sound government and the presence of blanket appropriation as in ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, Johnson states 29:105:

…many of the old inequalities of the apartheid order have been retained and on top of that a small and politically connected black elite has attempted to imitate or exceed the lifestyles of the old white elite. Yet this new elite is entirely unproductive: it generates no new wealth. Accordingly, its appetite can only be met by redistribution away from others [making BAREE/WARED understandable]. This has added a whole new (and very extreme) layer of inequality and explains why post-apartheid South Africa has become the world’s most unequal society. This is not some form of aberration from the liberation struggle. A glance around Africa shows that this is liberation.

Indeed, in this context Johnson reflects clearly what he means with “this is liberation in post-apartheid South Africa” when he writes29: 122: “The sight of [ANC] politicians becoming rich men. Almost overnight made many feels that the sky was the limit. If Cyril Ramaphosa could go, in a few years, from zero net worth to assets of over $600 million, anything was possible. So, while the ANC might talk of socialism, the message received by most of its activists was Guzot’s famous enrichissez-vous! and 29:107: “…in South Africa a large number of ANC politicians are also farm-owners and businessmen. A large majority of the ANC National Executive has business interests”. For the White academics and researchers, outside the vital sphere of cadre deployment, BAREE/WARED is the reversal of Guzot’s famous enrichissez-vous: it is a setup lacking Ramaphosa’s own cadre-enrichment opportunity and in which the Whites are the immediate and sole targeted victims of the ANC’s “redistribution away from others”.

  • Mass of Blacks outside the ANC’s politics of nepotism and exclusive cadre-deployment It would be very one-sided and exclusively White-orientated to look solely from a White perspective on “enrichissez-vous and “redistribution away from others”, as injustices done only to Whites: It is a process much more focussed on the mass of Blacks outside the ANC’s politics of nepotism and exclusive cadre-deployment. This is an outcome mostly overlooked by the public and which is mostly not understood by the majority of Blacks themselves. This result brings the Black majority outside the ANC-Black-Cadre-Lives-Matter (ABCLM) today much nearer to revolution against the ANC regime than the Whites ever seem to think of at the moment about ABCLM/BAREE/WARED.

Johnson29 tactically alerted us already in 2016 to the possibility of a collapsed ANC regime in 2021; a regime which is at the moment only kept standing by their misuse of the Stalinist State of Disaster since 2020: abolish the State of Disaster and you abolish the ANC as the regime; and this also means the collapse of its devilish ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and BBBEE and the ANC-White-discrimination that has dominated our universities since 1994.  Johnson29, looking backwards to the pre-2016 period of ANC reign, observes29:131: “Under the ANC South Africa was retreating at a speed to a less-cultured, less-educated, less-skilled society. Unwittingly, and while preaching the doctrines of progress and liberation, the ANC was leading South Africa further and further backward”. Johnson29 in this context further elaborates29:234:

At this point it is germane to recognise that the South African state is already anaemic and rickety. The average calibre of cabinet ministers is extremely low. Many of them seem to suffer from acute paranoia; some believe in witchcraft. In addition, there is very little co-ordination amongst the absurdly high number of ministries and no really strong drive from the centre. Moreover, few ministers have sufficient economic knowledge to understand how serious the situation is. When the ratings downgrades of June 2014 took place – a crucial step on the road to ruin – Goolam Ballim, Standard Bank’s chief economist, remarked on the absence from public discourse of any sense of urgency. ‘It’s like a real life showing of Home Alone. There are no adults in charge.’ This is not a government which could withstand a major crisis.

Johnson29 takes us further than Ballim did inside the bosom of the ANC elite’s way of delinquent rule (and thinking) when he writes29:120:

Thus, both the teachers and the police are runaways, progressively escaping from government control, which in turn means that state education and law and order largely escape from government control. But in one way or another, this is happening to more and more elements of the state – municipal bosses set themselves up as local big men, looting their fiefdoms and defying the law. The ANC in Luthuli House tells ministers – and even the President – what to do. At the same time the state is more and more criminalised at every level.

  • Driving of a ruinous set of policies by the ANC and the incoming of Black anarchy

This brings to the foreground the driving of a ruinous set of policies by the ANC (like expropriation without compensation, the 50 per cent seizure of commercial farms, the National Health Insurance (NHI), pension-fund nationalisation, forced demographic representation in the workplace where ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and BBBEE predominate, and other controversies such as corruption, state capture, etc.), as well as its much-declared radical transformation that is now being intensified under the State of Disaster.29

The hard fact is that the ANC regime cannot and will not withstand a major crisis in 2021 (and they are fast moving into one). Their failed handling in May 2008 of the mid-level crisis around food unrest and the xenophobic riots showed that they are just incapable of dealing for instance with mid-level urban unrest, forget large-scale unrest, according to Johnson.29:234 Johnson29 writes 29:234: While what it euphemistically terms ‘land reform’ might be the match that ignites the gun powder, it is clear that there are many other such ignition points once the government embarks on such a road. All of these leads ineluctably towards large-scale urban unrest and a growing loss of central government control.” A major factor that would strengthen extreme unrest is the fact that the ANC is constantly losing support in the country’s urban areas; meaning that the start of a revolution in an extreme form here, could fast overwhelm the already incapable regime to control so-called “anarchists and revolutionists” (that are nothing else than the new class of freedom-fighters aiming to get rid of the ANC and its autocratic rule). Not even the misuse of the security services in terms of the State of Disaster through which the ANC regime has hung onto power since the beginning of 2020, would quell it.62-87,96-136

The above kind of outcome in a mid-level crisis with urban unrest as evidenced by the May 2008 xenophobic riots for the ANC-regime, was entirely the result of their incapacity to deal with the matter. Johnson concludes29:234: “This was why many terrible acts of violence were allowed to continue for days in major South African cities and why none of the perpetrators were ever punished. Similarly, the government has been powerless in the face of thousands of township protests over poor service delivery, municipal corruption, and so on. In part, this is because both the police and army are now mere shadows of what they once were, racked by brutality, corruption and incompetence.”

Today, twelve years after the May 2008 riots, the chaos around service delivery, poverty, municipal and central corruption, the misuse of BBBEE to enrich and strengthen exclusively ANC cadres, have grown out of hand; the empty promises of the ANC elite “to enrich the poor by land and pension grabbing”, is laughed upon. There are many ignition points waiting to be ignited. Here the present student unrest around funding is of key importance: it is only the tip of the iceberg of anarchy and revolution, brewing over the last decade with the potential to devastate the ANC.15-29, 113,119 This state of affairs is well summed up by Govender119 when he writes119:1,6: SA’s 26 universities are on a knife-edge following a call by the powerful South African Students Congress (SASCO) for a total shutdown tomorrow”; and: “Shutdown looms over student anger”. This ping-pong playing with higher education and the future of the youth’s education is ongoing, extending from 2014, reflecting the ANC’s inability to bring any solutions to the country’s immense problems. Nicholson, Egwu and Payne write125:1: “Neither the leeway offered by universities nor the state’s budget reallocation will solve the ongoing crisis.”

In 2016 Johnson29 already described the then already failing ANC coming from 1994 (and its failing tertiary policy inside ABCLM/BAREE/WARED) when he wrote29:139:“The government also doesn’t govern because it cannot. In effect the ‘transformation’ of the civil service has destroyed it. Apart from occasional oases of expertise… the civil service has been stripped not only of competent personnel but also of its institutional memory. Instead, it has become a free-fire field for ‘cadre deployment’ and every kind of political and familial nepotism and cronyism.” In this context Johnson continues29:139:

…the government doesn’t govern because it simply isn’t much interested in the job. Only a few, rare ministers…appear to be driven by a passion for their work. Mainly, however, the focus of presidents and ministers alike is on the life of the ANC, its anniversaries, its rules and discipline, its national and regional conferences, its moods and its factions. Essentially, this is the body within which they have lived their lives, the body to which they owe their positions and power. And it is not just an organisation; it is a family, a history, an emotional home. Accordingly, they pay it far closure attention than anything in government.

Bring into further focus the governing delinquency of the ANC, Johnson further elaborates29:141: “Typically, the minister is also the centre of a patronage network, finding jobs for family members, mistresses, clients from his local area and his tribal group. On top of which, of course, the minister is greatly preoccupied with trying to devise ways of using his official position in order to enrich him/herself.”

Johnson29 describes the ANC party and its politics since 1994 as an experiment and describes this extreme, failed experiment’s construction and energy as29:245:“…in power the ANC has actually become more chiefly, more tribal, a giant federation of political bosses held together by patronage, clientelism and concomitant looting and corruption. This has created a political regime which is quite incapable of managing and developing a modern state.”

  • South Africa’s incoming Black Spring/Black Autumn

Responding to fears of an inchoate revolution against the ANC, the party’s elite in 2013 sent the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to North Africa to see what they could learn from the Arab Spring. But, until today, they still do not understand the hard fact that poverty, joblessness, cadre deployment and socio-economic injustice done by the ruler of the day, will be at the centre of any future revolution: they do not foresee a Black Spring nor a Black Autumn for South Africa. About the massive ignorance on the part of the general public regarding the ANC elite’s problematic socio-economics and politics that they have pursued since 1994 in South Africa and their silent power grab in the style of the Chinese Communist Party, Johnson postulates29:173: “A particular striking feature of the crisis is that it evolved in an atmosphere of complete public ignorance.”

On the ANC elite’s own ignorance of their delinquent actions since 1994 (even to other Blacks) and the coming time for facing up to these, Johnson writes29:189: “The most important reason for this almost Neanderthal state of the ANC economic thinking is that very few people in the government understand the true gravity of the situation.” This indeed spells out abnormal psychological thinking by the ANC elite, which is already spilling over into grandeur, irrational thinking, as Johnson well identified and described29:196: “…South Africa’s leaders saw themselves as the leaders of Africa, as leaders of the Third World, as leaders of the black race internationally – and in general, leaders of the world’s progressives. It was an extraordinary inflation of ambition.” The above declaration of a politically mad government was confirmed by the then South African ambassador to the US, Ebrahim Rasool (who Johnson described as a person29:196: “…who had more than his share of problems with the law”), when Rasool29:196: “…insisted that South Africa was ‘poised to become a moral superpower’. What Rasool indeed should say, was that some of the ANC elite are urgently looking for a ‘stay-out-of-jail-card’.29

The above brings us again to the current chaos around the ANC regime’s actions and the hard fact that it can lose the 2024 national election, although this outcome also seems to be missing from the minds of most of the ANC elite. But, regarding their failed governance since 1994, it seems that some of the leaders in the ANC have obtained in some way in their irrational thinking an idea of their possible ousting as a government in the near future. Johnson states29:229:

For some time now the ANC’s critics have claimed that the party is leading South Africa towards failed state status and the sight of the country losing its economic sovereignty would cause many of those critics to feel vindicated. The ANC, for its part, has become increasingly sensitive to the question of failure. Anyone who suggests that the ANC government is failing is immediately attacked as a racist and an ‘Afro-pessimist’ ((optimism being presumed to be a patriotic duty). There is no doubt that the ANC was badly shaken by its loss of ground in the 2014 elections, the emergence of the EFF and the continuing advance of the DA. It kept its post-mortems confidential but its hyper-sensitivity to criticism – even to banal cartoons – suggested considerable anxiety at the now quite clear prospect of political and governmental failure.

The above remarks by Johnson29 bring us also back to the slippery road on how the ANC came to power in the 2019 national elections as an autocracy and the reason for the ANC’s insecurity about the country’s future politics. In this context is it missed out by most of the public that of the 37-million eligible voters, 9-million did not register and another 9-million did not vote. Of the ±19-million that voted, the ANC only received ±11-million votes, making it a party governing with a 28% support of the total voter-population and not 58% as the vote counting of 2019 falsely reflects. The legitimacy of the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa is far more slippery. He was not elected by the Nation, but by only ±4 000 ANC delegates at the 5th ANC National Conference of 2017, of which nearly half did not vote for him, giving him a majority of only ±200 votes.  This means he came to the ANC leadership and presidency with a 5% support of the 4 000 delegates (and thus the ANC as a party with less than one-million members out of a population of 60-million). Reworking these so-called 4 000 ANC delegates’ votes to represent the 37-million eligible voters, it means cadre/comrade Ramaphosa was elected by only 0.01% of the total population. When taking into account that only ±200 ANC delegates out of 37-million eligible voters voted for him, the hard reality is that he was voted into the presidency by only 0.001% of the total population. The 2019 grab by the ANC and Ramaphosa of state power is surely the greatest act of state capture so far executed by the ANC elite. This reality is far removed from the media’s general portrayal of Cyril Ramaphosa as the anointed and chosen New Messiah and Arrived Black Jesus, alleged to be selected by the majority of voters, who can and is going to save all South Africans from the devil’s perils and chaos. Reality is starting to spell trouble for him. South Africa has a history of ousting Number Ones: John Vorster, PW Botha, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are instances. South Africa, as Africa, is full of Joker Surprises that come suddenly to make changes.

The golden days of the ANC and many of its leaders such as cadre Cyril Ramaphosa, cadre Ace Magashule, cadre Jacob Zuma and so on as sacrosanct are in the past. It is time that they note it. Can we ever forget the great African saint, Dr. Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, who, after ending up tied to a tree, was executed on the 22ndFebruary 2002 by co-Angolans? The coup/State of Emergency that was executed recently by the power-mad military in Myanmar with its ongoing killing of the innocents and which has started to run fast into a failure and the prosecution of the military’s top leaders there, may be another warning for the ANC leaders what can await them in the near future if they tried to stay on uninvited with a power grab.126

For those concerned about the further devastating impact of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED under an ongoing ANC regime, the question is: will the ANC accept defeat at the 2024 national elections?  It is doubted by many political analysts. The ANC leadership declared already they are going to stay in power till Jesus comes back. Also, their actions against opposition are cruel, well-planned and focussed, to crush any endangering of their quasi-permanent regime. The ANC’s behaviour during the State of Disaster, coming from the beginning of 2020 and the March 2021 reaction to the student protests at Wits university, give us a warning that they will not hesitate to take arms up against other Blacks.  Indeed, they did not hesitate to take up arms against the unarmed, poor mass of Blacks in the past, as well-confirmed by the massacre of 34 striking mineworkers at the Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana on the 16th August 2012. Johnson tells us of the brutal behaviour of the ANC’s security services when he writes29:83:“When the police finally gunned down the 34 AMCU members [that were not part of the ANC elite and Alliance] there was a strong suspicion that, in effect, they had been brought in to suppress a threat to the ANC – a suspicion which grew when it was discovered that most of the 34 had been shot in the back, many of them hunted down and on the run”; and: 29:117“… it also seems that some of the strikers were hunted down and executed by police in cold blood while others were deliberately crushed by police vehicles”;  and:29:117“Several hundred more strikers were held in police cells where, according to their lawyers, they were beaten and tortured by the police.”

In May 2008 there were the uncontrolled food unrest and xenophobia killings that officially left 62 people dead.29:233 Mercy and humanity, as the Marikana outcome four years later evidenced, were also not characteristics of the various police actions to end this unrest.15-29,113-119

Indeed, looking at these kinds of bloodstained outcomes, Johnson writes29:83: “The pigs had taken over Animal Farm and were behaving just as the humans had.” But it seems the pigs are still the masters today of the Animal Farms and have learnt nothing since 2008: the recent Wits incident of the killing of an innocent man confirms it very well. The hard fact is that one cold-blooded killing by the police is the same as ten, hundred or thousand killings by the police: it constitutes the killing of the innocent citizen and it reflects the willingness to kill many more innocent citizens if needed.15-29,113-119

Indeed, the present Wits unrest and the cold-bloodied killing of an innocent bystander tells the tale of what the students could expect if they started up a revolution and did not move fast to obtain the upper and winning hand in some way.  Mazibuko118:18 reports that numerous studies have also found that the remilitarisation of the South African police of just more than 200 000 members has done nothing to garner greater respect for police officers in the communities they serve and that more and more innocent people are dying by their hands.  An eyewitness, Thando Sibanda, described the cold-blooded killing of the bystander, Mthokozisi Ntumba. Thando Sibanda tells the journalist Iavan Pijoos119 the following story119:6:

They [Wits-students] were not singing and were just standing there, nothing that could cause a shooting”. Sabinda said that moments later police officers in an armoured vehicle, a Nyala, arrived and opened fire on students. “That guy (officer) started shooting. We then ran inside the shop. They stood behind the locked safety gate and watched the tragedy unfold. A policeman got out of the vehicle and shot Ntumba in the head. That guy [Ntumba] asked him: ‘Why are you shooting me?’ “He shot him again in the chest and jumped on him and got into the car [the armoured Nyala vehicle] and they drove to the robot {metres away]. I asked myself, how do you shoot someone and see that he falls down and you just drive away? You are not even showing remorse. He [Ntumba] was carrying his medicine to show them that he is not a student.

Another student, Aphelele Buqwana,114 shot at and wounded in the leg during the Wits student unrest, brings us nearer to what students can expect in a revolution against the ANC regime, as well as the students thinking of the present government114:7: “I want justice. But judging by how ignorant and unconcerned our government and ministers are I doubt there is going to be any justice for us.”

It is a grave situation that the student activists are now facing; and here we are speaking of killing and murder.113-119 Any organised revolution will undoubtedly be suppressed by the ANC, even with extreme bloodshed.  (The Myanmar Junta’s action at the moment to fight off students by arresting, torturing and killing them is a cold warning for South Africans outside the ANC-circle.)126 The primary reason for this suppression of a revolution: Because extreme prosecution awaits the ANC elite for crimes against humanity and alleged organized murder because of their poor handling of the pandemic and its deaths, up to their economic sabotage and thus high treason during the State of Emergency. Then there is their history of delinquency: corruption, looting, stealing, state capture, BBBEE and cadre corruption, etc., coming from 1994. (The intention of AfriForum to cross-examine Ramapohosa on cadre deployment at the Zondo commission is only one outcome of these many ANC delinquencies. The journalist Nomahlubi Sonjica writes134:1: “AfriForm said the application stemmed from the fact that Ramaphosa was chairperson of the ANC cadre deployment committee from 2013 to 2016: During this time, several individuals who today are accused of corruption and state capture were appointed to key positions on the grounds of their loyalty to the ANC.”)

It is thus clear that the student protesters/revolutionists can expect no mercy from the police. Hereto, although the top ranks of the army are mostly pro-ANC and cadres and even showed discontent and disrespect to Parliament, there are some rumours that the ordinary soldiers already had declared they are not going to shoot their citizen-brothers. If these rumours are true, there is very little hope over for the ANC elite to stay in power or for the police to cover their backs. We will see if and when a push starts for anarchy or a possible revolution, how the roles of the army and police will develop.

The increase in student protests concerning the 2021 funding for their studies, is missed as the attention of the public and seemingly the ANC regime is always on itself. The editor115 of the Sunday Times on the 14th March 2021 refreshes our minds on this ongoing, essentially unattended problem, when he writes115:18:

Not for the first time, the government appears to have been caught napping as student protest flares again at the start of the academic year. After expectations were raised by the game-changing #FeesMustFall protests of 2015 and former president Jacob Zuma’s announcement two years later of free higher education to poorer students, one might have thought the government would sense the start of the academic year would be a critical moment, to be handled with great care and sensitivity. It is especially so given that the Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed so many families’ incomes, jeopardising the future education of their children as breadwinners languish in unemployment.

What the editor failed to say was that many of these poor students lost to Covid-19 a parent or sometimes both who brought an income (although the ANC-regime’s manipulated numbers show only officially 50 000 deaths it can be 160000 and more). When the Wits protests started up with seriousness and a bystander was shot and killed by the police in cold blood, Minister Blade Nzimande (after he said in Parliament there was not money for funding available) could suddenly find R7bn to aid the students! It was an outright emergency sidestep by a confused and fear-filled regime to escape major problems and responsibilities in the short term.113-119

But, if the ANC elite and specifically Ramaphosa and Nzimande think their many troubles are over, they are in for a big surprise: the present student protests are more complex, organised and well-planned than they seem and reflected by the pro-ANC media. Indeed, it can be the final straw to cleanse the farm from the pigs that had taken over Animal Farm and are behaving just as the humans had. Looking at the many recent news reports coming through, it can be that South Africa is at last at the breaking point to move from unrest to anarchy to revolution: it doesn’t mean this month such an outcome might manifest, but possibly before the end of 2021. What makes the student protests so dangerous, is that it is a major crisis inside many major crises that are now waking up.113-119 Johnson29 in this context writes29:246: It may take great social convulsions to change that [the ANC structure] because the groups now in power will not easily let go of it. Indeed. Had they played their cards more cleverly they might have consolidated their rule. But, in fact they have done the opposite. The result is an imminent crisis on many fronts. So, somewhere out ahead of us lies a regime change towards a form of governance which is closure to South Africa’s underlying sociological realities”.

Inside the failed education system, which was building up to the present protests, stands out prominently the chaos in which Black students have found themselves over the last five years while it is clear they are going to be in a far worse position from now on up to 2024. The above comprehensive overview pointed to the collapse of the ANC regime as well as the functioning normality unique to a healthy economy, society and university. But, most of all, it also spells out that BBBEE and ABCLM/BAREE/WARED are not meant to benefit the ordinary, average Black person that forms the majority of South Africans, but that it is solely and exclusively meant for the ANC cadres: Black-Lives-Matter was indeed ANC-Black-Cadre-Lives-Matter, nothing less. It is a foreboding of disaster; one that needs immediate, comprehensive intervention and interference from outside of the ANC’s lawmakers’ circus of clowns, crooks and madmen.124 The words of a sick Black man, who is forced to stand waiting in queues at clinics where there are many times a lack of medicine or decent treatment by the staff, tells the present-day story of extreme Black discrimination and hardship experienced under the ANC regime. Tshabalira Lebakeng124 speaks and warns clearly of this ethnic, racial and class discrimination in post-1994 South Africa and the counter-action awaiting their tormentors124:1: “While waiting in line you become friends. We talk about politics and how crazed Members of Parliament eat our tax money and drive big cars and lives in big houses. They know nothing about waiting in long queues outside clinics.”

There are today just too many sick Black men and women waiting in queues at clinics; the chances are good that they can be intimate partners in the African Autumn or the African Spring.

For them, the signs of immense personal, social and economic chaos to come in the near and far future for the youths in and under an ongoing ANC state capture are there, clearly evidenced by their present discrimination and exploitation. Govender72 reports on the 28th February 2021 that the latest jobs data show that 2.7-million of the 7.2-million people who were unemployed in the last quarter of 2020 had a matric; that 230 000 of the matrics who passed the 2020 examination did not qualify for university admission; and that 1.8-million of first-years applied at 22 universities for enrolment. In all, 210 820 matrics qualified for admission to universities, but that the 22 universities had places for only 134 754 first-time students in total. Dawie Roodt72, chief economist at the Efficient Group, estimated that between 60% and 70% of the hundreds of thousands of matriculants who passed in 2020 will not find a job this year. The number of students at Wits university needing financial support in some form for 2021 were 27 000 out of 37 500. Hereto Professor Andre Roux72 of Stellenbosch University comments that even graduates have been left out in the cold72:10: “Many of those who do have 12 or more years of education are also unemployable because the skills that they are able to offer the market do not match the market’s requirements: someone with a master’s degree in pre-historic architecture might be highly qualified, but the job market is unlikely to attach any productive importance to that qualification.

The 2021-released data of Stats SA for 2020 show that the unemployment rate has risen to be 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020, the highest jobless rate ever seen: this number includes people, besides the youth, who have families to care for.  That is a ticking time bomb, bringing us back to the 1990s when Thabo Mbeki said that when the poor rise, they will rise against us all. (They have good reason after 26 years of mishandling and exploitation.) The country’s economy is teetering on the brink of a precipice: back in 2010 (only eleven years back) our debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 34.7%, now the forecast debt-to-GDP for 2022/2023 stands at 72%, while for 2025/2026 it is 88.9%.112,113 The fact is that this chaotic situation is going to worsen over the next three years: The ANC regime’s funding of education will decline by a whopping R119bn in the next three years from 2021 and that the subsidies to universities to support operational costs and research funding are also set to be reduced in the next three years, while the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (which is at the centre of student unrest), is also facing serious budget cuts between 2021 and 2024. The pressure group Equal Education said the decreases in education funding in real terms will have a devastating impact, but it leaves the ANC unconcerned.108

To argue that students must move into technical study directions, etc., away from university training, is foolishness par excellence: not even in the technical sphere is there a future in present-day South Africa. It is firstly the right of every student/person in South Africa to get post-matric training; and secondly it is the government’s duty to assure an economy which can give work and business opportunities to all the people. To blame the present chaos around the students’ funding on them or their parents is a typical ANC-elite blame game to escape their wrongdoing and responsibilities. If the author of this article is a jobless academic and research emeritus notwithstanding excellent qualifications and research outputs because he is White and over 65 years of age (and the perfect candidate to apply BAREE to), how can it be expected of our poor and unqualified Black youths and adults to can make an inroad to be trained and be economically independent when they are not part of the ABCLM?

It is clear that the chaos around the ANC regime has built up to the activation of a time-frame during which the ANC and its autocracy will be removed from the country’s politics. The fact is that South Africans on all levels and of all races accept that it’s time to choose between realignment (goodness) and radicalism (badness). They know well that they must make a choice and know they have to act now and to ignore the false promises of the ANC regime. Indeed, South Africans have reached the end of the road in 2021 and cannot hang on until the 2024 national elections that can be rigged or even be postponed in terms of a State of Emergency. The majority of South Africans cannot allow themselves to be further ruled by crooks. Indeed, they cannot take their suffering anymore.41,42,73,78,81,83,111,113 The present Wits SRC president, Mpendulo Mfeka’s conclusion on the failed 2021 setup and the organised protests tells us much when he said131:1: “…it’s not only about ‘striking’ or ‘disrupting’. It’s about making an impact on people’s lives and fighting to ease student woes”; and 125:1: “What is going to make a difference now is that the students are tired. They have been doing this forever and they are willing to go to the extreme to achieve their aim.” The eminent political analyst and journalist BarneyMthombothi111 brings this situation into focus in when he writes on the 14th March 202111:19: “Outside the courtrooms or in Nkandla, corruption is being treated as something to celebrate.”  Dr. Anthea Jeffery78, the writer and political analyst of the Institute of Racial Relations (IRR) on the 11th March 2021 puts the present absolute chaos and exploitation of the majority of South Africans by the ANC in a nutshell78:1: “Government is in crisis; SA must stand up against citizen abuse now.”

The ANC’s so-called “Democratic Revolution” — based on Stalinist Communism and executed in terms of the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy, and driven by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and BBBEE to benefit only a fraction of Blacks — is directly today responsible for the devastation of the majority Blacks’ economic, social, personal and health rights: to such an extent that Gossell130 needs to describe it as 130:1: “The ANC revolution is eating its children.” Indeed, the end result in 2021 of the ANC’s delinquent regime of 26 years is evidenced by the finding of The World Happiness Report 2021 of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (based on the Annual Gallup World Poll)129,135 about South Africans’ happiness. Three elements are central: positive emotions, overall levels of satisfaction with life and trust in government. (Six separate factors were evaluated: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, generosity, freedom and perception of corruption.) From the 149 countries evaluated, Europe was home to nine of the ten happiest countries in the world, while South Africa stands only in the 103rd position from the top: confirming that its people are extremely unhappy. It was only the people of Malawi (144), Lesotho (145), Botswana (146), Rwanda (147), Zimbabwe (148) and Afghanistan (149) who were unhappier than South Africans. This means that more than 30% of the 149 countries selected, were happier than South Africans about their total living conditions.129,135

The present student-unrest must be read far more critically than the media present it: end-August 2021 is the ANC’s National General Coouncil (AGC)’s gathering where the effective roles of cadres/comrades Ramaphosa, Magashule, Dlamini Zuma, Jacob Zuma, Mbalula, and others in the ANC leadership, undoubtedly will be scrutinised. If Ramaphosa cannot handle the student protests when they become out of hand and killings follow, his time in the ANC leadership is over.

Regarding the above state of affairs, we should see the well-planned positioning of Jacob Zuma in his public address and attack on Bheki Cele in supporting the students in their actions and disgrace of the police for their brutality, as well as Magashule’s public support for the students. Then there is already some support for opponents against Ramaphosa in the 2024 leadership election of the ANC, the pending court case against Ramaphosa about his mind capture to keep the funding of his election as ANC leader secret, and so on. On the present development of conflict politics inside the ANC’s inner circle around the student unrest, Msomi110 writes110:18: “A day later, ANC secretary-general Ace was in the streets with students, professing his party’s support for their demands… he took the students on a march from Luthuli House to the Constitutional Court.”  Msomi110 continues110:18: “Given…the ongoing power struggles within the ANC, it would be foolhardy to dismiss the strong suspicion that Magashule ‘hijacked’ the students’ struggle in a bid to win over this important constituency ahead of many battles that are to be fought within and outside the ANC. Some of his utterances when accepting a memorandum of demands from the students before the start of the march to the ConCourt clearly, albeit indirectly, targeted higher education minister Blade Nzimande and others in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet who are regarded as being opposed to the secretary-general.”

In above context also Nicholson, Egwu and Payne125 reflect on possible political role players active in the unrests, pointing to the presence of the spokesperson of the Umkhonto weSiswe Veterans’ Association (MKHVA) at Wits, while at the same time showing that the protesters represent a cross-section of students coming from different political homes. Nicholson, Egwu and Payne write125:1: “It is dissipated amid allegations of interference from its leaders’ affiliated political parties. There was even an alleged effort by State Security Agency to influence the agenda”.

But, the most prominent recent political development of taking on the ANC elite by co-Blacks (and evidence of the presence of strongly hostile Black ethnicity) was the public exclusion and flight of Ramaphosa from the funeral of the late King Zwelithini of the Zulus. Afrika and Manyane134 write on the incident as follows134:1: “The rebellion by Zulu warriors at the funeral of the late King Zwelithini’s funeral… forced the police to whisk away President Cyril Ramaphosa through the back door for safety reasons”, and134:1: “The police were this week forced to cut the mesh wire fence of the KwaKhhetomthandayo Royal Palace to make way for Ramaphosa’s motorcade after angry Zulu warriors, known as Amabutho, charged towards the venue of King Zwelithini’s memorial service…” Afrika and Manyane134, on the outcome of this Zulu reaction against Ramaphosa at the funeral, postulates that the police (and surely Ramaphosa himself as a Venda) failed to take into account the negative sentiment among many residents of Kwazulu-Natal regarding the person Ramaphosa: a negative sentiment that can get stronger now after peacemaker King Zwelithini’s death and the ongoing attack of the Ramaphosa regime on the Zulu leader Jacob Zuma. To see the so-called “rebellion” as only an effort to “embarras” Ramaphosa at the funeral, is an understatement in the extreme; it goes far deeper and deadlier: in the near future many similar cases of “whisking away through the back door” and the “cutting of mesh wire” for the ANC elite may follow to escape the angry citizens of South Africa.134 Indeed, it is very late in our political history when the Black State President of South Africa must flee a crowd of Black South Africans; it has never happened since 1994.

To the above turmoil in popular criticism of the ruling ANC may be added the open and even hostile attack of Joel Netshitenzhe136, an ANC “stalwart” and a member of the ANC’s NEC, on Ace Magashule and other members of the ANC’s Top Six and NEC on the 22nd March 2021 when he writes (and clearly warns South Africans against some of the ANC elite!)136:1: “South Africa beware: Ace Magashule’s RET faction will fight to the bitter end.” And, then in the same breath, he notes a dangerous, planned ANC-insider fight to come against the ostensible Magashule faction (falsely framed as the RETs) soon in South Africa. In order to obtain and hold onto political power by some members of the ANC-elite (a statement very much in line with the pre-1994 radical thinking of the ANC), he nonchalant writes to them136:1: “…the battles must be deftly chosen, and the timing of each fight must be appropriate. Care must be taken not to allow the saboteurs to dictate the “what, when and how” of engagement. The fish should not be allowed to twist, turn and muddy the waters so as to slip out of the grip of the justice system.” Indeed, it spells chaos in a ruling party when one senior member calls other senior members of the party “saboteurs and seemingly crooks that try to flee the law”.

What is clear is that the present “unrest, sabotaging and rebellious actions” have now spread to a dangerous Black grouping — with a tribal orientation (i.e. Black-on-Black) — far removed from the days when it was an exclusive united-Black-attack on the Whites and their Apartheid as a common enemy. The enemy is now internal to Blacks themselves — varying from groupings to tribes with own clear interests versus some of the ANC elite also with their own interests — which can make the rising protests of 2021 far more dangerous, well-planned and targeted.

From the above it is clear that the road to a power change is laid out, lines are drawn and well-planned inside the student protests: it is only the tip of the iceberg that may tear through the Ramaphosa regime as well as the ANC soul. Other major crises can follow fast (and even be planned already). The challengers, opponents and distracters of Ramaphosa and his Company are looking for outlets overthrow him and his intimate cadres: Indeed, the signs are there that they intend to do it very quickly and very soon (and without mercy). As already mentioned, I believe that the process is unstoppable and indeed well-focussed and steered; Joel Netshitenzhe’s136 request to stop the “saboteurs” will fall on deaf ears.

What will a physical cleansing of the Ramaphosa regime mean? Some see it as the arrival of cadres/comrades Ace Manacle, Jacob Zuma and Dlamini-Zuma as the new top leaders, which can mean for the already discriminated-against majority of Blacks and minority group of Whites further BAREE/BBBEE and Only-ANC-Black-Cadre-Lives-Matter, and thus their further suppression and exploitation. This fear seems to haunt John Steenhuisen83, the present leader of the DA and others, making him spell it out as83:20: “… a choice between handling SA over to a President magicube and a Vice-President Julius Malema and their extremist radical agenda that will take SA down the road to ruin, or finding solutions to entrench the rule of law, a market economy and non-racialism”.

The putative accession to power of manacle and Company as the new ANC leadership, could be the immediate outcome of a revolution or the expulsion of the Ramaphosa regime, but it will be of short duration. When going into revolution, the main objective of the mass of Blacks will be to totally oust the ANC and to install a stable, democratic regime.  Read again Johnson’s insights in 201629:243:

  1. South Africa will not go into a Zimbabwe-type chaos because of the ANC’s failure and bad example as a regime; and
  2. the South African Black majority wants to be a partner in a modern industrial economy and is a people of peace.

Johnson’s insights go further29:243:

The fundamental reason why the question of regime change has to be posed is that it is now clear that South Africa can either choose to have an ANC government or it can have a modern industrial economy. It cannot have both. As this choice becomes more pressing, the ANC will pretend that only a few white capitalists want anything different from them, but the fact is that the overwhelming mass of South Africans of every colour cannot imagine – and certainly do not want – a future in which they are not part of a modern industrial society. As the pressures for regime change increase the ANC will certainly be tempted to rig elections to prevent change – it has already begun to do so – but the longer the movement attempts to hold back the huge majority which wants a different future, the more likely it is to be swept away altogether by the tide of change.

Referring to the postulated tide of change awaiting the ANC regime, I would like to note that in 1984 with the publishing of my first PhD, I postulated that the then National Party (NP) and its Apartheid regime will be swept away in time (which brought me as an academic and a researcher into immense conflict with and discrimination from the Nationalists and Broederbonders at my workplace); ten years later, in 1994, the NP and its corrupted leadership collapsed and indeed disappeared from the scene. Looking at the many similarities of political delinquencies between the NP and ANC, the chance is good that the ANC and its equally corrupted leadership can collapse before 2024 and will also disappear from the scene.86

There is no doubt that the incoming tide of change after a revolution will fast sweep away the Magashules, Zumas, Mantashes, Ramaphosas and other kinds; all to be overtaken by a stable liberal-capitalistic democracy. The Joker Surprise must not be ruled from also sometimes bringing beneficent results: what had happened in the corrupted and despotic Portugal of Salazar is possibly going to happen here too. Let Johnson talk and guide us again in his wisdom 29:244:

Finally, it seems to me that a fundamental fact of South African history is that the struggle for black liberation temporarily empowered a radical left elite without real roots in the black majority. That is, the situation is rather like Portugal after the overthrow of the fascist regime of Salazar Caetano by the Armed Forces Movement led by Major Otelo de Carvalho and Major Vitor Alves, both men of the revolutionary left. After more than 50 years of fascism, there briefly seemed to be the possibility that Portugal would lurch straight from the far right to the far left. But before long the underlying sociological realities asserted themselves. Portugal was, after all, a Catholic European country. In 1976 Mario Soares, a social democrat, was elected as president and thereafter the Portuguese were left with the familiar choice between Christian Democrat and social democrat.

To argue that South Africa’s failure since 1994 was directly because Blacks cannot or could not rule, is a falsity par excellence: It was solely the ANC as a party that failed South Africa and the nation because it became saturated by crooks, hooligans, scoundrels, nincompoops and their ilk: it became a magnet to attract the wrong people from 1994.111 Johnson points out this reality when he posits29:142:

One has only to look at next-door Botswana to see an impressive and democratic black government which, in less than 50 years, has taken Botswana from being the poorest country in the world to one which has overtaken South Africa in per capita income.

So the problem is not black government, it is ANC government. One could make a persuasive case that the very nature of the ANC’s history and struggle has systematically unfitted it to govern.

Johnson29 tells us more about the suitability of South Africa’s majority of Blacks to be good partners in a good government post-2021 when he draws comparisons between the unpopularity of the ANC and the SACP and the benign culture of the majority of South Africans. He states29:245: “…the ANC is actually strongly at variance with majority black opinion, let alone the opinion of the minorities. The evidence of all the opinion surveys is that support for the SACP has never risen above 2 per cent; that the black, white and coloured South Africans are overwhelmingly Christians; that most black opinion is socially conservative (far more so than white opinion), wanting the return of the death penalty, disliking abortion, taking a somewhat traditional view of women’s role, gay rights and so forth. Moreover, such surveys showed that a large majority of black opinion wanted consensus, not inter-racial conflict, and would like to see a solution backed by whites and the business community.”

I agree with Professor Johnson29 in the belief of the possible advent of a South African regime change in the near future that will nullify ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, BBBEE and racial, age and gender discrimination; one that will initiate the functioning of the full-Research-circle of Completeness and will rehabilitate and restart dramatically our academic and research culture and environment. Most of all, the hope is to be able to take back our democratic rights from the many academic and research hooligans and nincompoops that not only blocked the reaching of a research utopia, but delinquently through ABCLM/BAREE/WARED are sending many hardworking and able full-time academics and researchers, as well as our grey-haired emeritus academics and researchers who are all currently making enormous contributions to universities’ publication lists and incomes, into the cold. Many have also left the country, as had happened in Iran under the extreme Islamic dictatorship there.128

But this rehabilitation will need time: it can take much more time than the 27 years the ANC has had to run the country into the ground. To rehabilitate it, the Black liberal democrats will have to root out the politically deployed but incompetent ANC cadres from the civil service and the parastatals, while legislation needs to be introduced in the private sector to rid the crooked ANC elite from there too. Only then may an efficient government be activated, together with a working socio-economy, a sound democracy and institutions such as education which includes the universities.29

Although my writing (as well to an extent that of Johnson29, Mthombothi111 and Jeffery78) can be seen by the ANC regime as sedition against the ANC state in terms of the autocratic State of Emergency’s regulations and misused to act against all persons presently writing about the misdemeanors of the ANC state, the fall of the ANC regime and party is a reality that must be announced and helped to be hastened. Indeed, all the millions of honest citizens that are harmed by the ANC’s ABCLM/BAREE/WARED should talk and write about the elimination of the ANC and propagate it: it is not only their right, but indeed their duty.

3.3.3. Old-Age-Academia’s negative influences on modern-day research

To see only the ANC’s political delinquency as applied to the universities through ABCLM/ BAREE and WARED, which steer their corrupt “deployment” of Black cadres and comrades as events in the impediment of obtaining our full-Research-circle of Completeness, is incorrect. It is a far more profound and radical process whereby other role players, outside the inner circle of the ANC and its many willing practitioners of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, are also involved to undermine quality research, as well as the creation of racism in research. Existing academics and research staff, Black and White, who are not directly involved in ANC politics are participate willingly in the process as collaborators, even where some of them reject the ANC’s policies and intentions. Their main actions are focussed on the upkeep of their outdated, old-age research traditions and academic empowerment; actions that include rejecting any renewal in research methods, information and approaches, such as the writing of books based on published theses, the publishing of accredited articles and the introduction of the article-thesis as a new research tool in the place of the traditional thesis. Many-times their resistance to hard work also appears to be a characteristic!

The passivity of this group of old-age academics and their utter failure to get actively involved in the various forms of research outputs on a daily basis, are a continuing process which is characterising their whole academic and research careers. This negativity can in some way be described as laziness and the typical behaviour, internalised in their mindsets and lifestyles over many years. However, it could also be a way of “keeping their heads down” and not give offense to the ANC’s dominant ideology. This contingent of academics is to some extent directly responsible for the less than 40% (which is declining further) of South African academics holding a PhD. Many of these academics and researchers hang on to their posts and stay neutral to the politics of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED-managers at universities, living the passive, old-age academia lifestyle of twenty and more years ago, waiting for retirement with a good pension. To get research-active or renew their knowledge and to support the practice of article and book writing, etc., is just a favour asked too much!

Since the introduction of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED many of the so-called old-age academics have supported it in some way, without too much exposure to the politics around it. Again, the opportunity is here to hang on to less productive research in this setup without annoying the new bosses at universities. On the other side there are undoubtedly White staff members who publicly strongly underwrites the ANC’s ABCLM/BAREE/WARED-policy. Some of this staff’s shelve-life is short-term renewed, essentially because of their specialist knowhow. Although they are also seen as part of the mass of Whites to get rid of in the near future in terms of the so-called race ratio and the ABCLM/BAREE/WARED policy (a setup with serious consequences for them but it seems most of these Whites cannot read well), they are at this stage endured (although not necessarily accepted) as a permanent staff component. This bizarre structure — one by definition that must exclude and suppress Whites due to rigid racial quotas — is still leaving many Whites in senior academic posts (as mentioned, mostly for ANC-opportunistic reasons), free from direct racial suppression by the ANC university leaderships. The only prerequisite is that they should continue with what they as academics and researchers want to do as dictated by their internalised old-age academic inclinations, but as long as it does not contradict the aims of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED or oppose the ANC’s other aims, intentions and ideology.

These White academics and researchers, those that form the so-called Old-Age-Academia, are seemingly motivated by an internalised research mindset that opposes any change to the traditional research culture and environment. This obstructive behaviour seems to be rooted in an unwillingness to work more and harder, as well as to renew skills and knowhow. Notable here is their direct opposition to the article-thesis and also their clear unwillingness to move away from the Research-circle of Incompleteness and to contribute to the consummation of the Research-circle of Completeness.

This “unproductive academic and research culture” has lingered on unchallenged for many decades in the universities’ research environment. Opportunism and self-enrichment have often been the motivations behind these mostly Whites’ academic lifestyle: excellent pay, nice working conditions, good pension awaiting, sometimes very senior appointments, etc. — in exchange for their loyalty to the ANC’s ideologies, such as underwriting and practising ABCLM/BAREE/WARED — making them of the same delinquent type as the ANC’s elite, cadres and comrades. Johnson’s29 descriptions of the greedy mindsets of the cadres, the comrades and the bureaucratic bourgeoisie fit them well too. My earlier somewhat crude characterisation of their academic prostitution is perhaps not so far off the mark. Johnson writes29:10: “This bureaucratic bourgeoisie is everywhere engaged in a frantic effort of primary accumulation and tends to fasten on rent-seeking opportunities in any direction – and, indeed, on a great deal of straightforward theft. Feeding the ravenous appetite of this class is a precondition for the retention of political power”.

How strong this sector of so-called Old-Age-Academia is worldwide and is at liberty to obstruct renewal of the academic and research culture, is reflected by the fact that for instance in the UK the article-thesis-PhD is classed as a junior doctorate [found under the classification of mid-level doctorates or the common PhD, and the so-called Higher Doctorates (DPhil. and DSc.) awarded for exceptional research]. Further testifying to the power of the old-age academics is their ruling that notwithstanding that there are doctoral descriptions included in some senior advanced technical degrees awarded by so-called technical universities, the holders of these awards are not allowed to use the title of Doctor (Dr). The same kind of rigid old-style academic traditions may be discerned in the ruling that foreigners holding a recognized PhD from their home country, are not allowed in some European countries to use the title “Dr” without authorisation. These kinds of small matters are emblematic of the planning, thinking and practice of the Old-Age Academia.16-23

To immediately rid our academic and research culture of the Old-Age-Academia is surely not going to be easy. Its impediments to obtain full-Research-circle of Completeness have been internalised over centuries and are to a great extent at the moment kept in place by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED. These contaminations must simultaneously be removed to activate the Research-circle of Completeness and its good outcomes such as the writing of books and articles and the establishment of the article-format-thesis and -dissertation. But, as mentioned, these final outcomes will only be realised by the fast, immediate and total replacement of the present ANC regime with a responsible and cultured Black liberal-democratic government. Yes, there still will be and should be the ongoing empowerment of all South Africans at universities, either as students or as staff to erase to-day’s immense poverty, inequality and injustice, but it should be done with a King Solomon’s wisdom: doing justice to every single citizen and not to the cadres of the ANC’s Nebuchadnezzar’s schizophrenic madness of governing and the disrespect and grabbing of others’ rights and interests.

4. Conclusions

The unfortunate fact is that all of the public and semi-public systems of South Africa are in shambles: from the judicial to health, social services, education and most of all, the sound ruling daily of the country. Higher Education’s failed units of cadre management practice of

academics and research are just small parts of the massive mess and chaos in today’s South Africa. It is not only a government in crisis but an already-collapsed government, abusing its citizens in its death throes.62-141

It is doubted that the present-day milieu of academic and research deviance will easily be phased out in the near future. The belief that widespread research in the present-day academic and research culture at universities, that are more and more determined by BAREE/WARED/ABCLM, is going to manifest, seems to be staying just a dream for the near future. ABCLM/BAREE/WARED’s politicization of universities whereby able White academics and researchers under 65 years of age, together with the above-65-year-old research fellows, extraordinary researchers and professors, are untimely excluded because of racism, political delinquency and professional jealousy, is pushing the advent of the Research-circle of Completeness decades back into the past.62-141

The fact that the highest outputs of publications are coming from the academics in the age groups 50 to 70 years and secondly from the retired academics from the age group 70 and above, confirms the danger of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED with its focus on driving out especially White male academics and researchers. The same can be said of the exclusion but mostly keeping at a distance of able and well-trained Black academics and researchers by ABCLM from our universities. This research’s finding of the “extreme research passivity” reflected by many full-time academics at South African universities also pinpoints one of the reasons why less than 40% of academics have a PhD.62-141

Prominently featuring in this research failure is the fact of the racial preference for the research careers of often under-performing BAREE/WARED/ABCLM-candidates at the cost of the careers of high-performing non-BAREE and non-ABCLM researchers to whom only limited financial support is given today (notwithstanding that the universities get R120 000-00 up to R124,000-00 subsidy per accredited article for these established researchers’ publications).  It is seemingly also expected more recently from non-permanent established researchers to finance most or all of their accredited research themselves at some universities (as I also found with the financing of this research project).

In closing Chapter 8, I must mention firstly, next to my negative opinion of the ANC regime because of its ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, my equally negative opinion of some of the old-aged and outdated traditional academics and researchers of the country (mostly White) who deliberately prevent the country’s research culture from reaching maturity. Here, surprisingly it seems, we find a remnant of the supposedly died-off WAREE still to be present. Their autocratic way of doing things, to maintain a false academic and research past, is their last convulsion of White empowerment that the ANCs allow them, solely to strengthen the aims of the ANC’s ABCLM/BAREE/WARED: in bad politics nothing bad is allowed without a bad reason.

Secondly, my negative opinion is also applicable to those Whites, especially Afrikaners, still working full-time in the higher hierarchy of the universities, who in their private inner circle condemn ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and the ANC regime, but in their public actions and talks at the universities’ top meetings, support with the greatest eagerness, willingness and enthusiasm ABCLM/BAREE/WARED as justified and correct. The slightest token of public support, even sympathy, for those White academics under attack and whose careers may even be destroyed in the country’s contaminated academic and research setup, is mostly absent.62-141 It is here nothing else than a guilty Pontius Pilate’s action in the Jesus case with an: “I wash my hands in innocence.” (Unfortunately, very few of them know that Pontius Pilate ended his life as a Roman galley slave.). ABCLM/BAREE/WARED, it seems, has become part of their New Holy Academic Bible and their New Academic Lifestyle.

Very few academics and researchers have the integrity to criticise ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and to lay them bare, but instead prefer to stand neutral because of their own personal greed and self-empowerment (and possible the fear to lose all if taking an honest stand). We miss in the present-day academic and research culture persons such as the journalist, the late Karima Brown137, who despised neutrality and thus persons unable to criticise delinquency and to take publicly a stand for justice. The journalist, Eusebius McKaiser137, writes as follows on her personal integrity137:21: “She eschewed notions of neutrality in journalism. She believed, rightly or wrongly, that journalism should be in service of justice. She always said journalists should not be stenographers.”

The discrimination that many of the established university researchers must face daily in the South African tertiary education, might well be understood from the writings of Professor Sipho Seepe138. Seepe,138 a man opinionated, insightful and committed to truth (and one of the country’s few academic equivalents of Karima Brown137 still left in our present-day academia), posits138:61: “In Dickensian terminology, South Africa is going through the worst of times. Ours is an age of foolishness, a season of darkness and a winter of despair. It is a period in which groupthink has unleashed all forms of violence on our senses. The best minds have suspended their intellect to advance narrow political agendas. In the process, the interests of their handlers have subordinated those of the country.”

The tragic element of the present dysfunctional research culture, as Seepe138 clearly pinpointed and defined it (and I described as ABCLM/BAREE/WARED), is that the best of our academic and research minds became contaminated, naively captured by the Political Beast Raka, born by the ANC. This manipulated groupthink making them totally unable and incapable to recognise and to observe the chaos in which they find themselves: they have become People of the Moment (Oombliksmense), who are lacking future vision, realism and integrity. This kind of delinquent mind-capturing and steering through well-planned political and social-engineering, we saw under the Nazis, the Fascists, the Stalinist Soviet, the NP-Apartheid government and currently under the Chinese-Communist and North-Korean Communist regimes. It spells academic and research doom for our research culture and environment. [Thankfully for people such as Professor Seepe,138 as well as myself, the presence of the contaminated political mind of today is not one of permanence but disappears as people come and go, although the process takes time].

Although it seems to be reasoned by some of the universities’ top managements (where the vice-chancellor and many of the other seniors members are mostly Black) that there is still in the present transformation some place for the capable White (even the above-65-year-olds), it is apparently with a clear prerequisite, as the appointment of a 69-year-old designated White male to summarily replace a Black female deputy vice-chancellor recently, confirmed: it is and can be only temporarily as a rescue-operation of universities’ short and long-term interests.139-141 Evans139, on the reaction of the vice-chancellor of the specific university to critics of this appointment, in this context writes140:1: “It is deeply problematic to suggest that the ability of members to serve the university for a limited acting period can only be on the basis of their race, age and gender. It is a skewed and incorrect view of transformation.” Important to note here are the words “a limited acting period” as exclusively applicable to Whites’ appointments, erasing the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender and permanence of appointments as guided by ABCLM/BAREE/WARED.

Over many centuries brilliant scientists were driven out of their learned communities by their brethren, even murdered sometimes; because they lived in an unscientific world, saturated in barbarism, witchcraft, evil-minded persons, and many times politicians who were seized by political madness. Today, in 2021, equally brilliant scientists, academics and researchers are still being driven out of South African universities, but this time tragically by political and racial foolishness; sorry to say, this outcome seems to be again in the class of political barbarism and madness. The ANC has learned a lot from the notorious and blood-stained Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s on how to manage and to control learned and good people.

  • Retrospective of articles 1 to 8

Although my main intention with the offering of the collection of these eight articles was to introduce the novice student, supervisor and examiner in-depth to the delivery of the article-format-thesis and -dissertation, the delivery of the journal article, the book and the comprehensive research project, went it further: to show out the easiness with which the article-format-thesis can be written and delivered. Now, at the close of this last article in this series of eight, when collecting them into a research-unity, it fully complies with the basic  requirements prescribed for an eight-article-format-doctorate. If I could do such an exercise, the “averagely brilliant” student can do it much, much better.

I know very well that my research will not change the present problematic academic and research groupthink, neither will I convince our country’s best academic and research minds who have suspended their intellect to advance the narrow political agendas of their handlers, to become partners in the Research-circle of Completeness; but, despite this, I dearly trust that readers will benefit from the data.

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How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa (7): Part 1

Title: How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa (7): Part1

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, Higher Education, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PUCHE), DPhil (PUCHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Circle, completeness, consummate, finish, full-circle, incompleteness, research.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 5: 1

Background

When an article’s title reads: “How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa”, reader needs to be introduced to the meanings of words like consummate, circle, full-circle, research, completeness and incompleteness as used in the context of this article. For the explanation of the meanings and intentions of these five terms that form the core of the research discussions of this article, various definitions and descriptions by dictionaries are offered.1-14

The word research for instance, is defined as: “A careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something”; “…the activity of getting information about a subject”; “…research encompasses pure and strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development”, and: “The creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings.”1-3 

The various descriptions of circle read: “A circle is a shape consisting of a curved line completely surrounding an area”, and: “…it represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement”.4-6 Hereto the full circle is reflected as: “… series of developments that lead back to the original source, position, or situation or to complete reversal of the original position”.7-8

The  definitions and the descriptions of the word completeness read as follows: “… means the state or condition of having all the necessary or appropriate parts”; “…state of being complete and entire”; “…having everything that is needed” and: “…the quality of being whole or perfect and having nothing missing”.9-10 (To a certain extent there are many similarities to be read in the two definitions completeness and circle, but for this research the emphasis for circle is that of a group activity reflecting the existence of something concrete, while for completeness the emphasis is focused on the execution of a whole research project).

Opposite to completeness stands the word “incompleteness”, reflecting the following meaning: “…not complete, lacking some parts”, and: “…the fact or state of not having some parts, or of not being finished”.11

Here consummate means to: “… finish or complete an action or deal”; “…to complete or perfect, and: “… to bring something to completion”. The verb consummate can be seen as the key-word in the title, describing the successful action to link together the various shackles of the chain to make it a complete or unbroken circle. This confirms that every shackle of the chain is an absolute and essential part of the locked (unbroken) circle, as well as that in the locked chain (circle) each one of the shackles is utilised to the maximum.12-14

In the research of the six previous articles of this series much emphasis was placed on the role and importance of the accredited-journal article, the article-thesis and the traditional thesis in our present-day research culture and environment, leaving the uninformed novice and bystander with the idea that these three entities are the only components/ research agents that represent the notions of totality and wholeness in the research culture and environment. This cognition creates the idea that the presence of the aforementioned three entities in our research culture are timeless and that the three elements/agents function as an absolute, closed circle that alone contribute to the perfection of the present research circle. Such an idea goes deeper, namely that the three entities or agents, in their putative driving and steering of research, are the sole creators of new knowledge and/or are solely responsible for the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings. This misapprehension, on the other hand, has persuaded a large section of academics and researchers of the absolute perfection of the present research circle, as already said: one that is solely managed and steered by the three-entity alliance. This group of academics sees the present-day research circle as being in a state or condition of having all the necessary or appropriate parts to be complete, entire, perfected and whole; a setup replete with everything needed to execute quality research in top gear.1-14 But is this true?

Opposing more and more the three-entity-research alliances assumed exclusiveness and absoluteness in their self-styled research-circle’s pristine completeness, is the present-day inclusive empowerment of the full circle’s incompleteness inside the country’s research setup. Here, the definition “incompleteness” forces to the foreground the hard reality that the research circle of the three-entity alliance (accredited article, article-thesis and traditional thesis) is indeed not complete; it is loosely structured but still lacking some parts and is thus unfinished: the circle needs to be consummated.12-14 Furthermore, the incoming and growing demands of the full circle consisting of those, until now, passive members higher in the hierarchy of the research setup, are starting to highlight the shortcomings of the self-styled circle of the three-entity alliance. A clear and definite process has been initiated to reveal the fallacy or the incompleteness of the current “complete circle of the three-entity alliance”: it constitutes an increasingly failing setup, being itself the result of past evolution, that needs to undergo a complete restructuring.1-14

This article, entitled: “How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa: Part 1”, the aim is to pinpoint the shortcomings of the self-styled circle of the three-entity alliance and to transform this incomplete circle into the full-research circle of completeness.1-14

1.1. Introduction

It seems as if a dynamic Research circle of Completeness (also referred to as the Full-research circle of Completeness) has arrived at last in our research culture and environment, forcing to the foreground the development of a totally new research playing field and foundation, and the advent of new research agents with manifold needs and demands. The first prominent element that stands out is the immense need for initiating dynamic growth in our research setup in which previously neglected research agents, notwithstanding their prominence in our research history, might claim their rights and play a larger role. Secondly, a positive change is taking place in the mindsets of serious academics and researchers in favour of generating funds for universities through the Research-circle of Completeness. Thirdly, although not very prominent, one encounters the presence of a small group of academics and researchers who openly declared their belief in justice and a non-racial, academic and research excellence in New South Africa (JNARENSA).

Although it is possible to obtain PhD study free or cheaply at universities of excellence in countries like Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway and more recently in some way also South Africa, there must not be any misunderstanding that universities worldwide or here in South Africa do not make money or lack the intention to make money out of research: where the students do not pay, the governments still subsidise the universities. This profitable PhD market is confirmed by the fact that PhDs are awarded in masses at universities worldwide. For instance, the yearly delivery of PhDs in Brazil is more than 31 000 (yearly average for the period 1987 to 2016). The US awarded 71 000 doctorates in 2017 while Germany and the UK each awarded 28 000 in 2018. There was a rise of 8% between 2013 to 2017 across the OECD countries:  particularly in Mexico, Spain and the USA. If the current pace of growth continues, 2.3% of today’s young adults living in OECD countries will go on to study at doctoral level. Hereto there is an enormous opportunity to enlarge the study sector for PhDs worldwide: Only 1.1% of 25- to 64-year-olds worldwide held a doctoral degree in 2018, while less than 2% of the world population and 1.2% of the USA population hold a doctorate according to the US Census Bureau, making the possession of a PhD something rare.15-28

The fact is that, financially, the studying costs for more affluent students as well as for the state (and taxpayer) which subsidises all these studies, stay enormously high. Hereto in South Africa it is especially the traditional thesis (PhD) that brings good money for universities through state subsidy. (A single PhD thesis ensures three times more income per degree than a master’s dissertation or an accredited article: R360 000 versus R120 000). That South African universities can benefit (and are already benefitting) from an income generated by focussed research, such as the PhD, Master’s degree and accredited article, is confirmed by the well-paid subsidies they are receiving from the South African State if the advanced degrees are completed inside the prescribed registration period: PhD: R360 000; Master: R120,000; while an accredited article also brings in R120 000.15-28

When comparing South Africa’s present output of PhDs with that for instance of the UK (28 000 PhDs for 2018) with a population of 60 million nearly equal to that of South Africa, the South African output is one of great concern in various areas. Comparing these very different numbers between the UK and us, it confirms that the South African Research-circle of Completeness is uncompleted, underused and most of all, misused. Although our yearly output has risen from 1 420 PhD-graduates in 2010 to nearly 3 000 in 2016, it is a ninth of the UK’s output per annum. The above deficient PhD numbers in comparison to our population (57 million), is further confirmed by comparing our doctoral graduates per million people with that of the UK and Switzerland: of significance here is our pathetic 46 doctoral graduates per 1 million against the 409 of the UK and the 465 of Switzerland. A further negative element in our PhD culture, which undermines the normal or functioning PhD program, is our high drop-out rate that compares well with the estimated one of 30% for the UK and 50% for the USA.15-28

There is with good reason serious concern about the future upkeep of the quality of our PhDs, given that only 40% of our university staff are holders of PhDs, making the group totally insufficient to be truly equipped lecturers, supervisors and examiners. What further aggravates this lack of sufficient supervising (and thus the present quality of the PhDs that are awarded), is the fact that the political bewitching of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) has also spread its poisonous roots dramatically since 1994, in the form of Black Academic Research Economic Empowerment (BAREE), ANC Black Cadre Lives Matter (ABCLM)) and White Academic Research Economic Disempowerment (WARED) at South African universities. Here the sole and organised intention is to driveout able and skilled Black and White academics and researchers outside the ANC’s inner-circle, eliminating the remaining sound and sufficient supervising, as well as examining of the present-day post-graduates. Besides the growing decrease of the 40% qualified supervisors of academics with PhDs, the setup is aggravated by the level of the BAREE candidates’ and cadres’ poor and substandard qualifications. The fact is that the qualifications of most of the incoming Black novice lecturers vary from honours- to master-degrees: indeed, unqualified and unskilled people who will themselves still need supervising and academic-leadership guidance for a long time to come. How negative the impact of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED already is on our research culture, is confirmed by the fact that the research output in articles from one South African university declined from ±1 800 in 2019 to ±1 000 in 2020 (during a time when the presence of Covid-19 should have stimulated and given more time for research, article writing and publishing while many researchers were allowed to work undisturbed from home). Talk by the South African government and higher-education authorities of lifting our PhD output to ±5 000 per annum while maintaining a high level of research quality and integrity, is wishful thinking par excellence.15-28

What is needed at this stage, is vision, strategic thinking and planning, together with project and business planning. The doing away with outdated academic and research traditions, customs and habits, the limiting of contaminated politics and an immediate upgrading of our research standards and the output of research of excellence, must be a first 2021-priority. The intention to do above will be addressed in the next article (Number 8): “How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa: Part 2”.

1.2. Aims of Article 7 (Continues in Article 8)

The purpose of this article is to provide a framework with the primary aim to rehabilitate or at least to restart our present incomplete Research-circle of Completeness by making it a fullResearch circle of Completeness.1-14,31

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues in Article 8)

The information applies to dissertations by master’s students and to theses by doctoral candidates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues in Article 8)

The research was been done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case with the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. Through this method the focus is on being informative as to the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources include the guidelines of universities on the writing of the article-thesis for the period 1975 to 2020.

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues in Article 8)

3.1. Research-circle of Completeness

3.1.1. Overview

When studying the literature on modern-day research approaches, and the belief systems driving and managing these, it is clear that many important facets of research are being neglected. Essentially, because of the dominance in some researchers’ minds of the bi-polar or absolute-research approach which is pitting the traditional thesis against the article-thesis and blocking new arrivals and development. In-between these two extreme poles it is hard to discern another shade of agreement or difference in research that may easily improve or dislodge the current incomplete Research-circle of Completeness.1-14

3.1.2. The intertwined five elements of the Perfect Research-circle of Completeness

The complex and inclusive whole or total-research setup – the Research Circle of Completeness (also described as the perfect-research combination model) in which research in reality should function — is either obviously ignored, many times degraded and belittled, or it seems, simply unknown to some researchers; essentially because of their belief in the exclusive support and subscribing to the writing of the traditional thesis, and more recently, the writing of journal articles and the not-so-always-popular article-thesis. The interrelationship between these three elements with the other elements in waiting of the Research Circle of Completeness, is ignored most of the time, instead of be used to promote and exploit it to the benefit of the greater research community and to the benefit of the author of journal articles and the student/writer of the thesis.1-14

What is clearly in evidence here, are the failure to acknowledge or to know the existence of the Research-circle of Completeness; there are further stages of research outcomes and other research identities than only the involvement of the assumed 1) writing of the traditional thesis, 2) the writing of journal articles and 3) the writing of an article-thesis.

The above reflection on the Research-circle of Completeness, ending in three consecutive start-up stages, is incorrect. We are still entangled in the Uncompleted Research-circle of Completeness. Two further stages must be completed to realize fully the Research-circle of Completeness; it brings to the foreground a much-refined functioning circle built into this Completeness. In this series of seven articles the research concentrates prominently in the first six articles only on the outcome of the article-format thesis as an end-product, and the creation of it through the collection of published journal articles to form its contents. The aim of the research thus needs to be extended.1-14

3.1.2.1. The Dual-research model embedded in the Tripartite-research model

The above research setup and its initial research aims reflect a dual-research model, consisting of two parts, namely: 1) the collection of journal articles; and 2) the compiling of an article-thesis from it.

In reality the above end-product of the article-thesis reflects a tripartite-research model, consisting of three parts too: 1) the collection of new data; 2) the writing and collecting of journal articles; and 3) the writing of the article-thesis.

Looking at the traditional thesis’s constitution, its end-product also reflects the three stages of the tripartite-research model: 1) the collecting of data to write a thesis; 2) the writing and publishing of a traditional thesis; and 3) the extraction data from the traditional thesis’s contents to write and publish accredited-journal articles.

The initial description of the article-format thesis as a unique research model with its own character and research domain — classed and dressed up as a totally new approach to drive a totally new research model, divorced from the traditional-thesis model, and a jump into the unknown to better research and qualification titles — is not entirely true. On the contrary, neither does it offer confirmation that the article-format is exclusively meant for certain students, nor is it true that it is difficult to manage or that it requires more time and input than the traditional thesis as has many times been argued by a section of the research leadership. It is in reality only a sub-part (under-stage) of a much-greater research setup in which other research elements are as difficult and challenging as those of the article-thesis to execute.16,32-34

3.1.2.2. The Quadripartite-research model

Looking at the comprehensive research of the Research Circle of Completeness, even the above tripartite-research model is insufficient to fulfil all its requirements. A fourth research step, with a specific further research outcome, is needed.16,32-34

This fourth and last stage of research, the quadripartite-research model, to complete the Research Circle of Completeness, goes further in the following way: it activates the last step of the circle of research. This stage is mostly missed and fails to be included by the proponents of either the article-format thesis or the traditional thesis. Prominent here is the completion of another important project after the obtention of the master’s degree or PhD degree by candidates: the exclusive publishing of a book that is specifically focussed on the research of the masters or the PhD.16,32-34

Looking retrospectively at the development of the (perfect/true) Research Circle of Completeness, the initial manuscripts of the traditional thesis and the article-thesis (together with its collection of journal articles) serve respectively as the manuscripts for the masters and/or the PhD’s draft books waiting to be published.

Although the success of the quadripartite-research model may be seen by many of the new class of article-format proponents as not reachable, the results obtained by this approach show that it is indeed the most applicable, effective and direct one to be used by the graduate to accomplise in a short time a strong personal, academic and research CV: leading to a CV  consisting of two to five (and more) published articles, a master’s and/or a PhD degree and a published book (and the start of more constructive research outputs).

My research with this series confirmed that this is reachable, although more seldom than often. If the pre-selection of the postgraduate students is strict, allowing only students of quality into the master’s or PhD program, the quadripartite-research model is undoubtedly the ideal and only format for all students and mostly suitable for all disciplines. The coherence, intentions, organisation and research rules of the quadripartite-research model makes it easy for the student to manage his/her time between writing the manuscript of the standard or traditional dissertation/thesis, the tailoring and writing of the articles from this manuscript, their presentation to journals, their revision and resubmission if needed before their final publication, the incorporation of the articles in the thesis document and the presentation of the thesis for examination and the publishing of the book at the same time. The same is true for the research cycle of the so-called “article-thesis”, starting with the writing of the various journal articles, the writing of the master’s or the PhD thesis and the publishing of a book.

The quadripartite-research model entails no more work nor a greater time investment than the dual-research model or the tripartite-research model: all that it requires is that the student, as well as his supervisor/promotor must be able, skilled and well-trained in especially advanced postgraduate research and have a well-established academic, cognitive mindset.16,32-34

Looking at the contents of the quadripartite-research model it is evident that the present-day research is mostly stuck in the tripartite-research model. The missing two links or parts – to reach the last stage of the five-parts research circle (the Research-circle of Completeness) for those involved in both the traditional thesis and the article-thesis — the following two steps need to be mastered:

  • Traditional thesis: The publishing of accredited journal articles and a book; both based on the contents of the traditional thesis; and
  • Article-thesis: The publishing of a book based on the contents of the article-thesis.

The “ability needed” for the above is the following: to conquer the Aha! insight and perfecting of advanced research, are still to be mastered by many researchers and academics, essentially because they lack the quadripartite models cognition and its impact on their research mindsets. Within the scope of the Aha! insight, the knowledge that is missing from the mindset of many academics and researchers, to successfully reach the final stage of the Research-circle of Completeness, is thus the following:

  • Inability and non-involvement in extracting data from published traditional theses, and to rewrite this information as authors for the publishing of accredited articles in journals and books; and
  • Inability and non-involvement in extracting data from published article-theses and to rewrite this information as authors for the publication of books.

It is of the utmost important to note that data collecting and the writing of a book by an author is an ongoing and intertwined process before the Research-circle of Completeness may be successfully reached. This totality cannot be partitioned as is done in the current research model by offering separate entities, such as the journal article, the article-thesis and the traditional thesis, as exclusive research end-products. It lacks the essential part: the entity of the book. Without the outcome of the book, the research profile is nothing else but a research circle of incompleteness, undermining and impeding quality research, as well as damaging the interests of authors and students, and those of universities.35

3.1.2.2.1. Extracting the traditional thesis’s contents into journal articles
3.1.2.2.1.1. Overview

The research literature is filled with warnings and cautions on the troubles that await an aspirant writer who wants to turn his /her thesis into journal articles. Often mentioned here is “advice” as in the following example36:1:

One of the most important points to note is that writing an article from a thesis is not simply a task of cutting and pasting. The purpose and format of a thesis or dissertation is very different from that of a journal article or book chapter. The primary audience for the thesis is the examiner that they have mastered research techniques and understand the arguments they are making. This can make the thesis repetitive and full of detail. The wider audience for the article or book chapter will want to know about the arguments or findings and at same time be convinced that the findings are authentic and trustworthy.

These kinds of opinions are mostly still stuck into the mindset of those active in the thesis-delivery of two decades ago when the traditional thesis was an exclusive instrument for examination and when many in the reader audience were exclusive academics still following the rules of the Middle Ages Academia. Also seen and courted as the sole research end-product worthy of the name, was the traditional thesis.

However, looking at the research-quality output of many theses today, the above advice falls flat and it is evident for instance that there is very little difference in the construction and compiling of the journal article (mini-dissertation) and the article-thesis/traditional thesis. Both models are looking critically if the author/student has mastered research, can do in-depth analysis and make responsible conclusions; both require a good standard of research; both have moved into a sphere where exclusive as well as inclusive readers read and consult it. Yes, of course there is a scaling-down of the contents of journal articles from the contents of the thesis because of a difference in the quantity of material, but every researcher who has delivered a quality thesis, should know these prescriptions well if he/she was strictly selected as a student of excellence before enrolment for the thesis study and received excellent research training as an undergraduate in the honours-degree or the fourth year of his/her bachelor degree. Indeed, the senior undergraduate student should already have published successfully at least two journal articles in unaccredited/accredited journals in his/her last year of study. This performance evaluation would successfully sift the poor-quality, average and research-problematic student from the circle of possible candidates for the article-thesis or -dissertation or the traditional thesis and dissertation. The extent to which the university seems mostly to fail to do a strict pre-selection for the enrolment of the thesis and dissertation, and the lack of research training at undergraduate level, are well reflected by the constant foolish emphasis by so-called experts and self-styled thesis mentors on the necessity of “doing babysitting” for the aspirant article-thesis students, as is often reflected in the media. This reveals nothing else than their own naivety, inability and undertraining as academics and researchers in their over-eagerness to “guide” aspirant authors and students on “how to successfully write” a journal article, the article-format thesis and the traditional thesis. These so-called experts’ customs, habits and inclinations to enslave, to over-manage and over-subordinate the thesis student into a “baby researcher”, speak volumes about their own lack of knowledge on how enormously some of their senior students’ training and knowhow have jumped over the last ten years. This lack of knowhow and experience is well reflected by a seemingly self-styled expert’s remark that reads36:1: “…in selecting articles from a thesis or dissertation the supervisor’s role is to assist the student in formulating purposes for the paper”, propagate specifically the “much-needed assistance of the supervisor in deciding on the authorship, planning and writing of the journal article, selecting the article and reviewing the article before submission”.

The above is a prime example of the potentially misleading advice by so-called “thesis experts” that also try to ride on the “wagon of learning”, despite being untrained. The above type of exclusive knowhow referred to, consists of knowhow and skills authors and writers should have conquered long before their moving into the enrolment phase for a dissertation or thesis.36

Article writing from the text of a traditional thesis requires far less effort and input than that needed with a total new collection of data for the writing of the accredited-journal articles of the  article-format thesis: it requires  a far shorter path to travel and time spent, because most of the data needed have already been written down and is well-known to the graduate of the traditional thesis, while the graduate’s established experience in thesis-writing empowers him/her to address data reworking and the drawing of conclusions.

Regarding general obstacles in the transformation of the traditional thesis into accredited-journal articles, the crafting of the articles is of great importance; it should also be addressed as a training component in the student’s undergraduate education. As in all forms of writing outputs, certain precautions are needed — very much in line with the rules of writing a  traditional thesis that the author in this case has already abided by previously.  For the compiling of the journal articles it is important that only information compiled and written by the student initially as part of his traditional thesis, be included; while information obtained in his undergraduate studies as well as data published in unaccredited or not peer-reviewed journals from that time, should not be included in these extracted articles. With reference to the sole/dual authorship of the articles, it must be noted that the initial relationship between the adviser/supervisor of the thesis and the student changes after the student has graduated with his/her thesis, cancelling the so-called “student dependence”. Preferably the student’s name as author of the planned to-be-published articles should be placed alone on these if the supervisor has not directly been involved in the writing and publication of these articles. To avoid conflicts of interest it is important that the thesis graduate and his supervisor negotiate new post-graduate roles on the various outcomes of the thesis, such as the offering of it as journal articles before embarking on the publishing of articles extracted from a published thesis.37

There are many benefits to publishing extracted journal articles from a completed traditional thesis. Among the direct benefits standing out here, is the direct and valuable contribution of the writer to his field of interest: it can offer new theories, methods and findings worth sharing with other researchers in the student’s field. In addition, the publication of an accredited article or articles from an existing traditional thesis can be the much-needed start of a publishing career for the PhD student and graduate. It can make an immense impact on the emerging author’s career enhancement, and can bring financial, social and personal satisfaction, while its contribution to the author’s CV can be most valuable. One of the greatest faults a PhD graduate can make is not to adapt the traditional thesis into articles immediately after the awarding of his/her degree. This failure, it pains one to say, often stems from the supervisor’s failure to immediately steer the graduate into a further dimension of publishing and research. The Faculty of the university where the student obtained his/her PhD may be equally guilty in not offering support and guidance to the student.36

3.1.2.2.1.2. Guidelines

The rules of how to write accredited-journal articles extracted from the published traditional thesis, are exactly the same as those for how to write accredited-journal articles collected from totally new data to be used in the article-thesis (and even the traditional thesis occasionally). One of the best informative guidelines to be used by the aspirant author, to enable him to reformat and convert the contents of a dissertation or thesis into journal articles, is that of the American Psychological Association (APA), published in 2020. (The APA fully covers the adapting of a dissertation or thesis into a journal article in Section 12.1 of its Publication Manual, Seventh Edition).38

3.1.2.2.2. Publishing of books from the traditional thesis and article-thesis
3.1.2.2.2.1. Overview

As repeated many times in this article, there are just too many pessimists in today’s academic and research setup as to the difficulty of the successful writing and publishing of books based on the traditional thesis and the article-thesis. This pessimism is also displayed as regards the writing and publishing of journal articles based on the published thesis or dissertation. It seems, from the reading of their comments in the academic and research media, that even distinguished professors, supposed to be seasoned researchers and writers, are by their own self-confession, sometimes nothing other than “freshmen” who are functioning academically on an undergraduate level. This may be deduced from their many pessimistic remarks, such as their being easily overwhelmed by a mass of collected data to orderly rework in a publication, their seeming lacking of knowhow on how to systematically approach and to organise a senior research project and their use of multifarious “therapeutics” to get started on their own research projects, instead of confronting the “problem” as wise men immediately and directly with enthusiasm and self-confidence. In some way, as already shown in this article, these “struggles” declared by seasoned academics explain the reason why their students are sometimes less successful researchers and have difficulty in receiving their thesis or dissertation qualifications inside the prescribed time, or fail to rewrite their theses and dissertations into journal articles; and/or  as an extension of their initial research consisting of journal articles, article-thesis and traditional thesis, do not write books immediately after completing their research. Such an “escape flight”, away from the immediate tackling of a research project and the seemingly unnecessary stress created by the inflow of mass data, is well-illustrated by the following mentor, writing in 2016 on guiding the aspirant (but presumably experienced and trained) PhD graduate regarding the adaption of his/her traditional thesis into a journal article. It reads39:1:

After conducting a study, making sense of messy data and so forth, you have to write it all up. In my experience, the most effective way to do that is to create space for long concentration periods. Some universities even provide writing retreats that are excellent opportunities for writing up your study. If your university does not provide such retreats, you can also make your own (or together with a peer). For instance, I wrote the first draft of my first paper during a trip to the United States. The absence of daily distractions determined a creative and effective writing process.

3.1.2.2.2.2. The writing and publishing of books

Approaching the writing of a book, based on an article-format thesis or dissertation, or traditional thesis or dissertation, is exactly the same as the literary construction of the article and traditional thesis or dissertation, with few changes to the original contents and style. The focus is still on the subject of the original study as reflected by the title of the book, while the general construction of each separate article is now offered as a chapter of the book; consecutively with the other articles incorporated in the thesis, it is telling an ongoing story until the last chapter of the book. It still reflects its original elements of construction, such as introduction, literature review, background on and statement of the problem, definition of terms, assumptions, discussion, conclusion, references, etc. In addition, there can also be a closing or final chapter, the offering of a comprehensive conclusion, as well as a future perspective based on the writings of chapters and new outcomes after the writing of the initial articles.

It is almost a prerequisite that the two types of thesis or dissertation be adapted to a book. Looking retrospectively at the lack of many book publications based on the article or traditional thesis, the universities where masters and PhD students graduate, are in large degree to blame for the reason why many masters and PhD graduates, after the day of receiving their degrees, just disappear from the universities’ radar. It seems as if the universities, after the student’s graduation and his/her final payment for his/her studies, immediately lose interest in the student and his/her masters or PhD. Organised efforts to accommodate these studies in official university publications and to promote it to the broad public, does not seem to be a priority or a concern for the top management of universities. Especially, here the universities’ deputy vice-chancellors of Research, as well as the universities’ many directors and deans of research areas, stand directly accused of failed in their duties because they have been specifically appointed to promote and to oversee the absolute outputs of all types of publications at universities  The question left here for us is: are some, if not many of the PhDs awarded by universities, seen as of such poor quality that they do not justify further interest or publication? Specific regarding the quality and standard of PhDs, there should never be the shadow of any doubt cast on them, because each of the mass of PhDs that are annually awarded worldwide is supposed to be an excellent product and something universities should be proud of.

On the need for a thesis or a dissertation to be adapted into a book, Terry Clague of the publishing group Routledge, on the writing and publishing of a book based on an already published article-format or traditional thesis or dissertation, stated in this context in 201740:1: “Research conducted as part of a PhD is valuable. It is valuable for the researcher, who has spent countless hours carrying out the work and it is valuable to those deciding whether the research should result in the award of a PhD qualification. But can the research be valuable to broader audiences? The simple answer is yes – at the heart of many successfully academic books lies research conducted as part of a PhD.”

It is indeed true that the research contents of PhDs offer an array of good outcomes through book publishing for graduates — varying from the exposure and the introduction of it to other university staff, to university libraries (using it as part of their learning material), to the broad public — strengthening their CV, etc. Also, it is forgotten that books, published directly after the traditional theses’ awarding (where there was not an interference by means of the publication of accredited-journal articles as subsidised by the state), also qualify for subsidy if they go through the process of peer reviewing. These subsidies paid in South Africa to universities by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) can amount to the total amount of ten credits (one credit = one accredited article = R120 000). If there are more than ten chapters, a single book may receive a total of R1,2 million in subsidy. (Even books averaging between four to five chapters can generate between R480 000 and R600 000 per book for the universities.) The golden fact that is missed out, is that the publication of books should not be limited to one book per academic/researcher over a career duration of 20 years, but various books: three academic researchers I found had published in 20 years more than 20 books each!

Books are an essential part of the Research Circle of Completeness, but as this series of eight articles shows, it is mostly left unused or ignored by researchers to their own injury. The reality is that it is mainly the academic and research staff that fail in the current research system, not availing themselves of the opportunity to publish many books and generate incomes for the universities, and not the governmental authorities (like the DHET) that go out of their way in creating a favourable environment and compensation system for research by South Africans.1-14

Reflecting back on the failure by most of the university staff of the constant publishing of books, it must be emphasis that one of the main failures for this outcome is the fixation by graduates, academics and researchers to do the “one-by-one occasional article” and their general lack of motivation to do comprehensive research projects that hold the potential to result in either various articles or other research outcomes like books. What strikes one in this respect, is the so-called inclination of “…hier kiep-kiep en daar kiep-kiep (an Afrikaans quotation for fruitless action) of the writing and publishing of an article in one accredited journal, and the writing and publishing of the next article in another accredited journal. This inclination of doing single articles (and then also only mostly occasionally as a research output) seems to be a “research illness” well-internalised in many researchers’ mindsets (Sadly, I find it also to be well-internalised in the mindsets of some directors of research and deans at universities).

A far-more applicable way of doing research is to choose a comprehensive research project from day-one that focusses solely on the writing and publishing in one specific accredited journal all the articles or research contents. Or instead to write the total project contents in a draft manuscript which can be accredited as a published book. These approaches can bring a far better publishing outcome in money and personal satisfaction.

Above negative setting brings us back to the present-day milieu of substandard students and university staff many-times involved in postgraduate programs which needs to be reflected here. It seems as if a great part of the present contingent of academics are, besides their many-times sub-standard training and abilities to deliver acceptable research outputs like accredited journal articles, article-format-theses and accredited books, just not interested in getting involved in active research and the production of accredited journal articles, article-theses and accredited books or comprehensive research projects. This internalised mal-cognition and a habit-formed negative academic and research life-style are further strengthened by the constant arrival of substandard and under-trained cadres through ABCLM/BAREE/WARED into the contemporary university setting, which spells a further down-grading of the South African university that started in 1994. Ask yourself the question: Why would you, if you are paid a good salary every month, be bothered to work extra, like for instance writing articles and books? 62-136

Indeed, we see many times on the television research professors speaking on prominent subjects, but when you check on their CVs for accredited articles, books, etc., they are essentially lacking any significant accredited publications. We also see at the moment the appointment of academics as research professors who took six years to obtain their PhDs (three years outside the maximum period of study), with research records of only six or fewer accredited articles, mostly done with the cooperation (and sometimes exploitation) of their few masters and doctoral students. Then is there the occasional “eminent” lecturer who took 12 years to obtain his/her PhD, seemingly with the assistance of a ghost writer. These types of academics and researchers, that form a strong contingent in present-day universities, know very well how to do the necessary academic speaking, but lack the research practice needed for accredited publications.108

A due diligence done a few years ago by me at a Faculty of a South African university reflected that its ± 35 lecturers were only 6.8 weeks per annum at the office (Note: they were from a face-to-face-learning university and it was before Covid-19 forcing everyone to adopt an overall online system), making it understandable why their article output at that time was essentially zero and their supervised dissertations and theses delivered saturated in rewriting from previous published dissertations and theses. (Recently some of these staff members contacted me to lecture them on the writing of the article-format-thesis and –dissertation essentially because they said it is “too difficult to master” on their own).62-136

The hard fact is that the average university lecturer, after 20 years of work, published (besides his/her own master’s and a PhD) not more than five accredited articles. Reworking it to money value for the university, the end count will be at most R1 080 000. Hereto the average number of articles published by an academic should be normally two to four articles per annum consecutively for 20 years, giving a total end-count of between R4,8-million and R9,6-million.97

It is doubted that above academic and research deviance will easily be phased out in the near future. With the increasing influence of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED this chaotic setting is going to get worse. Furthermore, the present proposed reduction of the universities’ budgets for subsidising and funding of student studies as well as research from 2022, spells doom not only for the writing and publishing of the book but also that of accredited articles and article-format-theses and -dissertations for the period up to 2024.108

3.1.2.2.2.3. Options of book-publishing

On the selection of the style of book publishing, there are various options to choose from. In this context Clague40 guides us40:1:

  • Converting the entire PhD thesis into a book requires that your thesis covers a topic of interest to a large enough audience of scholars. Whereas a thesis starts with a question, a book begins with an answer and communicates its importance in the wider research landscape, tracing its evolution and impact.
  • Using parts of a PhD thesis in a book requires that ongoing and/or collaborative research is being conducted. A book (perhaps co-authored) should be greater than the sum of its constituent parts.
  • Using an aspect of a PhD thesis in an edited book on a broader topic ensures that the research fits with related research on a similar theme. A good edited book addresses the need to broaden the scope of PhD-based research via collaborating with a team of contributors.

The decision on which one of the three options should be chosen, is up to the aspirant author to make. The choice of using an aspect or part of the thesis can have excellent outcomes: especially the collaboration with five or more well-known co-authors as a team, can position the new authors in an excellent way inside academic and research circles, as well as the learned community. It can bring further invitations as members of teams for the writing and publishing of other books. But this positive outcome can also be true when parts of the thesis are being used in a book where other authors of high standing in the academic and research community are also collaborators on the book. Hereto the sole authorship of a book can be equally satisfying, bringing the same exposure as the above two options, while it offers the author much more exclusivity as an independent author and writer.40

3.1.2.2.2.4. Types of publishers
3.1.2.2.2.4.1. Publishing houses

Over the years the publishing of books has been dominated by established publishers, making the opportunities for the individual author and writer to move into self-publishing his/her own book very difficult. Strict selection of the subject of a book, based on popularity with the public to ensure profits for the publishers in their selling of a book, discouraged and excluded many aspirant authors and writers from publishing their PhD theses. However, less popular subjects and information about them appearing in a book — for instance “South Africa’s bedeviled land-ownership (1652 – 2020)41 – have indicated clearly that a limited number of South African academic readers as well as the general public would be interested to read it, or willing to buy the book. The same limitation and lack of interest from publishers might be attributed to a book with the title: “The troubled Afrikaner tribe of South Africa”42, reflecting an in-depth study on the present-day Afrikaner minority’s growing crisis in South Africa under an all-powerful Black majority and an extremely hostile ANC regime, as well as a world audience who is little concerned about the Afrikaners’ situation and fate, who are still seen them as the creators of Apartheid. Either of the above two books — in terms of their limited interest to local academics and researchers, as well as the greater South African society and the bigger world — would from day one turns out to be a money-loser for the publisher if they were published. Their chances of being accepted by most publishers are therefore virtually zero.41,42

This exclusively capitalistic inclination of profit above all else (of course, a good and acceptable business intention/principle for the survival of publishing houses) must be weighed against the value of a book with merit that might be capable of saving lives or bettering politics. However, the tendency by publishers to reject a book as a failure when not “qualifying” in terms of their prerequisites of profitability, is well-illustrated by the following statement of a publisher on its rules and approaches to select or not to select a book for publishing. It reflects, when considered in terms of its exclusively materialistic-guidelines, barely concealed negative attitudes to any author outside the publisher’s circle of reference and interest. It reads40:1-2:

The role of the publisher is to connect authors with readers. When it comes to disseminating research originating from a PhD, this relationship is essential. It is therefore useful to consider the perspective of the publisher when considering what publication route to take. In assessing a proposal for a research-level book, a good publisher [versus a bad writer and author] will initially ask themselves three questions:

  • Is the scope of the research broad enough to be of interest to our readers (scholars globally)?
  • Is the quality sufficiently high?
  • Can the work be developed via feedback from experts as part of the book review process to address any weakness?

Beyond those core questions, potential authors should consider significant and ongoing changes to the market for academic books, notably in reader behaviour. Evolution in digital technology combined with a significant increase in the amounts of available research has led to changes in the way that books are produced, published and propagated. In this environment, the key word is “discoverability”. Connecting authors to readers requires that the publishers facilitate discoverability of research via various routes to ensure that potential readers are able to find books with ease. Authors can aid this process by following a few basic rules of thumb:

  • The main title of the book should position it clearly without reference to other bibliographic information, and should be as short as feasible,
  • Chapter titles should likewise, where possible, position themselves clearly,
  • Chapter synopses or abstracts can be used to enhance the metadata around the books.

In the same context as reflected above, the publisher further revealed the enormous empowerment of the publisher versus the disempowered and much-dependent aspirant authors — and of a stricter kind of “examination” the aspirant authors are facing in his/her trying to publish his/her book(s) through the established publishers than that which they faced during the examination for their PhDs. Here are the publisher’s much-structured selection criteria and strict guideline outlined further, as it states40:2:

Notwithstanding the above, it is useful to start a conversation with an acquisitions/commissioning editor at an early stage towards the end or shortly after the completion of a PhD. Discussions with supervisors and other colleagues are also very useful at this stage. The next natural step is to submit a book proposal which will be considered by the publisher, often involving a peer review process. Research-level books are often published as part of an established series – an awareness of existing books in such series can be useful when it comes to framing and developing a book proposal.

Following a review process, the publisher’s editorial board would give final approval to proceed, following which a book contract would be issued. Armed with publisher and review feedback, the author can proceed to a full manuscript based on their PhD research. Each book is different, but there are numerous key aspects to consider when preparing a final manuscript for book publication:

  • A thesis is written for examiners, a book for scholars in general.
  • Examiners will work through text regardless of writing style, book readers will not.
  • Take a step back — prepare to rethink.
  • Value the reader’s time.
  • Contextualize.

Finally, talking about your research and the process of working it into a book can be an essential ingredient to its success. This can be done with your immediate colleagues, at conferences and with a publisher.

The above outline gives us a clear indication of why the Research-circle of Completeness has stayed incomplete until today, essentially because the prerequisites by many publishing houses to authors, who want to publish their PhDs with them, are just too strict and often outragious. To complete the Research-circle of Completeness and to better the CVs of academics and researchers with their worthy writings transformed into books, other publishing venues must be considered. And they exist.

3.1.2.2.2.4.2. Self-publishers

Firstly, looking critically at the contemporary setup of self-publishing, it seems as if some publishers are years behind in what is going on presently regarding the publishing qualifications obtained and the dynamic approaches applied by aspirant authors to generate their own books: many of these persons are well skilled in the reworking of their PhD materials into applicable formats for publication as books. Secondly, over the last ten years or more there have been ongoing structural changes in the general presentation of academic and research materials and examinations of PhDs, affecting the choice and presentation of titles, abstracts and the traditional examination of theses. Such changes have made the difference between the needs and demands of the examiners for PhDs and the needs and demands of the reader-scholar minimal. Also, regarding the so-called differentiation between how these contents are presented for examiners and how these contents are presented for readers, there is increasingly little difference. In the planning of the amount of the contents to be read, both the examiners and the readers’ time is valued by the graduates-cum-authors, leading thereto that the structures of the book and the thesis are streamlined, making the contents of the two very much the same in terms of being easily readable and informative.  This promotes self-publishing par excellence. A major change has taken place here in that readers’ interests have become much broader than a decade or two ago. In addition, e-book publishing has developed whereby books can be published and offered at minimal cost to the public, even free. This opens unlimited exposure for any PhD graduate to get his/her book out into the market.43-57

What has prominently enhanced the opportunity for self-publishing, is the use of digital technology by authors, assuring themselves an own ISBN number and copyright holding for their books, as well as the necessary technical editing of their books at a nominal cost. In this developing environment of new models of printing-supplier-entrepreneurs, the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic have also led to a new self-reliance, independence and autonomy, which is vastly supported by cheap and easily available digital technology. In this context, the traditional publishers with their outdated customs and belief systems and discrimination against authors with excellent books but of limited sales potential, are becoming more and more isolated.43-57

  • Digital Technology

The evolution in digital technology has led to changes in the way that books are produced, published and propagated; not only for the established publishers, but also for the incoming  individual one-person-printer-supplier able to offer inexpensive opportunities to the aspirant author to publish his/her book with an own ISBN number and copyright holding at a minimal cost to the author.43-57

The print run of books can also be controlled by the author, making it possible to limit the issue of his/her book to 10, 20, 1 000 or 10 000 books and thus also to limit the costs of publication. Then there is, apart from the hard-copy issuing of books, also the e-book option, cutting costs to the bone.43-57

The publication of books adapted from PhDs and privately self-published, are undoubtedly going to become a common phenomenon in the next five years. Many aspirant authors are not much interested in earning money from the selling of their books, but more interested to make contact with readers in the community and to get their books out to the general public as cheaply as possible. The immense opportunity that certain self-publishing houses and other book distributors/sellers are offering aspirant authors to market their books broadly and cheaply, may lead thereto that they can publish books at prices between $3 and $10, and even distribute them for free as e-books to readers and scholars.43-57

It is important to note that aspirant authors in many cases do not have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory because books are printed on demand when customers purchase them. This saves the author the cost of massive print runs or the need for storage space. Costs are calculated in terms of length of books, versus ink in colour or black. Underneath is a calculator to determine the present costs of a book with publishers such as Amazon and other groups in the USA: For instance, for a book in black ink of 24 to 108 pages the cost per book is $2.15 per book, plus an extra cost of $0.85 per page. For a book in black ink of 110 to 810 pages the cost is $0.85 per book, plus an extra $0.12 per page. On the other hand, the cost for a book in colour ink of 24 to 40 pages is $3.65 plus $0.12 per page, and for a book in colour ink of 42 to 500 pages it is $0.85 plus $0.07 per page. A 300-page book in black ink can thus cost $0.85 plus $3.60 ($0.12 x 300) = $4.45, and a 300-page book in colour ink can thus cost $0.85 plus $ 21.00 ($0.07 x 300) = $21.85. Hereto the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing platform (KDP) offers books at $2.99-$3.99, while other publishers sell it $2.99 -$9.99.43-57

There are also excellent offers on the market for aspirant authors regarding royalties: for instance, KDP offers two options on earnings for e-Books, namely a 35% royalty if the marketing rights are limited to KDP, while an open contract with KDP offers authors up to 70% royalties (if the e-book is also a physical book that KDP can sell in the broad market). In other cases, the royalties paid by publishers are 60% minus the costs to publish and to market the book. In some cases’ the royalties are 40% when book publishers receive the exclusive distribution rights for a book, while with a limited right awarded to the publisher by the author, the royalty is 25% of the selling price.43-57

A recent cost analysis by myself with a small printing company locally shows that the technical adaptations of PhDs to books, including the registration of an ISBN number, designed front and back covers, printing and binding of ten books of 350 pages, are delivered for instance as a package for under R3,000-00 or R300-00 per book. This is high in terms of the USA-pricing model above, but the limited print run and the author retaining copyright must be noted.

  • ISBN opportunities in promoting self-publications

On the obtention of an ISBN number, is it important to report that these numbers are freely allocated in South Africa to aspirant authors that have already compiled and written manuscripts for books with titles, ready for publication. (Agencies may charge an additional fee.) All that the aspirant authors must do, is to apply and to register their books’ names, their own names, addresses, copyright holder(s), etc., with the National Libraries of South Africa (NLSA). With reference to the famous ISBN number in respect of self-publication, it is important to note firstly that the ISBN number is used to distinguish one title or edition of a title from a specific author from one specific publisher from another. This allows for easier marketing efforts as well as the ability to keep track of book sales through bookshops, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.43-57

In South Africa, should an aspirant author wish to apply for an ISBN, he/she should contact the ISA (International Standard Numbering) Agency, which forms part of the National Library of South Africa. To apply for an ISBN at the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), the aspirant author just has to e-mail his/her personal and manuscript details to Ms Kholofelo Mojela at  Kholofelo.Mojela@nlsa.ac.za/ 58, or he/she can contact the NLSA offices in Pretoria directly on 012 401 9700. SANB information sheets are available free of charge from the SANB, National Library of South Africa Pretoria Campus, PO Box 397, Pretoria 0001, tel. 012 325 5984, e-mail: legal.deposit@nlsa.ac.za/ 59,60

On the Internet there is a mass of information available regarding the costs of printing a book, etc. (See contact addresses in the References).43-61

Since 2007 the ISBN has contained 13 digits, which are divided into 5 segments, separated by a spice or hyphen for easy reading. On the meaning of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), is it important, as said, to reflect that it is a unique identification number which indicates one publication or edited publication produced by a specific publisher in one of the specific formats: It applies to any single publication in printed, digital or mass-media formats. The ISBN system is administered on an international, national and publisher level, and is standardised to the international standard, ISO2018: information and documentation. Guidance on the ISN and how to apply the number, is provided in the ISP/b/N User’s Manual.61

Physical book formats such as paperbacks must have a unique ISBN number when and where the author intends to sell them through any bookshop or warehouse. This will include books sold online at for instance Create Space and Ingram Sparks.43-61

Digital eBooks will also need an ISBN for the ePub format, should the aspirant author intend for example to publish through the eBook distributors Smash Words, Apple iBook Store or Barnes and Noble. The MOBI version of eBooks sold exclusively on Amazon does not require an ISBN although there is a place to capture it. A general rule is that an ISBN is needed where the author is to profit from book sales, but if the author wants to print limited copies of his/her paperback for close friends and family, an ISBN is not needed.43-61

As mentioned, each ISBN uniquely identifies a format of the author’s book and each of the different formats requires unique ISBNs. These formats are:58-61

  • eBooks (e-Pub only, not needed for MOBI version)
  • Hardbacks
  • Paperback
  • Audiobooks

On the requirements of the amounts of books to send to NLSA after the publication of the books, note the following58-61:

  • E-Books; e-mail the completed eBook files to the legaldeposit@nlsa.ac.za/
  • Print books: If the author prints: a) less than 100 copies, a single copy must be sent to the National Library in Pretoria; b) if more than 100 copies are printed, a single copy of the book should be posted to each of the five legal deposits (in this case the film and video archives are excluded), while if 100 or more copies are printed five copies of the book should be posted to each of the five legal deposits (in this case the film and video archives are excluded).
  • Audio Books. A single copy should be posted to the NLSA in Pretoria while a second copy must be sent to the National Film, Video and Sound Archives (NFA) in Pretoria.
  • Regarding the use of the ISBN number, the aspirant author must note that the ISBN number must be listed on the back cover of the paperback book (printed books) and would need a barcode version of the ISBN number.

Other rules prescribed by the NLSA is that authors can make use of pseudonyms. On the use of ISBNs, the NLSA notes that when a book is published for the first time, it is described as a first edition, and if a book is republished and changes are made to the contents or layout, it is described as a revision or second edition. But if this, the second edition: first impression is reprinted and republished without significant change, the second edition: second impression will result. Hereto, if a work is republished and no changes are made to the contents or format (apart from limited alterations to spelling and corrections of printing errors), it is described as a reprint or a new impression and not a new edition. A change of publisher constitutes a new (first) edition. If a book is revised and changes by at least 20% or more, it requires a new ISBN. (Note: An ISBN can never be reused or reassigned to a new/other book/publication). A different ISBN is needed if a book appears in a different language.58-61

  • Peer-review disposition

Regarding the requirement that books published by established publishers be peer-reviewed to assure quality and standard, it must be noted that all or mostly all the accredited-journal articles used in article-theses, already have been reviewed by three to six reviewers of the journal articles before publication. Furthermore, all the chapters of books as well as the articles extracted from traditional theses may be reviewed by appointed reviewers (mostly seasoned authors of accredited articles, examiners of traditional and article-theses themselves, as well as reviewers of accredited articles with good standing, etc.), making the touted exclusive benefit offered by traditional publishers null and void. On the other hand, there is no limitation in the path of a self-publisher to get his/her book reviewed if he/she does not intend to qualify for the DHET subsidy where applicable. (Note: the academic/researcher who wants his book to be accredited by the university for the payment of the DHET subsidy must have it reviewed by accredited reviewers: but this outcome can be easily affected as described above.)

That the established contingent of publishers is becoming aware of the change in their favoured environment and exclusive establishment of publishing, is evidenced by their exclusive recognition of the situation in favour of self-publishing when they themselves state16:1:

…scholarly communication undergoes changes and evolves as science itself. The scientific article, its format and publication mode, dissemination and sharing has undergone significant changes since the emergence of the first scientific journals in the seventeenth century. The Internet, in the 1990s, dramatically changed the paradigm of science communication, an event comparable only to the invention of printing by Gutenberg in 1440, which enabled the dissemination of articles and journals to other instances, beyond the academy.

It is now up to every individual PhD graduate to grab the opportunity to publish his/her book.

3.1.2.3. A short perspective on African academic publishing

It is not only in South Africa that the publication of books, even accredited articles, is playing a subordinate role in the economic and professional empowerment of academics and researchers; it is a negative phenomenon that characterises most African countries. This setup was well-studied and -described in the University World News by the author Wachira Kigotho 127when he wrote very appositely and with good reason on the 14th January 2021:127:1 “African academics may perish even when they have published.” This negativity revolves around firstly, the lack of justified compensation, promotion and acknowledgement due to academics for their publications by universities as their employers and thus to stimulate publishing by scholars; and secondly, the under-developed and obstructive publishing culture of Africa which fails to contribute to an income for academic writers, essentially because tertiary publishing in general is not profitable for the publishers.127

These two outcomes will shortly be reflected as a closing perspective to provide further insights into the research syndrome which in South Africa, as elsewhere in Africa, is sabotaging the attainment of the Research-circle of Completeness.

Pointing out the lack of deserved incomes and promotions for active African academics writing and publishing [that is also reflected in South Africa and is further aggravated here by the BAREE, WARED and ABCLM] and thus discourages constructive and continued publishing, Professor Ishmael Munene127 of the Northern Arizona University (NAU), USA, speaking from his own Kenyan academic experience, states127:1: “…salary increases should not just be what the unions negotiate but should have a component tied to academic merit as measured in, among others, the publishing of tertiary-level books, journal publications and innovations”.

Kigotho127, on the substandard and under-developed publishing culture of Africa (very much in line with the South African setup as shown in this research) which fails to contribute to an income for publishing academics, writers127:1: “A weak publishing industry in Africa, including the lack of distribution hubs and an intra-African book trade; curricula, pedagogy and learning processes still rooted in the colonial situation and the absence of a scholarship culture, are factors that are undermining the development and production of creative books on the continent.”

The low amounts of tertiary books published in Africa and the low book-publishing output by African scholars in Africa are the direct results of the lack of profits for publishers and thus the unwillingness to support scholars notwithstanding their talent. It is clear that the text-book publishing industry in Africa needs to be reformed in so far as it is applicable to higher education, so that it would entrench creativity, innovation and scholarship, instead of the focus on primary and secondary books that are, because of their constant mass production, excellent money generators. This hostile approach by African publishers has led thereto that African universities are forced to rely heavily on imported books, even for studies with African-specific content such as history, literature, music, politics, sociology and economics, writes Kigotho.127 It is thus understandable why academics and researchers withdraw from publishing and instead do moonlighting and try other avenues for an income, thereby not making publishing a priority.

But, the universities in Africa, also those in South Africa, have themselves failed to publish serious scholarly works or to promote these.127 Solani Ngobeni127 of the Africa Institute of South Africa, in her study: “Scholarly Publishing: The Challenges Facing the African University Press”, said that university presses in Africa are currently only available in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe and South Africa. But, so far, the university presses of South Africa do not seem to be very active in their support of their scholars.127

Although the practice of the article-format thesis seems to have built a strong foundation in many African countries, it is often for the wrong reason: it seems to be the substandard three-article-thesis which has become the easiest PhD to obtain (with its equally substandard examination). The contaminated use of predatory articles in these PhDs is prominent. On the widespread use of predatory journals to publish in African countries, Wagdy Sawahel132 in the University World News of the 16th March 2021132 points out that it seems to be specifically African countries with a medium level of economic development and saddled with large research sectors, that are the culprits. It seems especially in many North African countries that the research is most susceptible to predatory publishing, specifically in the health, life and physical sciences, with social sciences less affected. Furthermore, it appears that Nigeria is the most affected by the use of predatory journals. Of the top twenty countries in the world, apparently seriously affected by predatory publications, there are nine African countries on the list: Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Sudan, Togo, Niger and Liberia. (Thankfully so far South Africa’s name does not appear on the list of the Sub-Saharan countries contaminated by predatory research!).127,132

The contamination by predatory research of the African academy and research, many times allowed by some universities, led thereto that quality had been thrown by the wayside, which caused a dramatic decline in the quality of tertiary teaching and research carried out. This created substandard academics and researchers who failed to publish in accredited journals or to deliver accredited books, forcing them to take shortcuts, such as the use of predatory publishing.  But, to a certain extent, many African universities are direct responsible for this negative outcome themselves, because of their lack of financial support to their authors, academics and researchers to publish in journals of excellence that ask page fees, as well as paying poor salaries to academics/researchers who are required to finance their publications themselves (phenomena that are now also starting to manifest in South Africa). Then of course there is the failure of African universities to publish their scholars work direct themselves. 127,132

From the above negative comments is it in some way clear why the research culture of Africa has so far to a great extent failed to reach the Research-circle of Completeness. But, on the other hand, there are many negative characteristics commonly shared between South Africa and many of the African countries as to the wrong way of doing research and publication that has undoubtedly so far directly contributed to the fact that South Africa could not reach the Research-circle of Completeness.127,132

4. Conclusions

The successful implementation of the Research-circle of Completeness requires from university leaders absolute academic and economic competence, experience and wisdom; totally free from academic and political revenge, subjectivity and delinquency, contradictory to the activities that are now rampaging through our universities more and more.29

The article-format-thesis and -dissertation through its collection of accredited articles, is already at times a dynamic role player within the incomplete-Research-circle of Completeness and has the potential to stimulate immense research status as well as a significant income for universities. Also, through the constant output of accredited articles, it offers the active and brilliant student the opportunity to obtain more than one PhD, as well as the authorship of many books.  If the pre-selection of the postgraduate student is strict, allowing only students of quality into the masters’ or PhD programs, the quadripartite-research model would undoubtedly be the ideal and only format for all students and mostly suitable for all disciplines to do advanced research.16-61

But unfortunately, this article shows that South Africa’s present-day research concentrates prominently on the dual-research model and the tripartite-research model. The absence of the quadripartite-research model is clear; a model in which the writing of journal articles, the writing of books, the doing of research in the milieu of projects and the writing of draft manuscripts occupy a central place.16-61

The present failure to activate the quadripartite-research model and obstructed that the Research-circle of Completeness could so far not be consummated, is captured in a problematic research foundation in which elements, varying from substandard-trained and educated postgraduates to unproductive academic and research staff at universities, as well as the negative impact of contaminated politics, play prominent roles.

The negative reality is that many of our universities and their staff have so far not even embraced and mastered successfully the old dual-research model and the old tripartite-research model in which the traditional thesis occupies the central place, and have failed to turn it, its articles and books, into a stable money-making enterprise. Some of our universities and their staff still seem to be steeped in Gutenberg’s academic culture of the 1400s, when earning an income was seen as a sin, and where the Science of Stupid for years prevented the introduction of the positive butterfly-effect of dynamic and creative research, to such an extent that our research could not in 2021 reach its ultimate excellence.16-61

A dynamic reorientation and reevaluation of the research culture and environment at South African universities are urgently needed. The contaminated policy of ABCLM/BAREE/WARED and the empowerment of the propagandists of the age-old traditional thesis and dissertation that deliberately undermine the incoming of the article-format -thesis and dissertation, needs to be curbed. Only then the article-thesis will make an inroad and the continuation of the incomplete-Research-circle of Completeness erased. 62-141

Above present-day chaos inside the South African research environment and its absence of a true (completed or full) Research-circle of Completeness will be addressed in the next intertwined article (Number 8): “How to consummate the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa: Part 2”. The discussion of Article 8 specifically will focus on the roles of stonewalling and obstructionism against the establishing of the Research-circle of Completeness in South Africa.

5. References

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How to examine the article-format master and doctorate (6): Part 2

Title: How to examine the article-format master and doctorate (6): Part 2

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author/Researcher: Higher Education, Healthcare, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PUCHE), DPhil (PUCHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format, doctorate, examine, guideline, master

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 4: 4

1. Background

The examiner of the article-thesis needs special training and skills. This can only be obtained through the offering of ongoing broad internal training by universities to their staff. The ideal should be to license all article-thesis examiners with a Code of Practice after passing an examination of competence. The correct examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation — to assure objectiveness, justice and integrity to the outcome — requires disciplined and caring inputs by examiners; a process which many of them see as unnecessarily time-consuming and digressive.

From the above is it clear that the examination process of the article-thesis and dissertation requires absolute academic competence, experience and academic wisdom, free from an examiner’s academic revenge, subjectivity and bad faith. It asks for an objective approach and trustworthy evaluation of the data collected, including a guarantee of the ongoing strength and soundness of the examination process with respect to neutrality, consistency and applicability.

The previous article (Number 5) identified the absence of a comprehensive and streamlined guideline on how to effect the examination of the article-thesis and dissertation. This problem was addressed in Article 5 with the offering of a uniform, comprehensive guideline on how the article-thesis and dissertation may be examined. In this article the focus will be on the writing of the examiner’s report, a shortcut to the examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation and the equality of the Masters with the Doctorate during the examination process. 1-34

1.1.         Introduction (Continues from Article 5)

This article, titled: “How to examine the article-format-masters and-doctorate: Part 2”, is a continuation of the previous article (Number 5), titled: “How to examine the article-format-masters and-doctorate: Part 1”. The two intertwined articles must be read as a unity.

1.2. Aims of article (Continue from Article 5)

The purpose of this article, titled: “How to examine the article-format masters and  doctorate: Part 2”, is the second part one of two intertwined articles which provide a framework with the primary aim to assist examiners in their assessment of the article-thesis and dissertation. In the first part, titled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 1”, the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation were described.

This second intertwined article (Part 2) will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the examiner about the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation. Here will be discussed the following three sections: 3.3.: A hypothetical case-study (this includes an example of the writing of the examination-report); 3.4.: The Shortcut-examination model for the article-thesis and -dissertation; and 3.5. : The Master’s degree.

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues from Article 5)

The information applies to aspirant students, supervisors and examiners for article-masters and -doctorates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues from Article 5)

The research was done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case with the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By this method the focus is to be informative regarding the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources consulted cover the period 2006 to 2021.

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues from Article 5)

3.2. Background

In the previous intertwined article (number 5), entitled: “How to examine the article-format-masters and doctorate: Part 1”, an examination guide, the Full approach or Full-examination model was offered on how the article-thesis and -dissertation can effectively be examined.

This second intertwined article with Article 5, entitled: “How to examine the article-format-masters and doctorate: Part 2”, will describe three specific outcomes around the examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation, namely: 3.3.: A hypothetical case-study (this includes an example of the writing of the examination report); 3.4.: The Shortcut-examination model for the article-thesis and -dissertation; and 3.5. : The Master’s degree.

3.3. A hypothetical case study

To demonstrate the implementation of the examination process, as described and elaborated on in the subsection: 3.2. Structuring and execution of the examination process, it was decided to offer a hypothetical case study, in which the writing of the examiner’s report of the article-thesis takes a central position.

For the practical demonstration of the process of data collection and interpretation, as well as for the description of the examination report reflected in this article, fictitious characters and learning institutions were created. The case study under discussion is also fictitious, as well as the examination report offered in it. Any similarities with real-life cases is thus purely coincidental and should be ignored. For the full description, analysis and discussion of the case study see under subsection: 3.3.1. The examination report of Article-thesis: PhD in Organisational Strategy Planning: Candidate ATE van Dijk-Malherbe.

  • For the fictitious PhD in Organisational Strategy Planning, entitled: “The Repositioning of Higher Education in post-2020 South Africa”, the fictitious Faculty of Commerce, Procana Business University (PBU), South Africa, was selected. A fictitious four-article thesis (six-chapter thesis) was selected as the subject of study.The fictitious candidate selected for the study was Mr. ATE van Dijk-Malherbe, with the fictitious student-number B/D674088991. The fictitious candidate is assumed to be a 41-year old male, working as a senior manager in a state department. (There will further refer to him respectively as he/him/his. This selecting of a male-identity must not be seen or be interpreted as gender-discrimination). For the examiner of the article-thesis, was selected the fictitious Prof. CJCD de Koning, with his fictitious work-place as the University of Karogra (UK), South Africa.

3.3.1. The examination report of the Article-thesis: PhD in Organisational Strategy Planning (Candidate ATE van Dijk-Malherbe)

This report’s assessment was done in terms of the article-format evaluation guideline as reflected in this article, entitled: “How to examine an article-thesis and -dissertation”. Seeing that all the four articles of this four-article thesis were published in one accredited British journal, its guidelines were also consulted. The assessment was further supported by the general description of the rules of the Procana Business University (PBU) where the student is enrolled for his PhD.

3.3.1.1. Information data

  1. Candidate: Mr. ATE van Dijk-Malherbe
  2. Student no: B/D674088991
  3. Discipline: Economics.
  4. Faculty: PhD. in Organisational Management, Faculty of Commerce, Procana Business University (PBU), South Africa.
  5. Title of thesis: The Repositioning of Higher Education in post-2020 South Africa.
  6. Examiner’s name and institution: Prof. CJCD de Koning, University of Karogra (UK), South Africa.

3.3.1.2. Examiner’s Report

3.1.3.2.1. Title

The title: “The Repositioning of Higher Education in post-2020 South Africa”, is appropriate and well formulated: it describes the research project and focusses the attention on the present functioning of higher education. Regarding the description of “education”, “higher education” and “tertiary” for university education, there is some confusion in its daily use, especially in the layman’s interpretation of such meanings. Also, herewith the indifferent usage of “learning” or “learning and training” in the place of “education” has become more and more a contemporary way of speaking as well as writing: writers and guidelines are also in agreement about the use of both words to describe the same subject.57-60

The description of “tertiary” education as an alternative and synonym for “higher” education has become more and more a word used daily, especially by RSA researchers that are publishing in accredited journals in the USA where “tertiary” is a common synonym for “higher” education. In this thesis, where the word “tertiary” has alternatively been used for higher education, it may correctly be seen as a synonym for “higher education”. In this context the use of the word “tertiary” was strengthened by the acceptance of the words “tertiary” as well as “higher” in the journal in which the candidate published his articles in the USA. It must be emphasised that the indifferent use of “tertiary” and “higher” (and vice versa) to describe a certain sector of post-Grade 12 education, is not new in the RSA.57-60

Although some writers use the word “tertiary” to describe not only universities, but also vocational and FET colleges, the word “higher” is also used in the same context. How vague the difference in definition between higher and tertiary is (and has become over the last decade or two), is well reflected by various definitions which describe “higher” education as an examination generally taken at the end of the 5th year of secondary education while “tertiary” education is seen as the teaching of the six-form level (a higher level than the higher-education 5th year) students.57-60

How the words “higher” education, “tertiary” education and “university” as equivalents (synonyms) are weaved into each other, is echoed daily in our large newspapers by educational experts and journalists writing on education.57-60

In this study the candidate’s alternative use of “tertiary”, “higher” and “university” education as synonyms, is acceptable and in line with modern writing, especially in US journals where the article-thesis’s articles were published. The title of the article-thesis is correct and fully descriptive of the study and in line with its articles’ titles and definitions.

3.1.3.2.2. Topic

The RSA higher education (as well as its school education) is at the moment a daily point of discussion. The candidate’s chosen topic (as reflected in his title) was in-depth, sufficient and coherently investigated.

The candidate’s thesis makes an original contribution to the knowledge of higher and school education as confirmed by the outcomes of his research. The fact that all four of his articles have already been published, confirms further the need for information about the topic researched.

He demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the literature of higher education as well as school education, and shows the ability to exercise critical and analytical judgement of the topic’s literature.

3.1.3.2.3. The originality and extent of the candidate’s contribution to the relevant discipline

  1. Originality

The candidate has a critical awareness of the current problems around RSA education, especially higher education. The thesis approaches the present-day RSA education (school and higher) system from a totally new vantage point, putting the 1994 to 2020 situation in a critical perspective as has never been done before. Also, the candidate’s use of specific contemporary literature sources to reflect this information as manifested in the seven different articles is new and dynamic. Indeed, the candidate’s thesis may be described as very original and “fresh” within the discipline of Higher Education Management.

  1. Extent of the contribution to the discipline of Higher Education Management

His research contribution to the subject discipline of Higher Education Management is phenomenal. The candidate succeeded in condensing enormous amounts of arguments and counter-arguments in four articles (Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5), which constitute more or less summarising 600 pages into 135 pages, by keeping only the essential facts around RSA Higher Education for the 1994 to 2020 period.

He successfully makes the reader conscious of the negative effects of the 2005-OBE, and the later RNCS, as vehicles to move away from the apartheid curriculum and to address skills, knowledge and values. The candidate’s clear identification of the various shortcomings and implementation problems gives an in-depth understanding why educators (and even policymakers) described OBE as controversial and counter-effective. Also, reasons for the National Senior Certificate failure (the exit point for school leavers and a benchmark for entrance to university) to offer students of excellence for higher education study, became clear.

His analyses of the present-day RSA school system show that the system is flawed with poorly performing teachers, poor work ethics, lack of community and parental support, poor control by education authorities, poor support for teachers and very low levels of accountability. He identified and described how this milieu spilled over into poor discipline of learners, truancy, absenteeism and a high dropout rate from Grade 1 to 12. The negative role of politics in schools is spelled out and described by him. The lack, especially by the government, to enforce the law and to meet public expectations of accountability, efficiency and delivery, is highlighted by the candidate’s research. For the first time the candidate  with his research brought the lackadaisical attitude of the teachers to the foreground.

The candidate’s research puts into perspective the claim to legitimacy of higher education by the white majority up to 1994 and the various actions (some masked) by the government of the day to use education as a major vehicle of societal (and to a large extent also political) transformation. Specifically, the impact of restructuring and mergers of higher education institutions, positive or negative, is pinpointed by the research.

The biggest contribution of his approach is to make the reader conscious of the many multidimensional challenges that higher education must address in the near future: low output of students, poor university management and suspicion about the standard of higher education.

For the principal, the government official, the teacher, education planner and other training officials, the candidate’s excellent data analysis is of the utmost importance; that includes his identification of the challenges to be addressed to take RSA education out of its “obstructed” stage.

3.1.3.2.4. The delimitation and the aim of the research project

  1. Delimitation

The delimitation of the study had the effect of  narrowing the focus to the period 1994 to 2020 in the government school and higher education environment. To broaden the study to FET colleges, private school and private tertiary education, foreign school and university models and systems of education, would be very informative, but would make the data collected impossible to condense into four articles. The prescriptions of the British journal in which he published, also put a limit on this kind of research.

  1. Aim of the project

The sub-aims of the seven are clearly described and are applicable to each of the described articles:

1) Focus on analysing the changes in the education system in the post-1994 dispensation and comparing benchmarking trends; the challenges of the South African education system to be relevant for the needs of the country and its people;

2) Challenges facing education in South Africa in 2020 and recommendations about effecting the abatement of these challenges;

3) The critical analysis of the background that led to the restructuring and merging of tertiary institutions and the impact on the tertiary system;

4) Challenges facing first-year admission to tertiary education, the role of universities in providing quality education, funding of tertiary institutions, further development of tertiary education and the rationale for establishing more universities.

The main objectives (aims) in Chapter 1: Introduction are also clearly described, specific and in line with the hypotheses assumed (See Chapter 6 of thesis). The main aims are based on four research questions.

3.1.3.2.5. The formulation of the hypotheses

The four main hypotheses assumed are precisely described in terms of the objectives of the study (See Introduction). These hypotheses are successfully answered in the final chapter (Chapter 6).

3.1.3.2.6. Understanding of the writing and presentation of the Article-thesis

The candidate shows he is adept at article writing and that he understands the principles steering the research, compiling and interpretation of data that form the basis of the article-thesis. His thesis structure and reflection of its contents fulfil all the prerequisites of the guidelines as prescribed for the structuring of an article-thesis by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and the SU-Alternative-Studies.56. (See Addendum A: 1. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10, and 2. SU-Alternative-Studies 56 .) Both the evaluations of the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and the SU-Alternative-Studies56 awarded a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds the standard and a quantitative examination mark of 61% -70%. (See Addendum A: Tables 1 and 2.)

3.1.3.2.7. The identification and use of the most appropriate literature

The three evaluation tools, namely the General-References Checklist, the Reference-Types Checklist and the Word-Counts Checklist, show that the candidate is well experienced in identifying appropriate literature by the use of various methods (aids) to obtain it, as well as a variety of sources as described by journals for an article-format thesis. (See Addendum A: 3 to  5.)

Overall, the candidate shows that he is well versed in identifying appropriate literature by the use of various methods (aids) to obtain literature data, as well as the use of a variety of sources as described by journals for an article-format thesis for this purpose. Databases which were used in this study were Sabinet Online, EBSCO, SAE Publications, ProQuest, Journal Citation Reports as well as journals and newspapers. All these databases are recommended in the Harvard Style as well as the APA and the guideline of the article-format thesis as included in this report.

A total of 342 sources (references) were used in his four-article-thesis as reflected underneath in Table A.

Table A: General-References Checklist:

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 TOTAL
Books 17 16 21 24 47 10 135
Journals 5 7 9 15 18 11 63
Newspapers 7 29 59 15 12 8 130
Internet 0 2 2 5 4 1 14
TOTAL 29 52 91 59 81 30 342

 In Table B underneath the four-article-thesis under examination is compared with the guided general references prescribed for a four-article-thesis.

Table B: Comparing the number of general references of an article-thesis with the prescribed number of guided-references:

Examined article-thesis versus prescribed  article-thesis
Components Number  of guided- references Number of thesis-references Number of thesis-references above guided-references Number of

thesis-references under guided-references

Abstract          —
Chapter 1
(Introduction)
25 29 +4
Chapter 2
(Article 1)
60 52 -8
Chapter 3
(Article 2)
       60 91 +31
Chapter 4
(Article 3)
60 59 -1
Chapter 5
(Article 4)
 60 81 +21
Chapter 6
(Final Chapter /Synthesis)
25 30 +5
 TOTAL 290 342 +61 -9

 Table B confirms that the four-article-thesis under examination reflects the use of 53 references more than the guided references prescribed for a four-article-thesis.

In terms of the General-References Checklist this total of 342 references is inside the qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “61% -70%”. (See Addendum A 3: Table 3.)

A further analysis of the above total of 342 sources/references used in the candidate’s four-article-thesis, reflects in terms of the four reference types (books, journals, newspapers and website sources) the use of 135 books, 65 journals, 130 newspapers and 14 website sources. The average uses per chapter of the four reference types are for books 22, journals 11, newspapers 22 and website sources 2 types. (See Table C underneath.)

Table C: Reference types:

 Reference-types Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 TOTAL

(Reference-types)

Books 17 16 21 24 47 10 135 (X=22)

39%

Journals 5 7 9 15 18 11 65 (X=11)

18%

Newspapers 7 29 59 15 12 8 130 (X=22)

38%

Internet 2 2 5 4 1 14 (X=2)

4%

TOTAL

(Reference-types)

29 52 91 59 81 30

 

342 (X=57)

Looking individually at each of the six chapters’ output, the following resource use is reflected in Table C above: Chapter 1: 29; Chapter 2: 52; Chapter 3: 91; Chapter 4: 59; Chapter 5: 81; and Chapter 6: 30. Against the 342 count of the total use of sources for the six chapters, the average use of sources of the six chapters is 57.

A further analysis of the article-thesis’s spread as to the use of sources calculated per part (Six parts: Introduction, four articles and Synopsis), the lowest use of books per part is 16 and the highest 47; for journals the lowest is 5 and the highest 18; for newspapers the lowest is 7 and the highest 59; while for the Internet the lowest count is zero and the highest 5. The lowest use of sources is 29 for part one (Chapter 1: Introduction) with the highest 91 for part 3 (Chapter 3: Article 2).

In terms of Table C above, the newspaper references represent 38% of the sources and books 39% of the total references of the article-thesis, putting its qualitative examination mark at the exceptional level and its quantitative examination mark at 71% and above. On the other hand, the references of the journals are at 18% and those of website publications at 4%, leading to a classification of their qualitative examination mark as  “Inadequate” and their quantitative examination mark as 49%. Then again, the total average of 57 sources is in the same quantitative class of its average use of sources in the six chapters at 57,  placing it in the qualitative examination mark of “Meets the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “50% -60%”.  (See Addendum A 4: Table 4.)

The imbalance pointed out above between newspapers and books, on the one hand, and journals and website sources on the other, used as references, must not be seen as a disqualification, but read within the context of a scarcity of reporting in the newspapers and website sources on the matter of tertiary education in South Africa. In this case the use of newspapers and website publications (130 + 14 = 144 sources), should rather be seen as supplementing the “traditional” sources of books and journals (63 + 135 = 198 sources). This led thereto that the candidate obtained a clear perspective on the subject of this research project. The candidate’s use of newspapers is recommended by various foreign article-format guides to collect data; the argument is that it gives the candidate insight into contemporary activities relevant to his researched subject, offering a critical perspective.

An evaluation of the total word count of this four-article-thesis shows that its total word count of 43 621 is 6 221 words more than the prescribed or recommended (criterion) word count of 37 400 for the four-article-thesis. (See Table D underneath.) The count of 43 621 words is very nearly the average prescribed (criterion) word count of 45 000 words. It is only for Chapters 2 (379 words) and 6 (777 words) that the four-article-thesis’s word count is under the prescribed minimum for the four-article-thesis. This outcome is insignificant. The thesis fulfils the prescribed maximum and minimum recommended (criteria) word count for the four-article-thesis.

Table D: Comparison of the maximum/minimum word counts prescribed for the four-article-thesis with the maximum/minimum word counts of the four-article-thesis under examination:

                   WORD COUNTS
Components/

Structure of article-thesis

Words Words
Guided word counts: maximum Guided word counts: minimum

 

Candidate

Word counts

Differences in terms of minimum

Guided Word counts

Abstract         400   400   531 +131
Chapter 1
(Introduction)
 2 700 2 700 3 512 +812
Chapter 2
(Article 1)
12 000 8 000  7 621 -379
Chapter 3
(Article 2)
    12 000 8 000  9 503 +1 503
Chapter 4
(Article 3)
12 000 8 000   9 964 +1 964
Chapter 5
(Article 4)
12 000 8 000  10 207 +2 207
Chapter 6
(Final chapter)
 2 300 2 300    2 223 -777
 TOTAL 53 400     37 400   43 621 +6 221

In terms of the Checklist word counts this total word count of 43 621 of the four-article-thesis examined, is inside the qualitative examination mark of “Meets the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “50% -60%”. (See Addendum A 5: Table 5.)

  • Seeing that there exists no prescription on the number of articles to be included in the article-thesis (besides that less than three is not acceptable), no examination evaluation is done in this context. It must be noted here that strong opposition to the much and preponderant use of the three-article-thesis is recorded. Also, the page counts of theses are excluded from examination, given that those are determined by the number of articles, making it an insignificant criterion to be used for examination. There is also the manipulation of typing styles and fonts to obtain more pages that nullifies this guideline’s use.

3.1.3.2.8. The appropriateness of the methods and technology employed

The databases used were appropriately applied to obtain the data reflected in the research. Here I like to refer again to the candidate’s in-depth understanding of the use of databases like Sabinet Online, EBSCO, SAE Publications, ProQuest, Journal Citation Reports as well as journals and newspapers. The candidate meets at all times the rules of the American Psychological Association (APA) in using the APA references, as well as the rules of reference use as prescribed in article-format research.

The candidate successfully employed the qualitative research approach to describe and to reveal certain situations, relationships, systems and settings in education. This approach also enables him to gain new insights into RSA education, to obtain and to reflect new concepts to the researchers as well as the public, and to reveal problems in education that must be addressed. Through the candidate’s databases he not only advanced problems to the readers to address and to solve, but also offered conclusions and recommendations about a turn-around in education.

3.1.3.2.9. The quality and relevance of the generated results

The quality of the data can be described as excellent: the data (literature) collected were specifically selected in line with the aims and problems identified in Chapter 1: Problem Statement, Objectives and Hypotheses and Chapter 6: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations. The results obtained were specific to the problems researched and convincing.

3.1.3.2.10. The evaluation of the generated results and their integration with the existing body of knowledge

The candidate’s theoretical foundation to make conclusions and recommendations is sound; he clarifies concepts well, shows independent, logical thinking and argumentation, his interpretations and reporting are of a high level throughout the research. (See Addendum A 6: Hay-Uniqueness-Guide.)53

It must be remembered that this is an article-format thesis, based on four articles. Every article is well described in a separate focus (already published). The results obtained in each case are clear, specific and convincing. The integration of the four articles was excellent: the first article moved successfully into the following; the same goes for the rest. The compiling of the whole thesis, Chapter 1 to Chapter 6, was very successful and is in line with the guidelines for article-format theses. The article-thesis’s structuring meets the guidelines offered by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 (see Addendum A 1: Table1) and by the SU-Alternative-Studies56 (see Addendum A 2: Table 2).

3.1.3.2.11. The logical and correct presentation of the results and other content

The candidate shows an in-depth understanding of data placement: on a cognitive level he debated his research data well. This leads to the correct selection and presentation of the results (as already reflected in the four published articles) as well as the correct presentation of his conclusions and recommendations from these results. This logical and correct presentation of the results and other content is again confirmed by both the findings of the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide.10 (See Addendum A 1: Table 1) and by the SU-Alternative-Studies56 (See Addendum A 2: Table 2) which award the qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and the qualitative examination-mark “61% to 70%”  to it.

3.1.3.2.12. Acceptance of language and terminology

The English of this thesis is of a very high standard. His definitions/descriptions are clear and correct. All the terminology reflected is correct, as shown in his well-balanced choice of words like “tertiary” as a synonym for “higher”, etc. The key words and abbreviations were clearly and fully described.

3.1.3.2.13. Correct use and presentation of the references

The candidate used (and described) the APA Style throughout his research project correctly. The candidate used references in the text correctly; the same exactitude was reflected in the references in his bibliography. This shows his excellent mastery of research reporting; this ability and skills were also reflected in the writing of the thesis as a whole.

3.1.3.2.14. Publishability of the whole or parts of the thesis

This is an article-format thesis where all four articles have already been published.

This thesis fulfils the requirements of the article-format thesis as expected by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10. (See Addendum A 1: Table 1), the SU-Alternative-Studies56 (see Addendum A 2: Table 2) and the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 (see Addendum A 7, Table 7). Its structure comprises all the components of an article-format thesis, namely A: Abstract, B: Introductory Chapter, C: Articles, D: final chapter and E: Overview.

With reference to the four chapters (the total contents), as reflected in the four articles (or mini-theses), the following can be reported:

  • Chapter 2: Article 1:

“A critical review of Education post-1994 in South Africa”

This article’s abstract, introduction, aims and objectives, method and procedure, background and historical analysis (contents) and conclusion are well described. The conclusion that Curriculum 2005 had disastrous consequences for South Africa is of cardinal importance.

  • Chapter 3: Article 2:

“A dynamic address of the South African school system”

The article’s  abstract, introduction, aims and objectives, method and procedure, that  dynamically address the problems facing the school system in South Africa (contents), and conclusion, fulfil the requirements of an accredited journal article. The conclusion that the RSA education is in a dismal state, is of great importance. The conclusion that certain corrections are needed is correct.

  • Chapter 4: Article 3:

A Strategy to re-start the South African post-1994 Higher Education (1994-2020)”

The abstract, introduction, aims and objectives, method and procedure, background and historical overview of higher education in South Africa until 1994 (contents), the impact of restructuring and mergers on selected Higher Education institutions (contents), the education process and outcomes of restructuring and mergers on tertiary education (contents), and conclusion fully meet the prerequisites of an accredited article as confirmed by its publishing in the International Politics, Business and Economics Research Journal in the UK. The conclusion that the rationale for the mergers and restructuring of universities was justified in 1994, but that there is still much more to do as to the uplifting of Higher Education, is an important observation.

  • Chapter 5: Article 4:

“The immediate addressing of the post-2020 dilemmas and challenges of the South African Higher Education system

This final article’s writing and compiling of the literature excellently show what is awaiting Higher Education post-2020. Its composition in an abstract, introduction, aims and objectives, method and procedure, challenges facing Higher Education in South Africa (contents), recommendations and conclusion, was done exceptionally well. The conclusion that the RSA at present needs more balance between the abilities of students and opportunities in the job market, is surely a starting point for a better Higher Education training model.

3.1.3.2.15. Summary of Quality of the four-articles-thesis

The above-mentioned four articles were presented as a unified whole; it was integrated into a cohesive unit with a logical progression from chapter 2 (article 1) to the next, providing a cohesive, unitary focus, documenting a single programme of research. The connecting titles (text) of each of the chapters were amalgamated successfully into the cohesive title of the unified whole (thesis), namely: “The Repositioning of Higher Education in post-2020 South Africa”. The thesis tells a story in an appropriate order as required and prescribed by the rules of an article-thesis.

The article-thesis undoubtedly puts to the foreground empirical work and a synthesis that is new to the research of higher education. Here the candidate’s analysis and interpretation of existing data can offer new interpretations and put forward new evidence on the matter of the post-1994 education struggle and problems. This uniqueness of the thesis is confirmed by the Hay-Uniqueness-Guide53 and the SU-Alternative-Studies56 that were used to evaluate its academic and research quality. The Hay-Uniqueness-Guide’s53 qualitative examination mark of “Exceptional” and a quantitative examination mark of “71% and above”, while the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and the SU-Alternative-Studies56 awarded it a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “61% -70%”. (See Addendum A 6: Table 6, Addendum A 1: Table 1 and Addendum A 2: Table 2.)

The comprehensive evaluation done with the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 (see Addendum A 7: Table 7) shows for 14 of the performance counts the examination mark awarded was the qualitative examination mark of “Exceptional” and a quantitative examination mark of “71% and for another 14 performance counts the qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “61% -70%” was awarded. The final-examination mark in terms of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 was the qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds the standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “61% -70%”.

3.1.3.2.16. Compiling and calculation of the final-examination mark

The final-examination mark awarded, calculated from the average examination marks of the seven evaluation-tools, was 62%. This final-examination mark is equal to a qualitative examination mark of Exceeds standard, and a quantitative examination mark of 61% to 70%.  (See Addendum A 8: Table 8.)

3.1.3.2.17. Conclusions

The thesis fulfils all the quality criteria expected of an article-format thesis.

3.1.3.2.18. Recommendation

The standard of the article-thesis of Mr. ATE Van Dijk-Malherbe is in the qualitative class of “Exceeds standard”, and the quantitative grouping of 61% to 70%. (See Addendum A 8: Table 8).

It is recommended that the thesis be accepted and that the degree PhD: Organisational Strategy Planning be conferred. (In terms of the ruling of the PBU that no marks are allocated for a doctoral thesis and that a thesis is either accepted or rejected, it is hereby recommended  that the thesis be accepted and that the degree be conferred). Please see under the X-marking:

X
That the thesis be accepted and that the degree be conferred.
That the thesis be accepted conditionally as meeting the requirements for the doctor’s degree, but that certain indicated amendments of limited extent be made under the supervision of the supervisor.
That the thesis not be accepted in its present form, but that the candidate be required to extend it or revive it and to submit the extended or revised thesis for re-examination.
That the thesis be rejected. (A candidate whose doctoral thesis has been rejected is not allowed to re-submit it in an amended form more than once.)

 

 

Examiner:  Prof. CJCD de Koning, MA., PhD. University of Karogra (UK)

Date: 18 December 2020

Addendum A

  1. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide: 10:1

 Table 1: Richard-Uniqueness-Guide: 10:1

Uniqueness Performance Levels
Inadequate:  49% and under: Average= 49% Meets the standard:

50% – 60%:

Average=55%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%:

Average= 65%

Exceptional:

71% and

Above:

Average=71%

1. A short description and a full overview as an introduction and as an outline of the problem in each of the articles of the article-thesis are offered.          —          —       65

 

        —
2. An introduction to the overall topic and the existence of a logical link between the articles are offered.          —            —         —          71
3. The article-thesis offers a conceptual or theoretical framework.             —           —        65           —
4. There are literature reviews included in all the articles.          —           —        —          71
5. A specific methodology is followed in each of the articles. —            —        —          71
6. The results are based on research findings of every article. —             —        —          71
7. The various articles of the article-thesis stand out each as clear research entities, are of normal journal-article length and are related to the overall theme of the research.          —          —        —        71
8. The Summary, Interpretations, Conclusions, Recommendations for Policy and/or Further Research fulfils the basic requirements prescribed for an article-thesis. —          —        65         —
9. The resources included in the various articles are comprehensive and supportive for each of the articles as well as the total study?            —         —        65         —
10. There are applicable Appendices included with each of the articles.          —         —        65         —
A. Sub-counts    (Percentages)          —          —       325        355
B. Total count (Percentage)=680

 

         —           —        —          —
C.  Average Examination mark (Percentage)=68

 

—            —         68          —
  • Average examination mark of 68% awarded by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10: Equal to a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and a quantitative examination mark of “61% to 70%”. (See above Table 1).
  1. SU-Alternative-Studies: 56:10

Table 2:  SU-Alternative-Studies: 56:10

Structure Elements Performance Levels
Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49% and under

Meets
standard:
50%-60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard:
61%-70%:Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

1.  Introduction  
1.Background Information          —          55        —         —
2. Purpose of Study, Research Objectives

 

         —           —        65         —
3. Significance and motivation

 

         —           —        65         —
4. Thesis, delineation, research questions

 

         —           —        65         —
5. Definitions, assumptions, limitations

 

         —           —        65         —
6. Theory basis, general literature review

 

         —           —         —         71
7. Brief Chapter overviews

 

         —           —        65          —
2.          Individual Study 1         
1.Major section: Specific research hypothesis          —           —        65          —
2. Major section: Specific literature review          —           —         —         71
3. Major section: Method

 

         —           —        65         —       
4. Major section: Findings

 

         —           —        65         —      
5. Major section: Analysis

 

         —           55         —         —       
6. Major section: Sub conclusion

 

         —           —         65         —
3.          Individual Study 2  
1. Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.

 

         —           —        65         —
2. Major section: Specific literature review          —           —         —         71       
3. Major section: Method

 

         —           —         65          —       
4. Major section: Findings

 

         —           —         65          —       
5. Major section: Analysis

 

          —          —         65           —       
6. Major section: Sub conclusion

.

          —          55         — —       
4. Individual Study 3

 

 
1. Major section: Specific research hypothesis

 

          —           —         65           —
2. Major section: Specific literature review           —           —         65 —      
3. Major section: Method

 

          —           —         65          —      
4. Major section: Findings

 

          —           —         65          —     
5. Major section: Analysis

 

          —           55          —          —       
6. Major section: Sub conclusion

 

          —            —         65          —       
5. Conclusion

 

 
1. Summary of Findings

 

          —           —        65  
2. Conclusions

 

          —           —        65  
3. Summary of Contributions

 

          —           —         71
4. Future Research

 

          —           —        65  
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)            —         220   1,365        284
B. Total count (Percentage) = 1,869           —           —          —          —
C. Average examination count (Percentage) =

     65

          —           —       65          —
  • Average examination mark of 65% awarded by the SU-Alternative-Studies56: equal to

a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and a quantitative examination mark of  “61% to 70%”.  (See above Table 2.)

  1. General-References Checklist:

Table 3: General-References Checklist:  

                                   Performance levels
Types of article-thesis Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Three-article-thesis 160< 161 – 230 231 – 300 301>
Four-article-thesis 200< 201 – 290 291 – 380 381>
Five-article-thesis 250< 251 – 350 351 – 450 451>
Six-article-thesis 290< 291 – 410 411 – 530 531>
Seven-article-thesis 330< 331- 470 471 – 610 611>
Eight-article-thesis 370< 371- 530 531- 690 691>
  • Examination-mark of 342 was obtained from the General-References-Checklist: a qualitative examination-mark of “Exceeds standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “61% -70%” awarded. (See above Table 3).
  1. Reference-Types Checklist:

Table 4: Reference-Types Checklist:

Performance levels
Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Percentages obtained from Checklist reference types of an article-thesis       20%< 21% – 25% 26% -30% 30%>

 

  • Obtained a total average of 57 sources of the References-Types Checklist, places the article-thesis’s quality in this context in the qualitative examination mark of “Meets standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “50% -60%”. (See Addendum 4: Table 4.)
  1. Word-Counts Checklist:

Table 5: Word-Counts Checklist: 

                                                          Performance levels 
Types of article-thesis Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Three-article-thesis      29 000< 29 000 – 35 000 35 001 – 41 000 41 001>
Four-article-thesis    37 000< 37 000 – 45 000 45 001 – 53 000 53 001>
Five-article-thesis      45 000< 45 000 – 55 000 55 001- 65 000 65 000>
Six-article-thesis      53 000< 53 000 – 65 000 63 001 – 77 000 72 000>
Seven-article-thesis    61 000< 61 000 – 75 000 75 001 – 89 000 89 000>
Eight-article-thesis     69 000< 69 000 – 85 000 85 000 -101 000 101 000>
  • Examination-mark of 43 621 of word counts obtained for the Word-Counts Checklist reflects a qualitative examination mark of “Meets standard” and a quantitative examination mark of “50% -60%”. (See above Table 5.)
  1. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide: 53:109

Table 6: Hay-Uniqueness-Guide: 53:109

Uniqueness Performance Levels
Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49% and under

Meets
standard:
50%-60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard:
61%-70%:Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

1.  The candidate said something nobody has said before.         —          —          — 71
2.  The candidate carried out empirical work that hasn’t been done before.         —          —          65          —
3. The candidate made a synthesis that hasn’t been made before.         —          —          65         
4. The candidate tried out something that has been done before – but in a new situation.

 

 

        —          —          —         71
5. The candidate used already known material but with a new interpretation.         —          —           65          —
6. The candidate took a particular technique and applied it in a new area.         —          —           65          —
7. The candidate brought new evidence to bear on an old issue.         —          —          —         71
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)          —          —         260       213
B. Total count (Percentage)=473         —          —           —         —
C. Average examination count (Percentage)=68          —          —          68         —

 

  • Average examination mark of 68% awarded by the Hay-Uniqueness-Guide53 equal to

a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and a quantitative examination mark of  “61% to 70%”.  (See above Table 6.)

 

  1. NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51:94-96

 

Table 7: NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51:94-96

Criteria Performance levels
   Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49% and under

Meets
standard:
50%-60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard:
    61%-70%:Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

A. Topic/Title

1. Appropriate/well formulated

         —          —        65
B. Formulation of research issues / problems

2. Justification included

         —          —        65
C. Research goal / hypothesis

3. Stated, grounded and motivated

         —          —        — 71
D. Aims / objectives
4. Formulated          —          —        65
5. Focussed          —          —        65
E. Literature study
6. Recent / relevant work          —          —        65
7. Authoritative sources          —          —        65
8. Interpretation corrected          —          —        65
9. Critical engagement with material          —          —        65
F. Research design and methods
10. Logical progression from objectives          —          —        65         
11. Appropriate choice          —          —        —         71
12. Relevant and well-founded data sourcing techniques          —          —        —         71
13. Data relevant and interpreted accurately          —          —        —         71
14. Data thoroughly discussed          —          —        —         71
G. Summary and conclusions
15. Clear and logical          —          —        —         71
16. Substantiated          —          —        65          —
H. Recommendations
17. Substantiated          —          —        65          —
18. Of value          —          —        65         
19. Related to conclusions of study          —          —        71
I. Structure of dissertation/thesis
20. Logical          —          —        71
21. Coherent          —          —        65        —
22. Substantial line of development          —          —        65        —
J. Content

23. Length, range, chapters, knowledge of field, problem solving, depth, creativity, originality, responsibility for statements

         —          —           — 71
K. Scientific substance

24. Theoretical foundation, clarify concepts, independence, logical sequence, essential and non-essential, systematic, critical responsibility, quality of arguments, scientific interpretation and reporting

         —          —            — 71
L. /25.Language and style

 

 

 

         —          —            — 71

X

 

 

 

M. /26. Technical structure and care          —          —            — 71
N. Publishable

27. Meets requirements

         —          —            — 71
O. Contribution to knowledge

28. Doctoral study

         —          —            — 71
 Sub-counts (Percentages)          —          —         910 994
Total count (Percentage)=1,904          —          —           —           —
Final examination count (Percentage)=68          —          —           68
  • Average examination mark of 68% awarded by the NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51 equal to

a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and a quantitative examination mark of  “61% to 70%”.  (See above Table 7.)

  1. Final examination mark of four-article thesis:

Table 8: Final Examination mark:

Evaluation-tools

 

NJMH-transformer performance values
Inadequate: Under50%: average 49% Meets
standard:
50%-60%: average55%
Exceeds
standard:
61% -70%: average 65%
Exceptional:

71% and above: average 71%   

1. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide            —          —        65           —
2. SU-Alternative-Studies            —          —        65           —
3. General-Reference-Checklist            —         —         65           —
4.  Reference-Types-Checklist            —         55         —           —
5. Word-Counts-Checklist            —         55         —           —
6. Hay-uniqueness-Guide            —         —         65           —
7. NJMH-Performance-Rubric            —         —         65           —
A. Subtotal examination-marks,  calculated in percentages =

 

 

 

 

           —        110       325           —
B. Total  examination-mark (Percentage) = 435            —        110       325           —
C. Average examination count (Percentage) = 62

    65

          —         —        —           —
  • Final examination mark of 62% awarded by the seven evaluation tools: Equal to

a qualitative examination mark of “Exceeds standard”, and a quantitative examination mark of  “61% to 70%”.  (See above Table 8.)

3.4. Shortcut-examination model of the article-thesis and -dissertation

To extend my earlier reference to the Shortcut-examination model of the article-thesis, I would like to emphasise that this model is meant only to be used by the well-seasoned examiner of the article-thesis and -dissertation. In this context I also want to note that the model is especially applicable and usable to examine the Master’s Degree (single advanced research project or the course-work programme research project). This characteristic will be shortly discussed further in subsection 3.5. The position of the Master Dissertation.

Although only one of the evaluation tools of the Full-examination model — namely the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 (see earlier subsections: 3.2.1.3. Advanced-level evaluation tool) — will be used to evaluate the article-thesis in the Shortcut-examination model, it is still a prerequisite that the examiner, to sharpen and to refresh his/her knowhow on how he/she should approach the examination process and to make a fair judgement on the quality of the article-thesis and the skills of the candidate, familiarises him/her with the descriptions and guidelines of the Hay-Thesis-Assessor53 and that of the Lategan-Candidate-Assessor.54 These two assessment guides on what to expect from an article-thesis — consisting of a total of 26 questions – question the quality of every intention/finding/part of the article-thesis under examination and the skills of the candidate who has written it. (For a full description of the contents of the Hay-Thesis-Assessor53 and Lategan-Candidate-Assessor54 the reader is referred back to Tables 2 and 3 respectively that form part of subsection 3.1.3.: The obtaining and applying of data through the data-collection-evaluation-tools). Together with the above two assessment guides, is the Muller description 55:45 about the purpose and characteristics of the doctoral degree that the examiner must also be constantly consious of. (See the Muller description55 also in subsection 3.1.3. The obtaining and applying of data through the data-collection-evaluation-tools that was offered earlier.)

The use of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 in the Shortcut-examination-model as the only evaluation tool is not based on its single application together with the six other evaluation tools to the article-thesis as done in the Full-examination approach. (Also see 3.2.1.3.: Advanced-level-evaluation-tool and 3.2.1.4.: Compiling and calculation of the final examination-mark.) On the contrary, in the Shortcut-examination model the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 is applied individually to every chapter of the article-thesis, meaning the obtaining of an individual evaluation count for each chapter. Thus, if it is a four-article-thesis, meaning there are six chapters (including the Introduction, the four articles and the Synopsis), the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 is executed six times: each of the six parts (Chapters) must be evaluated one by one, starting with the Introduction and ending with the Synopsis. Only after obtaining each of the evaluation counts of the six parts and adding them up to offer the total count, may the average-evaluation count be calculated by dividing it through six (number of chapters). This total-average count of the total thesis may then be determined and the examination mark be obtained. In practice it means that six identical copies of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 – a copy for each chapter — must be completed.

The NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 identifies a total of 28 quality and performance classifications or types which are uniquely and exclusively intertwined with the contents of every article/chapters/parts that form the article-thesis. The 28 quality and performance classifications or types of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric, 51 reflected earlier in Table 19 of subsection 3.2.1.3. Advanced-level-evaluation-tool, are illustrated again underneath in Table 21 to enlighten the process of the inscribing, collecting and counting of each chapter’s data.

To activate the examination of each chapter/part of the four-article-thesis (six-chapter-thesis) in terms of the prescriptions of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric,51 the 28 assessments/counts obtained from its evaluation descriptions (See under Table 21), are inscribed into Table 21’s four columns (or marked with an X), allocating qualitative and quantitative performance values to each one. This inscribing is done in terms of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer51 (“Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50% -60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%”; “Exceptional: 71% and above”).

Table 21: NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51:94-96

Criteria Performance levels
Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49%

Meets
standard:
50% – 60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard: 61%-70%:
Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

A. Topic/Title

 1. Appropriate/well formulated

 
B. Formulation of research issues / problems

2. Justification included

C. Research goal / hypothesis/ 3. Stated, grounded and motivated  
D. Aims / objectives
4. Formulated
5. Focussed
E. Literature study
6. Recent / relevant work  
7. Authoritative sources  
8. Interpretation corrected  
9. Critical engagement with material  
F. Research design and methods
10. Logical progression from objectives  
11. Appropriate choice  
12. Relevant and well-founded data sourcing techniques  
13. Data relevant and interpreted accurately  
14. Data thoroughly discussed  
G. Summary and conclusions
15. Clear and logical
16. Substantiated
H. Recommendations
17. Substantiated  
18. Of value  
19. Related to conclusions of study  
I. Structure of dissertation/thesis
20. Logical  
21. Coherent  
22. Substantial line of development  
J. Content

23. Length, range, chapters, knowledge of field, problem solving, depth, creativity, originality, responsibility for statements

 
K. Scientific substance

 24. Theoretical foundation, clarify concepts, independence, logical sequence, essential and non-essential, systematic, critical responsibility, quality of arguments, scientific interpretation and reporting

 
L. / 25 Language and style

 

 

 

 

 

 

M. / 26 structure Technical  
N. Publishable

27. Meets requirements

 
O. Contribution to knowledge

28. Doctoral study

 
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)   
B. Total count (Percentage) =  
C. Average examination-count (Percentage) =  

 After the examiner makes his/her decisions on the quality of each of the Chapters/Parts in terms of the 28 performance-values evaluated through the NJMH-Performance-Rubric,51 and after doing the inscriptions of the evaluations of each of the six Chapters separately into six copies of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51:94-96 (see Table 21 above), the quantitative sub-counts (in percentages) of each of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer’s51 qualitative and quantitative performance values are calculated for each Chapter. [See Table 21: A. Sub-counts (Percentages)]. From this a total quantitative count (in percentage) is derived. [See Table 21: B. Total count (Percentage).]

The average examination mark for each of the six Chapters’ copies of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 is obtained by dividing the total quantitative count through 28. [See Table 21: C. Average-examination-count (in percentage).] These average-examination counts (in percentage) of each Chapter [See Table 21: C. Average-examination-count (Percentage)] are transferred to Table 22 underneath to calculate the final examination mark of the four-article-thesis under examination. ● Note: For adding up the 28 evaluation marks of each Chapter of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 as applicable to Tables 21 and 22, the quantitative percentage classification of “Under-50%” or “49% and lower” is used as a single quantity description to include all the evaluation marks of 49% and lower as 49% for counting purposes. The same single quantity description is done with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher as 71%. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50% -60%” the average of 55%  was used as a single quantity description for all the percentage counts between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by the use of the average of 65% as a single quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”.

The average examination mark of each of the six Chapters for the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 is offered in a quantity-quality-description in Table 22. [See above Table 21: C. Average-examination-count (percentage)]. These six average examination counts (percentages) must now be added up and divided thorough six to obtain the final examination mark for the article-thesis under examination. (See three stages: Table 22: A. Subtotal examination marks, calculated in percentages; B. Final examination mark, calculated in percentage; and C. Final examination mark, calculated in percentage.) This calculation process is illustrated underneath in Table 22.

The final examination mark awarded to the four-article-thesis under examination is presented in Table 22 by its indication: C. Final examination mark. This mark is reflected in a quantitative and a qualitative value, which can vary between: “Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets standard: 50%-60%”; “Exceeds standard: 61% -70%”; and “Exceptional: 71% and above”.

 Table 22: Final Examination-mark for NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51:94-96

Chapters/Parts

 

                 Performance values
Inadequate: Under 50%: Average 49% Meets
standard:
   50%-60%: Average55%
Exceeds
standard:
61% -70%: Average 65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average 71%   

1. Chapter One

 

                       
2. Chapter Two                          
3. Chapter Three

 

                         
4. Chapter Four                             
5. Chapter Five                         
6. Chapter Six                           
A. Subtotal examination-marks, calculated in percentages =

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             
B. Final examination-mark, calculated in percentage =

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             
C. Final examination-mark, calculated in percentage =

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             

3.5. The position of the Master Degree

In Articles One and Two, as well as this article the titles refer to thesis and dissertations although very little was written on the dissertation. About this so-called “missing link” in the writing, I will come back later here, but first something about what the dissertation is and its position in the examination of the article-thesis. In this context it is necessary to look at the various definitions and concepts of the dissertation.

As a brief introduction, the writing of Muller55 on the so-called exclusive “identity” of the Master’s degree may be cited: 55:45

The primary purposes of a Master’s Degree are to educate and train researchers who can contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level, or prepare graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment. A Master’s Degree must have a significant research component.

A Master’s Degree may be earned in either of two ways: (1) by completing a single advanced research project, culminating in the production and acceptance of a thesis or dissertation, or (2) by successfully completing a course work programme requiring a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual independence and a research project, culminating in the acceptance of a dissertation. In the latter case, a minimum of 60 credits at level 9 must be devoted to conducting and reporting research.

Master’s graduates must be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgments using data and information at their disposal and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level, and continue to advance their knowledge, understanding and skills.

Muller61further writes61:71: “The term ‘dissertation’ usually refers to a master’s level research [as] dissertation, while ‘thesis’ refers to the output written up for a doctorate.” He55:45 continues: “The research foundation skills are acquired at the master’s level and in a more contained study which allows for a contribution to be made  to the field of study, but within a less stringent environment. With the doctorate the research skills are honed at a more sophisticated level, the scope of work is larger and the notion of making contribution or even a partial contribution to the field of knowledge (a more common outcome at this level) is a more significant component of the deliberations towards the awarding of the degree (or not).”

Hereto Mouton62 postulates about the so-called “distinction” between the master and the doctorate as follows62:5:

The master’s degree is the first research degree; the doctoral degree is a degree of research specialisation. By doing the former, you show that you can conduct research and that you have mastered the craft of research or scholarship. A master’s degree signifies that you have successfully completed an independent piece of research. In awarding a master’s degree to you, the university recognises that you have met the minimum conditions of scholarship. The successful completion of a doctoral degree goes further. This is the degree in which you achieve depth in scholarship, and specialise in a certain area so that you are able to make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge. A doctorate signifies that you have produced new knowledge. You have produced beyond the level of reproducing and mastering existing knowledge (master’s) to the point where you have made a unique contribution to the scholarship in a particular domain.

On the presentation of the article that forms part of the article-thesis or -dissertation Lategan54:87 posits: “Articles are published in Afrikaans and English. The preferred length is between 3 500 – 5 000 words. All articles should be accompanied by a 100-word abstract in English.” Hereto Muller61 elaborates specifically on the length of the thesis or the dissertation as follows61:72: “Although there are often queries about length, there are no universally applicable guidelines in this regard. The length of your dissertation or thesis may be subject or departmental or even supervisor specific. As a general rule, a thesis will be in the region of 200+ pages (though longer theses are by no means uncommon). A full research dissertation can vary from 120 – 200 pages and the minor dissertation or project from 60 – 100 pages”.

The above various definitions, advice, guidelines and recommendations seem to be well-intertwined in an established and functioning academic research culture. But, looking at the date of these definitions, advice, guidelines and recommendations, it seems to come from the year 2008, twelve years before BAREE has overrun the South African academic and research culture and environment.  Also, the year 2008 represents a time-frame during which the article-dissertation and -thesis were rarities. Today there is a clear difference between the practice of academics and the practice of research: at present academic practice is still caught in the theoretical belief system of 2008, but the practice of research has deteriorated or has been scaled down as a direct result of BAREE.

Firstly, a study of recently published traditional theses at South African universities (there could only be found three article-theses) shows a dramatic down-grading in the prerequisites (mentioned above by Muller 55,61and Mouton62) which the doctorate must conform to. In contrast, a study of twenty recent traditional masters’ dissertations (including four course-work-masters) shows less down-grading and a quality very much in line with that of 2008. What is clear is that descriptions classifying the PhD as a high-level research instrument, namely that the doctorate’s research skills are of a highly sophisticated level, its scope of work being enormous and that it makes an immense contribution to knowledge, that it is a  degree through which the student specifically achieves scholarship, a degree showing evidence of extraordinary specialisation, etc. are largely false. Two of the three article-thesis manuscripts show that they are indeed nothing else than glorified course-work-master degrees. Indeed, many of the master degrees evaluated show that their standard was in the traditional domain of the doctoral degree as a degree of research specialisation: many master graduates show through their published dissertations that they can conduct advanced research and have mastered the craft of research or scholarship. Many show that they achieve in-depth scholarship and are making an enormous contribution of new information to the existing body of knowledge.

Many primarily negative factors are associated with BAREE role players in the down-grading of the quality and integrity of the dissertation in general and the article-dissertation specifically. A prominent element here is the use still of the criterion that the length of the thesis can be in the region of 200+ pages, a full-research-dissertation can vary from 120 – 200 pages and the minor-dissertation or the project between 60 – 100 pages:  these guidelines are nothing else than an organised effort to undermine the quality and integrity of the thesis and dissertation in an effort to get master and doctoral students graduated the easy way (especially in the category of article-dissertations and -theses). The hard fact is that all article-dissertations (as well as theses) should be of a certain (minimum) length to incorporate constructive research and to make scientific findings. It is well-known that the contents of a single page can be lengthened by manipulated typing to nearly two pages. There is only one way to evaluate the length of a dissertation and that is in two ways: the word count and the general references contained in it. Included here is the prerequisite that for the full-research article-dissertation the minimum number of articles should be two, while for the minor dissertation or project the minimum number should be one.

In an effort to offer an examination approach for the article-dissertation, I would like to refer back underneath to the two subsections Word-Counts Checklist and General-References Checklist of the Section 3.1.1.2.: Mid-level evaluation tools.

The prescribed maximum and minimum word counts (the so-called guided word counts) of the article/articles that is/are forming the article-dissertation, or the prescribed maximum and minimum word-counts of the article-dissertation itself, are again (as for the article-thesis) are again to be used as criteria, namely that the maximum and minimum word count of each of the articles that form the contents of the article-dissertation, should be between 12 000 and 8 000 words (with an average of 10 000 words for an article). Additionally hereto, are the word counts of each article’s Introduction (2 700 words), Synthesis (2 000 words) and Bridging (300 words), adding an extra 5 000 words to each article-thesis. This calculation approach means for example that the calculated total maximum and minimum guided (criteria) word counts are respectively for the one-article-dissertation 13 000 and 17 000 words with an average of 15 000 words and for the two-article-dissertation 21 000 and 29 000 with an average of 25 000 words. (See underneath Tables 23 and 24). See also subsection Word Counts of Section 3.1.1.2. Mid-level evaluation tools:  Tables 14, 15 and 16).

Table 23: Structuring of guided maximum/minimum word counts of one-article-dissertation:

Sections/Structure Minimum Maximum
Introduction 2 700 2 700
Chapter (One)  8 000 12 000
Synthesis 2 000 2 000
Bridging 300 300
Total 13 000 17 000

The preferred word count for the one-article-dissertation is 15 000 words, which is double the length suggested by Lategan.54 (See also subsection Word Counts of Section 3.1.1.2. Mid-level evaluation tools:  Tables 14, 15 and 16.)

Table 24: Structuring of guided maximum/minimum word-counts of two-article-dissertation:

Sections/Structure Minimum Maximum
Introduction 2 700 2 700
Chapters (Two)  16 000

(8 000 x 2)

24 000

(12 000 x 2)

Synthesis 2 000 2 000
Bridging 300 300
Total 21 000 29 000

The preferred word count for the two-article dissertation is 25 000 words, which is double the length suggested by Lategan.54 (See also subsection Word Counts of Section 3.1.1.2. Mid-level evaluation tools:  Tables 14, 15 and 16.)

In terms of the criteria of an average of 60 general references per journal article plus the reference counts of the Introduction and Synthesis of the dissertation of 25 references each (totalling an extra 50 general references for the dissertation as a whole), the total average guided (prescribed) general-reference counts are calculated as follows for the one-article-dissertation: 110 references; and for the two-article-dissertation 170 references. Negative and positive deviations of 30% from the above various average general reference counts, are also found. A negative deviation of 30% from these above average general reference counts reflects an average reference count as follows for the one-article-dissertation: 77 references; and for the two-article-dissertation 119 references. Hereto, a positive deviation of 30% from the above average general reference counts would make for an average reference count as follows for the one-article-dissertation: 143 references; and for the two-article-dissertation 221 references.

The above prescribed or guided general references are profiled in Table 25 underneath.

Table 25: Minimum, average and maximum guided general references:

Types of article-dissertation Minimum Average Maximum
One-article-dissertation 77 110 143
Two-article-dissertation 119 170 221

The preferred number of general references for the one-article-dissertation is 110, and that for the two-article-dissertation is 170. (See also subsection General References of Section 3.1.1.2. Mid-level evaluation tools:  Table 9.)

From the above it is clear that the whole research character of the article-dissertation is equal to the research character of the article-thesis: both must be treated equally in examination. This has also been my approach in this article: what is applicable to the article-thesis is also fully applicable to the article-dissertation. I have not offered a separate discussion each time for the article-dissertation. The only clear differentiation between the two entities is that for the full-research article-dissertation the minimum number of articles should be two, for the minor dissertation or project the minimum number of articles should be one, while for the article-thesis the minimum number of articles should not be less than four. The quality of the contents of each entity should be of the same academic and research integrity.

The one- and two-article-dissertations lend themselves very well, because of their condensed structuring and writing, to be examined by the Shortcut-examination model.

4. Conclusion

Shortcomings on the side of the student and supervisor undoubtedly impede the mass delivery of article-theses and -dissertations and the assurance of research quality and integrity in relation to it. However, this barrier stretches further into our article-thesis’s and -dissertation’s research culture and environment, specifically regarding its lack of a contingent of well-skilled and experienced examiners. My experience is that many of the examiners that examined traditional theses and dissertations believe they are equally equipped to examine the article-thesis and -dissertation. This is a myth. As this article shows, the examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation is a complicated process. It is not a place for sissy students, but also not a place for unscrupulous examiners. To appoint cowboy academics, self-styled examiners and pretender-examiners as examiners for the article-thesis and -dissertation, all saturated in the culture of the traditional research-model, was in the past and still is today a recipe for disaster. It did serious damage to the academic careers of innocent students and supervisors because they were essentially powerless to do anything to defend themselves against an autocratic academic culture steeped in past traditions and methods.

It seems that the traditional thesis and dissertation, with its equally traditional prerequisites, are still today just too difficult to obtain for some African students. Lategan63 wrote nearly two decades ago already on the then poor output of postgraduates in South Africa, the following63:2: “A concern however, is still the high drop-out rate of students resulting in the non-completion of studies. In addition, many students are taking too long to complete their studies (residency time of enrolment).” This results in a situation where universities are not only wasting time, money and skills that could be used for other outcomes, but are also losing yearly enormous amounts of money in subsidies.  In addition to this corrupted and failed academic setup, Muller64 mentioned64:113: “The old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day applies equally to postgraduate study. In the South African higher education system, most doctorates are completed in 5-7 years and most master’s degrees in 3-5 years.”

The above academic and research shortcomings since 1994 often seem to have been sidestepped by the controversial argument that the traditional thesis and dissertation failed to bring research to the public domain. In addition it is advanced that it has failed to bring additional productivity units (PUs) for the university because further publications coming from the traditional thesis and dissertation are lacking. The truth is far from this generalisation and misrepresentation of the current reality. The hard fact, bluntly and blindly ignored by these proponents of the article-thesis and -dissertation, and a fact that they as academics and researchers should  know well, is that the days of putting a traditional thesis or dissertation on the library shelves to gather dust there as they have tried to portray in the literature, lie far in the past: the permanent digitization of the traditional thesis and dissertation make them as much accessible as the so-called “easily” accessible article-thesis and -dissertation. Possibly, the traditional theses and dissertations are many times more intensively offered and organised and available as the article-theses and -dissertations. There is prominent evidence that the contents of the traditional thesis and dissertation, after their awarding/publications, are often published in accredited journals and books. To argue further that the model of the three-article-thesis that is offered here, is always of the same integrity and quality as that of the Scandinavian countries from which the model originated, is many times doubted when studying some of the locally published three-article-theses.11, 51-55,61-65

Undoubtedly the present-day assessment chaos around the article-thesis and -dissertation offers the opportunity for the delinquent student and his/her equally delinquent supervisor, with the conspiracy of unscrupulous and unskilled examiners, to obtain the Golden PhD through a substandard three-article-thesis of 11 000 to 16 000 words, making him /her a new “expert” and a person of “papers”. Too many times in my research have I heard the same answer when asking a supervisor and his/her colleagues at a Postgraduate School on the way they have chosen the examiners of a thesis and dissertation (both the traditional and article-versions): “We choose those we can trust, who are on our side in the examination and who understand our academic and research culture and environment/” The question is thus prominent: Is the examiner of the article-thesis and -dissertation (as well as that of the traditional thesis and -dissertation) approaching the assessment process with a sound frame of mind and a personal desire to avoid bias? Within the South African context where corruption and abuse of power is rife, is honesty a characteristic of the examiner, and can the examiner avoid favouritism and bribery? The intention with the use of my examination model is to eliminate or at least to limit the impact of such negative elements on the examination outcome of the article-thesis and -dissertation. It is not the article-thesis or the article-dissertation that find themselves in a grey area of research, on the contrary. The article-thesis and -dissertation’s scientific benefits and integrity are not in doubt; what is censurable and questionable, is the misuse of the substandard three-article-thesis and the misuse of substandard examiners to assess the article-thesis and -dissertation by some proponents of the model.51-55,61-65

My guideline and approach to the examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation is only a basic model for its examining. It does not offer a new system, but represents merely the re-use and recycling of old data collection and evaluation tools successfully utilised in the past. In reality my effort is just a temporary interference and intervention in a deficient examination system. It is far from a final say and can surely be improved upon, but at this stage it is at least a start, seeing that universities in general have so far failed to address the matter with seriousness. It is time to do something on the issue as Lategan52 and his nine academic colleagues tried to do twelve years ago with their pioneer book: “An introduction to postgraduate supervision.” Their immediate aim was, as mine is now also with this article, to put a workable examination structure for the article-thesis and -dissertation on the table: a dynamic, concrete and original guideline, stripped from the foolish internalised Middle-Ages traditions, customs and habits which have so often been a refuge of the unscrupulous examiner. My examination approach can still dolefully fail if the character of the examiner is clouded by subjectivity, bias, dishonesty, favouritism, bribery and a lack of knowhow.

In the next and last article of the series of seven articles, entitled: “The present-day incompleteness of the Circle of Research Completeness”, will the research environment and culture wherein the article-thesis and -dissertation are fighting for a humble place, will further be placed in perspective and analysed. The intention with the coming article is not only to provide perspective as to the importance of the article-thesis and -dissertation, but to illuminate the role of other research entities in the greater research environment and what should be done to empower each of them to make South Africa a great research country.

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How to examine the article-format master and doctorate (5): Part 1

Title: How to examine the article-format master and doctorate (5): Part 1

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author/Researcher: Higher Education, Healthcare, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PUCHE), DPhil (PUCHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format, doctorate, examine, guideline, masters

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 4: 3

1. Background

The initial research of the previous two intertwined articles (Numbers 3 and 4) of the series of seven articles: “How to write and supervise the article-format masters and-doctorate: Part 1”and “How to write and supervise the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 2”,  showed that there did not exist a comprehensive guideline on how to write the article-thesis and -dissertation.1-25 A “streamlined” guideline: “How to write and supervise the article-format masters and -doctorate”, could assist the aspirant and novice student on how to  start his/her research inside a clear framework, compiling  data, and to finally proceed with  writing the article-format dissertation or thesis, was structured according to the guidelines of fourteen universities and institutions of learning that describe how to write and supervise the article-thesis and dissertation.1-25 This has further led in Article Two to two other focussed research-exercises: “How to write a research proposal and “How to write a journal article”, that stand in close association with the main guideline.1-50

In Article Two a lacuna was identified regarding the absence of a comprehensive and streamlined guideline on how to perform the examination of the article-thesis and dissertation. The lack of a trustworthy guideline on how to examine the article-format masters and doctorate is a serious problem that further complicates the introduction and establishment of the article-dissertation and thesis.1-34

Although there is some guidance offered by many universities on the examination of the traditional thesis and dissertation to the aspirant and novice examiner, it is clear that much of the examination is done in terms of the traditions and customs coming from the past in which, as said, the traditional thesis occupied a central position. In most of these cases the examination process and its complicated conclusions and decisions were left to the examiner’s sole discretion, experience, skills and abilities (and many times extreme empowerment), enabling him to decide on what was acceptable/unacceptable, good/bad, standard/substandard, etc., as to the contents of a thesis or dissertation. In addition hereto stood the examiner’s sole power to recommend its acceptance and  awarding or not, and to independently make a final-examination call of a pass or a fail. Many of these final-examination outcomes were controversial, because examiners’ inabilities, inexperience, incapacity and subjectivity, as well as the deficient basis of examination in the traditional thesis model, led to unjustified failures and the need to have many so-called “failed” theses re-examined by arbiter examiners. Such an unjustified failure negatively stigmatised the abilities of the candidate as well as the supervisor; even if the arbiter examiner later on dishonoured the first examiner’s poor/faulty mark with a pass (which seems to be the outcome in many cases where there is a dispute).

The lack of a uniformed, comprehensive guideline subscribed to by all universities on how the article-thesis and dissertation must be written, provided the motivation for this article to develop a more uniform guideline on how the article-thesis should be examined. The dilemma around its examination is immense, essentially because it lacks the examination history and traditions of the traditional thesis and a contingent of well-experienced, able and trained examiners to ensure examination integrity. Very few universities make it their focus to train and educate their academics specifically on the examination of the article-thesis. (Indeed, very few universities, as pointed out earlier in the previous articles in the series, make constructive efforts to train and educate their staff in-depth and comprehensively on how to write the research proposal, the journal article or the article-thesis, thus forgetting about the training of their staff to examine it.) The final outcome is mostly the allocation of the article-thesis to unable examiners who see themselves fit or are seen by their universities to be fit, to examine unquestioned article-theses. The main aim of this article is to address and rectify the matter through the development of a trustworthy guideline for examining the article-thesis and -dissertation in a rapid and uncomplicated fashion.

  • Example of a substandard examination of the article-thesis

The above unwise and inappropriate method of the selecting of examiners, specifically for the article-thesis, has often led to chaotic results characterised by unjustified failures. A good example detected by my research of such a chaotic result and where an unjustified failure was subsequently overturned for a PhD, was the appointment (on his/her request) of a dean to examine a doctoral student’s thesis in his/her own faculty. This is clearly an example of unethical, even delinquent, behaviour that should have cancelled the examination status of the specific dean and should indeed have led to punitive actions against him/her. In this context it must be noted: 1) The dean should, as head of his/her faculty, stay un-associated and objective regarding academic matters and should only get involved to act as arbiter on conflicting matters and not ever get directly involved in the examination or supervision of students in his/her faculty.  2) From information received directly from staff members, the dean was in a serious personal conflict with both the supervisor and the student of the failed PhD before his/her self-requested and imposed examination of the thesis; this reflected a possible revenge motive and extreme subjectivity in the dean’s examination behaviour. Further negativities emerged: 3) the dean’s academic and research record showed he/she had only previously worked in academic and school administration, thereby lacking any academic experience on all levels before his/her appointment as dean; 4) the dean had never acted as a supervisor or examiner for a traditional thesis or dissertation, neither for an article-thesis nor dissertation before; 5) he/she had never published an accredited article. 6) An analysis of the dean’s report on the student’s thesis reflected extreme incompetence and a lack of basic knowhow on the examination of an article-format thesis: it lacked sound arguments to support his failed mark, reflected an attack on the construction and contents of the thesis and his/her inappropriate use of the traditional-thesis examination approach to evaluate the article-thesis to make up for his lack of knowhow. 7) The two other examiners (external) of the article-thesis were both  well-experienced and -trained in the supervision and examination of traditional as well as article-theses and dissertations and had sound records of authorship for accredited journals: they both passed the student with a mark of cum laude and congratulated him/her with the presentation of the first article-thesis in the faculty. 8) It  further seemed, around the already serious academic and research delinquency committed by the dean, that the head of the campus prolonged the arbiter’s re-examination of the thesis for months in seemingly an effort to safeguard the dean from criticism and punitive action, and only after the direct intervention of the principal of the university who demanded an immediate re-examination, was an arbiter appointed, who passed the student with flying colours and dishonoured the dean’s mark. But serious damage was done to the academic and research integrity of the student as well as the supervisor who was a seasoned academic with a track record of accredited articles, the supervision and examination of theses and dissertations, including article-theses.

From the above it follows that the examination process of the article-thesis and dissertation demands absolute academic competence, experience and academic wisdom, free from an examiner’s academic revenge, subjectivity and delinquency. It requires an objective approach and trustworthy evaluation of the  data collected, including a guarantee of the ongoing strength and soundness of the examination process with respect to neutrality, consistency and applicability.

1.1. Introduction

To make the article-thesis and -dissertation acceptable as an effective, trustworthy  and respected research tool — one that will benefit our total research environment and will increase dramatically the research output of universities and contribute to extra revenue for universities through the publication of accredited articles and most of all lead to the avoidance of the negativity and falsity associated with a troubled research entity which spells mostly failure for the article-thesis student — it is an absolute prerequisite that we implement an entirely honourable, justified and correct examination model for the article-thesis; one totally separate and distinguishable from the classical one for the traditional theses.

The hard fact so far is that the proponents of the article thesis themselves have often failed the test of promoting its excellence. A prominent feature of such failure  has been the lack of developing proper and unique research tools for it, such as the examination guide to test the integrity of the article-thesis. A co-culprit to this research delinquency is the passivity of universities to get dynamically involved with the article thesis’ various components, such as the offering of learning and education programs to staff and students on how to write the article-thesis, and now, as indicated in this article, specifically on how to examine it. Indeed, a large section of young and older academics and researchers are awaiting such a step and are hungry for research challenges such as the writing, supervision and examination of the article-thesis, but these academics and researchers are looking urgently for assistance from their universities to develop their skills and knowhow to overcome their research inexperience and insecurity. As a short-term remedy for their shortcomings they can easily be helped by their universities through offering them yearly workshops on how to perform the examination of the article-format dissertation and thesis.

  • A dynamic and far-sighted university of the 1980s

My own experience of how adaptable, dynamic and far-sighted a university can be dates back to the early 1980s when a university where I at times acted as an examiner, started to slowly introduce the article-thesis and -dissertation, offering me on the side a short informative guide on the writing and examination of it. Shortly after this I was asked by them to examine a mini-dissertation (counting 50% of the value of the professional masters: essentially, an article-dissertation with one manuscript). But of great importance in this examination invitation was that together with the dissertation I received from the university also a clear guideline on how the dissertation should be examined in terms of their prescriptions and that there should be no deviation from it. (If deviated, my examination report would summerly be nullified).  This guideline steered the examination constructively from the start until the last sentence by specifically moving away from the autocratic evaluation of the traditional thesis, but still giving me more than enough freedom to do an independent evaluation. What made it unique, was that this mini-dissertation: 1) consisted of one article/manuscript of 30 pages totally in its original article-presentation-form; 2) that the article/manuscript had not already been presented to the intended journal for publication but approved by the candidate’s supervisor and the Academic Committee of the responsible Faculty of the university. In line with my training through the earlier stipulations, and with the clear guidance of the university and the journal’s rules, I could successfully examine the mini-dissertation (as said, without being manipulated) and awarded it 80%. (My later enquiry with his supervisor confirmed that the two other examiners’ marks were above 80%.) Note: this university is still a leader today in the delivery of article-theses and -dissertations based on excellent training guidelines.

The essence of the story here is that if examiners constantly receive good guidance on the process of examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation and become skilled examiners, justified examination conclusions and recommendations may be trusted to be made on the quality of article-theses thar are far removed from the contaminated report of the above-mentioned incompetent dean (See above subsection: Example of a substandard and corrupted examination of the article-thesis).

1.2. Aims of article (Continued in Article 6)

The purpose of this article, titled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 1”, as part one of two intertwined articles, is to provide a framework with the primary aim to assist examiners in their assessment of the article-thesis and dissertation. This Part (1) will describe the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation. The next intertwined article, entitled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 2”, will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the examiner as to the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation. In Part 2 will be discussed the following three sections: 3.3.: A hypothetical case study (this includes an example of the writing of the examination report); 3.4.: The shortcut-examination model for the article-thesis and -dissertation; and 3.5. : The Master’s degree.

This article, entitled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 1”, is the fifth part of a series of seven articles under the project headed: “How to write, supervise and examine the article-format master and doctorate: A South African perspective.”

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues in Article 6)

The information applies to aspirant students, supervisors and examiners for article-masters and -doctorates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues in Article 6)

The research was done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case regarding the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By this method the focus is on being informative as to the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources consulted cover the period 2006 to 2021.1-47

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues in Article 6)

3.1. The examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation

3.1. Perspective

In my examination of the article-thesis I used two approaches: the one, the Full approach or Full-examination model of the article-thesis, comprehensively evaluates the quality of the thesis through the use of seven evaluation tools. This approach is described in-depth in this article. It is meant for the aspirant and less-experienced examiner. The second one, the Shortcut approach or the Shortcut-examination model of the article-thesis, only uses one evaluation tool and is meant for use by the well-experienced examiner. It will only briefly be discussed at the closing of the article. (I find the Shortcut approach very applicable for the examination of the article-dissertation: See later subsections 3.4. Shortcut-examination model of the article-thesis and 3.5. The position of the Master Dissertation).

3.1.1. Repeating of data from Articles One and Two

Some of the data and illustrations offered in this article, were already presented in the articles 1 to 4 of the Series. This representing of data was unavoidable but was needed to make this article’s information understandable and easily readable. There will be referred to this data, without quoting it and with the use of descriptions. The reader must refer back him/herself to Articles One and Two for data and guidance where needed and applicable.

3.1.2. Calculating of performance values and examination marks

The outcome passed versus failed occupies a central and precise position in the examination of the article-thesis, accompanied by the use of a less rigid and broader qualitative classification of results. This approach gives a comprehensive overview of the thesis’s quality as an academic and research document, and makes the reaching of the final examination mark much easier. Such a transformed qualitative examination mark ensures an objective and trustworthy evaluation of the  data collected, and guarantees the ongoing strength and soundness of the examination process with respect to neutrality, consistency and applicability. However, the fact that the examination marks of the theses are offered mostly in the qualitative form, makes the statistical deriving of  averages of examination marks and the comparison of the examination marks of different evaluation tools very difficult, problematic and many times vague. To overcome this negativity in this research, it was decided also to transform the qualitative values of findings of the evaluation tools to match quantitative values, giving qualitative descriptions such as “Inadequate, Exceptional, etc.,” corresponding  to quantitative percentage values like “49% and under, 50%-60%, etc.”51-53

For the evaluation and description of the data obtained by the seven evaluation tools used in this research, the NJMH-Transformer51:96 was used as a combined qualitative/quantitative descriptive measurement tool, compiled to transform data. (See under Table 1: NJMH-Transformer). ● The NJMH-Transformer is derived from the Assessment of Postgraduate Work Rubric developed by professors H. Friedrich-Nel, L de Jager, J MacKinnon and D Hay. to classify and to award qualitative performance levels to the results obtained by the evaluation tools from the article-thesis under examination. The designation NJMH is the abbreviations for Nel, Jager, Mackinnon and Hay).51:96

Through the NJMH-transformer51 the evaluation counts obtained through each of the evaluation tools are transformed to uniform performance levels offered in the four combined qualitative and quantitative descriptions: 1. Inadequate: Under 50%; 2. Meets the standard; 50% -60%; 3. Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%; and 4. Exceptional: 71% and above. (See Table 1 underneath for a description).

The above device allows for the making of comparisons between the findings of the evaluation tools and to provide a final examination mark at the end.

To be able to make a direct comparison and adding up the examination marks of the different evaluation tools in the examination of an article-thesis, a quantity evaluation of the data is done in which the NJMH-Transformer’s51above four quantitative performance percentages, namely “Under-50%, 50% -60%, 61% -70% and 71% and above”, are exclusively used. For  adding up the seven examination marks of the seven evaluation tools, the quantitative percentage classification of “Under-50% or 49% and lower” is used as a single quantity description to include all examination marks of 49% and lower as 49% for counting purposes. The same single quantity description is performed with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher as 71% for counting purposes. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50% -60%” the average of 55%  was used as a single quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by using the average of 65% as a single quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”.

The above calculation approach to the transformed quantitative and qualitative performance values obtained from each of the seven evaluation tools used will be applied throughout the research. The description of the examination values, percentages and descriptions regarding the four quantitative and qualitative performance levels of the NJMH-Transformer51 is reflected underneath in Table 1.

Table 1: NJMH-Transformer:51:96

—————————————

  1. Inadequate: Under 50%. Evaluation description: Simple and obvious connections are made, but the significance is not grasped.
  2. Meets the standard: 50%-60%. Evaluation description: A number of connections are made; metacognitions and the holistic significance are missed.
  3. Exceeds the standard: 61%-70%. Evaluation description: Student appreciates the significance of the parts in relation to the whole.
  4. Exceptional: 71% and above. Evaluation description: Student makes connections within the given subject area, beyond it and is able to generalise and transfer the principles and ideas underlying the specific instance.

3.1.3. The obtaining and applying of data through the data-collection evaluation tools

Collecting the data of the article-thesis,  in order to execute its examination process, is performed in a sequence of steps, in whcih the use of seven data-collecting evaluation tools play a central role.

Firstly, to sharpen and to refresh the knowhow of the examiner on how he/she should approach the examination process and to be able to make a fair judgement as to the quality of the article-thesis and the skills of the candidate, it is a priority that the examiner familiarise him/herself with the descriptions and guidelines of the Hay-Thesis-Assessor53:105-106and that of the Lategan-Candidate-Assessor.54:85-86 (These two assessments, consisting of a total of 26 questions, probe the quality of every intention/finding/part of the thesis under examination and the skills of the candidate who had written it and should be applied together with each of the seven evaluation tools used.) The contents of the Hay-Thesis-Assessor53 (nine questions) and Lategan-Candidate-Assessor54 (17 questions) are profiled  in Tables 2 and 3 respectively underneath.

Table 2: Hay-Thesis-Assessor:53:105-106     

————————————–

  1. Does the thesis comprise a coherent investigation of the chosen topic?
  2. Does the thesis deal with a topic of sufficient range and depth to meet the requirements of the degree?
  3. Does the thesis make an original contribution to knowledge in its field and does it contain material suitable for publication in an appropriate academic journal?
  4. Does the thesis meet internationally recognised standards for the conduct and presentation of research in the field?
  5. Does the thesis demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the literature relevant to its subject and general field, as well as the candidate’s ability to exercise critical and analytical judgement of that literature?
  6. Does the thesis display mastery of appropriate methodology and/or theoretical material?
  7. Is it clearly, accurately and cogently written and suitably documented?
  8. Does the thesis indicate clearly which work has actually been performed by the candidate and which results have been obtained and analysed by any other person?
  9. Is there an appropriate balance between the different parts of the thesis – in particular, is the original contribution to knowledge clearly distinguishable from the introductory material and the survey of literature?

Table 3: Lategan-Candidate-Assessor:54:85-86 

————————————————

  1. Does the candidate have a research problem?
  2. Does the candidate have a hypothesis formulated on the basis of the research problem and preliminary study?
  3. Does the candidate have an identified research paradigm?
  4. Has the candidate used qualitative research techniques?
  5. Has the candidate used quantitative research techniques?
  6. Has the candidate integrated the literature studies and results of the qualitative and quantitative research into a meaningful unit?
  7. Has the candidate conceptualised all leading concepts?
  8. Has the candidate answered the research problem?
  9. Has the candidate argued the research point?
  10. Has the candidate provided sufficient evidence for the arguments?
  11. Has the candidate provided sufficient logical reasoning for the arguments?
  12. Has the candidate made statements without arguments and evidence?
  13. Does the candidate validate arguments?
  14. Does the candidate counteract, through the arguments and evidence, views that might differ from his/her own?
  15. Has the candidate reflected on the work of the latest authorities on the topic?
  16. Has the candidate added new knowledge to a particular topic?
  17. Does the candidate provide sufficient evidence that the literature study and research techniques have been mastered?
  18. Does the candidate contribute to the existing debate on the research topic?
  19. Has the candidate addressed all the ethical issues associated with the execution of the research project?

Enclosed with the above guidance is Muller’s description concerning the purpose and characteristics of the doctoral degree that the examiner should also have branded permanently on his mind. It reads:55:45

A doctoral degree requires a candidate to undertake research at the most advanced academic levels culminating in the submission, assessment and acceptance of a thesis. Course work may be required as preparation or value addition to the research, but it does not contribute to the credit value of the qualification. The defining characteristics of this qualification is that the candidate is required to demonstrate high-level research capability and make a significant and original academic contribution at the frontiers of a discipline or field. The work must be of a quality to satisfy peer review and merit publication. The degree may be earned through pure discipline-based or multidisciplinary research or applied research. The degree requires a minimum of two years’ full-time study, usually after completing a Master’s Degree. A graduate must be able to supervise and evaluate the research of others in the area of specialisation concerned.

The next step in the examination process is the reading of the article-thesis twice by the examiner to assure him/her about the subject researched, the study’s primary and secondary objects, the compiled contents, the references, the structuring of the document, etc. Only after such reading, may the process of examination begin, in steps, by consecutively applying the various selected data-collection evaluation tools.

The examination process is started by applying the three frontline-evaluation tools to the contents of the article-thesis. Here the aim is to decide if the thesis under examination is truly an article-thesis. Nothing else outside this mandate should be read and interpreted from the three evaluation tools may contaminate the findings of each of the other subsequent evaluation tools. This evaluation is followed up by the application of the mid-level tools and finally by applying the advanced evaluation tool.

The data generated by each of these evaluation tools will be incorporated and intertwined at the end of the examination process, to make a final recommendation on the article-thesis as either pass or fail. A uniform description of the final mark will be offered in terms of one of the four qualitative and qualitative performance descriptions:” Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50% -60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%”; and “Exceptional: 71% and above”. (See Table1: NJMH-Transformer51 above).

3.2. Structuring and executing of the examination process

The examination process is done in two steps:

  1. Description of the data-collecting evaluation tools; and
  2. Description of the execution of the examination process of an article-thesis, which includes an example of the writing of its examination report .

3.2.1. Description of the data-collecting evaluation tools

Referring back to this article’s main intention: the aim is to put in place a guide to examine in an elementary and applicable way, effectively, fast and objectively an article-thesis or dissertation, it must be acknowledged that similar approaches in the form of advice and guidelines have been offered over the years to improve our system of  examination of theses and dissertations, but exclusively with the focus on the examination of the traditional thesis.45-47

A prominent work, guiding the examination of the traditional thesis, was the book entitled: “An Introduction to Postgraduate Supervision”, by Professor LOK Lategan (editor)52 and nine senior academics. This book, published in 2008, is a pioneer work on how to do the examination of the traditional thesis and dissertation and still stands strong today in the examination process of theses. Much of this article’s data as well as some of the data-collecting evaluation tools used in this research, were adapted, derived and developed from the Lategan work.52

Seven data-collection evaluation tools were compiled, designed and developed to examine the article-thesis. These tools are classed in three basic groups in terms of their data-collection and valuation abilities. These three groups, including the seven data-collection-evaluation tools and the two guiding tools, are listed here:

  1. Frontline evaluation tools

1.1. Richard-guideline for Comparing the Traditional and Article-format theses. (Short-named: Richard-Guide).10:1

1.2. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide.10:1

1.3. SU-Alternative Dissertation Structure for Individual Studies. (Short-named: SU-Alternative-Studies).56:10

1.4. SU-combined-article-chapter-thesis-guide; used as guiding tool. (Short-named: SU-Combined-Thesis).56:6

  1. Mid-level evaluation-tools

2.1. Numbering of General references of a Thesis Checklist. (Short-named: General-References Checklist).

2.2. Numbering  of Reference-types of a Thesis Checklist. (Short-named: Reference-Types Checklist).

2.3. Maximum/Minimum Word-counts Checklist. (Short-named: Word-Counts-Checklist).

2.4. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide.53:105

  1. Advanced-level evaluation tool

3.1. NJMH-28-Performance-Rubric. (Short-named: NJMH-Performance-Rubric).51:94-96

3.2.1.1. Frontline evaluation tools

The first question to ask when examining any thesis os: Is it an article-thesis or is it a traditional thesis? In this context it must be emphasised that the examination processes of the two types of theses differ significantly, while the mixing of the two theses in the research practice is making the individual examination process complicated. This setting forces to the foreground a clear-cut approach on what an article-thesis is and what a traditional thesis is, and thus how the two entities should each be examined.

To identify if an article is specifically from the article-thesis group, three basic frontline valuation tools were used in this research. The tools specifically reflect the differences between the article-thesis and the traditional thesis, such as the prescribed construction and contents unique to the article-thesis, and serve as a basic evaluation model for the article-thesis from which an article-thesis under examination should not present dramatic deviations.

The immediate functions of these three frontline-evaluation tools are to determine if the article-thesis under examination fulfils the requirements of an article-thesis while each offers  examination marks for the thesis. The three evaluation tools further serve as instruments to determine if the planned examination of the thesis may continue, and/or if there are serious shortcomings and/or mistakes that may hinder and even block the examination process.

The three frontline-evaluation tools used, are:

  1. Richard-Guide.10
  2. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide.10
  3. SU-Alternative-Studies.56

Hereto the fourth frontline tool, the SU-combined-Thesis, 56 serves as a guiding and informative tool, without doing any direct examination.

  1. Richard-Guide10:1

The contents of the Richard-Guide10 are structured around ten classifications of which three seem to be  unique to the article-thesis and seven seem to be unique to the traditional thesis. (The comparison using the Richard-Guide10 of the traditional thesis with the article-thesis is reflected underneath in Figure 1.) The three unique classifications of the Richard-Guide10 that describe the article-thesis’s structure, are: 1. Introduction to the Overall Topic, 2. Three separate, publishable papers of normal journal article length related to the overall theme and 3. Appendices.

Figure 1: Richard-guideline for comparing the Traditional and Article-format theses: 10:1

STANDARD THREE PAPERS
1 Introduction and Outline of the Problem Short overview, descriptions fully in three papers: see also 4-7
2 Introduction to the Overall Topic Include the logical link between the three papers
3 Conceptual or Theoretical Framework
4 Literature Review Included in three papers
5 Methodology Included in three papers
6 Results (Research Findings) Included in three papers
7 Three separate, publishable papers of normal journal article length related to the overall theme

• First Paper

• Second Paper

• Third Paper

8 Summary, Interpretations, Conclusions, Recommendations for Policy and/or Further Research Concluding scholarly discussion of the implications of the integrated findings
9 Resources  Included in three papers
10 Appendices Optional; where applicable: on overall thesis Optional ; where applicable: mostly limited to papers only

Although the ten classifications go some way in distinguishing between either an article thesis or a traditional thesis, in their present descriptions they lack a comprehensive evaluation capacity. This is basically because the article-thesis’s structure and contents are much more comprehensive and unique than the classifications of the  Richard-Guide reflect, and because the intertwining of the article-thesis and the traditional thesis goes far deeper than what the Richard-Guide’s comparison of the traditional thesis and article-format thesis apparently reflects. An in-depth analysis of the ten classifications of the Richard-Guide reflects much more the presence of ten characteristics which are unique to the article-thesis and which make it clearly distinguishable from the traditional thesis. These ten characteristics are compiled into an evaluation tool (the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide) which may determine if a thesis under examination is truly an article thesis and if its contents fulfil the standards of an article thesis.  These ten characteristics are reflected and described underneath in Table 4.

Table 4: Richard-Uniqueness-Guide:10:1

——————————————

  1. A short description and a full overview as an introduction and as an outline of the problem in each of the articles of the article-thesis are offered.
  2. An introduction to the overall topic and the existence of a logical link between the articles are offered.
  3. The article-thesis offers a conceptual or theoretical framework.
  4. There are literature reviews included in all the articles.
  5. A specific methodology is followed in each of the articles.
  6. The results are based on research findings in every article.
  7. The various articles of the article-thesis stand out as clear research entities, are of normal journal-article length and are related to the overall theme of the research.
  8. The Summary, Interpretations, Conclusions, Recommendations for Policy and/or Further Research fulfils the basic requirements prescribed for an article-thesis.
  9. The resources included in the various articles are comprehensive and supportive of each other as well as of the total study.
  10. There are applicable Appendices included with each of the articles.

The ten assessments/counts obtained from the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide’s10 evaluation descriptions (See Table 4 above), are inscribed into the four columns of Table 5 (or marked with an X), allocating qualitative and quantitative performance values to each one. This inscription is done in terms of the four classifications of the NJMH-transformer51 (Inadequate: Under 50%; Meets the standard: 50% -60%; Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%; Exceptional: 71% and above).

Table 5:  Richard-Uniqueness-Guide:10:1

Performance Levels
Uniqueness Inadequate:  49% and under: Average=49% Meets the standard:

50% – 60%:

Average=55%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%:

Average= 65%

Exceptional:

71% and Above:

Average=71%

1. A short description and a full overview as an introduction and as an outline of the problem in each of the articles of the article-thesis are offered.           
2. An introduction to the overall topic and the existence of a logical link between the articles are offered.        
3. The article-thesis offers a conceptual or theoretical framework.          
4. There are literature reviews included in all the articles.          
5. A specific methodology is followed in each of the articles.        
6. The results are based on research findings in every article.         
7. The various articles of the article-thesis stand out as clear research entities; are of normal journal-article length and are related to the overall theme of the research.        
8. The Summary, Interpretations, Conclusions, Recommendations for Policy and/or Further Research fulfil the basic requirements prescribed for an article-thesis.        
9. The resources included in the various articles are comprehensive and supportive of each other as well as of the total study.        
10. There are applicable Appendices included with each of the articles.        
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)        
B. Total count (Percentage) =

 

       
C. Average Examination mark (Percentage) =        

 After completing the inscriptions of the evaluation in Table 5, the sub-counts (in percentages) (See A: Table 5) of each of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer’s51 qualitative and quantitative performance values, are calculated, from which a total count (in percentage) (See B: Table 5) is derived. The average examination mark is obtained by dividing the total count through 10 (See C: Table 5).  ● Note: For adding up the ten evaluation marks of the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10, the quantitative percentage-classification of “Under-50% or 49% and lower” is used as a single quantity description to include all the evaluation marks of 49% and lower than 49% for counting purposes. The same single quantity description is done with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher than 71%. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50%-60%” the average of 55% was used as a single quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classing of “61% to 70%” by the using the average of 65% as a single quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”. The average examination-mark (See C: Table 5) for the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 is offered in a single quantity-quality-description.

An examination count of Inadequate or a percentage of under 50% for the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 means in terms of the NJMH-Transformer51 a performance value in the class of disqualification of the article-thesis under examination. (See Table 5 above.) To obtain clearance on the thesis status after such a negative outcome, the thesis needs to be evaluated further by the evaluation tool SU-Alternative-Studies.56 (See in this context under Table 6 regarding the prescribed structure and contents of the article-thesis to which the article-thesis under examination must also adhere.)

  • Note: Notwithstanding the presence of a disqualification or a qualification awarded by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide,10 the examination mark obtained from it forms part of the calculation of the final examination mark of the article-thesis by the seven evaluation tools.
  1. SU-Alternative-Studies56:10

If a disqualification (Inadequate: 49% and under) arrives from the above evaluation of the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10:1 and of the NJMH-Transformer,51:96 such a negative finding needs to be verified by the examiner to ensure that the thesis is neither unjustifiably promoted nor penalised. To determine a clear differentiation and to decide between a clear classification of  acceptance/unacceptance/rejection of the thesis, the SU-Alternative-Studies 56 is used as the second evaluation tool. This evaluation tool is well-focused on the quality of a thesis, and provides an excellent differentiation between the two types of theses.

To guide the examiner on the process of the examining of the article-thesis as based on the guiding structure (elements) of the SU-Alternative-Studies, 56 it is reproduced here in Table 6.

Table 6. SU-Alternative-Studies: 56:10

—————————————–

  1. Introduction
  • Background Information
  • Purpose of Study, Research Objectives
  • Significance and motivation
  • Thesis, delineation, research questions
  • Definitions, assumptions, limitations
  • Theory base, general literature review
  • Brief Chapter overviews
  1. Individual Study 1
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Individual Study 2
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Individual Study 3
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Conclusion
  • Summary of Findings
  • Conclusions
  • Summary of Contributions
  • Future Research

The SU-Alternative-Studies56 reflects under its five headings (1. Introduction; 2. Individual Study 1; 3. Individual Study 2; 4. Individual Study 3; 5. Conclusion) a total of 29 primary characteristics unique or standard to an article-thesis. The intention with the use of the SU-Alternative-Studies56is to see if the structure of the article-thesis under examination adheres to the prescribed structure of the SU-Alternative-Studies.56 The aim of  the SU-Alternative-Studies 56 must be read together with the aim above of the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10, namely to determine if an article-thesis under examination fulfils the prescribed guidelines to be an article-thesis. For this reason, the article-thesis under examination must be fully  assessed by the examiner by comparing it step-by-step with the contents of the SU-Alternative-Studies.56 ● Note: Notwithstanding the absence of a disqualification awarded by Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10, the examination mark obtained from it forms part of the calculation of the final examination mark of the article-thesis by the seven evaluation tools.

To activate the examination of the thesis in terms of the prescriptions of the SU-Alternative-Studies,56 the 29 assessments/counts obtained from its evaluation descriptions (See Table 6 above), are inscribed into the four columns (or marked with an X) of Table 7, allocating qualitative and quantitative performance values to each one. This inscription is done in terms of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer51 (“Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50% -60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%”; “Exceptional: 71% and above”).

Table 7: Performance Levels of the SU-Alternative-Guide: 56:10

Structure Elements Performance Levels of  the SU-Alternative-Guide
Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49% and under

Meets
standard:
50%-60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard:
61%-70%:Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

1.Introduction             
1.Background Information                                                               
2. Purpose of Study, Research Objectives

 

          
3. Significance and motivation

 

                  
4. Thesis, delineation, research questions

 

            
5. Definitions, assumptions, limitations

 

            
6. Theory base, general literature review

 

            
7. Brief Chapter overviews

 

            
2. Individual Study 1

 

             
1.Major section: Specific research hypothesis             
2. Major section: Specific literature review                   
3. Major section: Method              
4. Major section: Findings

 

             
5. Major section: Analysis

 

             
6. Major section: Sub conclusion

6.

                  
3. Individual Study 2              
1. Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.

 

            
2. Major section: Specific literature review                   
3. Major section: Method              
4. Major section: Findings              
5. Major section: Analysis              
6. Major section: Sub conclusion.                   
4. Individual Study 3              
1. Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.

 

           
2. Major section: Specific literature review                  
3. Major section: Method

 

            
4. Major section: Findings

 

           
5. Major section: Analysis

 

             
6. Major section: Sub conclusion

 

                  
5. Conclusion

 

       
1. Summary of Findings

 

            
2. Conclusions

 

            
3. Summary of Contributions

 

          
4. Future Research

 

                  
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)              
B. Total count (Percentage)=             
C. Average examination count (Percentage)=             

After completing the recording of the evaluation in Table 7, the sub-counts (in percentages) (See A: Table 7) of each of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer’s51 qualitative and quantitative performance values, are calculated, from which a total count (in percentage) (See B: Table 7) is derived. The examination mark is obtained by dividing the total count through 29 (See C: Table 7).  ● Note: For the adding together of the 29 evaluation marks of the SU-Alternative-Studies,56 the quantitative percentage classification of “Under-50% or 49% and lower”, is used as a single quantity description to include all the evaluation marks of 49% and lower as 49% for counting purposes. The same single-quantity description is done with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher as 71%. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50% -60%” the average of 55%  was used as a single-quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by the use of the average of 65% as a single-quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”. The average examination mark (See C: Table 7) for SU-Alternative-Studies56 is offered in a single quantity-quality description.

An examination count of Inadequate or a percentage of under 50% for the SU-Alternative-Studies56 means in terms of the NJMH-Transformer 51 a performance value in the classification of disqualification of the article-thesis under examination. (See Table 7 above.) ● Note: Notwithstanding the presence of a disqualification or a qualification awarded by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide, its examination mark obtained forms part of the calculation of the final examination mark.

Remark:

The above outcome by the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and the SU-Alternative-Studies56 of a possible performance value of Inadequate (Under 50%) specifically brings to the foreground the reason for the use in combination of the above two frontline evaluation tools, namely to make at an early stage of the examination a conclusion of acceptance/unacceptance/rejection regarding the quality status of the thesis. Also to provide guidance on the continuation of the examination. This outcome can, as already indicated, class the article-thesis’s evaluation as rejected/failed by a strict examiner. (In this context it must be noted that to examine a traditional thesis in terms of the examination guidelines of the article-thesis can spell an outright failure, while the same failure can be activated by the examination of an article-thesis in terms of the traditional thesis’s examination guidelines.)

The examination of any thesis, especially the article-thesis, requires the utmost responsibility and a highly experienced examiner, to deal with problems such as the one above with insight and wisdom. (See under subsection 3. SU-Combined-Thesis,56:6 as a way of counter-acting  and avoiding unjustified rejections.) An extreme action/response by an examiner, such as the awarding of an outright failure, must be avoided as far as possible if there emerges any contradictions or opacity from the examination process. Alternative actions for the examiner to the above kind of negative examination outcome, is to classify it as unacceptable (without rejection) through the following interventions: to refer the “traditional thesis” or “substandard thesis” back to the student and his/her supervisor so as to correct it and to hand it in later for re-examination, or that the “traditional thesis” is further strictly examined in terms of the article-thesis guidelines, that may also trigger a rejection.

Regarding the two front-line tools’ possible awarding of an average examination mark  of “Meets the standard: 50% -60%” in terms of the NJMH-Transformer51 the process of the examination of the article-thesis should be continued. A “50% to 60%” performance value awarded in terms of the NJMH-Transformer51 should serve as a warning to the examiner to be aware of possible problems to come as his/her examination of the article-thesis continues.

  1. SU-Combined-Thesis56:6

Referring to the comments above in the subsection Remark, it must be noted that the rigid and exclusive use of the classification acceptance/unacceptance/rejection regarding the quality status of a thesis in terms of the Richard-Guide10, the Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and of the SU-Alternative-Studies,56can in some cases be problematic, and can even be inapplicable and erroneous to use for specific theses at specific universities. It should be cautioned here concerning the presence of some theses (although by far in the minority at this stage) that are not outright article-theses or traditional theses, but are the so-called mixed or hybrid article-chapter theses that are acceptable in the research community. Here, as an example, the most prominent is the so-called SUCombined-Article-Chapter-Thesis56 of the Stellenbosch University (SU), as reflected underneath in Table 8.

This specific type of thesis, characterised by its specific in-house offering and supervising at the SU, can be a problem for the inexperienced and poorly-informed examiner that is unknown with and outside the SU’s specific and specialised offering and awarding of their Combined-Article-Chapter-Type-Thesis56 or combination-articles-chapters-thesis. Because this type of thesis needs a special-examination approach, should its’ examination only be done by selected seasoned and well-experienced academics and researchers. The strict and/or inappropriate use of the Richard-Guide10, Richard-Uniqueness-Guide10 and the SU-Alternative-Studies56 can create academic and research chaos.

Table 8: SU-Combined-Thesis:56:6

—————————————-

  • Introduction
  • A number of published and/or unpublished articles

or

  • A combination of chapters and published and/or unpublished articles
  • Conclusion – a summary of the research results indicating the scientific contribution to the study.

 

If the examiner accepts the combination-article-chapter-thesis presented to him/her as “acceptable/correct”, and if he/she is well-experienced and undertakes to examine it strictly inside the specifically prescribed guidelines of a combination-article-chapter-thesis without prejudice or subjectivity, the examination process should continue. In this case an assessment (performance) value of one of the following three values must be awarded in terms of the NJMH-transformer,10 namely: “Meets the standard, Exceeds the standard, or Exceptional”, but not one of Inadequate.

3.1.1.2. Mid-level evaluation tools

The next four data-collection evaluation tools used in this article that may construct a guide for the examination of the article-thesis, are focused on the identification and collecting of certain elements of the contents of the thesis, like the references used in the thesis, its word counts as well as a certain uniqueness or characteristics that demarcates the article-thesis. These technical characteristics in the examination of the article-thesis are many times ignored, notwithstanding their primary importance in the determining of the quality of a thesis. The four data-collection evaluation tools used, are:

  1. Numbering of General References of a Thesis Checklist. (Short-named: General-References-Checklist).
  2. 2. Numbering of Reference Types of a Thesis Checklist. (Short-named: Reference-Types Checklist).
  3. Maximum/Minimum Word-counts Checklist. (Short-named: Word-Counts-Checklist).
  4. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide.53
  1. General-References Checklist

The numbers of the general references of an article-thesis serve as a valuable evaluation count to examine the quality of an article-thesis. In this context it must be emphasised that there exists no specific guideline to determine the “acceptable/correct” total number of general references that should be consulted and referred to in an article-format thesis. For the performance of such an examination evaluation of an article-thesis’s general-reference counts, it must be compared with an acceptable criterium of prescribed averages (the so-called guided counts). From the literature it seems that the criterium of an average of 60 general references per journal article is the general average for article-theses of good standing. Further, the acceptable criterium for the average reference counts of the Introduction and Synthesis of the thesis are 25 references each, totalling an extra 50 general references for the thesis in whole.

In terms of above criterium, the total average guided (prescribed) general-reference counts calculated, are as follows: for the three-article-thesis 230 references, for the four-article-thesis 290 references, for the five-article-thesis 350 references, for the six-article-thesis 410 references, for the seven-article-thesis 470 references and for the eight-article-thesis 530 references. Negative and positive deviations of 30% from the above various average general reference counts, are also found. A negative deviation of 30% from these above average general reference counts reflects an average reference count as follows: for the three-article-thesis 160 references, for the four-article-thesis 200 references, for the five-article-thesis 240 references, for the six-article-thesis 290 references, for the seven-article-thesis 330 references and for the eight-article-thesis 370 references. A positive deviation of 30% from these above average general reference counts may lead to an average reference count as follows: for the three-article-thesis 300 references, for the four-article-thesis 380 references, for the five-article-thesis 450 references, for the six-article-thesis 530 references, for the seven-article-thesis  610 references and for the eight-article-thesis 690 references. The above prescribed or guided general references are profiled in Table 9 underneath.

Table 9: Minimum, average and maximum guided general references:

Types of article-thesis Minimum Average Maximum
Three-article-thesis 160 230 300
Four-article-thesis 200 290 380
Five-article-thesis 240 350 450
Six-article-thesis 290 410 530
Seven-article-thesis 330 470 610
Eight-article-thesis 390 530 690

To compare the above prescribed numbers of guided general references (minimum, averages and maximum) that should be used in an article-thesis with the number of general references used in the thesis under examination, a rubric was compiled to record the collected number of general references of the thesis under examination. (See underneath Table 10). Note: Chapter 1 is the Introduction and Chapter 6 the Synopsis.

Table 10: Rubric for inscribing of collected general-reference of an article-thesis:

References Chapter

1

Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter

6

TOTAL:

General-reference

(numbers)

TOTAL:

General- references

(numbers)

         

To award in terms of the General-References Checklist a single evaluation count (examination mark) for an article-thesis under examination (See Table 10 above), the count (in quantitative form) is transformed to one of the four quantitative and qualitative performance values of the NJMH-Transformer51. [See for guidance the following quantitative and qualitative descriptions of the transformed values: Inadequate (Under 50%), Meets the standard (50% -60%), Exceeds the standard (61% -70%), or  Exceptional (71% and above)].

The transformed performance value as an examination mark for the General-References Checklist is profiled underneath in Table 11. This transformed quantitative and qualitative performance value/ examination mark depends on the type of article-thesis under examination.

Table 11: General-References-Checklist:

                                   Performance levels
Types of article-thesis Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Three-article-thesis 160< 161 – 230 231 – 300 301>
Four-article-thesis 200< 201 – 290 291 – 380 381>
Five-article-thesis 250< 251 – 350 351 – 450 451>
Six-article-thesis 290< 291 – 410 411 – 530 531>
Seven-article-thesis 330< 331- 470 471 – 610 611>
Eight-article-thesis 370< 371- 530 531- 690 691>

 From the evaluation data obtained through the General-References Checklist (See above Table 11) the examiner can read directly the average examination mark (offered in quantitative and qualitative values) for the article-thesis under examination.

  1. Reference-Types Checklist

It must also be noted that there exists no guideline to determine the “acceptable/correct” balance between various types of references (books, journals, newspaper and website sources) that should be consulted and referred to in an article-format thesis. Although an imbalance between reference types used in an article-thesis does not really mean a disqualification, the over-use of one or two reference types in an article-thesis may lead to a shallowing of information and a contamination of arguments. But on the other hand the lack of information reporting on a research subject by for instance newspaper and website sources, may force a researcher to overuse for instance books and journals.

My experience over many years reflects the ideal is that an article-thesis should reflects for each reference-type a 20 % (minimum) presence to evidence a well-balanced use. (The modern approach of the comprehensive use of articles of newspapers and website publishers to supplement the “traditional” sources of books and journals, led some times to an imbalance in the reference-composition, but should not, as said, be seen as a disqualification). As a criterium for the data-collected for an article-thesis, the average of 20 % (minimum) of books, journals, newspaper and website sources in terms of the total number of reference-types used, was accepted for the article-thesis examination.

For the compiling and listing the numbers of the different types of references used in the article-thesis, the under-mentioned rubric (blank form to be filled-in) was designed (See under Table 12). Table 12 shows out to the examiner how to collect, to class and to inscribe into it separately the various reference-types (into the four classes of either books, journals, newspaper or website sources), as well as the total number of reference-types. The separate counts of each type (books, journals, newspaper or website sources) must be reworked to percentages, calculated in terms of the total number of reference-types for each type.

Table 12:  Reference-Types-Checklist:

REFERENCE-

TYPES

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 TOTAL:

Reference per type (numbers and  percentages)

Books
Journals
Newspapers
Internet
TOTAL:

Reference per type (numbers and percentages)

     — —-

 To can transform the findings (counts of various reference-types) obtained from above Table 12 into the quantitative and qualitative performance values  of the NJMH-Transformer,51is used as a criterium the minimum presence of 20% for each of the reference-types:  a reference-type of under 20% is classed as inadequate (49%), while the percentages of 25%, 30%, and 35% reflect respectively evaluation values of meets the standard (50% – 60%), exceeds the standard (61% – 70%) and exceptional (71% and above).

The performance values of each of the reference-types of an article-thesis (books, journals, newspaper or website sources), obtained through the transformation of the evaluation-counts of the reference-types of an article-thesis by the use of the NJMH-Transformer,51 are reflected in Table 13 under. For examination-evaluation the examiner can read the examination-mark (in quantitative and qualitative values) allocated separately for books, journals, newspaper or website sources, direct from it.

Table 13: Reference-Types-Checklist:

Performance levels
Reference-Types-Checklist Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Percentages 20%< 21% – 25% 26% -30% 30%>
  1. Word-Counts Checklist

The next evaluation-tool used to examine the quality of the article-thesis, the Word-Counts Checklist, evaluates the maximum and minimum word counts of the article-thesis under examination.

  • Seeing that there exists no prescription on the number of articles to be included in the article-thesis (besides less than three is not very acceptable), no examination-evaluation is done in this context. It must be noted that in this context strong opposition to the frequent and overwhelming use of the three-article-thesis is recorded. Also, the page counts of theses are excluded from examination, given that it is determined by the number of articles, making it an insignificant criterion to be used for examination. In this context it must be noted that the use of page counts to describe a thesis length, is extremely misleading and must be avoided: depending on the typing style used, 100 pages may easily be stretched to 150 pages and more to give false credibility to a thesis.

It must further be noted that there does not exist a clear and acceptable description (criterion) on the prescribed maximum and minimum word counts (the so-called guided-word-counts) of the articles that are forming article-theses, or of the correct prescribed maximum and minimum word counts of the article-thesis itself. To put in place a criterion to determine the most acceptable (guided) total word counts of the article-thesis and that of its various articles, it was decided to take Article Two’s suggested criterion, namely that the maximum and minimum word count of each of the articles that form the contents of the article-thesis, should be between 12 000 and 8 000 words (with an average of 10 000 words for an article). In addition hereto are the word counts of each article’s Introduction (2 700 words), Synthesis (2 000 words) and Bridging (300 words), adding an extra 5 000 words to each article-thesis.

The above calculation approach, when applied broadly to all the sizes of article-theses,  would mean for example that the calculated total maximum and minimum guided (criterion) word counts are respectively for the three-article-thesis 41 000 and 29 000 words (average 35 000 words), for the four-article thesis 53 000 and 37 000 words (average 45 000 words), for the five-article thesis 65 000 and 45 000 words (average 55 000 words), for the six-article thesis 77 000 and 53 000 words (average 65 000 words), for the seven-article thesis 89 000 and 61 000 words (average 75 000 words)  and for the eight-article thesis 101 000 and 69 000 words (average 85 000 words).

Firstly, to enlighten the examiner on the process of calculating and compiling the word counts of article-theses under examination (see the above paragraph’s description and information on the matter), the structuring of the guided (prescribed) maximum/minimum word counts of the four-article thesis as an example, is illustrated underneath in Table 14.23-24,41-44

Table 14: Structuring of guided maximum/minimum word counts of four-article thesis:

Sections/Structure Minimum Maximum
Introduction 2 700 2 700
Chapters (Four)  32 000

(8,000 x 4)

48 000

(12,000 x 4)

Synthesis 2 000 2 000
Bridging 300 300
Total 37 000 53 000

From Table 14 is it clear that the four-article thesis’ word counts should be varying between 37 000 and 53 000 words (with an average word count of 45.000).

The illustration and profiling in Table 14 above of the structuring of the four-article thesis, are taken further in Table 15 underneath by offering the examiner guidance on how the guided (prescribed) maximum and minimum word counts of a four-article thesis (six-chapter thesis) should compare with the maximum and minimum word counts of a four-article thesis (six-chapter thesis) under examination. For examination insight and guiding, the article-thesis’s maximum and minimum word counts under examination can be written down in Table 15 to determine and illustrate how the word counts of an article-thesis under examination differs from that of the guided word counts of a similar article-thesis.

Table 15: Comparison of the guided maximum/minimum word counts with the maximum/minimum word counts of a four-article thesis:

Maximum/Minimum Word-Counts
Components/

Structure of article-thesis

Maximum Words Minimum Words
Guided word-counts Candidate

Word-counts

Guided word-counts Candidate

Word-counts

Abstract       —– —–  
Chapter 1
(Introduction)
 2 700 2 700  
Chapter 2
(Article 1)
12 000 8 000  
Chapter 3
(Article 2)
    12 000 8 000  
Chapter 4
(Article 3)
12 000 8 000  
Chapter 5
(Article 4)
12 000 8 000  
Chapter 6
(Synopsis)
 2 300 2 300  
 TOTAL 53 000 35 000  

To illustrate further, firstly, how the maximum and minimum word counts of an article-thesis under examination (varying from a three-article thesis to an eight-article thesis) compares with the corresponding  maximum and minimum word counts of the guided (prescribed) article-thesis (varying from a three-article thesis to an eight-article thesis); and secondly, to determine the quantitative and qualitative performance value (examination mark) of the maximum and minimum word count of an article-thesis through the use of the NJMH-Transformer’s51 four performance values,  Table 16 was compiled. The design of Table 16 is such, that after inscribing the evaluation value (word count) obtained through evaluation of the Word-Counts Checklist of the article-thesis under examination, its corresponding transformed  quantitative and qualitative performance performance value (examination value) presented by the NJMH-Transformer,51 can be read by the examiner directly from it.

The transformed quantitative and qualitative performance values (examination values) of the three-article thesis up to an eight-article thesis are reflected in Table 16.

Table 16:  Maximum/Minimum Word Counts of Types of Article-theses: 

                                          Performance levels                               
Types of article-thesis Inadequate:  49% and under Meets the standard:

50% – 60%

Exceeds standard:

61% -70%

Exceptional:

71% and

above

Three-article-thesis 29 000< 29 000 -35 000 35 001 -41 000 41 001>
Four-article-thesis 37 000< 37 000-      45 000 45 001- 53 000 53 001>
Five-article-thesis 45 000< 45 000-55 000 55 001-65 000 65 000>
Six-article-thesis 53 000< 53 000-65 000 63 001-77 000 72 000>
Seven-article-thesis 61 000< 61 000-  75 000 75 001-89 000 89 000>
Eight-article-thesis 69 000< 69 000-85 000 85 00-101 000 101 000>

 

  1. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide53:105

The Hay-Uniqueness-Guide evaluates seven classifications or criteria characteristic of an article-thesis. The contents of the Hay-uniqueness are reflected underneath in Table 17.

Table 17. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide:53:105

—————————————————————————-

  1. The candidate said something nobody has said before.
  2. The candidate carried out empirical work that hasn’t been done before.
  3. The candidate made a synthesis that hasn’t been made before.
  4. The candidate tried out something that has been done before – but in a new situation.
  5. The candidate used already known material but with a new interpretation.
  6. The candidate took a particular technique and applied it in a new area.
  7. The candidate brought new evidence to bear on an old issue.

To activate the examination of the thesis in terms of the prescriptions of the Hay-Uniqueness-Guide,53 the seven assessments/counts obtained  from its evaluation descriptions (See Table 17 above), are inscribed underneath into Table 18’s four columns (or marked with an X), allocating qualitative and quantitative performance values to each one. This inscribing is done in terms of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer51 (Inadequate: Under 50%; Meets the standard: 50% -60%; Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%; Exceptional: 71% and above).

Table 18:  Hay-Uniqueness-Guide: 53:105

Uniqueness Performance Levels
   Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49% and under

Meets
standard:
50%-60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard:
    61%-70%:Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

1.  The candidate said something nobody has said before.  
2.  The candidate carried out empirical work that hasn’t been done before.
3. The candidate made a synthesis that hasn’t been made before.  
4. The candidate tried out something that has been done before – but in a new situation.

 

 
5. The candidate used already known material but with a new interpretation.
6. The candidate took a particular technique and applied it in a new area.  
7. The candidate brought new evidence to bear on an old issue.  
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)   
B. Total count (Percentage)=  
C. Final examination count (Percentage)=  

After completing the inscribing of the evaluation into Table 18, the sub-counts (in percentages) (See A: Table 18) of each of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer’s51qualitative and quantitative performance values, are calculated, from which a total count (in percentage) (See B: Table 18) is derived. The examination mark is obtained by dividing the total count through 7 (See C: Table 18).  ● Note: For  adding up the 7 evaluation  marks of the SU-Alternative-Studies,56 the quantitative percentage classification of “Under 50% or 49% and lower” is used as a single-quantity description to include all the evaluation marks of 49% and lower as 49% for counting purposes. The same single-quantity description is done with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher than 71%. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50% -60%” the average of 55% was used as a single-quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by using the average of 65% as a single-quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”. The examination mark (See C: Table 18) for the Hay-Uniqueness-Guide53 is offered in a single quantity-quality description.

3.2.1.3. Advanced-level evaluation-tool

  1. NJMH-Performance-Rubric51:94-96

The last data-collection evaluation tool used in the data collecting and  evaluation of article-theses, is the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 (This rubric is derived from the Rubric for the Assessment of Postgraduate Work51:94-96 developed by Professors Nel, de Jager, MacKinnon and Hay).

The NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 identifies a total of 28 quality and performance classifications or types which are uniquely and exclusively intertwined in the contents of every article-thesis. The contents of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 are reflected underneath in Table 19.

To activate the examination of the thesis in terms of the prescriptions of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric,51 the 28 assessments/counts obtained from its evaluation descriptions (See underneath in Table 19), are inscribed into Table 19’s four columns (or marked with an X), allocating qualitative and quantitative performance values to each one. This inscribing is done in terms of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer51 (“Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50% -60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%”; “Exceptional: 71% and above”).

After the examiner has made his/her decisions on the quality of the article-thesis in terms of the 28 performance values evaluated through the NJMH-Performance-Rubric,51 and after doing the inscriptions of the evaluations in Table 19 underneath, the quantitative sub-counts (in percentages) [See Table 19: A. Sub-counts (Percentages)] of each of the four classifications of the NJMH-Transformer’s51 qualitative and quantitative performancevalues are calculated. From this a total quantitative count (in percentage) is derived. [See Table 19: B. Total count (Percentage)]. The average examination mark is obtained by dividing the total quantitative count through 28. [See Table 19: C. Average examination count (Percentage)].  ● Note: For  adding up the 28 evaluation marks of the NJMH-Performance-Rubric,51 the quantitative percentage classification of “Under-50%” or “49% and lower” is used as a single-quantity description to include all the evaluation marks of 49% and lower as 49% for counting purposes. The same single quantity description is done with the quantitative percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher than 71%. For the quantitative percentage classification of “50%-60%” the average of 55%  was used as a single-quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the quantitative percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by the use of the average of 65% as a single-quantity description for all the quantitative percentage counts of between “60% and 70%”.

Table 19: NJMH-Performance-Rubric: 51:94-96

Criteria Performance levels
Inadequate:

Under 50%:

Average=49%

Meets
standard:
50% – 60%:Average=55%
Exceeds
standard: 61%-70%:
Average=65%
Exceptional:

71% and above:

Average=71%

A. Topic/Title

 1. Appropriate/well formulated

 
B. Formulation of research issues / problems

2. Justification included

C. Research goal / hypothesis/ 3. Stated, grounded and motivated  
D. Aims / objectives
4. formulated
5. Focused
E. Literature study
6. Recent / relevant work  
7. Authoritative sources  
8. Interpretation corrected  
9. Critical engagement with material  
F. Research design and methods
10. Logical progression from objectives  
11. Appropriate choice  
12. Relevant and well-founded data sourcing  
13. Data relevant and interpreted accurately  
14. Data thoroughly discussed  
G. Summary and conclusions
15. Clear and logical
16. Substantiated
H. Recommendations
17. Substantiated  
18. Of value  
19. Related to conclusions of study  
I. Structure of dissertation/thesis
20. Logical  
21. Coherent  
22. Substantial line of development  
J. Content

23. Length, range, chapters, knowledge of field, problem solving, depth, creativity, originality, responsibility for statements

 
K. Scientific substance

 24. Theoretical foundation, clarify concepts, independence, logical sequence, essential and non-essential, systematic, critical responsibility, quality of arguments, scientific interpretation and reporting

 
L. /25.Language and style

 

 

 

 

 

 

M. /26. Technical structure and care  
N. Publishable

27. Meets requirements

 
O. Contribution to knowledge

28. Doctoral study

 
A. Sub-counts (Percentages)   
B. Total count (Percentage) =  
C. Average examination-count (Percentage) =  

 The average examination mark [See above Table 19: C. Average examination-count (Percentage)] for the NJMH-Performance-Rubric51 is offered in a quantity-quality description.

3.2.1.4. Compiling and calculation of the final examination mark

In this subsection the final examination mark, based on the average examination marks of the seven evaluation tools and obtained through the 77 performance/uniqueness values they tested, and evaluated, is calculated. These seven evaluation tools (with the number of performance/uniqueness values they evaluate indicated in brackets),  are:

4.1. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide (10).10

4.2. SU-Alternative-Studies (29).56

4.3. Reference-Types-Checklist (1).

4.4. General-References-Checklist (1).

4.5. Word-Counts-Checklist (1).

4.6. Hay-Uniqueness-Guide (7).53

4.7. NJMH-Performance-Rubric (28).51

To make a direct comparison and aggregation of the seven average examination marks, a quantity evaluation is done whereby the NJMH-transformer’s51 four performance percentages, namely “Under 50%”, “50% -60%”, “61% -70%” and “71% and above”, are used.    For adding up the seven average examination marks, the percentage classification of “Under 50%” or “49% and lower” is used as a single-quantity description to include all examination marks of 49% and lower than 49%. The same single-quantity description is done with the percentage classification of “71% and above” by including under it all percentages of 71% and higher than 71%. For the percentage classification of “50% -60%” the average of 55%  was used as a single-quantity description for all the percentage counts of between 50% and 60%. The same approach was used for the percentage classification of “61% to 70%” by using the average of 65% as a single-quantity description for all the percentage counts between 60% and 70%.

To initiate the final examination mark of the thesis, the seven average examination marks of the seven evaluation tools are inscribed underneath in Table 20’s four columns (or marked with an X). This inscribing is done in terms of  the four classifications (qualitative and quantitative performancevalues) of the NJMH-Transformer51 (“Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50%-60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61%-70%”;  “Exceptional: 71% and above”). These uniform performance values/examination marks make a direct comparison between the seven evaluation tools’ findings possible, as well as deriving a quantitative-qualitative final performance value/examination mark (See C: Table 20) calculated from the total average examination marks (See B: Table 20) for the article-thesis under examination.

Table 20: Final Examination mark:

Evaluation-tools

 

                 Performance values
Inadequate: Under50%: average 49% Meets
standard:
50%-60%: average55%
Exceeds
standard:
61% -70%: average 65%
Exceptional:

71% and above: average 71%   

1. Richard-Uniqueness-Guide                                    
2. SU-Alternative-Studies                                    
3. General-Reference-Checklist                                      
4.  Reference-Types-Checklist                                         
5. Word-Counts-Checklist                                     
6. Hay-uniqueness-Guide                                       
7. NJMH-Performance-Rubric                                     
A. Subtotal examination-marks, calculated in percentages =

 

 

 

 

                                         
B. Average-examination-mark, calculated in percentage =

 

                                         
C. Final examination-mark, calculated in percentage =

 

 

                                         

 3.2.1.4.1. Examination conclusion:

The evaluation of the article-thesis is done by answering 77 performance/evaluation questions, unique to seven evaluation tools, which are comprehensively testing the thesis’s academic and research quality. This examination process assured objectivity, honesty as well as academic and research integrity.

By awarding the final examination mark (in quantitative and qualitative descriptions) on the quality of the article-thesis under examination, the examination process is completed with the issuing of the finding of either pass or fail. Seeing that most of the universities do not make use of a quantitative final examination mark, but of a qualitative description, the final examination mark is mostly issued in one of the following categories: Inadequate (Failed); Meets the standard (Passed); Exceeds the standard (Passed); or  Exceptional (Passed).

But no-one stops an examiner from allocating a more comprehensive description (a combined quantitative and qualitative description) chosen from one of the following: “Inadequate: Under 50%”; “Meets the standard: 50%-60%”; “Exceeds the standard: 61% -70%”; or “Exceptional: 71% and above”. Personally, I think this is the correct way to close an examination.

  • The following intertwined article, entitled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 2”, will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the examiner regarding the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation. In Part 2 will be discussed the following three sections: 3.3.: A hypothetical case study (this includes an example of the writing of the examination report); 3.4.: The Shortcut-examination model for the article-thesis and –dissertation; and 3.5. : The Master’s degree.
  1. Conclusion

The intention of this article was to give the aspirant examiner of the article-thesis and -dissertation some guidance on the skills, knowhow and experiences needed by him/her to do this kind of examination. In 2008 Nel et al., 51 write on the assessment of the traditional thesis and dissertation51:93: “There seem to be variations in the focus and expectations amongst different assessors, at specific universities and even at different sections within a university. Thus, the need exists to propose a system addressing uniformity in the summative assessment of theses and dissertations.” On the writing of the examiner’s report in the same context Nel et al., 51 state 51:92: “It is often assumed that all academics know how to write an examiner’s report. Although universities have guidelines regarding the typical aspects to cover in report, these could be rather vague.” Now, twelve year onwards, the situation has not improved; it even seems to worsen inside BAREE. Central to countering this chaos should be the maintenance of the correct examination of the article-thesis and-dissertation, intertwined with the correct execution of the article-thesis and -dissertation: meaning the upkeep of academic and research quality and integrity.51-66

Research shows much of the examination process of the article-thesis and -dissertation is still caught in the subjective and unfettered empowerment of the examiner; a system lacking scientific evidence and integrity held over from the early days of learning. It just cannot go on this way. There is no room anymore in our academic and research culture for autocratic and unskilled examiners to rule the research waves; it is time to waive their rules.52-65

Examiners of the article-thesis need special training and skills. This can only be obtained through the offering of ongoing broad internal training by universities dispensed to their staff. The ideal should be to licence article-thesis examiners with a Code of Practice after passing an examination of competence.52

The correct examination of the article-thesis and -dissertation — to assure objectiveness, justice and integrity to the outcome — requires immense discipline and caring inputs by examiners; a process which many of them see as unnecessarily time-consuming and digressive. But there is no shortcut. It must be remembered that for the examination of article-theses and -dissertations examiners are well-paid by universities: so why the lack so of diligent examination in so many instances?

In the next intertwined article (Number 6), entitled: “How to examine the article-format masters and doctorate: Part 2”, we will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the examiner about the examination structuring and process of the article-thesis and -dissertation. In Part 2 will be discussed the following three sections: 3.3.: A hypothetical case-study (This includes an example of the writing of the examination report); 3.4.: The Shortcut-examination model for the article-thesis and -dissertation; and 3.5. : The Master’s degree.

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How to write and supervise the article-format- master and -doctorate (4): Part 2

Title: How to write and supervise the article-format master and doctorate (4): Part 2

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, Higher Education, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PU for CHE), DPhil (PU for CHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format-thesis, doctorate, journal-article, masters, proposal, supervise, write.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 4: 2

1. Background

No-one involved in serious research doubted that the article-thesis and -dissertation have the potential to dramatically increase the overall research output of theses and dissertations, as well as to benefit the universities’ research profiles in terms of local and world accreditation, and to generate  enormous extra revenue via the publishing of accredited articles for the article-theses and -dissertations if this process is properly utilised inside the greater research system of the Circle of Research Completeness.

In perspective, when comparing the article-thesis and -dissertation with the traditional thesis and dissertation – notwithstanding the many pros and cons associated with both and the inclination to see the two types in absolute opposition to each other — many similar elements stand out. Both research formats today reflect a model of well-planned, specialist-focused and concrete research approaches, stripped of data overload, traditionalism and unnecessary theoretical argumentation and superficial reasoning. Both are intensively applied and practical, research-orientated, addressing contemporary and future social, economic, political, cultural and professional problems and the solving of those with a positive financial impact on the student, university and society. Indeed, the various approaches that are followed by universities on the compiling of the article-format thesis my often be seen as a combination/mixture of the traditional thesis and the article thesis, and although many universities referred to this outcome in general terms just as an article-format thesis — essentially because every university follows its own policy in the offering and executing of finer detail — the end product is indeed the traditional thesis.8-11

It is thus no surprise that the article-format thesis is not seen by some serious researchers as a dramatic break-away from the traditional academic research culture as is so much argued and propagated in the literature. In short: both types are for these so-called moderate researchers equal in quality, as well as equal in constitution.

This outcome has brought to the foreground the allegation by the proponents of the article-format thesis as to the presence of a so-called “old-age” academic sector that is essentially still beset by Middle-Age remnants that are steering and running the traditional thesis and dissertation. It is alleged that these traditionalist or reactionary academics are clouded by a noble conception which seeks only knowledge in terms of “age-old” philosophical and theoretical reasoning, wherein the traditional PhD occupies a central place as the only correct one. In this way, so the antagonists argue, the age-old sector is largely ignoring the modern-day unprofitable and antiquated impact of the traditional thesis on the student, university and taxpayer. But realities and facts contradict these arguments and cognitions of the proponents of the article-thesis. It holds no water whatsoever to say and write in public that “the days are gone that universities can offer senior research programmes like the traditional or standard thesis which are not generating income for society nor universities themselves”. This is false and misleading, and is contradicted outright by the mass incomes that the traditional or standard dissertations and theses still generate today. Indeed, looking  at the income generated recently by universities through the article-thesis and -dissertation, it is clear that in itself it is ostensibly not a money-generating product above all else, notwithstanding that its model makes it well suited for this task.1-12

There is positive evidence that the article-thesis is in the process of gaining ground in many North-American, European and African universities. But it is far-fetched and an improper stratagem by the proponents of the article-thesis model to propagate that the traditional thesis should be phased out in South Africa or that students must not be encouraged to present their theses in this format. This kind of attack not only damages the integrity of the traditional thesis, but also that of the article-thesis and our research integrity in general: strength does not lie in division, but in unity, not in obstruction, but in cooperation. It is in this “healthy research context” that the article-thesis must be nurtured and promoted contribute and play its part in the greater research community and not as an antagonist of the established research environment.9-11

The proper launching of the article-format thesis as a research vehicle will surely only happen when the present-day South African academics and researchers in general change their mindsets and become truly part of a modern advanced-research culture wherein the traditional thesis and article-thesis stand as equals, mutually supportive and cooperative, depending of course on how they are correctly and effectively used in the research cycle. The difficulty for many of the experienced and seasoned (traditional) academics and researchers is not so much the practical change in their research style from the standard thesis to that of the article-thesis, but the difficulty for them to make a cognitive change in their mindset that is freed from remnants of the past which makes them consider (and label) the article-thesis at times with good reason, but also at other times falsely, as inferior and substandard (especially around the issue of the length of the article-thesis, as reflected by page and word counts, etc.).

On the other hand stands we sometimes find resistance to modern research challenges and responsibilities by some hard-line proponents and supporters of the traditional thesis. Prominent features here are their misuse of the so-called benefits of the traditional thesis and its age-old academic and research culture as both an attack and a defensive weapon against the academic and research integrity of the article-thesis. It must be noted that within this hostile attitude research bias may be a pertinent underlying reason, but also negative internalised cognitions and purely personal elements, which are often totally unrelated to the research focus of the article-thesis or -dissertation.8-15

On the positive side, the opportunities lie there in waiting for a new generation of young academics and researchers, hungry for research challenges and unaffected and uninfluenced by either the research culture of the traditional or the article-thesis, to take on research in its broadest sense. However, in confronting these challenges this new generation needs the assistance and support of their universities to develop their skills and knowhow to overcome their research inexperience and insecurity. Herein they may easily be helped by their universities by offering them yearly four to five workshops on journal-article writing, as well as on the training of the supervision and the examination of the article-format dissertation and thesis. Courses in financial management and money-generation offered by the universities to academic and research staff to develop them to optimise income for universities through the various agents of research – such as the output of a mass of accredited journal articles and article-theses — will surely supplement the syllabus of these workshops positively.

1.1. Introduction (Continues from Article 3)

This article, titled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and –Doctorate: Part 2”, is a continuation of the previous article (Number 3), titled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and –Doctorate: Part 1”. It must be read as a unity.

1.2. Aims of the article (Continues from Article 3)

The purpose of this article, titled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and –Doctorate: Part 2”, as part two of two intertwined articles, is to provide a framework or guideline to assist aspirant students (as well as supervisors and aspirant examiners) in their preparation of the writing of the article-thesis and –dissertation.8-11,13,16-50

In the previous intertwined article, entitled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and -Doctorate: Part 1”, a framework or guideline was provided to assist aspirant students (as well as supervisors and aspirant examiners) in their planning, compiling and writing of the research proposal and journal article as prerequisites to write the article-thesis and -dissertation.8-11,13,16-50

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues from Article 3) 

The information applies to students and supervisors of the article-master’s and article-doctorate, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues from Article 3)

The research has been done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case of the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By this method the focus is to be informative regarding the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources include the guidelines of universities and other institutions on the writing of the article-thesis for the period 2017 to 2021.

The research findings are presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues from Article 3)

3.1. Background to Article 3

When addressing the writing of the article-masters and -doctorate, the presence of two related, pre-established research entities become prominent, namely a) the writing of the research proposal of the article-thesis and -dissertation; and b) the writing of the journal article. A critical analysis of the literature shows it is mostly ignored in the guidelines on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation of most universities. The hard reality is that the article-thesis and -dissertation can in no way be realised without the prerequisite research proposal to plan and to guide the aspirant student on the best path to follow to start the article-thesis or -dissertation. It was essential that these two research outcomes were firstly addressed in the previous article (Three) before the start-up of the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation could commence. 8-11,13,16-50

3.2. Position of the article-thesis and-dissertation in the present-day research environment

The position of the article-thesis and -dissertation in today’s academy and research is more complex than its proponents themselves seem to observe and understand. The proponents of the article-thesis need to do introspection to eliminate the model’s many times self-inflicted academic and research wounds, its research immaturity, and to find ways to recruit the hard-core of research traditionalists into its inner circle by a less radical insistence on the methodology of the article-thesis ideology. The polarisation between the article-thesis and traditional thesis by radicals in the research community is unwise and indeed an unhappy outcome. We need to move away from radical academic politics inside the research community. Most of these kinds of disturbances contributed to the lack of excellent guidelines to aid in the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertations at most universities.

3.3. Introduction

3.3.1. The Open-guide Approach (Continues from Article 3)

The Open-guide Approach, as described in Article One, offers the aspirant student who is planning to enrol for the article-thesis and dissertation, a broad understanding of the many rules that guide such enrolment. These rules, as were seen in the guidelines of fourteen universities and other institutions, often reflect an immense diversity, as well as conflicting requirements and limitations on how to write the article-thesis or-dissertation, adding to the  confusion of the aspirant student on how to address his/her approach in relation to the article-thesis or -dissertation. The first question that arises is: how is it possible to write the article-thesis or dissertation within such a hodgepodge of divergent rules? Some comparison of the manifold rules and thus the selection of appropriate rules from them, is needed to offer the aspirant student a well-considered, combined guideline (but still based on the many rules of the fourteen universities and other learning institutions) to enable him to write the article-thesis or -dissertation with confidence.8-11,13,16-25

3.3.2. The Closed-guide Approach (Continues from Article 3)

In this section the main intention is thus to condense the mass of information of Article One (previously published) as reflected and described by the guidelines of various universities into one descriptive guideline.8-11,13,16-25 In this way, through the development of a condensed framework that is based on the prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions obtained and described in the Open-guide Approach, the aspirant student  will be formally introduced through the Closed-guide Approach to focussed and guiding pathways that he/she may follow to compile and to write an article-format thesis successfully and to obtain the master or PhD degree at the end. Although this combined guideline excluded unnecessary and inapplicable rules, it must be noted already at this stage that the Closed-guide Approachcan at most put an excellent working guide together to steer the aspirant candidate in his/her decision-making on how to write the article-thesis or -dissertation, but it is not able to compile a single framework/guideline to fit each one of the exclusive rules and requirements of all fourteen the universities and other institutions: there are just to many universities with unique rules and prescriptions on how the article-thesis and -dissertation should be written. Indeed, some of these institutions are very rigid and prescriptive (and their academics and researchers  many times besotted with their own research ideas and beliefs). On the other hand, there are many so-called “liberal” universities that allow the student much freedom in his/her way of writing the article-thesis. In this context the choice of the most suitable university should not only be the first priority of the aspirant student, but also his/her right to decide on.8-11,13,16-25

3.3.3. The student as responsible researcher

Notwithstanding the pros and cons around the troublesome guidelines of some institutions,  in-depth knowledge of the many rules, regulations and stipulations guiding the writing of the article-thesis is a must for all aspirant students of the article-thesis and -dissertation. It does not matter where the student enrols, it stays his/her duty and problem, firstly to master the abilities to write the article-thesis, and secondly to write it him/herself personally. Although the final copy of the draft thesis or dissertation is often automatically rewritten and restyled through a template at universities, while professional author services and language editors do a thorough upgrade of even the substandard thesis and dissertation that is awaiting assessment, the total research process and the compiling and writing of the thesis stay the primary task of the aspirant student: for that outcome he/she needs the basic knowhow as reflected in this section: how to write an article-thesis or -dissertation.8-11,13,16-25

3.3.4. The writing of the article-thesis and –dissertation (Continues from Article3) 8-11,13,16-25

3.3.4.1. The structure description of article-thesis

This structure description cannot and must not be seen as an absolute guideline on the classification of the content, or as a minimum- or a maximum-rule guideline in the compiling and writing of the article-format thesis. It serves at most to inform the aspirant student, who is planning to enrol for the article-format masters and doctorate, on the many prerequisites to fulfil and how the student, in line with his/her chosen university, should address his/her research to start and complete the article-format thesis successfully).8-11,13,16-25

3.3.4.2. Structure8-11,13,16-25

The article-thesis’s writing and execution is determined and steered by its Structure which describes precisely how the article-format dissertation’s information must be compiled, set out and placed: a consecutive path that starts with Chapter 1 and runs until the final (closing) chapter of the article-thesis. The compiling of the Structure varies from university to university, as the descriptions for instance on the contents of the thesis and the order of the elements to format the article-format thesis have already been discussed earlier in the prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions of the Open-guide Approach which broadly guides the writing of the article-format thesis. With reference to the prescribed Structure, it is contained within the article-thesis’s chapters (representing the various journal articles) and in the following subsections: Introduction, Review of Literature, Method, Results, Conclusions.8-11,13,16-25

For the compiling of the Structure of the Article-thesis the rules of the guidelines of fourteen universities and other learning institutions on “how to write the article-format thesis and -dissertation”, were integrated to reflect the formatting requirements mostly prescribed. These fourteen resources formed throughout section 3.3.4. The writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation the basis of the information.8-11,13,16-25

The Structure’s contents are usually reflected in the following order: 1. Preliminary Section or Front Matter; 2. Body or Main Text Section; and 3. Concluding Section or Back Matter.8-11,13,16-25

The choice to include or not to include some of the Structure’s various sections and subsections in the text by aspirant students when planning their article-theses, is indicated underneath by descriptions such as required, optional, relevant/irrelevant and applicable/inapplicable next to it.8-11,13,16-25

 For an example to demonstrate the compiling and the description of the article-thesis in this article, the traditional three-article-thesismodel was used underneath. The outlining and structuring of the three-article-thesis here is based on the guideline Alternative Dissertation Structure: Individual Studies of the Stellenbosch University (SU).51The guideline of SU51:10, the SU-Alternative Dissertation Structure: Individual Studies – meant to make the process understandable for the aspirant candidate of the three-article-thesis on the compiling and writing of it — gives a step-by-step description and illustration of how articles 1, 2 and 3 should be placed, reflected and written in the three-article-thesis. This illustration was done by the repetition of the same article contents as an example for all three the articles by the SU-guideline51; this means that the presentation of the structuring of the contents of article 1, article 2 and article 3 are exactly the same to as to illustrate the compilation process. [This Structure offered by the SU51:10 was previously fully illustrated and described in Article One of the Series under the subheading: 3.2.3.1.10.1. SU-Alternative Dissertation Structure: Individual Studies (See Reference number 43 in Article One previously published). The mentioned example of the SU guideline51:10 to reflect (repeat) the same structure of the contents for Individual Study 1 (Article 1), Individual Study 3 (Article 2) and Individual Study 3 (Article 3) may be read in the under-mentioned similar structure of the contents51:10:

  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub-conclusion.

For this article’s description and guidance on how to write the article-thesis and -dissertation, the description of the structuring (repetition) of the contents of each one of the articles of the three-article-thesis was done in the same way as the SU guideline’s51:10 description of the structuring of the contents of each article constituting the three-article-thesis.

3.3.4.2.1. Preliminary Section (Front Matter-section which contains the Prefatory Material) 8-11,13,16-25

  1. Front Cover and Title Page (Required)

The cover-page (unnumbered) sets out the name of the institution, the officially approved title of the thesis in the fewest words that adequately describe the contents of the thesis/dissertation (15 or fewer words at the top). This is followed by the candidate’s name in a new line (some universities require the mentioning of other degrees and qualifications, including the names of the awarding institutions). Hereafter follows the thesis statement like: “Thesis submitted for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in History at the Orient University”, or “Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Political Sciences, University of the Orient, Eastern-Cape.  (In the case of a directed-master’s dissertation, it should be stated as: “Submitted as the dissertation component in partial fulfilment (for instance the percentage of 50 % is to be stated) for the degree of Master of Education in the Faculty of Education, University of the Orient). After this, in new lines, follow respectively the name of the supervisor(s), the month and year in which the student will graduate and the student’s number.

  1. Abstract (Required)

The Abstract should synthesize the three articles and the research work as a whole: it mainly states the purpose of the study, showing the highlights of the three chapters and the new knowledge contributed by the thesis. The Abstract is mostly seen as a brief description with the maximum of two pages (350 words) of the objectives and the results of the research and the acknowledgements that are due. The Abstract page should be double-spaced and is typically numbered in Roman numerals. It introduces the pages (page two here) as follows: ii).

  1. Keywords (Required)

Three to ten keywords, preferable not more than five, should be listed below the Abstract.

  1. Copyright Information (Optional)

The inclusion of any articles that were previously published or were accepted for publication, requires permission from the copyright holder to submit such material as part-fulfilment for the particular formal qualification. The sections not copyrighted by another party may be covered under the publication of the new manuscript. Where essays or articles are submitted for publication prior to examination of the dissertation or thesis, the student and supervisor should obtain consent from the particular journal for the particular article to be submitted as part-fulfilment of the dissertation or thesis. It is also suggested that the student obtain permission from the appropriate journal’s editor informing him/her that the dissertation will be made available online if it is uploaded for instance on ProQuest.

  1. Dedication (Optional)

If the Dedication subsection is included it must be very brief: merely indicating to whom the work is dedicated and avoid anything too emotional.

  1. Acknowledgments (Optional)

The same approach regarding the layout and format is followed as with the regular/traditional dissertation: Acknowledgements are done to all individuals, groups of people or institutions that the candidate feels indebted to for the support they rendered as well as any sponsor(s) of the research obtained in the articles, along with grants number(s) and eventual disclaimer.

  1. Preface (Optional)

The preface merely states the motivating factors why the study was conducted without getting into details of what was investigated.

  1. Declaration (Required)

It must be declared that the research is new and that it was not presented for another degree by the candidate or other persons. It must offer a clear, precise description of the candidate’s as well as other persons’ contributions to the research outcome.

  1. Table of Contents (Required)

Each one of the articles that forms part of the thesis, should be identified in this Table as a separate section by giving the complete title as it appears on each manuscript. The contents of the thesis must be divided and reflected in chapters and paragraphs (and if necessary, into subparagraphs) with corresponding page numbers, all of which must be enumerated in the following sequential: 1.1, 1.1.1, 1.1.2,1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.3, 2.2.1, etc. Although the guidelines of some universities advise that the subheadings which occur within the individual article’s manuscript are not to be listed, and that only the subheadings from the introductory and summary sections are  listed in the Contents, other universities require that the Table of Contents must capture all major sections of the thesis at the various levels (primary, secondary, tertiary subheadings) and that it should be electronically generated and should be able to take the reader to specific headings in the thesis.

  1. List of Tables (if applicable/relevant)

The student must list all tables that appear within the entire document. The numbering of tables will be dependent upon the chosen style (for example APA, MLA, etc.) and the formatting guide for the document as a whole. (This list is optional and only considered if there is one or more Tables in the thesis or dissertation).

  1. List of Figures (if applicable/relevant)

All figures that appear within the entire document must be listed. The numbering of figures will be dependent upon the chosen style (for example APA, MLA, etc.) and the formatting guide for the document as a whole. (This list is optional and only considered if there is one or more Figures in the thesis or dissertation).

  1. List of Abbreviations, Symbols, and Nomenclature (if applicable/relevant)

All the abbreviations, symbols and nomenclature must be listed as one complete list in the preliminary section of the dissertation and should not be included with the individual articles of the three-article-thesis. (Listing is optional and only considered if there is one or more  Abbreviations in the thesis or dissertation).

3.3.4.2.2. Body or Main Text Section8-11,13,16-25

  1. Chapter 1 or Introduction8-11,13,16-25

The introductory chapter for the traditional thesis and the article-thesis is similar. This Section should include the literature review and have the following11:5:

  1. a) Background and the context of the study;
  2. b) Description of the core research problem and its significance;
  3. c) A comprehensive, critical, coherent overview of the relevant literature leading to clearly defined knowledge gaps;
  4. d) A coherent problem statement highlighting the nature and magnitude of the problem, the discrepancy, knowledge gaps therein and possible factors influencing the problem;
  5. e) Clear and SMART research questions, objectives and hypothesis and/or theoretical framework;
  6. f) A conceptual framework (optional);
  7. g) Description of the study area and general methodology (in a standard thesis this should be a stand-alone section);
  8. h) Layout of the thesis (thesis structure) indicating what chapters are presented in the thesis and how they address the objectives.

1.1. Statement of the study’s purpose or singular research hypothesis to be tested

This part is also referred to as the general discussion or the Synthesis Chapter and demonstrates the logical thread that runs across the various manuscripts/publications (synthesis). There should be no doubt that the manuscripts/publications forming the article-thesis complement each other and address the original objectives stated in the general introduction of the thesis. The general discussion/synthesis chapter should end with a conclusion and recommendations where necessary.

The Introduction or Introductory Chapter should include a clear statement of the study’s purpose or singular research hypothesis to be tested. It must contain a description of the problem and an explanation of how the articles/papers included in the document address this problem.  It provides necessary background information and a broad statement summarizing the findings of the study. This section will also include a statement of the relationship between and among the various articles and other parts of the research: This Introductory Chapter should be a clear description and enlightening as to the articles and should form a cohesive body of work that supports a theme or themes. It should explain clearly why the previously published or publishable papers were chosen. It may reflect a deeper and more intensive review of prior work related to the problem and should be more comprehensive than publishers allow in journal articles: many of the points of discussion that are contained in the literature reviews of the individual articles, often need to be included in this chapter.

  • [Note: When there reflects a lack of a sufficient or comprehensive literature review on the total submission — meaning thus the various articles’ literature on the whole does not meet the requirements of a dissertation or thesis and fail to describe and illumine in-depth the topic under study, it is advised that in such a case it may be necessary to draft a separate chapter that constitutes a literature review, or in the case of a collection of articles, a body of literature that is common to all the articles, that could be reviewed and located in the overall introduction].

The word count of the Literature Review, subsumed in the Introduction, must be within the stipulated word count for a thesis or dissertation. A stand-alone Methodology section is not

needed, seeing that the methods are adequately described later on in each manuscript/publication.

1.2. Footnotes, references and bibliography

The Introductory Chapter’s own footnotes, references and bibliography can be presented as a final subsection or as separate subsections at the end of the Chapter. Preferably they should not begin on a new page if they can be continued naturally on the last page immediately after the closing of the Discussions and Conclusions of Chapter 1.

Alternatively, the footnotes, references and bibliography can be collected and reflected after Chapter 5 (traditionally the Final Chapter of the three-article thesis), as a subsection, or as subsections titled: General Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations and Future Advisory as the separate footnotes, references and bibliography of the Concluding Material or Back Matter.

1.3. Intention of the Introductory Chapter

The intention of the Introductory Chapter is to provide coherence by explaining the line of argument to be elaborated in the following chapters representing the various articles. This chapter of a thesis by published works should be written independently by the student.

1.4. The numbering of the Introductory/Chapter 1

Place in Arabic Numerals Chapter 1 immediately above the title description, identified as Introductory, at the top centre of the page. This title page must be placed on a new page. Begin the page numbering with an Arabic numeral: 1 and number each page consecutively (for instance 2, 3, 4, etc.) until the end of the thesis or dissertation.

1.5. Number of articles prescribed for article-thesis

Most guidelines of universities require a minimum of three separate or independent-standing chapters (representing each an article) in the three-article-format thesis. Of these three articles, at least one must be an already published work. There is no ruling limiting the former publication of all three articles at the time of examination and in many cases all the articles have already been published in accredited journals at the time of examination.

Regarding the minimum/maximum number of articles that may make up an article-format thesis, there is not a so-called “minimum/maximum clause”, seeing that every article-format thesis is unique and thus requires its own approach in formatting and style in the offering of data on the research topic. (Note: Article-format theses consisting of up to nineteen already-accredited published articles, have been offered in the past).

  1. Chapter 2 (Article 1) 8-11,13,16-25

To compile Chapter 2, the following four steps (see subheadings: 2.1. to 2.4) are suggested by the literature:

2.1. Placing of the title Chapter 2

Place the naming Chapter 2 (reflecting Article 1) just above the title chosen for Article 1 at the top centre of this page. This placement must be on a new page. With the start of Chapter 2 the page numbering, coming from Chapter 1, continues again in Arabic numerals (as introduced by the page numbering coming from the beginning of Chapter 1: Introduction, as is reflected in subheading 1. above). The number of each page again ensues consecutively to the end of Chapter 2 (ending at either the Bibliography, Appendices, or the Bridging Section, depending on the structure of Chapter 2). None of the pages within Chapter 2, as an essential part of the Body of the thesis or dissertation, may be skipped.

2.2. Connecting text

On this first page (beginning) of Chapter 2 any connecting text or supplementary information that is necessary to link Chapter 2 (Article 1) to Chapter 3 (Article 2) and/or the following chapters, may be presented under headings such as “Background”, “Introductory Comments”, etc. Here, an introductory note, or footnote, indicating the publication status of the work, should be included. Note: Instead of the above “connecting or bridging page”, the “bridging section” can be offered separately as the last page of Chapter 2 (Article 1), the page just before the start of Chapter 3 (Article 2), as illustrated later in subheading 2.4.4. of this section. If the above-mentioned introductory or background text is not included at the start part of Chapter 2, the title page will be the first page of Chapter 2.

2.3. Scholarly citation

On the same page as the title page should be placed a full scholarly citation for the published work that must include the name of the author(s), a note that permission from the publisher to use the article(s) in the thesis or dissertation has been granted if the work(s) is in press or has been published, an introduction, review of literature, method, results and conclusions.

2.4.  Contents of Chapter 2

The contents of Chapter 2 (Article 1) itself are started up on a new page and follows immediately after the title page marked as Chapter 2.

2.4.1. Abstract

The contents of Chapter 2 must contain the Abstract in those cases where the initial published version contains one. This is in sequence with the main body of literature.

2.4.2. Footnotes, References, and Bibliography

Also, in sequence with the main body of literature are its Lists of Footnotes, References, and Bibliography. If footnotes, references and the bibliography are provided at the end of Chapter 2, they are presented as a subsection of the chapter, meaning that they do not begin on a new page if they can be continued naturally on the current page. The page numbering of the subsections’ footnotes, references and the bibliography of Chapter 2 must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 2 with Arabic numerals till the last page of the bibliography subsection. This can mean the closing of Chapter 2’s numbering if it does not have Appendices and/or a Bridging Section. If one or both of these two parts are included, the pages for Chapter 2 continue consecutively with Arabic numerals till the end of either the Appendices and/or the Bridging Section (See undermentioned subheadings 2.4.3. and 2.4.4. of this section).

2.4.3. Appendices (Optional)

In an article’s contents relevant material can especially be embedded, making the conclusions from it very coherent to the total study and forcing-in the use of an Appendix or Appendices. Some items that might be included here may be additional details on the background, methods, procedures, raw data, tables to detail for text presentation, computer programmes, technical notes on methods, schedules and forms used in the collecting of materials, copies of documents not generally available to the reader, case studies too long to put directly into the text, etc. Although this type of data reflection is not required for article chapters, it can be very effectively used, not only to present coherence between the various articles as well as the total thesis, but also to focus the attention prominently on research outcomes, conclusions and put the need for further research in perspective. This representation may be done at the end of Chapter 2 (Article 1) as an appendix or a set of appendices, and inserted as a subsection or as subsections of the chapter. A single subsection can be labelled in the case of Chapter 2 (Article 1) as “Chapter 2 Appendix” when only one appendix is reflected. If several appendices, like three, are included into Chapter 2, the labelling must be respectively shown as: “Chapter 2 Appendix 1”, “Chapter 2 Appendix 2” and “Chapter 2 Appendix 3”. This matter, other than the appendices that are placed in the Back Matter, does not require a new section that starts on a new page, but it should start where any other subsection in Chapter 2 would begin.  It is the choice of the author(s) of Article 1 to include appendices at the end of each of the article chapters of the article format thesis or to include it in the Back Matter. (It must be noted that the article’s subsection of appendix or appendices are not meant for reflecting large sizes of documents or supplement files. (This type of material must be placed in the Appendices of the Back Matter.)

The page numbering of the subsection Appendices of Chapter 2 (if included) must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 2 with Arabic numerals onwards to form the last page of Chapter 2 (if there is not a Bridging Section following). Note again that no pages within the Body of the thesis or dissertation must be skipped.

2.4.4. Bridging Section

A “Bridging Section” of more or less one-page length, can, if it is necessary to make the information of Chapter 2 (Article 1) more coherent to the incoming information of Chapter 3 (Article 2), as well as to make information of the total document or thesis coherent as a whole, be placed as the last page or separator page of Chapter 2, and continue consecutively from the last page of the Appendices where applicable: See 2.4.3. This text linking Chapter 2 with Chapter 3 and providing details of the Chapter 3’s manuscript/publication indicates publication status. This Bridging Section is not applicable if a connecting text was already included in subheading 2.2. in the chapter. It seems the placing of a single connecting page between the previous and the next Chapter is the most popular choice.

2.4.5. Text preparation

The requirements for the preparation of the text differs between universities. In some cases it is required that the inclusion of an article in the dissertation means that the text of it is retyped into the format as prescribed by the university. Requirements, for instance, can be double line spacing, 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, 4 cm left-hand margin, and all other margins as 2,5 cm. In other cases it is advised by universities that an article’s presentation must be offered in the manner in which the manuscript was offered for publication or was published. This means that chapters containing articles intended for or published already by different publishers may be presented in the format that meets the specific requirements of each individual publisher even if the publishers require different formats. As an alternative the author is allowed to choose his own style on the basis that the articles are reformatted into a single, common style.

In both forms of presentations as to the styles of articles, the pages must be renumbered so that all the pages in the thesis/dissertation are numbered consecutively. The pages in each article must follow the overall page numbering scheme of the dissertation, as was started by Chapter 1’s title as reflected on page 1.

  1. Chapter 3 (Article 2)8-11,13,16-25

To compile Chapter 3, the following four steps (subheadings 3.1. to 3.4.) the following guidance is provided by the literature:

3.1.  Placement of the title Chapter 3

Place the description Chapter 3 (reflecting Article 2) just above the title chosen for Article 2 at the top centre of this page. This placement must be on a new page. At the start of Chapter 3, the page numbering, coming from Chapter 2, continues again in Arabic numerals, as introduced by the page numbering coming from the beginning of Chapter 1: Introduction, as is reflected in subheading 1.). The number of each page again follows consecutively to the end of Chapter 3 (ending at either the Bibliography, Appendices or the Bridging Section depending on the structure of Chapter 3). No pages within Chapter 3 as an essential part of the Body of the thesis or dissertation, may be skipped.

3.2.  Connecting text

On this first page of Chapter 3 any connecting text or supplementary information that is necessary to link Chapter 3 (Article 2) to Chapter 4 (Article 3) and/or the following chapters, may be presented at the beginning of Chapter 3 under headings such as “Background”, “Introductory Comments”, etc. Here an introductory note, or footnote, indicating the publication status of the work, should be included. Instead of above “connecting or bridging page”, the “bridging section” can be offered separately as the last page of Chapter 3 (Article 2), the page just before the start of Chapter 4 (Article 3), as illustrated later in subheading 3.4.4.  Note: If the above-mentioned introductory or background text is not included at this starting section of Chapter 3, the title page will be the first page of Chapter 3.

3.3. Scholarly citation

On the same page as the title page should be placed a full scholarly citation for the published work that must include the name of the author(s), a note that permission from the publisher to use the article in the thesis or dissertation has been granted if the work is in press or has been published, an introduction, review of literature, method, results and conclusions.

3.4.  Contents of Chapter 3

The contents of Chapter 3 (Article 2) itself are started on a new page and follows immediately after the title page marked as Chapter 3.

3.4.1. Abstract

The contents of Chapter 3 must contain the Abstract in those cases where the initial published version contains one. This is in sequence with the main body of literature.

3.4.2. Footnotes, references, and bibliography

Also, in sequence with the main body of the literature, are its Lists of Footnotes, References, and Bibliography. If footnotes, references and the bibliography are provided at the end of Chapter 3, they are presented as a subsection of the chapter, meaning that they do not begin on a new page if they can be continued naturally on the current page. The page numbering of the subsections’ footnotes, references and the bibliography of Chapter 3 must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 3 with Arabic numerals until the last page of the Bibliography subsection. This can mean the closing of Chapter 3 numbering if it does not have Appendices and/or a Bridging Section. If one or both of these two parts are included, the pages for Chapter 3 continue consecutively with Arabic numerals until the end of either the Appendices and/or the Bridging Section. (See undermentioned subheadings 3.4.3. and 3.4.4. of this section.)

3.4.3. Appendices (Optional)

In an article’s contents relevant material can especially be embedded, making the conclusions from it very coherent with the total study and necessitating the use of an appendix or appendices. Some items that might be included here may be additional details on the background, methods, procedures, raw data, tables or detail for text presentation, computer programmes, technical notes on methods, schedules and forms used in the collecting of materials, copies of documents not generally available to the reader, case studies too long to put directly into the text, etc. Although this type of data reflection is not required for article chapters, it can be used very effectively, not only to present coherence between the various articles as well as the total thesis, but also to focus the attention on prominent research outcomes, conclusions and the need for further research. This representation may be inserted at the end of Chapter 3 (Article 2) as an appendix or a set of appendices, and added as a subsection or as subsections of the chapter. A single subsection may be labelled in the case of Chapter 3 (Article 2) as “Chapter 3 Appendix” when only one appendix is reflected. If several appendices, like three, are included in Chapter 3, the labelling must be respectively reflected as: “Chapter 3 Appendix 1”, “Chapter 3 Appendix 2” and “Chapter 3 Appendix 3”. This matter, other than the appendices that are placed in the Back Matter, does not require a new section that starts on a new page, but it should start where any other subsection in Chapter 3 would begin.  It is the choice of the author(s) of Article 2 to include appendices at the end of each of the article chapters of the article-format thesis or to include it in the Back Matter. (It must be noted that the article’s subsection of appendix or appendices are not meant for the inclusion of large sizes of documents or supplement files. This type of material must be placed in the Appendices of the Back Matter.)

The page numbering of the subsection Appendices of Chapter 3 (if included) must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 3 with Arabic numerals onwards to form the last page of Chapter 3 (if there is not a Bridging Section following). Note again that no pages within the Body of the thesis or dissertation must be skipped.

3.4.4. Bridging Section

A “Bridging Section” of more or less one page length can, if it is necessary to make the information of Chapter 3 (Article 2) more coherent with the incoming information of Chapter 4 (Article 3), as well as to make information of the total document or thesis coherent as a whole,  be placed as the last page of Chapter 3, and may continue consecutively from the last page of the Appendices where applicable: See subheading 3.4.3. This text links Chapter 3 with Chapter 4 and provides details of Chapter 4’s manuscript/publication indicating publication status. This Bridging Section is not applicable if a connecting text was already included in subheading 3.2. It seems that placing a single connecting page between the previous and the next Chapter is the most popular choice.

3.4.5. Text preparation

The requirements for the preparation of the text differs between universities. In some cases it is required that for the inclusion of an article in the dissertation the text of it is retyped into the format as prescribed by the university. Requirements, for instance, can be double line spacing, 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, 4 cm left-hand margin, and all other margins as 2,5 cm. In other of the cases it is prescribed by universities that an article’s presentation must be offered in the manner in which the manuscript was offered for publication or was published.

In both forms of presentations as to article style, the page numbering for the article must follow the overall page numbering scheme of the dissertation, as started by Chapter 1’s title on page 1.

  1. Chapter 4 (Article 3)8-11,13,16-25

To compile Chapter 4, the following four steps (subheadings 4.1. to 4.4.) are recommended by the literature:

4.1. Placement of the title of Chapter 4

Place the inscription Chapter 4 (reflecting Article 3) just above the title chosen for Article 3 at the top centre of this page. This placement must be on a new page. At the start of Chapter 4 the page numbering, coming from Chapter 3, continues again in Arabic numerals, as introduced by the page numbering coming from the beginning of Chapter 1: Introduction, as is reflected in subheading 1. The number of each page again follows consecutively to the end of Chapter 4 (ending at either the Bibliography, Appendices or the Bridging Section depending on the structure of Chapter 4). No pages within Chapter 4, as an essential part of the Body of the thesis or dissertation, may be skipped.

4.2. Connecting text

On this first page of Chapter 4 any connecting text or supplementary information that is necessary to link Chapter 4 (Article 3) to the Chapter 5 (Conclusions), may be presented at the beginning of Chapter 4 under headings such as “Background”, “Introductory Comments”, etc. Here, an introductory note, or footnote, indicating the publication status of the work, should be included. Instead of the above “connecting or bridging page”, the “bridging section” can be offered separately as the last page of Chapter 4 (Article 3), the page just before the start of Chapter 5 (Conclusion), as illustrated later in subheading 4.4.4. Note: If the above-mentioned introductory or background text is not included at this initial stage of Chapter 4, the title page will be the first page of Chapter 4.

4.3. Scholarly citation

On the same page as the title page should be placed a full scholarly citation for the published work that must include the name of the author(s), a note that permission from the publisher to use the article in the thesis or dissertation has been granted if the work is in press or has been published, an introduction, review of literature, method, results and conclusions.

4.4. Contents of Chapter 4

The contents of Chapter 4 (Article 3) itself are started on a new page and follows immediately after the title page marked as Chapter 4.

4.4.1. Abstract

The contents of Chapter 4 must contain the Abstract in those cases where the initial published version contains one. This is in sequence with the main body of literature.

4.4.2. References and bibliography

Also, in sequence with the main body of literature are its Lists of Footnotes, References, and Bibliography. If footnotes, references and the bibliography are provided at the end of Chapter 4, they are presented as a subsection of the chapter, meaning that they do not begin on a new page if they can be continued naturally on the current page. The page numbering of the subsections’ footnotes, references and the bibliography of Chapter 4 must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 4 with Arabic numerals until the last page of the Bibliography subsection. This may mean the closing of Chapter 4 numbering if it does not have Appendices and/or a Bridging Section. If one or both of these two parts are included, the pages for Chapter 4 continue consecutively with Arabic numerals until the end of either the Appendices and/or the Bridging Section (see undermentioned subheadings 4.4.3. and 4.4.4. of this section).

4.4.3. Appendices (Optional)

Within the contents of an article, relevant material may especially be embedded, making the conclusions from it very coherent with the total study and necessitating the use of an appendix or appendices. Some items that might be included here may be additional details on the background, methods, procedures, raw data, tables with detail for text presentation, computer programmes, technical notes on methods, schedules and forms used in the collecting of materials, copies of documents not generally available to the reader, case studies too long to put directly into the text, etc. Although this type of data reflection is not required for article chapters, it can be used very effectively, not only to present coherence between the various articles as well as the total thesis, but also to focus the attention on prominent research outcomes, conclusions and the need for further research. This representation may be done at the end of Chapter 4 (Article 3) as an appendix or a set of appendices, and inserted as a subsection or as subsections of the chapter. A single subsection may be labelled in the case of Chapter 4 (Article 3) as “Chapter 4 Appendix” when only one appendix is reflected. If several appendices, like three, are included in Chapter 4, the labelling must be respectively reflected: “Chapter 4 Appendix 1”, “Chapter 4 Appendix 2” and “Chapter 4 Appendix 3”. This matter, other than the Appendices that are placed in the Back Matter, does not require a new section that starts on a new page, but it should start where any other subsection in Chapter 4 would begin.  It is the choice of the author(s) of Article 3 to include appendices at the end of each of the article chapters of the article-format thesis or to include it in the Back Matter. (It must be noted that the article’s subsection of appendix or appendices are not meant for the reflecting of large sizes of documents or supplement files. This type of material must be placed in the Appendices of the Back Matter.)

The page numbering of the subsection Appendices of Chapter 4 (if included) must continue consecutively throughout Chapter 4 with Arabic numerals onwards to form the last page of Chapter 4 (if there is not a Bridging Section following). Note again that no pages within the Body of the thesis or dissertation must be skipped.

4.4.4. Bridging Section

A “Bridging Section” of more or less one-page length may, if it is necessary to make the information of Chapter 4 (Article 3) more coherent with the total document or thesis coherent as a whole, be placed as the last page of Chapter 4, to continue consecutively from the last page of the Appendices where applicable: see subheading 4.4.3. This text would be linking Chapter 4 with Chapter 5 and providing details of Chapter 5’s manuscript/publication indicating publication status. This Bridging Section is not applicable if a connecting text was already included in subheading 4.2. in the chapter.

It seems the placing of a single connecting page between the previous and the next Chapter is the most popular choice.

4.4.5. Text preparation

The requirements for the preparing of the text differs between universities. In some cases it is required that for the inclusion of an article in the dissertation the text of it is retyped in the format as prescribed by the university. Requirements, for instance, may be double line spacing, 12-point Times or Times New Roman font, 4 cm left-hand margin, and all other margins as 2,5 cm. In other cases, it is prescribed by universities that an article’s presentation must be offered in the manner in which the manuscript was offered for publication or was published.

In both forms of presentation as to article style, the page numbering for the article must follow the overall page numbering scheme of the dissertation, as started by Chapter 1’s title on page 1.

  1. Chapter 58-11,13,16-25

This chapter, the final one (Chapter 5) of the three-article-thesis, must reinforce the linkages between Chapters 2, 3 and 4 (Articles 1, 2 and 3), as well as to bring into perspective the connection of the three articles with the relevant discipline or field of the study. In practice it is in the first place a clarification or summary of how the articles are related to each other and contribute to the total study. The final chapter should be written independently by the student. In this chapter it should, if not already done separately in the articles that make up the Body of the research, be indicated what the specific contribution of the doctoral student to the thesis was if it were written by several authors: if the thesis mainly consists of articles, the candidate should normally be the main author or first author of at least half of the articles. If co-authored, the contributions of the candidate to the thesis or dissertation and each of the co-authors to the various papers must be described clearly. A written statement from each co-author should follow the thesis, detailing the candidate’s and the co-authors’ contributions: the candidate’s contribution should be identifiable.

5.1. Creation of title page for Chapter 5 and its naming

Create a title page named Chapter 5, which is placed on a new page. Place the title of General Discussion, Overall Conclusions, Recommendations and Future Advisory just beneath Chapter 5 at the top centre of this page. Here the page numbering continues again in Arabic numerals, as introduced by the page numbering coming from the end of Chapter 4 (Article 3). The number of each page again proceeds consecutively to the end of the Chapter 5 and no pages within Chapter 5, as an essential part of the Body of the thesis or dissertation, must be skipped.

The final Chapter (Number 5) consists mostly of 1. General Discussion, 2. Overall Conclusions, and 3. Recommendations and Future Advisory.

5.2. General Discussion

The General Discussion is indeed meant to be comprehensive, summarising and clarifying the various appended articles of the study. It should not necessarily provide new results but may provide a synthesis of new conclusions by combining results from the various articles. The summary’s information may offer an in-depth review of the various articles and may thus be supplementary. It may offer a motivation of the chosen scope, research problems, objectives and methods, as well as a strengthening of the theoretical framework, analysis and Overall Conclusions, since the extent of the separate articles in general does not allow longer kinds of discussion. The General Discussion should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the writing of the Discussion of the articles.

5.3. Overall Conclusions

The Overall Conclusions state only the conclusions for the manuscript as a whole. The Overall Conclusions should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the writing of the Conclusions of the articles.

5.4. Recommendations and future advisory

It should include applications and ideas for the discussion of future research directions that separately emerged from the three articles and from the dissertation as a whole.

3.3.3.4.1.3. Concluding Material or Back Matter8-11,13,16-25

  1. Bibliography (Required)

This Bibliography contains a complete list of works consulted and referred to in the general text, namely the Introduction, Overall Conclusion, and any supplementary sections, but excluding the Bibliographies of the three articles. The comprehensiveness and quality of the Bibliography of the summary chapter must place the scope and results of the study as a whole in the wider context of the current state of the national and /or international research of the undertaken study. The Bibliography should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the compiling of the Bibliographies of the articles. Note: It is permissible that, instead of presenting a separate bibliography list at the end of each chapter in the Main Text, to include just one list of all the sources cited in the thesis or dissertation in the section of the Back Matter. Authors may elect to do both if they wish.

  1. References (if applicable/relevant)

Included here should be only the general references from the Introduction and Synthesis chapters (like the Overall Conclusion), and any supplementary sections: all other references should be within the manuscripts presented under its data-chapters. The References should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the writing of the References of the articles. Note: It is permissible that instead of presenting a separate reference-list at the end of each chapter in the Main Text, to include just one list of all the sources cited in the thesis or dissertation in the section of the Back Matter. Authors may do both if they wish.

  1. Works Cited (If applicable/relevant)

Included here should be only the works cited from the Introduction, Overall Conclusion, and any supplementary sections. The Works Cited should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the writing of the Works Cited of the articles. Note: It is permissible, that, instead of presenting a separate works cited list at the end of each chapter in the Main Text, to include just one list of all the sources cited in the thesis or dissertation in the section of the Back Matter. Authors may to do both if they wish.

  1. Appendices (if applicable/relevant)

These documents contain detailed information of the various aspects of the research and how it was executed. Included can be for instance a copy of the instructions and explanations relating to the research participants, the material and/or the methodology of the experimental questionnaire or weighting method employed, tables with raw data, transcriptions of audio material and or video recordings, diagrams, ethics certificates, etc., considered important but not essential for inclusion in the actual thesis. Included here are thus only additional appendices that relate to the thesis as a whole, excluding specifically those reflected in the three articles. Also, additional papers that emanated from the work but not directly contributing to the thesis, may be included.  The Appendices should conform to the same style and format as that followed in the compiling of the Appendices of the articles.

The fully published paper or manuscript submitted for publication should be presented as published or submitted to the journal: the actual published paper should be scanned and inserted.

  1. Back Cover8-11,13,16-25
  2. The article-thesis’s immediate challenges, dilemmas and potential in the South African research setting8-11,13,16-25

In light of the primary aim of this article, namely to promote and to position the article-thesis as a dynamic research tool to the country’s academics and researchers, certain negative elements in our research environment that may obstruct the future development and functioning of the article-thesis need to be reflected on.  This will be done beneath in subsections 4.1 to 4.4.

4.1. The intertwining of the article-thesis with the traditional thesis

One of the obstructions to the Circle of Research Completeness is the unfounded opinion regarding the absolute difference and irreconcilability between the article-format thesis and the traditional thesis, making any united utilisation to benefit research impossible. This cognition, having been voiced in the literature so many times and strengthened by the oft-repeated opinion that the traditional thesis and the article-format thesis are two completely different sub-genres of academic writing, is a research myth. Also, opinions that the traditional thesis and the journal-article-thesis are meant for different audiences and written for different purposes, is another myth.8-11,13,16-25

Notwithstanding such opinions meant to isolate for opportunistic reasons the traditional thesis because of its alleged “outdated academic and research culture” and that its presence is “contaminating” the Modern-day research culture, the evidence contradicts such negative labelling. The positioning of the “benefits” of the article-thesis because it is alleged to be much shorter, presenting a tighter framework and a more compact style, is gainsaid by the fact that the average traditional thesis in the USA seems to be between 100 and 200 pages and consists of more or less 20 000 to 40 000 words, which represents a very compact model.8-11,13,16-25

There is very little difference today between the way the contents of article-theses and traditional theses are focussed: both are loaded with theoretical as well as practical ideas that are backed up with evidence, reporting is well-detailed with results and discussions relevant to the research, while comprehensive bibliographies are part of the structure of both entities. Both the article-thesis and the traditional thesis demonstrate interest in future research directions and the structure of the article-thesis reflects the same as that of the traditional thesis, like introduction, literature review, description of research approach, methodology, reporting, and results interpretation and conclusions.

From a critical viewpoint both the article-thesis and traditional thesis are intensively used and read by the so-called busy academics, researchers and scholars who surely do not want to pick up fast, superficial tips from short-styled, uninformative research instruments. The article-thesis has been optimised to the same level for educational purposes today as the traditional thesis, as evidenced by journal articles incorporating essential primary elements into the article-format thesis and the extraction of the traditional thesis’ contents into various journal articles.8-11,13,16-25

A critical analysis of the research methodology for the two types (although sometimes in different intensities) reflects in both cases comprehension and primary intentions to anchor research in a conceptual or meta-scientific framework which is regarded as a paradigm that contains the worldview, as well as the epistemological, ontological and methodological approaches to studies. In both is to be found the belief that a theoretical or metatheoretical framework which contains the worldview and approaches of different theories to do research is applicable to all of contemporary research activity. Both thesis types have comprehensive elements in their information gathering which specifically relate to the journal articles of the article-thesis and focused elements which resonate with the initial data collection of the traditional thesis.8-11,13,16-25

A critical retrospective shows that the research roadmap of both types of theses has undoubtedly led many times to an overload of unnecessary information, especially descriptive information captured in their Introduction and in the Literature Review, as well as in the model-building around its methodology. But, hereto one may at the same time observe an underload of necessary information for both types, making them prone to poor research outcomes. The rigid philosophical research inclination that is traditionally negatively associated with the traditional thesis, is not always excluded from the research culture of the article-format thesis where research is alleged to be focused intensively and solely on specific topics, methodologies and research argumentation. The modern needs of research have led thereto that the traditional thesis has also adopted condensed applied and practical research, totally free from inapplicable, inappropriate and unnecessary material. In this context it must be emphasised that applied and practical research is not the exclusive domain of the article-thesis, as some of its proponents try to propagate. There is an allegation of the incorporation of an overload of theoretical and philosophical material within most of the traditional theses that may be seen as simply the repetition of already published information that is constantly used over and over again to back up and perpetuate certain outdated research approaches and models. But this may be equally encountered in the article-thesis’s construction and outputs, sometimes. 8-11,13,16-25

The inclination to profile the two types of thesis as two opposing, massive research drivers: descriptive conceptual theorising and theory building versus explanatory operationalised-theory testing, is today more of academic importance. It is part of a misused theoretical, inappropriate and inapplicable approach to offer outdated arguments and outlines on how the traditional thesis versus the article thesis should be structured, compiled and written. The models of the traditional thesis and the article-thesis are not two opposite research entities: an accommodating mixture of the two is in some way already in place. The antagonists against this mixture are blinded by what they see as the so-called “difference in structuring of the two’s implementation”, while they missed out on many similarities in the research approaches, as for instance: the research inclinations and intentions, the writing up and reporting of data and the making of conclusions,  the same methodology as to the design of an article, the collection and selection of data for an article, the writing of the article thesis, the writing of  the traditional thesis and the book, while in the two instances both quantity research and quality research are allowed to be practised. It is overlooked that both the article thesis and traditional thesis are in a survival mode and have adapted many of the elements of each other to be acceptable to the broad contingent of serious researchers 8-11,13,16-25

How much the article-thesis and the traditional thesis are intertwined in construction and in daily use in our research practice is well-illustrated by the SU’s51 four permitted dissertation types wherein the combined-article-chapter-thesis is a prominent entity. The description of this permitted SU-type51 of thesis (See under Format 2), specifically based on the combination of articles and chapters, reads as follows51:6:

FORMAT 2: ARTICLES, OR COMBINATION OF ARTICLES & CHAPTERS51:6

  • Introduction
  • A number of published and/or unpublished articles

or

  • A combination of chapters and published and/or unpublished articles
  • Conclusion – a summary of the research results indicating the scientific contribution to the study.

Although the traditional thesis stands undoubtedly stronger than the article-thesis in the present-day research culture and  environment, it is not and will never be the supreme entity inside the Circle of Research Completeness. The other parts of the Circle, such as the accredited article, the book and the article-thesis, have the power in the future to overtake the traditional thesis’s favoured position. On the other hand the Circle’s embedded empowerment has the strength to stall the assumption of superiority by any of the other entities in the Circle.

4.2. Shortcomings and problems of the article-thesis model8-11,13,16-25

Prominent in the rejection by some antagonists of the article-thesis and -dissertation because of  its so-called status as an “illegitimate” research tool, one encounters the controversial “illegal” status of the article-thesis by manuscripts that is argued to have the potential to support the substandard  student. Firstly, this negative assumption derives from the attractive option offered by it to the student to graduate notwithstanding that there is no guarantee that the submitted papers for the thesis may eventually be rejected and the credits emanating from publications may stay permanently absent. Secondly, the less honourable inclination to opportunistically advantage the university’s interests in terms of credit and subsidy earnings of the awarded but essentially “failed PhD”, is looked upon negatively. Thirdly, the accompanying negative intention of the article thesis by manuscripts, namely not to put the under-performing PhD student’s graduation at risk by delayed graduation when some or all of his/her manuscripts are not published/accepted, has undoubtedly cast the academic and research integrity of the article-thesis model in a dubious light. Many of the traditionalists see in this research entity, as an exclusive part of the article-thesis-model, a delinquent tool to obtain fast and with less input, abilities and responsibilities, senior qualifications and other personal awards, as well as the cloak of academic eminence. The outcome is labelling the legality of  PhD qualifications of the thesis by manuscripts (but unfortunately also the thesis by article) as far lower than that of the traditional thesis in the worst-case scenario, making the supporting of the article-thesis a kind of no-go area for many of the traditionalists in advanced research.

Prominently included in the academic and research approach of the proponents of the article-thesis — that some of the propagandists of the traditional thesis already see as nothing else than research delinquency – has been the successful partition into fragments of lesser difficulty and easier challenges to the normal and standard academic and research tasks of the traditional thesis by the supporters of the article-thesis over the last decade or two. For many of the traditionalists it is nothing else than a focused plan to make “acceptable” a place for substandard academics and researchers. For the traditionalists it is specifically the three-article-thesis which is at fault, to them just another part of the article-thesis proponents’ approach to escape the comprehensive work and of the downscaling of quality research embedded in the traditional thesis by their shortcutting of the research contents. The investigation of this research reflects the objection and rejection of the three-article-thesis by the older traditionalists of the research community, specifically its lack of contents and the absence of associated/supportive information, bringing into a focussed perspective the “short length” of it. Reading some of the article-theses published, it becomes clear that the traditionalists’ objections hold water.  Some of the article-theses have absolutely failed the test of PhD quality and status.

But here the advice of the traditionalists is quite clear on how to correct the article-thesis: add contents of quality to it by enlarging it to five or six articles and add also some of the elements of the traditional thesis into its structure to give it integrity. Tables 1 and 2 of the previously published Article One (read it under Article One’s heading: 3.2.3.1.10. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis) show that the minimum/ maximum word count specific to the three-article-thesis are respectively 29 000 and 41 000 words, while for the four-article-thesis the minimum/maximum word counts are respectively 37 000 and 53 000 words. The minimum/maximum word counts of the three-article-thesis is seen as “substandard” by some traditionalists, while the maximum word count of the four-article-thesis (53 000 words is seen as a border-line case for some traditionalists. It seems it is only the minimum/maximum word counts of respectively 45 000 and 65 000 words of the five-article-thesis that are acceptable to some traditionalists.

4.3. The not-so-innocent propagandists and supporters of the traditional thesis

Although the supporters and propagandists are fast to point out the many shortcomings of the article-thesis, they are not innocent themselves in the direct undermining of the established research culture, as well as the research integrity of the article-thesis. Here one often finds specifically their own lack of competence, skills and the understanding of the meaning of true scholarship, their immense inability to be academically and research-organised and to take on high-level academic and research tasks which should be normally part of any academic or researcher’s daily existence. This state of affairs needs to be reflected on.

Firstly, in retrospect regarding the present-day position of the traditional thesis in the greater research culture, it seems to a great extent still driven and strengthened by a large sector of propagandists and supporters who are still enthralled by “outdated traditional views and opinions” of research models. This nostalgic attitude centres around the rigid concept of the so-called “good age-old traditional and established research culture” that cannot and must not be changed.

Secondly, the avoidance and exclusion of the article-format thesis today from senior academic programmes and the pushing to the foreground of the traditional thesis by certain sectors at universities, also many times originates in the lack of abilities, skills and experience of present-day academics and researchers in the writing of distinct articles in accredited journals. This hostility is part of their failure to execute the Circle of Research Completeness wherein all the instruments of research — meaning the journal article, the traditional thesis, the article-thesis and academic/research book — can be dynamic role players without opposing and obstructing each contribution to the academic and research environment.  In South Africa many academics are not free from this “curse of non-publication and inexperience”. This unfortunate “academic and research contamination” has not only led to an under-production of publications, but also discouraged students to enrol for the article-format thesis because of a lack of experienced supervisors and a negative view of this so-called “new-age research model”. This shortcoming in skills and its internalised obstruction to change for the sake of tradition, or changes that ask extraordinary relearning (and even research rehabilitation), has contaminated not only the article-thesis status, but also the position of the traditional thesis, the journal article and the book that are all inherent parts of the Circle of Research Completeness, or at least should be.

My enquiries from research professors, academic staff and research unitis reflect a generally negative attitude towards the article-thesis and -dissertation. Many members of both the older group as well as a younger group seem not willing to get involved in the supervising or the examination of it. An evaluation of this negativism here reflects a lack of exposure to research in general, while their past and present involvement in article-publishing is minimal. It seems especially the younger group that is the least involved, quoting excuses such as a full teaching program, a lack of exposure to training in the compiling and writing of journal articles, and a low departmental and faculty interest as the main reasons. But this negativity seems to come many times from the staff’s ongoing absence from office and thus a lack of direct involvement with their faculty’s work activities and  responsibilities.

Some of the older academics (between 55 and 65 years) that I consulted in the research, openly opposed the production of article-theses in their research units, offering excuses such as the article-thesis not being a “real” PhD (wherein its “short length” and alleged lack of “sufficient research contents” stand out prominently as general arguments), that there is no demand for it, etc. Investigation hereto showed that most of these opponents of the article-thesis lacked themselves comprehensive supervisor’s and examiner’s experience of this type of thesis. More: most of them lacked a sound CV of published accredited articles. Furthermore, their understanding of the Circle of Research Completeness is many times poor and substandard, making their knowhow to generate money for their university through well- planned and -steered research — such as the publishing of accredited articles and books and the delivery of article-theses — minimal.

4.4. Impact of BAREE and cadre-deployment on present-day academic and research culture

The above conclusion regarding the presence of an established sector of substandard academics and researchers working in the present-day South African academic and research culture who directly and indirectly undermine outcomes such as the mastering of the writing of the research proposal, the journal article and the article-thesis, is undoubtedly further strengthened by the role of BAREE (B: Black, A: Academic, R: Research, E: Economic and E: Empowerment) in the South African university setup. This unfavourable academic and research environment – in addition to South Africa’s devastating political BBBEE– and cadre-deployment-policy that has led to an absolute culture of corruption, incompetence and indeed to the country’s near collapse after 26 years of ANC governance — is also in the process of offering support to substandard academics and researchers, spelling chaos to quality higher education and advanced research. The intention with BAREE is outright the same as that of BBBEE of which the main object is to accommodate substandard politicians, civil servants and cadres/comrades of the ANC in the public services, and to allow and to accept substandard work performance, etc. In this respect BAREE has undoubtedly since 1994 led to the decline of personal, social and leadership integrity inside the academic and research environment. Not only has this politics undermined the universities’ integrity, but it has promoted chaos and outright discrimination based on race-ratio appointments, lacking any merit or quality and integrity. It has demolished not only good research at the lower staff levels, but has also obstructed the reaching of the highest level of research outcomes that should be uniquely vested and practised in the Circle of Research Completeness, such as for instance the publishing of books based on published theses, journal articles, traditional theses, etc.52-60

  1. Suggestions on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation8-11,13,16-25

The aim and strategy of this article was to offer information and guidance on how to write the article-thesis, based on the guidelines of various universities and other learning institutions. This outcome was obtained as a combined guideline from the data of the above three sections’ guidelines, namely 3.3.2. Writing of the research proposal, 3.3.3. Writing of the journal article and 3.3.4. Writing of the article-thesis.  It is thus suggested that all persons involved with the writing, supervising and examination of the article-thesis should study in-depth the above guidelines compiled in this article before enrolling for the thesis-program.

There are some suggestions to make at the close of the article on how the compiling and writing of the article-thesis — from the start to its final presentation to the supervisor — must be planned and executed.

Firstly, it is important that when the student decides on the study and is looking for an aspirant supervisor, to do his/her homework well. From day one he should only have contact with a supervisor showing a sound record of senior/advanced research: a supervisor whose CV includes the holding of an article-PhD in the same research field as the student’s planned article-PhD, while he/she reflects abilities, skills, experience and training such as the following:

  1. a) the successful sole-author of at least five accredited journal articles; or
  2. b) the successful co-author of at least seven accredited journal articles;
  3. c) the successful sole-supervisor of at least two Phd-article-theses, and/or at least four masters-article-dissertations; or
  4. d) the successful co-author of at least four PhD-article-theses, and/or at least six masters-article-dissertations;
  5. e) if a selected university cannot deliver the required supervisor and/or accompanying infrastructure, move on. South Africa does have 26 universities active in some way in post-graduate training and surely in the delivery of the article-thesis and -dissertation. Try them out one-by-one: Most do now have a well-developed online offering of programmes (especially refined after the advent of Covid-19): a student living in Cape Town is free to enrol at a Johannesburg university, distance is not an impediment, as the University of South Africa’s country-wide enrolment of students confirms.

The above recommended setup could be avoided if our country has an established category of prescribed registered qualifications that supervisors of the article-dissertation and -thesis must possess before they are allowed to supervise a masters or a doctorate. (This category of prescribed registered qualifications should be similarly applicable to the examiner of the article-masters and -doctorate). Some European universities have already solved in some way the problem of supervisor- and examiner-incompetence long ago by the issuing of recognised university qualifications/registrations to qualify as supervisors and examiners. The École Saint Thomas ďAcquin of the Université catholique de Louvain offers the professional degree Maȋtre Agrégé (M.AGG or Magister Aggregatus) or Professeur Agrégé (PRAG) as a kind of post-doctorate qualification for the supervisor and examiner. Other universities in Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Poland have the higher standing post-doctoral qualification of habilitation to teach at universities, namely the Dr. habil. In other cases, the title of habilitation is added to the existing doctorate, for instance: Dr. phil. Habil. Specifically, in the case of the supervisor and examiner of Masters and Doctorates, there is also a professional registration/qualification awarded which the PhD graduate academic and researcher can put behind his degree, namely the title: Privatdozent or ius docendi (the right to teach).61-66

Secondly, the aspirant student must absolutely avoid the choice of doing an article-thesis with manuscripts. This article-thesis-model can become a terrorising ghost, equal to a substandard supervisor and a degree obtained at a poor-quality teaching university or an unaccredited university. It can contaminate the student’s career and integrity. In the same contexts stands the avoiding of the three-article-thesis: do at least an article-thesis consisting of five, but preferable six and more articles.

Furthermore, it is prescribed by some universities that the supervisor’s name must be put on the journal articles as a so-called co-author, notwithstanding the supervisor’s sometimes minimum input or even zero input. If this outcome is avoidable, stay away from recognising the supervisor, and apply co-authorship only in cases where the supervisor made an extraordinary contribution.  Allowing more than one co-author on an article is a no-go area and should absolutely be avoided.

Thirdly, myself a holder of a traditional PhD as well as an article-PhD and the sole author of multi-accredited articles and books, I like to advise the aspirant student not to deliver one-by-one his/her articles for the planned article-thesis — meaning first finishing one article before taking on the next one — but to do the basic research and writing of the thesis fully as a completed project (similar to the preparation of a traditional thesis and book). After the completion of this draft thesis/book, the total data can be separated into various articles that form a consecutive, concise unity and then publish the articles together as a project/series. In this way the roadmap is laid firstly for the production of the planned series of accredited articles, and secondly for the delivery of the planned article-thesis. In addition to these publications, try to get all the thesis’s articles published inside the first two years of enrolment for the study. What is clear and confirmed by facts, is that the basic data collection can take less than one year, while the delivery and publishing of the articles may take less than six months (at most one year). The final compiling of the already published (available) articles into the thesis, can be done between three and six months, making the delivery possible of a six-article-thesis for examination inside the prescribed maximum period of a three-year enrolment. This planned approach will not only have assured the awarding of the PhD and a bursary of R30 000 and more for the student (and much honour to the student as well as his supervisor!), but assured the university of the total income of R1 080 000 (R360 000 subsidies for the PhD, plus an extra R720 000 in subsidy for the six articles at R120 000 each).

Fourthly, this basic approach to the collecting of data and the writing down of it into a comprehensive manuscript/draft book, has three excellent outcomes. In the first place it opens the door for the student to enter the Circle of Research Completeness wherein he/she not only can go on to publish a book on the research for the PhD (which should be a prerequisite in allowing a student into the article-thesis programme), but steer the student to become a life-long an active publisher of accredited articles and books (other than the substandard profile of low and minimal publications currently reflected by many academics and researchers). This active publication output can even lead to the obtention of other PhDs by the active researcher. In the second place the comprehensive manuscript/concept book as a first stage makes it possible for the student to present it to interested editors of accredited journals as a pre-view to decide if the planned articles will be acceptable. This makes the later reviewing of the separate articles much easier and will facilitate and speed up their acceptance/publishing. In the third place it is important that the student already with the start-up of his research contact various accredited journals to enquire if they would be interested to publish the planned articles as a project/series.64,65

Regarding the publishing of the articles as a series, it is recommended that it is done at one journal only. This outcome holds many benefits for the aspirant student. Certain tips, as reflected underneath, are here of great value:

  1. If it was previously agreed with the editor of the journal to do it this way (and the draft manuscript of the total research was evaluated by the editor), the process to review is speeded up and acceptance/publication is mostly fast;
  2. If the same reviewers or part of them, together with the editor of the journal, reviewed all the articles, a similarity in the quality and in the contents is assured;
  3. In accordance with the advice of publishing the articles of the article-thesis, avoid to publish one, unattached article at a time, but focussed research in such a way that it always forms a project/series, consisting of not less than three articles, but preferably five and more. [The shortest of my projects was five articles while the longest was 20 (which was published inside of a year)]. Although some journals are not keen to do it this way because of a lack of able reviewers and an incomplete infrastructure to publish fast, most well-established journals, with a well-established infrastructure of reviewers and publishing space, are very keen to do the publishing of articles this way;
  4. Avoid publishing in so-called “free page” journals: they mostly lack the infrastructure to deliver quickly on the publishing of articles and is mostly the reason why the compiling and writing of the article-thesis to be published inside the prescribed three years of study, is impeded. Do not hesitate after a so-called “pay” journal has accepted articles for publication, to ask for a discount on page fees. (This significantly benefits the university seeing that page fees are usually paid by the university where the student is doing the article-thesis, and in exchange receives up to R120 000 per published article from the DHET: this discount assures the “stretching” of the university’s research funds);
  5. Avoid the use of co-authors like the plague generally in the writing and publishing of articles. (If a co-author is a must, stick to the supervisor as a single co-author);
  6. do not get mesmerised by publishing in internationally listed journals. No-one doubts their importance, but the preference for international publishing as superior to national publishing has unfortunately overrun the mindsets of many South African academics and researchers over the years, deliberately moving their own and their students’ national publishing to the backroom, unjustifiably so. The only ones obtaining benefit from international publications are the universities that proudly reflect the international publishing on their data and at the same time receive R4 000 more for each international publication than a national publication (R124 000 for an international one against R120 000 for a national publication). The costs to publish in well-known international journals are many times twice and more those of the national one: varying many times from R4,00 per word internationally to R2,00 and less per word nationally. These high costs to publish internationally have led thereto that universities start to limit the page fee payable to publishing in accredited journals (with many times a maximum pay-out of R15 000 per article, forcing some academics to subsidise their own publishing costs from their Idea-funds or own pocket). The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) over many years has done its best to ensure both nationally and internationally, without discrimination against any journal of quality, the presence of a comprehensive list of accredited/listed journals from where the aspirant author may feely make a choice. In total six groups exist, of which the own list of the DEHT is equally a part. This own DHET list is very strictly compiled by the DHET selectors to assure that only South African journals of integrity are allowed onto it and thus qualify to publish articles that are subsidised by the DHET. There is not a single reason why South African academics and researchers cannot and should not publish in national journals;
  7. The aspirant student of the article-thesis must not allow that he/she be enthralled by either the radicals of the article-thesis or the traditional thesis, but he/she must become a “moderate” researcher: Borrow from both and stay a supporter of the mixed-model of thesis writing. That is the only way to gain entrance into the Circle of Research Completeness and to taste what it means to be a true author/writer of many publications.

4. Conclusion8-11,13,16-25

No-one doubted that the article-thesis as a research tool can be a winner and that it can be a wealth and status generator for the universities, but to be a winner in the research community, requires some adaptation in content growth, a more diverse structure, stricter assessment rules, etc. Its traditional three-article-thesis and thesis by manuscripts show just too many shortcomings and are seen by many as nothing else than shortcuts by less well-trained and experienced students and supervisors to obtain the “golden” PhD.

A central impediment to the article-thesis making inroads into the South African research environment, is its failure to claim and to assure the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics and researchers in the art of the writing the research proposal, the writing of journal articles, the writing of the article-thesis. These research tools require a totally different approach to that of the traditional thesis. This specialist knowhow is mostly absent from the present-day academics’ and researchers’ mindset. It is one of the main reasons for the unnecessary conflict between modernists and traditionalists in our present-day research community and unasked-for negativity about the article-thesis model as a creative research tool. This negative setting goes further: it has led to aspirant students shying away from enrolling for and writing the article-thesis, simply out of a sense of fear.  A prominent fear in this respect is for ultimate failure in not obtaining the PhD; essentially because of students’ lack of training to do research and to write the article-thesis, as well as the lack of skilled supervisors to steer and guide them through their studies; forcing them to adopt instead the “safer” traditional thesis.

To be a winner requires from the article-thesis some adaptation in content growth, a more diverse structure, stricter assessment rules, the three-article-thesis should become the five-article-thesis, etc.

From the research of this article on how to write the article-masters and -doctorate, it is clear that it is not only the aspirant students, but also supervisors who are in great need of obtaining an in-depth understanding of the rules, regulations and stipulations on how to do the research, preparation and writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation. Hopefully the intertwined three guidelines compiled in this article, namely: “How to write the research proposal”, “How to write the journal article” and “How to write the article-thesis and -dissertation”, would motivate and assist aspirant students and aspirant supervisors to obtain the needed knowhow.

In the next two intertwined articles, entitled: “How to examine the article-format-masters and –doctorate: Part 1” and:  “How to examine the article-format-masters and –doctorate: Part 2”,  a summarised guideline will be presented on how to examine the article-thesis and –dissertation.

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How to write and supervise the article-format master and doctorate (3): Part 1

Title: How to write and supervise the article-format master and doctorate (3): Part 1

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PU for CHE), DPhil (PU for CHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format-thesis, doctorate, journal article, masters, proposal, supervise, write.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 4: 1

1. Background

It must be noted that Article One: “How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa”, found that there was no single solution or guideline that fits all universities on how the article-thesis and dissertation should be compiled and written. Although this article as well as the next article offers a combined guideline incorporating the guidelines of many prominent universities on the compiling, writing and presentation of the article-format dissertation and thesis, there are still some differences in approaches and rules between universities worldwide. This article’s guidance only serves to offer the aspirant student (as well as the aspirant supervisor and examiner) an understanding of the issues around the article-format dissertation and thesis; and as a starting point for the writing of the article-masters and doctorate within a clearly supportive framework.

1.1. Introduction

For most students, young or old, taking on the research and writing of the article-master or doctorate, it may often appear to be something of a black hole and a world never travelled before. But increasingly this impression has faded in our present internet-environment which is saturated with valuable information, constantly and instantly available. The setup today around the study for the article-master and doctorate is far more student-friendly and supportive than twenty years ago. Modern-day universities offer online easily readable and descriptive guidelines on the rules and prerequisites for enrolment in their article-master and doctorate.  It is therefore very important that students should inform themselves about the procedures, regulations and rules regarding the formatting of dissertations/theses of the universities where they intend to enrol. Some universities make use besides their guidelines and other advice, of various other kinds of support to help the aspirant student, such as prescribed templates to present and structure all the data intended to be published as a thesis or dissertation. Some of these templates leave very little space for deviation, while others are only focussed on the capturing of primary data.

There are also many role players from the private sector today assisting, for a professional fee, the inexperienced candidates from day one of their enrolment, until the handing-in of their article-dissertation or thesis. It has become the custom lately that most of the concept theses and dissertations, after having received the “green light” from the supervisors to be presented for the final examination, are first processed/corrected by these private author-service editors and language editors to make dissertations and theses fulfil all the prescriptions of the universities where candidates are enrolled. These modern-day “private-sector” academic and research-editing enterprises undoubtedly are lightening in some way the burden for students to present their theses or dissertations for examination, but it does not  fully eliminate the expert knowhow that novice students need to master the writing of the article-thesis and dissertation.

The fact is that the candidates must themselves be the initial data collector, compiler and note taker of the data, transforming it into draft academic/research documents, equal to those for final theses or dissertations. Here, as mentioned in the first article of the series, we are again reminded of the age-old adage applicable to all students, namely: “…to pass successfully a test, to take an oath of allegiance and to pay a fee”, as a prerequisite for the obtention of the licentia docendi and the awarding of the honourable titles of master (magister) or) doctor (docere). Thus, for the awarding of the much sought-after licentia docendi — the end product of the student’s study — the article-dissertation or -thesis must be strictly the student’s own work. There is no way around it.1-6

The above prescribed and required academic and research integrity and knowhow are well-reflected in the rules of the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA)7 that state 7:3: “The author of the thesis/dissertation must be the sole or primary author of the articles included in the document. Co-authored papers may be included (if the thesis/dissertation author is the primary author). However, the contributions of the thesis/dissertation writer and his or her co-authors to the paper must be clearly stated in the thesis or dissertation.”

This mandatory selfauthorship of the research and writing of his/her own thesis/dissertation by the candidate which requires beforehand an in-depth understanding of thesis writing, represents one of the main reasons why this article on how to write the article-thesis and -dissertation was compiled and written.8-11 ● It is important to note at this stage in the writing of this article that its title includes two specific references: writing and supervising. Although the contents of the article continuously refer to the aspirant student of the article-masters and -doctorate, this reference is equally applicable to the aspirant supervisor that needs to guide the aspirant student in his writing of the article-thesis or -dissertation. In South Africa there is at this stage a dire shortage of capable supervisors to steer students through their article-theses and -dissertation studies. This unfortunate situation determines that the educational matter and aims of this article are at all times equally applicable and needed by both the student and supervisor. To avoid the unnecessary repetition of the same information in the process of addressing, guiding and training both the aspirant student and the aspirant supervisor on how to write the article-thesis and -dissertation, the reference aspirant student must be seen and read as similar to the reference aspirant supervisor throughout this article. Note: Regarding the required knowhow and abilities of examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation, is it also clear that few are well-trained and experienced in this field and can in general be described as aspirant examiners or more appropriately in some cases as novice examiners-in-training. This article’s guidance and training are thus equally applicable to the aspirant examiner as a first training lesson before he/she later goes on to the more complicated training program of how to examine the article-masters and -doctorate (see Articles Five and Six of the series of seven articles). In this context it must be noted that the aspirant supervisor should also as a prerequisite training lesson, master the contents of Articles Three, Five and Six of the series to be a capable supervisor in the end.

This article entitled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and -Doctorate: Part 1” and the next article entitled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and -Doctorate: Part 2”, is a continuing process regarding the writing of the research proposal, journal article and the article-thesis and -dissertation that was commenced in Article One. The broad information, as reflected in Article One on the rules, regulations and stipulations on the writing of the research proposal, journal article and article-thesis and -dissertation, will be summarised and used as a guide on how to write the research proposal, journal article and article-thesis and -dissertation.8-11,13,16-25

1.2. Aims of the article

The purpose of this article, as part one of two intertwined articles, is to provide a framework or guideline to assist aspirant students (as well as supervisors and aspirant examiners) in their preparation for the writing of the research proposal and journal article. To realise this aim, the research and writing practices of various universities and other institutions as to the writing of the research proposal and article have in this article been incorporated into two combined guidelines on how to write the research proposal and the research article. 8-11,13,16-50

In the next intertwined article, entitled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Masters and -Doctorate: Part 2”, the aim is to provide a framework or guideline to assist aspirant students (as well as supervisors and aspirant examiners) in their planning, compiling and writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation. To realise this guideline the research and writing practices of more than fourteen universities and other institutions of learning have been incorporated.8-11,13,16-50

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues in Article 4)

The information applies to students and supervisors of the article-master’s and article-doctorate, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues in Article 4)

The research has been done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case concerning the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By this method the focus is on being informative to the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources include the guidelines of universities and other institutions on the writing of the article-thesis for the period 2017 to 2021.

The research findings are presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues in Article 4)

3.1. The writing of the journal article and the research proposal in perspective

The presentation of the two subsections, the writing of the journal article and the research proposal, is a comprehensive and complicated process (more than 20 A4 pages).  The comprehensiveness of the contents in the two subsections justified that both should have to be placed and discussed in a separate article in this project under the heading: “How to write, supervise and examine a research proposal and a journal article.” But, to keep the focus on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation and to maintain the unity and succinctness of this article and that of its intertwined Article Four (“How to write and supervise the article-format-masters and -doctorate: Part 2”), as well as that of the seven articles of the series as a whole, it was decided to place subsections 3.3.2: Writing of the research proposal, and 3.3.3: The Writing of the journal article, as an internal part of this article titled: “How to write and supervise the article-format-masters and -doctorate: Part 1”. It undoubtedly, notwithstanding the lengthening of the article’s contents and pages, helped to make the information better readable, focussed and streamlined, in order to provide in the end an in-depth and a better understanding of the process of writing the article-thesis.26-34,41-50

3.2. Open-guide Approach

This division with its manifold prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions unique to the article-format thesis, as well as the elements and/or concepts associated with it, were comprehensively elaborated in the previous two intertwined articles (Numbers 1 and 2).

3.3. The Closed-guide Approach

3.3.1. Overview

When addressing the writing of the article-masters and -doctorate, the presence of two related and pre-established research entities attain prominence, namely a) the writing of the research proposal of the article-thesis and -dissertation; and b) the writing of the journal article. It is essential that these two research outcomes are firstly addressed before the writing of the article-thesis can commence.

The allocation of a primary position to the article-thesis and the boasting around it in the literature on the subject, has led thereto that its basic foundation, namely the journal article and the writing of the journal article as specific research entities, have in the past and even today been relegated to a secondary position. A critical analysis of the literature shows it is mostly ignored in the guidelines on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation of most universities. The hard reality that is ignored further here, is that the article-thesis can in no way be realised without the prerequisite research proposal to plan and to guide the aspirant student on the best path to follow to actuate the article-thesis or -dissertation.

Without the research proposal being accepted by the university where the student intends to enrol for the PhD or Masters, there is not and cannot be a second outcome such as the journal article(s) to form the basis of the article-thesis, or the possibility to write the much spoken-of article-thesis itself. These two prerequisites, so as to proceed with the writing of the article-thesis, will firstly be reflected on underneath.8-11,13,16-50

3.3.2. Writing of the research proposal26-34

The entity research proposal is described by Sudheesh,  Duggappa and Nethra26 as a detailed plan or a “blueprint” for executing later on the article-thesis and -dissertation. They emphasise that with an excellent research proposal in place the whole research project to  realise the article-masters or doctorate will flow smoothly26:1: “A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research.”

But in this context, it must be mentioned that today the research proposal plays mostly an insignificant role at the start of the article-thesis (even for the traditional thesis): it is either absent from post-graduate schools’ stock of guides, or where it is implemented at post-graduate schools, it is of substandard quality.26-34

A further problem is that, where some form of guideline is available at the Postgraduate Schools of various universities, oftentimes there is not much uniformity in the approach, descriptions and executions of it, leading to conflicting instructions between various universities. This deviation is confirmed by Sudheesh et al26 when they write26:3: “The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of [the] evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution.”

The awarding of an acceptance of the thesis proposal by the research committees of universities is determined by various factors, as for instance the complexity of the research plan, the experience of the aspirant student and his/her supervisor, permissions needed to execute the research, the costs involved in the study, etc. This process is sometimes rapidly completed, while in other cases it may be a time-consuming process.  It is only after the acceptance of the thesis proposal and the appointment of a supervisor or supervisors, that the student is free to start his research.26-34

In my forty years of research experience at universities I have not seen one single written guideline of excellence on how to specifically write the research proposal for the Masters or PhD. My recent enquiries in the performance of this research activity at a specific university faculty, showed that its students were guided exclusively by supervisors’ and staff-members’ so-called “knowhow, experience and verbal talk”, together with the use of old, outdated research proposals that had previously been presented by the faculty’s students. A dynamic guide for the writing of the research proposal for doing a Masters or PhD (also the guides for writing the journal article and article-thesis) is still sadly absent at the specific faculty, despity an urgent need for it that has been felt over many years. Moreover, it seems that there are often planned obstructions in faculties regarding the approval of research proposals in which personal vendettas between staff block the approval of good proposals, while poor proposals, supported by a negative staff group, are often approved. The introduction of Black Academic Research Economic Empowerment (BAREE) – which seems many times nothing else than ANC Black Cadre Academic Research Economic Empowerment (ABCAREE) — at universities and their Postgraduate Schools with the sole intention of the empowerment through race-appointment of less trained and experienced staff as a priority, also placed politics in the centre of blocking the delivery of research proposals (and thus also blocking the start of one’s research for masters and doctorates). A prominent feature of this phenomenon is substandard staff and leadership that take the lead to demolish any positive academic activity and research which they see as “Apartheid-tainted”. This not only leads to a decrease in article output, but a lack of properly trained staff and well-seasoned mentors to train the newcomers to the South African academy. It was thus no surprise that in some cases aspirant students took up to twelve months before they could register their topics and could start their masters and PhDs (while still lacking in some cases able supervisors). It is thus also no surprise that forty percent of the initial applicants interested to enrol with the faculty for the masters or PhD, moved on to other, more dynamic and organised faculties of other universities which are less constrained by BAREE and a poor academic and research culture. Now, with Covid-19 and the comprehensive movement online by residential universities it makes it possible for students to enrol postgraduate at many universities. Surely the negative outflow of 40% of aspirant postgraduate students will increase rapidly from the specific university’s faculty. This chaos may to a great extent be ascribed to the absence of a research proposal of excellence.35-40

The research proposal, to activate a specific research project such as the article-thesis or dissertation, is embedded in, circumscribed and guided by a clearly established framework. This framework — which must be seen by the aspirant student as the guide and outline for the ̴start of his thesis or dissertation research project through the research proposal – gives a roadmap of the planned research project and the total research outcomes that may be expected. How the research or thesis proposal must be compiled and written to fulfil certain prerequisites is mostly characterised by the following common elements34:1:

  1. A specific issue, problem, or matter in society, science, politics, etc. is identified;
  2. Other researchers’ work on the topic is collected and evaluated;
  3. Data necessary to solve the issue, problem, or matter is collected by the student or obtained independently;
  4. Data are analysed using techniques appropriate to the data set;
  5. Results of the analysis are reported and are interpreted in light of the initial issue, problem, or matter.

The mastering and mapping of the research project have two clear intentions or aims: Firstly, the positioning of the specific purpose of the research proposal should demonstrate that the thesis topic addresses a significant research issue, problem, or matter; that an organised plan is in place for collecting or obtaining data to help solve the issue, problem, or matter; and that methods of data analysis have been identified that are appropriate to the data set. The second purpose of the research proposal is to train the aspirant student specifically in the art of proposal writing in general (something he/she should already be trained for during the honours degree). This represents an instrument that he/she may use also in his/her future career where proposal writing for funding, research, etc., plays a central role, within or outside the student’s possible future role as an academic, a researcher, a supervisor and examiner of article-theses and dissertations, etc. Thirdly, the basis of the research proposal has many of the elements of the article-thesis included, thus further facilitating journal-article writing as well as the writing of the article-thesis which ultimately becomes a much easier exercise.8-11.13,16-50

It must be made clear at this stage to the aspirant student (as well as his/her supervisor) that the best laid out research plan can go awry because of unforeseen circumstances, ending or erasing some or all the elements of the initial research proposal. This may make necessary a rewriting of the research proposal or even a reformulation of the topic of the planned article-thesis. Most universities’ guidelines on the writing of the article-thesis indeed makes provision for these kinds of adaptations, ensuring still the successful outcome of the planned thesis or dissertation. In this regard, the following sympathy and advice for the aspirant student by seasoned supervisors and examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation are helpful and very positive34:1:

We are well aware that the best laid out research plans may go awry, and that the best completed theses sometimes bear only little resemblance to the thesis planned during the proposal. Therefore, when evaluating a thesis proposal, we are not trying to assure ourselves that you have clearly described a sure-fire research project with 0% risk of failure. (If there was no risk of failure, it wouldn’t be research).

Instead, what we’re interested in seeing is if you have a clear handle on the process and the structure of research as it’s practised by our discipline. If you can present a clear and reasonable thesis idea, if you can clearly relate it to other relevant literature, if you can justify its significance, if you can describe a method for investigating it, and if you can decompose it into a sequence of steps that lead towards a reasonable conclusion, then the thesis proposal is a success regardless of whether you modify or even scrap the actual idea down the line and start off in a different direction. What a successful thesis proposal demonstrates is that, regardless of the eventual idea you pursue, you know the steps involved in turning it into a thesis.

What are the various primary prerequisites which an aspirant writer of the research proposal (very much equal to those of the journal article and article-thesis) must in his/hers writing approach and efforts fulfil? Sudheesh et al.26 put these prerequisites more as aims and as requests — in line with the elements encountered earlier in the description/contents of the framework that circumscribes the research proposal — to the foreground26:2:

A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer.

The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about the credibility, achievability, practically and reproducibility (repeatability) of the research design.

Four categories of audience with different expectations may be present in the evaluation committees, namely academic colleagues, policy-makers, practitioners and lay audiences who evaluate the research proposal.

A researcher must be balanced, with a realistic understanding of what can be achieved. Being persuasive implies that the researcher must be able to convince other researchers, research funding agencies, educational institutions and supervisors that the research is worth getting approval.

At the start of the description regarding the writing of the research proposal, it is important to refer back to the earlier framework that circumscribes the article-thesis in which the research proposal assumes a central position: the description of the Contents or the Structure of the proposal is a prerequisite. But to speak here of a single description, is impossible: various descriptions stand out here, varying from broad ones to comprehensive ones. The basic elements required as emphasised by most of the guidelines, are: Cover page, Introduction, Literature Review, Research Design and Reference List, while others in this context reflect the various elements and their descriptions more comprehensively.26-34

For presenting the outline of the elements of the research proposal compiled for this article, a combined research proposal was structured according to the research proposals of various institutions.26-34This comprehensive proposal is reflected underneath under the heading of Research Proposal. It consists of three parts or subheadings, namely 3.3.2.1. Basic Introduction, 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure and 3.3.2.3. Summary.

An important characteristic of this combined-compiled proposal, as emphasised already, is that its structure is very similar to that of an article-thesis and -dissertation itself – the end product which the proposal is aiming at. This element provides for the possibility that the aspirant student would be able to use a large fraction of the material of the research proposal in his/her article-thesis at the end.8-11,13,16-348-11,13,16-34

As a basic directive it must be emphasised that a substantial proportion of the research proposal should contain a well-developed plan devoted to the elucidation of the research plan, but it should be relatively free of contingencies having to do with such matters such as agency cooperation and the availability of data, while the length of it should normally be no longer than 25 pages (not counting appendices, etc.).26-34

The three parts (3.3.2.1. Basic Introduction, 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure and 3.3.2.3. Summary) of the Structure of the research proposal included under the description Research Proposal (as based on the guidelines of various universities and other resources), is reflected and described underneath. The resource references26-34 will be applicable to the whole contents of the undermentioned five subsections: 3.3.2.1. Basic Introduction, 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure, 3.3.2.3. Summary, 3.3.2.4. Retrospective on shortcomings and 3.3.2.5. Tips on the writing of the research proposal.

3.3.2.1. Basic Introduction26-34

  1. Title page

It should be a short, descriptive title of the proposed thesis project. The title’s inscription should be fairly self-explanatory.

  1. Abstract

This element reflects a brief summary of the research proposal which should not exceed more than 200 words. It should provide a brief introduction to the issue, problem or matter under investigation, while it also serves as the place to make the key statement of the planned article-thesis. Included in the Abstract must be a short summary of how the student wants to address the issue, problem(s) or matter(s) under investigation, while all work/research already completed on it and how it impacts on the planned research, may be included. [This brief summary may also be offered as part of the contents in the next subdivision (3. Basic Introduction) where a short overview of the planned research can be described].

  1. Basic Introduction – Optional

This element represents a short overview of the planned research, using keywords to reflect how the research is going to be done: See also subdivision 2. Abstract above. (This short or Basic Introduction must not be confused with the under-mentioned Introduction of the Structure).

3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure 26-34

  1. Title page or Cover page

1.1. Title of proposal

1.2. Name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and co-investigators

1.3. Institutional affiliation (degree of the researcher/investigator and name of study institution, supervisor)

1.4. Contact details of researcher such as cell and phone numbers, E-mail IDs and lines for signatures of researchers, date of delivery.

  1. Introduction

With the Introduction (also sometimes referred to as the Main Introduction), the context for the proposed project is set out with the main intention to capture the interest of readers. The data presentation must be at a level that makes it easy to understand for the reader with a general research/academic background. The background of the study must be explained, starting from a broad picture narrowing in on the research question, while a review is offered of literature on the planned research topic. The Introduction should be designed to create interest from readers concerning the topic and the intention of the proposal. It should address the question why specifically this research and what drives it, and lead to the next question on the significance of the planned study and how it compares and relates with previous studies on the issue. The pertinent here is how will the research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this research area?

  1. Literature review

This subsection reflects a synthesis/summary of the contemporary state of relevant knowledge, including an explanation of how the study will add to and build on theory. This literature review is not an exhaustive review of the total literature, but must be structured in such a way that the reader of the proposal may grasp the argument of this study and relate it to those of other researchers working in the same domain without losing the focus that the planned research is innovative, original and new. Relevant references to research on the topic must be cited: literature should thus include supportive data, disagreements and controversies. Some of the guidelines recommend that the progression of the review moves from the more general studies to the more focused studies, or that a historical description be used to develop the story around the research without making it exhaustive.

  1. Aims and objectives

In a couple of sentences, the thesis statement must be offered. This statement can be presented in the form of a hypothesis, research question, or a project or goal statement. The function of the thesis statement is to capture the essence of the planned research project and to delineate the boundaries of the research intentions. The research aim gives a broad indication of what the student wants to achieve with the research: the hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study, while the objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim, are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

  1. Research design and Methods

The objective of this subsection is to convince readers that the overall research design and methods of analysis chosen will correctly address the research issue or problem, fulfilling the aim of the planned study. In this section the reader has to be convinced that the methodology and sources to evaluate the data are applicable to the specific topic. It means that besides the discussion of the methods and sources intended for conducting the research, must also be contain specific references to sites, databases, key texts or research data that are indispensable to the project. This outcome requires a description of the methodological approaches to gather data, as well as the techniques to analyse this data and to test it for external validity. In this section we find the overall plan of research with attention given to defining major concepts, statement of assumptions, specification of sources and nature of data, methods and techniques to be used, and a suggested plan for analysis and interpretation of data. An overall description of the research approach, materials and procedures used, is offered. In instances where instruments have yet to be developed, a clear plan for instrument development should be presented. The proposal should advance a clear operational plan concerning data management, coding, and analysis. Appendices with instruments, pilot results, codebooks for secondary data or other relevant materials may be submitted. Included hereto one encounters a description of the research methods to be used, how data will be collected and analysed (which may also include calculations, technique, procedure, equipment and calibration graphs, etc., if applicable to the project).  Limitations on the research project, as well as assumptions and the range of validity, must be detailed. If citations are offered, it must be limited to data sources, while more complete descriptions of procedures can be presented, but the results and its discussion should not be included in this section. The above-mentioned elements of the Research-design and Methods are enumerated in more detail below:

5.1. Population and sample (Where applicable)

This subsection refers to population as all elements such as individuals, objects and substances that meet the prescribed criteria for inclusion in a given universe, while the sample refers here to the subset of a population which meets the prescribed criteria to be included in the planned research. (The criteria determining included elements as well as those of excluded elements, should be clearly described together with the description of the calculation of sample size).

5.2. Data collection and analysis

This subsection deals with the process of the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis, including the reflection of the calculation of the sample size. The steps adopted to effect the coding and sorting of collected data, as well as the various tests used to analyse data for its robustness and significance, must be explained. (It is a prerequisite for some universities that the software and its suitability that is going to be used in the planned data analysis, as well as the name(s) of the statistician(s) who are going to analyse and rework the data (including their specific contribution to the end results of the thesis), are mentioned).

5.3. Rigour

The rigour or soundness of the research must be reflected throughout the proposal as a guarantee of the ongoing strength of the research process with respect to neutrality, consistency and applicability.

5.4. Neutrality

The robustness of the research methods must be guaranteed against bias. Specific working measures must be in place to avoid bias, viz. blinding and randomisation, to ensure that the result(s) obtained from the adopted research methods is purely a chance and not the result of other confounding variables.

5.5. Consistency

By adopting standard and universally accepted and recognised research methods and scales, it will ensure that the research findings would be the same if replicated with the same participants in a similar context.

5.6. Applicability

By adopting standard and universally accepted and recognised research methods and scales, it will ensure that the research findings would be the same if applied to different contexts and groups.

  1. Implications and contribution to knowledge

The proposal must show that the planned research fits into an existing collection of knowledge on the topic and has the potential to add a new paradigm to the literature and existing knowledge on the issue or matter.

  1. Appendices

This section includes the documents supporting the proposal. Although various approaches are followed in line with institutions’ needs for the type of documents to be included, these documents are mostly informed consent forms, supporting documents on the research intentions and plans, questionnaires, measurement tools, and information on patients included in the research.

  1. Reference, bibliography and citation lists

The three words “references, bibliography and citations” are, although different in meaning, used in proposals interchangeably and refer to all references cited in the proposal. All ideas, concepts, text, data, graphs, etc., that are not that of the aspirant student, must be cited and all statements made by the student must be backed up by with his/her own data or a reference. All references cited in the text of the proposal must be listed. Most universities allow the student to use his/her own choice of quoting/reference style, but the style chosen must be used consistently throughout the proposal. (Some guidelines recommend the use of only certain styles and descriptions in this context, as for instance on how the citing of the references to single-author, double-authors and more than double-authors, or the citing of newspaper articles, etc., must be done. Ohers suggest that the listing of all references must be cited in alphabetical order, etc. It is recommended that the student first contact the School of Postgraduate Studies where he/she intends to enrol, to obtain their rules and guide on quotations and their preferred reference style before deciding on the compiling of the proposal’s bibliography.)

  1. Ethical considerations/guidelines

The student’s proposal should clearly reflect that the total research fulfuls and meets the ethical standards prescribed for research in general as well as specifically at all times. Many studies, especially those applicable to medical and human research where special moral and ethical problems are encountered that are not usually experienced by other types of research, need safeguarding to ensure that ethical standards are met at all times throughout the planned research. This ethical guide might refer to the protection of the rights of participants, like self-determination and autonomy, privacy, confidentiality, fair treatment, protection from discomfort and harm, as well as the process of obtaining the informed consent and permission from participants and relevant authorities regarding the institutional review process. This process of ethical approval and consent requires a well-described information policy throughout. It is a requirement that informed consent needs to be obtained from participants before the research commences as well as from the research site and the relevant authorities involved in the planned research.

  1. Other research ethics

10.1. Conflict of interest

Any form of possible conflict in the planned research project — from financial, political, business, social to personal or any other interests — must be declared. If such interests are present and are not declared, the study may be declared null and void and even criminal and civil actions may follow. If there is honestly no conflict of interest, the following may be inscribed in the proposal: There are no conflicts of interest.

  1. Research schedule

A detailed description must be presented from the acceptance of the research proposal until the completion and handing-in of the planned thesis. Prominent in this respect would be the listing of the stages of research to complete, with specifically setting deadlines for each stage’s completion. If any research or field work were already completed as required to contribute to the total project being finished, it must be mentioned and described. If problems and limitations were observed and experienced at this stage of the compiling of the proposal, it must be considered and stated how these challenges are going to be addressed and overcome.

  1. Research budget

Although the preparation of a research budget is mostly not applied to the ordinary research project for the Masters or PhD, financial/funding proposals need a well-planned budget overview of expected costs, possible additional/unexpected costs, etc., and a justified list of all costs involved. It is recommended that also for the research proposal applicable to the ordinary dissertation and thesis similar budgeting as that for the funding proposal, is compiled and included in the proposal.

12.1. Financial support and sponsorship

If financial support and sponsorship is provided by a university bursary, it must be indicated. If no financial aid is received the following must be reflected under the subheading financial support and sponsorship: Nil.

  1. Revisions and Proofreading

It is important that the proposal’s grammar, spelling and punctuation are of good standard. Students are referred for assistance to a resource such as the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (Australian-orientated). The student must assure him/herself of the Postgraduate School’s preference for either the American or British spelling and punctuation conversions. At all times it is important that the language of the proposal be excellent, professionally revised and proofread before it is sent to the Postgraduate School’s proposal committee.

3.3.2.3. Summary26-34

This summarised subsection emphasised that the aspirant student/researcher must communicate his/her knowledge of the field and method of his/her planned research project to interested persons. Central to this communication is conveying of the nature of the research design and contents: the communication must start from the contents of subheading 2. Introduction and end at subheading 9. Ethical considerations as described under the heading 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure.

Results obtained in the compiling of the proposal may be presented and put into discussion as to how it fits into the framework of the planned thesis. The contribution of new knowledge obtained during the compiling of the research proposal — information that is elaborating on existing knowhow and thus can help to understand the issue, problem or matter better, as well as why it is important and what the major implications are of this new data in addressing the research problem — should be elaborated.

3.3.2.4. Retrospective on shortcomings26-34

In retrospect, it must be mentioned that subsections 11. Research schedule and 12. Research budget offered under the heading 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure, are not always well-addressed in the South African approach to the writing of the research proposal, although they are undoubtedly of great importance. The neglect of the elements Research schedule and the Budget (mostly because a great part of the financing of the thesis and dissertation are done mostly in-house through bursaries by universities after acceptance of the study) is one of the main reasons why some research projects got shipwrecked because the universities’ financial support is insufficient to steer the whole project to the end. Also, the failure many times to comprehensively oversee the language, technical and presentation quality of research proposals, as has been described in Revisions and Proofreading above, is a prominent short-coming that makes many proposals not only substandard, but has often led to their rejection. Notwithstanding this, subsections 9. Ethical considerations/guidelines and 10. Other research-ethics of heading 3.3.2.2. Contents or Structure, are currently well supervised and managed by most of the universities’ ethnical committees, thereby limiting exploitation and ethical wrong-doing.

3.3.2.5. Tips on the writing of the research proposal 26-34

Before the aspirant student starts his/her writing of the research proposal, it is advised that he/she firstly observes the do’s and don’ts do regarding the writing of the proposal.  This is possible by reading the many items of advice or tips on the writing of the proposal. In this context it may be mentioned that some of the guidelines on the writing of the research proposal offer valuable tips on how to present the research proposal to make it eye-catching and most of all to make it more understandable, like the use of pictures, figures, flow charts: here modern-day computer technology such as scanners and drafting programs are excellent to use where applicable. Including in these tips is the emphasis that the student in the compiling of his/her proposal must be at all times practical, persuasive and focussed to be able to link a diverse body of research together. The vision of a crystal-clear picture of the intended research must be obtained before there can be any thinking of writing the proposal. Sudheesh et al.26 focus pertinently on the thinking and planning of the aspirant student during the pre-writing of the proposal by forcing his/her attention back to the initial aim that triggered thinking on the intended research, when they write26:2-3: “The aim of the researcher should be clearly stated in simple language that describes the research in a way that non-specialists can comprehend, without use of jargons. The proposal must not only demonstrate that it is based on an intelligent understanding of the existing literature but also show that the writer has thought about the time needed to conduct each stage of the research.”

Another important tip, that is mostly ignored in the presenting of the research proposal (as already show out earlier in 13. Revisions and Proofreading), is the need that its language and grammar must be of top quality. Thankfully a small section of critics on the writing of the research proposal do not hesitate to state that one of the most neglected aspects of the research proposal (mostly because of neglect by Postgraduate Schools) – as opposed to the mostly excellent language presentation of the article-thesis when it is finally presented for examination — is its often the poor language standard. This aspect must be within the context of the research proposal’s secondary position within the writing of the article-thesis as well as the journal article. It is recommended that the aspirant student, notwithstanding his/her own use of modern word processing programs, sends his/her research proposal for language editing to a professional author-language service before being presented to the post-graduate committee of the faculty where he/she intends to enrol for the article-thesis/dissertation.  The guidelines of some universities are also very helpful on the correcting aids and services available regarding the language aspect of the research proposal.26-34

One of the guidelines34 used by me in the compiling of this combined research proposal notes well describes the importance of revising and proofreading the research proposal before it is sent to the Postgraduate School’s proposal committee. Because of its clear and focussed message to the often unconcerned student trying to get his/her Masters or PhD, I would like to quote it directly34:4:

  • Poor grammar and spelling distract from the content of the proposal. The reader focuses on the grammar and spelling problems and misses keys points made in the text. Modern word processing programs have grammar and spell checkers. Use them.
  • Read your proposal loud – then have a friend read it aloud. If your sentences seem too long, make two to three sentences instead of one. Try to write the same way that you speak when you are explaining a concept. Most people speak more clearly than they write.
  • You should have read your proposal over at least 5 times before handing it in.
  • Simple wording is generally better.
  • If you get comments from others that seem completely irrelevant to you, your paper is not written clearly enough. Never use a complex word if a simpler word will do.

The above focus on tips brings us to two important questions:

  1. What is the very first step to take by an aspirant student when he/she decides on postgraduate study for a Masters or PhD? and
  2. In light of the comprehensive guideline on the prescribed contents of the research proposal as presented in this article, what is the best order in which to write a research proposal to make it easily and quickly executable for presentation to the proposal committee?

Firstly, it is advised that after the student has decided to study further in his/her field of research, he/she should make as a first step contact with an applicable faculty of the university that is going to handle and manage his/her planned study. Mostly this contact-making by the aspirant student would focus on a specific person at a university whose skills and experience correlate with the planned study as a “temporary” supervisor to start the “basic planning”, while in other cases, after the student’s direct contact with/enquiry at the university, such a person is allocated to the student. After comprehensive talking and discussions under the direct guidance of the “temporary” supervisor(s) on the intended study, it is mostly followed by the activation process to put together a basic, informative summary of how the study is going to be addressed. This outcome, after further discussions, leads mostly to the first stage of the final research proposal. The next step for the aspirant student is to contact the research committee which is managing and steering his/her field of study and present his/her draft proposal to them. With the guidance of this committee the student develops a proposal for review and approval.13,18,26-34

Secondly, good starting advice for the novice student in compiling and writing his/her proposal, is to read the condensed tips underneath, entitled34 “Order in which to write the proposal”, by one of the institutions which advises to proceed in the following order34:4:

  1. Make an outline of your thesis proposal before you start writing
  2. Prepare figures and tables
  3. Figure captions
  4. Methods
  5. Discussion of your data
  6. Inference from your data
  7. Introduction
  8. Abstract
  9. Bibliography
  10. This order may seem backwards. However, it is difficult to write an abstract until you know your most important results. Sometimes, it is possible to write the introduction first. Most often the introduction should be written next to last.

I fully agree with the above tips which, in the initial compiling and writing of the proposal, place the Introduction and Abstract as secondary in importance and as last outcomes: I have used an adapted version of it very successfully for years in compiling proposals and it has always resulted in excellent outcomes.

In closing this subsection on “how to write the research proposal”, there is no doubt to me that it is a far more complicated process and exercise than most students, academics and researchers realise or are able to handle. It seems that most of the aspirant students, supervisors and examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation are novices in the writing of the correct research proposal. This research “chaos” necessitates urgent intervention and improvement.

3.3.3. Writing of the journal article 26-34,41-50

Boon in 2017 writes41:1:

If you’ve trained as a scientist, you knew that part of the learning curve involves figuring out how to write a scientific paper. Unfortunately, a few scientists receive explicit instruction in writing papers – researchers by definition are expected to know how to write.

When you’re a grad student, your supervisor is there to guide you through the paper publication process, as it’s in their best interests to have you publish the outcome of your research with them.

Once you become an independent scientist, however – whether that’s in academia, industry, or at an NGO – writing research papers can be a frustrating and lonely experience.

The difficulty as an early career researcher lies in making the time to learn how to write a good paper while also teaching yourself R stats and maybe a bit of Bayesian statistical methods, coming up with new pedagogical approaches to engage your students – or figuring out how to manage a work team, applying for a shrinking pot of grant fuds, starting up a lab or getting familiar with a new job.

The above statement is full of contradictions and nullifications/anomalies. It is clear that the writing of the research article was not in the past and still is not today an essential part of the training of most graduates in South Africa. Neither is it a characteristic of most academics and researchers to oversee and to supervise in-depth and with eagerness the output of the research articles of their students: mostly because thesis supervisors were themselves as students seldom exposed to article writing per se and are still struggling to master article writing. For these academics and researches, as for their students, the writing of research papers today is all but a frustrating and lonely experience. This sad story regarding the poor condition of our research culture and environment has already been sufficiently told in the previous subdivision as to the chaos around the writing of the research proposal. Such chaos ought to be addressed if the article-thesis and -dissertation are to be born formally as effective research tools.13,18,26-34

3.3.3.1. Overview26-34,41-50

In light of the importance of the role of the journal article inside the functioning and in the construction of the article-thesis and -dissertation, it was decided to address next the writing of the journal article, before providing guidance on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation itself. Again, the various guidelines of universities and other sources were used to offer a combined guideline on how to write the accredited journal article.26-34,41-50 All the data offered underneath in subsection 3.3.3. Writing of the journal article, are based on these specific resources.26-34,41-50

Journal articles are the exclusive foundation bricks of the article-thesis and -dissertation: It is the heart of the article-thesis and undoubtedly needs more enlightening. Indeed, article writing must be the first step in article-thesis’s writing: With an excellent basis of knowhow and experience of article writing, the compiling of the article-thesis should be a natural outcome and comparitively easy. The present-day research culture of jumping from here to there without doing anything constructively — as characterised by a lot of talk but lacking plans and deeds for instance to introduce in a comprehensive and dynamic way the article-thesis and -dissertation into our research environment — confirms the neglect of journal-article writing, and how the article-thesis writing should comprehensively be approached and executed.26-34,41-50

The writing of the article-thesis is primarily based on the collection of new data and the publishing of it in accredited-journal articles. In combination to these outcomes, we also find  in the contemporary research setup the aim and intention of the extracting of research-data from the published traditional thesis — to be rewritten in an accredited journal article or accredited journal articles — in the same way as followed for the construction of the journal articles from unspecific data to create the article-thesis. Indeed, for a small number of academics and researchers there is at the moment also the aim and intention not only to compile new research data with a common topic in such a way that it may be published in an accredited journal or journals and at the same time fit into an article-format thesis, but also to channel this data into a book. [This research practice and approach will later on be focussed on in some depth in Article Four of the series].26-34,41-50

Given that this article is focussing on the compiling and writing of the article-format thesis wherein the journal article takes a central place, it is important to provide guidelines telling the aspirant author about the elements unique to a journal article, as well as how a collection of journal articles may be transferred into a dissertation or thesis. Prominent here is the scope and style of the journal article. The construction and profile of a single journal article (as well as the construction and profile of each of the separate journal articles that constitute the article-thesis) are many times equal to that of the article-thesis: this similarity is such that the journal article is often referred to as a kind of a “article-mini-thesis”.26-34,41-50

Various excellent guidelines are available for the writing of the journal article on the internet, while many oversees universities offer their own well-described guidelines to their aspirant students who intend to do the article-thesis and -dissertation.26-34,41-50 My observation of the South African setup regarding the training of postgraduate students to be able to write the journal article with excellence, is unfortunately that it is of the same substandard quality as for training in the writing of the research proposal. Very few South African universities offer thorough in-house training on honours and masters level, giving the opportunity to students to master the challenge on how to write the journal article. As already show pointed out several times in this research project, it seems that a large section of academics and researchers of universities lack knowhow themselves on how to write, supervise and examine the journal articles and thus to publish themselves. At the moment most Postgraduate Schools’ staff have side-stepped their responsibilities and shortcomings in this context by the hiring of consultants to offer article-writing-training through workshops, which are not really having the desired effect, as evidenced by the low output of research articles by many of South Africa’s full-time academics and researchers.26-34,41-50

Three approaches to article-writing exist: The standard or full-length article as reflected in this research under IMRAD, the Short (or brief) Communication/Report (±3,500 words) which makes a considerable contribution to existing literature and the Rapid Communication/Report which represents so-called “hot data” and is used in highly competitive and fast-moving research fields such as medicine. For this research the focus was on the standard journal article. ● [The race to get out fresh research data as fast as possible to crack Covid-19, is a good example of how researchers at the moment are bypassing with the Rapid Communication/Report the peer reviewing of articles and the unnecessary blocking of the publishing of data to get “hot” information out. There is no doubt that these manifold rapid reports will be collected in a year’s time to constitute various comprehensive publications and full-length articles on Covid-19].50

As with the research proposal, a basic structure, consisting of various elements, is also prescribed for the design of the journal article. In this context, we may firstly refer to the elements of its Contents or its Structure.26-34,41-50 Five basic elements are mentioned by most guidelines under the heading of Main Text: Introduction, Literature Review, Research Design and Reference List. Hereto, other guidelines reflect other compositions with more comprehensive descriptions. Some descriptions reflect ten and more elements for the structuring of the journal article. Some differences in the description or reflection of the elements occur, depending on the target audience of articles, such as for medicine, science, humanities, social studies, etc.

The elements and descriptions of the current research in section 3.3.3. Writing of the journal article were obtained and are based on the guidelines on how to write the journal article from ten contributors (universities and other learning institutions).41-50 Supportive data were also incorporated from the guidelines on how to write the research proposal from nine contributors (universities and other learning institutions) in section 3.3.2. Writing of the research proposal.26-34All data discussed in this section are thus mostly based on these nineteen sources and will continuously be reflected underneath in section 3.3.3.2. IMRAD-system and its five subsections: 1 Introduction, 2. Research-design and Methods 3. Results, 4. Summary and 5. Back Matter. Also, the data of the two sections described underneath, namely 3.3.3.3. Basic tips on the writing of a journal article, and 3.3.3.4. Some tips on the writing of articles from published traditional thesis, are based on these nineteen main contributors’ guidelines describing how to write the journal article.26-34,41-50

3.3.3.2. IMRAD-system26-34,41-50

In this article the construction of its guideline for the writing of a journal article, its presentation of the Main Text presentation was built around the IMRAD-system with its four elements: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. For the writing of this article’s guideline on how to write a journal article, the IMRAD-system’s elements were extended to include five subsections: 1. Introduction, 2. Research design and Methods, 3. Results, 4. Summary and 5. Back Matter.

  1. Introduction26-34,41-50

The main intention here is to capture the interest of readers: the data presentation must be at a level that makes it easy to understand by readers with a general research/academic background. The background of the study must be explained, starting from a broad picture narrowing in on the research question, while a review is offered of literature on the planned research topic. The Introduction should be designed to create interest among readers about the topic and bring forward the question why specifically this article was done and what drives it: it must pose the question on the significance of the article, how it compares and relates to previous studies on the issue and how will the research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this research area. Included in this context we find a short literature review which should reflect the present-day state of relevant knowledge, structured in such a way that the reader can grasp the argument related to this study in relation to that of other researchers working in the same domain without losing the impression that the planned research is innovative, original and new. Relevant references to research on the topic must be cited and literature should thus include supportive data, disagreements and controversies, while the progression of the review must move from the more general studies to the more focussed studies.  A further element that should be offered in a couple of sentences is the thesis statement (aims and objectives) in the form of a hypothesis, research question, or a project or goal statement to capture the essence of the planned article and to delineate the boundaries of the article’s intentions; the aim gives a broad indication of what the student wants to achieve with the research; the hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study. Hereto the objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim, are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

  1. Research design and Methods26-34,41-50

The objective of this section is to convince the readers that the overall research design and methods of analysis were applicable to the specific topic and had correctly addressed the research issue or problem, fulfilling the aim of the article. Attaining prominence here would be a detailed description of the methodological approach and sources used in the article: research design, settings, population studies, inclusion and exclusion criteria for data, time of study, instruments/tools/techniques used, data collection, references to sites, databases, key texts or research data that were indispensable to the article, statistical software and tests used to analyse data and to test it for external validity, the definitions of major concepts, statement of assumptions, specification of sources and nature of data, as well as a clear operational plan concerning data management, coding, and analysis. Where instruments had been developed, a clear plan for this instrument development should be presented. Here the Appendices, that include components such as instruments, pilot results, codebooks for secondary data or other relevant materials, should be submitted. Included further in the Appendices are calculations, technique, procedure, equipment and calibration graphs, etc. (if applicable to article).

Limitations on the planned article, together with its assumptions and range of validity, must be detailed under the subheading Research design and Methods. If citations are offered, it must be limited to data sources, while more complete descriptions of procedures may be presented, but the results and discussion of these should not be included in this section.

Some of the detailed elements of the Research design and Methods refer to the Population and Samples (Population: all elements such as individuals, objects and substances that meet the prescribed criteria for inclusion in a given universe, and Samples: the subset of a population which fulfils the prescribed criteria to be included in the planned research. The criteria guiding inclusion elements as well as the exclusion elements, should clearly be described together in the description of the calculation of sample seize).

The subsection Data collection and Analysis deals with the process of the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis, including the calculation of sample size as will be done in the article. The steps adopted to do the coding and sorting of collected data, as well as the various tests used to analyse data for its robustness and significance, must be explained. In this context it must be noted that it is a prerequisite for some universities that the software and its suitability that is going to be used in the planned data analysis, must be described. Also needed are the name(s) of the statistician(s) who are going to analyse and rework data, as well as their specific contribution to the end results of the thesis, which should be described.

The Research design and Methods must reflect the rigour or soundness of the research, showing the article’s ongoing strength regarding the research process with respect to the three components: neutrality, consistency and applicability. The neutrality of the article’s research method(s) must be confirmed, assuring the robustness of its research method against bias and to ensure that the result(s) obtained from the adopted research method is purely by chance and not impacted by other confounding variables. The element of consistency must bear out that the planned article will successfully adopt standard and universally accepted and recognised research methods and scales to ensure that the research findings would be the same if replicated with the same participants in a similar context. Also, the element applicability must ensure that the research findings of the article through its adoption of standard and universally accepted and recognised research methods and scales, would be the same if applied to different contexts and groups.

  1. Results26-34,41-50

The results must answer the research question through the presentation firstly of primary results, followed by secondary results. These results are to be demonstrated by the use of text, tables, graphs, etc., to present the research data obtained in a clear, organised way. In this context the element of implications and contribution to knowledge is central as evidence to confirm that the article fits into an already known collection of knowledge on the topic and that it has the potential to add a new paradigm to the literature and existing knowledge on the issue or matter. The data that are backing continuously and comprehensively the results of implications and contribution to knowledge, are accommodated, delivered and evidenced by the four elements Appendices, Reference, Bibliography and Citations.

The element Appendices assures through supporting documents that the results of the article are backed-up and true. In this context various approaches are described and followed in line with institutions’ needs of which types of documents are seen as supportive, depending on the field of study (medicine, humanity, economics, etc.). In practice the documents of the Appendices mostly include informed-consent forms, supporting documents on the research intentions and plans, questionnaires, measurement tools, and information on patients included in the research, etc.

All ideas, concepts, text, data, graphs, and so forth, presented in the discussion under Results that do not belong to the author(s) of the article, must be cited under the element of reference, bibliography or citations. All statements and references made in the text of the article, must also be fully backed up by the author’s own data or a reference that is listed in the reference, bibliography or citation lists. All the references, bibliography indications and citations should be thoroughly and correctly done and where permission is required (like the use of Images, Tables, etc., of other publications), it must be obtained from owners beforehand. It is further suggested that articles should be citation-rich throughout their contents. Regarding the use of a quoting/reference style, most universities allow the student to use his/her own choice of style with the prerequisite that the style chosen must be used consistently throughout the article. Hereto some guidelines recommend the use of only certain styles and describe specifically how the citing of the references to single-author, double-authors and more than double-authors, the citing of newspaper articles, etc., should be done. Other guidelines suggest that the listing of all references must be cited in alphabetical order, etc. As with the writing of the research proposal, it is recommended that the aspirant student first contact the School of Postgraduate Studies where he/she intends to enrol, to obtain their rules and guide on quotations and their preferred reference style before deciding on the compiling of the article’s bibliography.

The element ethical consideration and guide reflects and guarantees that the article in its totality fulfils and meets the ethical standards prescribed at all times. Those students in medical sciences and the humanities, where special and unique moral and ethical problems are encountered that are not usually experienced by the general types of research, need to adhere to ethical standards throughout the execution and writing of articles, making the element ethical consideration and guide a point of focus in the article’s Result at all times. This adherence must be based on a well-described informative policy and must ensure the protection of the rights of participants’ self-determination and autonomy, privacy, confidentiality, fair treatment, as well as protection from discomfort and harm. This policy also includes and reflects the prior obtaining of informed consent and permission from participants and relevant authorities regarding the institutional review process and the use of the research site.

Another research ethic that may negatively influence the results of an article, is the element of conflict of interest, which reflects the presence of possible poor ethics and doubtful researcher integrity. Any form of conflict in the planned article – varying from financial, political, business, social to personal or any other interests — must be declared. If interests of this kind are present and are not declared, the article’s integrity, as well as that of the author and his/her article thesis, may be declared null and void.  Criminal and civil actions may follow.

The element research schedule reflects the duration of the article’s research, the compiling and the writing of it, until the date of publication, while the two elements research budget and financial support and sponsorship are mostly not applicable to the ordinary journal article, and even the ordinary research project for the article-format Masters or PhD. If there is such involvement, it is suggested that it should be reflected. It must be noted that the funding of a research project (and the costs to see the research through) is of immense importance: lack of funds many times shipwrecked good research projects.

All the data that were offered and used above in the discussion and evidencing of the Results — as were based (where applicable) on the elements of Appendices, the Reference, Bibliography and Citations, the Ethical Consideration and Guide, the Research ethic, the Conflict of Interest, as well as the elements of the Research Budget and that of Financial Support and Sponsorship — must be described, collected and listed, together with Acknowledgements, in the subsection 5. Back Matter, that follows after subsection 4. Summary.

  1. Summary26-34,41-50

Two subheadings are covered here under the heading Summary, namely: Discussions and Conclusions.

In the summarised subsection: Discussion, the author of the planned article must communicate his/her knowledge of the field and methods in his/her article. Of central importance here is conveying the nature of the research design and contents, starting from subsection 1. Introduction and ending at subsection 3. Results of section 3.3.3.2. IMRAD-system (reflecting the Main Text).26-34,41-50

Results obtained in the compiling of the article are presented here and discussed as to how they fit into the framework of the planned article. The contribution of new knowledge obtained during the compiling of the research of the article — information that elaborates on existing knowhow and thus can help to understand the issue, problem or matter better, as well as why it is important and what the major implications of these new data are in addressing the research problem – should be illuminated.

In the discussion of the data that were collected during the research, comparisons must be drawn between the existing data collected to see what new outcomes emerged on the topic and what existing information seems to be opposing new findings and possible solutions to the problem. Other outcomes that should be addressed, are explaining certain exceptions to the research problem’s classifications, as well as certain problems that cannot be addressed by means of the article’s research findings. In this context, the author not only needs to show  the strength of the research findings, but also point out the limitations encountered by the research and thus how the initial delineation of the problem may undo the research’s possible positive contributions to solving it. On the other hand, alternative approaches, emerging from the research’s clarification, may be used to constructively address the problem and fully solve fully the delineation issue.

The subsection Conclusions represents a very important and very difficult part of article writing: it is by far not just a summary of what outcomes have preceded each other. Its intention is to make the total argument driving the research from day one with an analysis of data and findings, to put forward evidence collected in the research, new views and opinions on the problem as well as new approaches to address the matter. A short but strong conclusion, based primarily on concise positive evidence and findings as offered and pinpointed during the writing of the Summary, thus needs to be formulated and to be argued.

  1. Back Matter26-34,41-50

Under the section Back Matter six subsections are included. The first subsection Appendices includes the documents supporting the proposal. Although various approaches are followed in line with the institutions, certain types of documents need to be included, for instance informed-consent forms, supporting documents on the research intentions and plans, questionnaires, measurement tools, and information on patients included in the research.

The other five subsections are the following: Reference, bibliography and citation lists, Ethical considerations/guidelines, Other research-ethics (Conflict of interest), Research budget (Financial support and sponsorship) and Acknowledgements which may reflect a brief acknowledgment of any financial, academic or other support provided in the production of the article.

3.3.3.3. Basic tips on the writing of a journal article26-34,41-50

Various sources offer valuable tips on how to write a journal article. As with the writing of the research proposal, I have decided to include here some basic tips offered by various sources on the writing of the journal article. 26-34,41-50

The firsts tips reflected are those of the APA48 and that of Professor Marissa Rollnick of Wits:49

The APA’s tips read48:3:

  • Look at articles in the field and relevant journals to see what structure and focus are appropriate for their work and how they are formatted.
  • Request and consider the input of advisors, colleagues, or other co-authors who contributed to the research on which the dissertation or thesis is based.
  • Review an article submitted to a journal alongside their advisor (with permission from the journal editor) or serve as a reviewer for a student competition to gain first-hand insight into how authors are evaluated when undergoing peer review.

The tips of Professor Marissa Rollnick49identify four steps to be considered by the aspirant author of the journal article, namely49:1-2:

1) Deciding on authorship

You may need to decide whether this includes your supervisor and agree the order of the authors’ names. Different disciplines have different authorship practices, but in the humanities the principal author is mentioned first.

2) Planning the article

A single paper in a journal should contain a central message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology, a new theory, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings. Decide what this central focus is. Then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:

  • Isolate a manageable size
  • Create a coherent story/argument
  • Make the argument self-standing
  • Target the journal leadership
  • Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis

3) Selecting a journal

Selecting a journal is a very important step in planning the article. The journal you select should target appropriate readership, be accredited and be acceptable to your peers.  Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Look at your reference list. Which journals have you used?
  • Study the editorial policies of the relevant journals: some are more restricted than others (e.g., content, research paradigm, article length).
  • Scan past editions. Are there any similar papers?
  • Is it a trusted journal? There are several marks of quality and reliability to look out for in a journal, and people may judge your ability to choose appropriate journals to submit to.
  • When selecting your journal think about audience, purpose, what to write about and why. Decide the kind of article to write. Is it a report, position paper, critique or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might the paper add value to the field?

4) Writing the article

When writing the article consider your choice of “theoretical framework” and “voice”. Be clear what your article is about, and what it is trying to do. Finally ask your supervisor/co-author to go through the article with the following mind:

  • Use the criteria the reviewers will use.
  • Read and edit acting as a sympathetic friend and mentor.
  • Ask another colleague or friend who thinks differently to read it.
  • Get someone to edit it for language and spelling. Many authors use professional proof readers [who not only edit the language and spelling, but format the style of the article in terms of the publishing-guidelines of the journal]. This is not a sign of weakness as the editor has some distance from the article. This is particularly important if you come from a country where a different language to that of the journal is used.

An additional point here, is that when quotations from a foreign language (if you are writing in English) is used, to have it translated into English.  Regarding further the issue of ensuring the excellent status of the language and grammar of the article, the aspirant author/student is  referred back to subsection 3.3.2.5. Tips on the writing of the research proposal.26-34

An important tip is that manuscripts of journal articles must be peer-reviewed for publication if they are to be counted as research or accredited articles that are recognised by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and qualify for state subsidy to universities.

Other tips of importance to be noted, is advice on how to start the article specifically with suggestions on how to approach the collection and writing of the research data.26-34,41-50 The guideline is never to see the first draft of the article as the final draft, but that the manuscript must constantly be revised and be rewritten as the creative process develops; this process must be maintained until the correct, final version is reached. It is suggested by some advisors that the traditional sequence of Abstract> Introduction> Methods> Results> Discussion> Conclusion> Acknowledgments, should be changed during the initial research start-up, doing the Abstract and Introduction last, after the editing of the Main Body has been completed. It is further suggested that the development of tables and figures must be put in place before the writing down of data is started. Regarding the writing of the article itself, it is suggested that a start-up plan is positioned firstly by what to write and secondly by how to present the data. This is to be followed by the selection of data in a cohesive, original and well-reported style. As to planning, it is seen further as an essential part of the initial start-up of article writing in order to activate a setting saturated in the free flow of ideas. This planning forms the basis of a mind map or road map of the planned research project: it is seen as a large tree (the central theme), which is encircled by some branches (subthemes) that on their own can reflect new data that must be steered into other separate articles, while the essential data that are focused on the main theme, are recollected and steered back to the trunk of the tree. With a detailed plan in place the start-up as to the writing of the article may begin: in practice the student at this stage has already collected immense data on the topic, identified his/her reading audience, as well as the applicable journal to publish in. This directed outcome means the readers intimately know (as does the author) the research field as well as the terminology, the methodologies and its theoretical positioning.  This makes it is possible for the author to jump directly into his/her topic with arguments, facts and other information and thus the dynamic activation of the Introduction without unnecessary time wasted or useless descriptions.26-34,41-50

Regarding the choice of the journal to publish in, it is a first priority for the aspirant author to study various journals’ publishing and writing styles, data-collection approaches, readership, types of tables and figures used, etc. In the choice of a journal the aspirant author must also note aspects such as language, if the journal is indexed in the major electronic databases, how available is it (quarterly, monthly, yearly, broadly, or is an online version and in PDF format), and how the journal’s appearance and design fulfil the author’s needs. The reputation (like accreditation) of the journal is also of great importance, while its impact factor can be considered (although this factor many times seems to be artificially inflated and to be untrustworthy). Information on the journal’s publishing status can further be obtained from colleagues who published in it, the scrutinising of recent articles in it, who are the persons on the editorial board, the duration of reviewing time of articles before publishing (reflected by dates of submission, acceptance and issuing reflections on articles), costs of page fees, etc.26-34,41-50

It is further suggested that the author’s writing style must be formal and that any form of offensive language must be avoided. It is further suggested that the writing contents must throughout be offered well-paragraphed: each paragraph, consisting of at least five sentences, should contain one main subtheme, while the flow of information between and among the various paragraphs should be logical. To make the offering of data more understandable, subheadings may be used to focus on the main theme and to clarify the contents and the aims of the article. Another piece of advice is that students, as they collect data in preparation of writing their articles, must save the data in reference-management systems such as Mendeley, Zotero or Endnote.26-34, 41-50

3.3.3.4. Some tips on the writing of journal articles from a published traditional thesis 26-34,41-50

In the Introduction of this article there was also reference to the writing of articles from an already published traditional thesis. The approach to the writing of this kind of article, together with the elements to be collected and to be compiled for the contents of this type of article, are essentially the same as that for writing a journal article from scratch: in some way it is an easier process, seeing that the data has already been collected and even sorted around a central topic. The information that guides the writing of the research proposal and the research article, is thus fully applicable to this subsection (See the descriptions in respectively Sections 3.2 and 3.3 above).26-34,41-50

An already published (traditional) thesis many often offers enormous data that may easily be adapted into various articles. In this context the American Psychological Association (APA)48 offers a short but informative guideline on how to write or to adapt a journal article from a published thesis or dissertation. The APA’s48 guideline, elaborating on certain of the elements that are of importance in the formatting of the journal article, is offered underneath purely for informative and academic guidance, given that it supports learning in general regarding the writing of the journal article. It reads as follows48:4-6:

  1. Length: Brevity is an important consideration for a manuscript to be considered for journal publication, particularly in the Introduction and Discussion sections. Making a dissertation or thesis publication-ready often involves reducing a document of over 100 pages to one third of its original length. Shorten the overall paper by eliminating text within sections and/or eliminating entire sections. If the work examined several research questions, you may consider separating distinct research questions into individual papers; narrow the focus to a specific topic for each paper.

2) Abstract: The abstract may need to be condensed to meet the length requirements of the journal. Journal abstract requirements are usually more limited than college or university requirements. For instance, most APA journals limit the abstract length to 250 words.

3) Introduction section: One of the major challenges in reforming a dissertation or thesis is paring down its comprehensive literature review to a more succinct one suitable for the introduction of a journal article. Limit the introductory text to material relating to the immediate context of your research questions and hypotheses. Eliminate extraneous content or sections that do not directly contribute to readers’ knowledge or understanding of the specific research question(s) or topic(s) under investigation. End with a clear description of the questions, aims, or hypotheses that informed your research.

4) Method section: Provide enough information to allow readers to understand how the data were collected and evaluated. Refer readers to previous works that informed the current study’s methods or to supplemental materials instead of providing full details of every step taken or the rationale behind them.

5) Result section: Be selective in choosing analyses for inclusion in the Results section and report only the most relevant ones. Although an unbiased approach is important to avoid omitting study data, reporting every analysis that may have been run for the dissertation or thesis often is not feasible, appropriate, or useful in the limited space of a journal article. Instead, ensure that the results directly contribute to answering your original research questions or hypotheses and exclude more ancillary analyses (or include them as supplemental materials). Be clear in identifying your primary, secondary, and any exploratory analyses.

6) Discussion section: Adjust the discussion according to the analyses and results you report. Check that your interpretation and application of the findings are appropriate and do not extrapolate beyond the data. A strong Discussion section notes area of consensus with and divergence from previous work, taking into account sample size and composition, effect size, limitations of measurement, and other specific considerations of the study.

7) References: Include only the most pertinent references (i.e., theoretically important or recent), especially in the introduction and literature review, rather than providing an exhaustive list. Ensure that the works you cite contribute to readers’ knowledge of the specific topic and to understanding and contextualizing your research. Citation of reviews and meta-analyses can guide interested readers to the broader literature while providing an economical way of referencing prior studies.

8) Tables and figures: Make sure that tables or figures are essential and do not reproduce content provided in the text.

In closing subsection 3.3.3. Writing of the journal article, it is clear that the in-house training of most university faculties lack an established program to train and to skill aspirant authors/students in the writing of the journal article. This failure spreads from the  substandard contents of most of the honours programmes that fail to equip the senior student with the necessary research tools to make him/her well-prepared for taking on the article-thesis or -dissertation. This research chaos comes from the fact that many academics and researchers at universities who are responsible for supervising and examining article-thesis studies, are themselves poorly trained and experienced in article-writing themselves. The fact that most of the aspirant students, supervisors and examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation are novices in the writing of journal articles, necessitates an urgent intervention in this research area.26-34,41-50

  • The above presentation of the two subsections, the writing of the journal article and the research proposal, were a comprehensive and complicated process (more than 30 pages). This comprehensiveness of the contents justified that both should have been placed and discussed in a separate article in this project under the heading: “How to write, supervise and examine a research proposal and a journal article”. However, to keep the focus on the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation and to maintain the unity and succinctness of this article and that of the four articles in the series as a whole, and to make the information more readable, focussed and streamlined, it was decided to place the two subsections: 3.3.2.Writing of the research proposal; and 3.3.3.Writing of the journal article as internal parts of this article, titled: How to write and supervise the article-format masters and –doctorate: Part 1”. It undoubtedly, notwithstanding the immense lengthening of the article’s contents and pages, helps to ultimately provide an in-depth and a better understanding of the process involved in the writing of the article-thesis.26-34,41-50

In the next intertwined article (Number 4), entitled: “How to write and supervise the Article-Format Master and -Doctorate: Part 2”, the section 3.3.4. Writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation will be continued and discussed. 8-11,13,16-25

4. Conclusion8-11,13,16-66

There is no doubt that the writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation is a far more complicated process and exercise than most students, academics and researchers realised or are able to handle. It seems that most of the aspirant students, supervisors and examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation are novices in the writing of the research proposal and the writing of the journal article. It is clear that the in-house training of most university faculties lack an established programme to train and to skill aspirant authors/students in the writing of the research proposal and journal article. This failure spreads from the substandard contents of most of the honours programmes that fail to equip the senior student with the necessary research tools to make him/her well-prepared for research and for taking on the article-thesis or -dissertation. Much of this research chaos comes from the fact that many academics and researchers at universities who are responsible for supervising and examining article-thesis studies, are themselves poorly trained and inexperienced in article writing themselves. The fact that most of the aspirant students, supervisors and examiners of the article-thesis and -dissertation are novices in the writing of the research proposal and the writing of the journal article, necessitates an urgent intervention in this research area.

The next article (Number 4), titled:“How to write and supervise the Article-Master and -Doctorate: Part 2”, the aim is to further provide a framework or guideline to assist aspirant students (as well as supervisors and aspirant examiners) in their planning, compiling and writing of the article-thesis and -dissertation.

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How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa (2): Part 2

Title: How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa (2): Part 2

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PU for CHE), DPhil (PU for CHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format-doctorate, article-format-masters, modern-day, position, research culture, research environment, South Africa.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 3: 2

1. Background

The current advent of the article-thesis and -dissertation in our research environment, seems to be at the moment in some way in a “research no-man’s-land”. It seems to be sustained at times by a strong independent academic and research movement, but is at the same time not always allowed to enjoy total independence as a research entity, one which needs the maximum support of the well-established academic and research environment to make a dynamic break-through. An historical overview of advanced research worldwide shows that since the 1990s the format and publication mode, together with the dissemination and sharing of collected scientific data, has undergone a significant change with the introduction of the article-format dissertation and thesis. It forces to the foreground a serious rethinking and replanning on how research should be addressed in the future: what is the most appropriate way to write a master (dissertation) and a doctorate (thesis), and what are the pros and cons of the article-format dissertation and -thesis? In this context we find again the positive opinion of Nassi-Calo on the dynamic rise of the alternative formats in present-day academics and research when  she posits1:1: “Scholarly communication undergoes changes and evolves as science itself. The scientific article, its format and publication mode, dissemination and sharing has undergone significant changes since the emergence of the first scientific journals in the seventeenth century. The Internet, in the 1990s, dramatically changed the paradigm of science communication, an event comparable only to the invention of printing by Gutenberg in 1440, which enabled the dissemination of articles and journals to other instances, beyond the academy.”

1.1.  Introduction (Continued from Article 1)

This article, entitled: “How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and  environment of South Africa: Part 2”, is a continuation of the previous article (Number 1), entitled: “How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 1”. It must be read as a unity.

  • Aims of article (Continued from Article 1)

This article, entitled: “How to position the article-format-master and-doctorate in the Modern-day Research-culture and -environment of South Africa: Part 2”, is a sequence to its intertwined article (Number 1), entitled: “How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 1”. The article, the second part of a series of seven articles under the project titled as: “How to write, supervise and examine the article-format master and doctorate: A South African perspective,” represents a continuation to provide a general understanding and grounding for the aspirant student who is planning to write an article-format master (dissertation) or doctorate (thesis), as well as for the aspirant supervisor who intends to oversee this alternative research format and the aspirant examiner who wants to assess the article-thesis.5-8

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continued from Article 1)

The information applies to aspirant students, supervisors and examiners for article-masters and -doctorates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

  1. Method (Continued from Article 1)

The research was done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case regarding the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By this method the focus is on being informative regarding the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources consulted cover the period 2006 to 2021.

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3.Results and discussion (Continued from Article 1)

3.1. Prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions guiding the writing of the article-format thesis

Two approaches can be followed to provide information on how one can and may write an article-format masters and doctorate (or as some universities said in the enforcement of their rules: should instead of can and may) to the aspirant student, to supervise an article-thesis by the aspirant supervisor and how to assess an article-thesis by the examiner. The one is the Open-guide Approach (See under subdivision 3.2.3.1.) and the other is the Closed-guide Approach that will be discussed in depth in the next two following, intertwined articles, entitled: “How to write and supervise the article-masters and –doctorate: Part 1” and “How to write and supervise the article-masters and –doctorate: Part 2”.

In this article the Open-guide Approach reflects a collection of various universities’ expert advice, rules, regulations and stipulations as defined in their writing guidelines for article-theses. A general, broad extraction was done by me for this article from the various frameworks of these universities so as to put together the consecutive steps prescribed by the various universities on how the writing of the article-thesis, as embedded in their guidelines, may, can or should be done.

Regarding specifically the contents of the Open-guide Approach it, as said, reflects various clear prerequisites, rules discretions and traditions that are in place to direct the compiling and the writing of the article-format thesis. These guidelines, mostly focussing on the structure of the contents of the article-format thesis, spells out clearly the various and possible paths to follow specifically for the aspirant student. It includes delineating the differences as well as the similarities between the article-format and traditional thesis.

To apply the Structure of the article-format thesis, the Open-guide Approach is needed to describe an inclusive introduction that offers comprehensive information and guidance..

3.1.1. Open-guide Approach

In this section the manifold prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions unique to the article-format thesis, as well as the elements and/or concepts associated with it, are comprehensively set out. They are offered under the following ten subdivisions: 1. Formatting; 2. The concepts of recognized international peer-reviewed, accredited or listed journals and the appropriateness and selectiveness of journals; 3. Coherence and sequence-connection of a thesis’ selective articles; 4. Authorship; 5. Approaches to and prerequisites for the examination of a thesis; 6. Enrolment for the thesis program as a prerequisite for title and topics registration and writing outputs; 7.  Number of articles published before final examination; 8. Enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies; 9. Word and page length of the article-thesis; and 10. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis. Two of the elements were already discussed in the first article, entitled: “How to position the article-format master’s and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 1”. They are 1. Formatting and 2. The concepts of recognized international peer-reviewed, accredited or listed journals and the appropriateness and selectiveness of journals.

The following eight elements will be discussed in this article, entitled: “How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 2”. They are 3. Coherence and sequence connection of a thesis’s selective articles; 4. Authorship; 5. Approaches to and prerequisites for the examination of a thesis; 6. Enrolment for the thesis programme as a prerequisite for title and topics registration and writing outputs; 7.  Number of articles published before final examination; 8. Enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies; 9. Word and page length of the article-thesis; and 10. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis.

  1. Coherence and sequence connection of a thesis’s selective articles

Emphasising the importance of coherence and the sequence connection of a thesis’s selective articles, both the UA6and the USA7 reflect a fixed view of the compilation of the articles for the PhD thesis, to attain coherence. The UA states6:1: “At the doctoral level, ‘article-style’ dissertations are unified works that include several distinct but closely related studies of research or creative activity, each of which is of publishable quality.” The UA6 guides further6:1-2:

Article-style dissertations must be based on research completed while the student is enrolled at The University of Alabama. For each article used, the student must be the first author, or equivalent, as defined by the discipline.

The dissertation must be the student’s original idea. It must be a unified work and include a sequence of articles of publishable quality around a theme, with a comprehensive review of the literature that demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the unifying framework.

There will be one introductory section to describe the studies, tell how they are related, and explain their significance. There will be connecting language to bridge each study to the next. There also will be a section that serves as a summary making clear the importance of the studies, integrating the major findings, and discussing the implications for the overall topic.

These components do not have to be separate sections or chapters. They may be parts of the manuscripts or may be accomplished in an abstract.

In this context the UJ’s Guidelines on Theses and Dissertations8 offer a very short, but comprehensive description of requirements to which the coherence and sequence connection of the article-format dissertation and thesis must comply. It reads8:210: “A dissertation or thesis by collection of articles or essays consists of a collection of a number of pieces of work which (a) may exhibit some degree of independence or stand-alone viability, while (b) contributing to a central theme, and (c) are presented as a coherent whole in one volume, with introductory, conclusory and connective material as necessary.” Specifically on the compilation of the contents of the article-format thesis or dissertation, the UJ8 states that the article-chapter must consist of selfcontained contributions which are linked thematically. This guideline by UJ 8 implies that essays or articles should thus have a common theme. In practice this theme may be broader than the traditional dissertation or thesis. Per se, each essay or article typically has its own research question. The UJ8, when there appears to be a lack of a sufficient or a comprehensive literature review in the total submission, meaning the literature of the various articles as a whole does not meet the requirements of a dissertation or thesis and fails to describe and illumine in-depth the topic under study, provides the following guideline8:210: “In such a case it may be necessary to draft a separate chapter that constitutes a literature review. In the case of a collection of essays, a body of literature that is common to all the essays could be reviewed and located in the overall introduction”. 

At most universities, it is sometimes allowed that the various essays or articles that form the article-thesis or dissertation, may explore different issues that are only broadly related to the central theme. This broader approach of presentation of the contents allows that the essays or articles can employ different methodologies and can be of different nature, like one theoretical and one econometrically-orientated, etc., while another one can use a different type of empirical methodology (This approach very much overlaps with the traditional thesis’s structuring and functioning).8

3.1. Two examples of the coherence and sequence connection of an article-thesis’s various selective articles

Referring to the above prescription that the selected articles of the article-format thesis should at all time manifest coherence and sequence, the following three guidelines are very descriptive. The prescriptions read as follows6:1,8:210,18:3:

1) At doctoral level, ‘article-style’ dissertations are unified works that include several distinct but closely related studies of research or creative activity. Each of which is of publishable quality (as stated by UA6:1);

2) Reflecting the desire to construct a ‘coherent’ thesis document, the writing style …should reflect as much as is possible the compact writing style associated with journal publications. In no way does this mean that completeness should be compromised for compactness. However, the entire thesis should be a concise, coherent development of an argument (as stated by UBN18:3), and:

3) A dissertation or thesis by collection of articles or essays consists of a collection of a number of pieces of work which (a) may exhibit some degree of independence or stand-alone viability, while (b) contributing to a central theme, and (c) are presented as a coherent whole in one volume” (as stated by UJ)8:210.

The above descriptions fit well with the undermentioned two examples as offered by the analysis of the UNCC on how coherence and sequence should be manifested at all time in an article-format thesis.

A 2017-study at UNCC5 reflects the coherence and sequence connection of a study’s three selective articles with the overall title5:5: “Existing Barriers to Cure for HIV Positive Black MSM Leaving Prison”, because it is specifically emphasised and illustrated by the four key-words5:5: “Barriers (Invisibility, Perceived and Structural)”, “Cure”, “South Carolina”, “Prison” and “Positive HIV”. In this UNCC-research5, with regards to its coherence and sequence connectivity, its Article 1 reads5:5: “The Invisibility [barrier] among HIV Positive BMSMFI in South Carolina”; Article 2 reads5:5: “Perceived Barriers to HIV Care among HIV Positive BMSM in South Carolina”, while Article 3 reads5:5: “Structural Barriers of Public Assistance as a Conduit for Stigma”.

In another 2017-study at UNCC5, with the general title5:5: “Survival. Healthcare Utilization, and Costs Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD] among Seer-Medicare Beneficiaries with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer [NSCLC]”, the coherence and sequence connectivity of the three articles are well-illustrated by six key-words, namely5:5: “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD]”, “Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer [NSCLC]”, “Survival”, “Healthcare Utilization”, “Seer-Medicare Beneficiaries” and “Costs”. In this UNCC5 article-format thesis, with regards to coherence and sequence, its Article 1 reads5:5: “Survival Associated with COPD among NSCLC”, Article 2 reads5:5: “Cachexia Associated with COPD among NSCLC”; and Article 3 reads5:5: “Healthcare Utilization and Costs Associated with COPD among NSCLC”.

  1. Authorship

Other than the traditional thesis where the student is the sole author, the role of co-authorship of the individual elements (articles) of the article-format thesis, is a prominent issue (and often a problem). UKZN25 requires a clear declaration by the candidate on how the thesis was compiled and the names of any other contributors/authors to it, as well as a history of the data included in it. UKZN’s 25declaration on authorship reads as follows25:4:

I, Dr/Mr Peter John Visagie, declare as follows:

That the work described in this thesis has not been submitted to UKZN or other tertiary institution for purposes of obtaining an academic qualification, whether by myself or any other party. (Where a colleague has indeed prepared a thesis based on related work essentially derived from the same project, this must be stated here, accompanied by the name, the degree for which submitted, the University, the year submitted (or in preparation) and a concise description of the work covered by that thesis such that the examiner can be assured that a single body of work is not being used to justify more than one degree.

On the candidate’s specific contribution to the project, is it required by the UKZN25:4 that the candidate offers in sufficient detail a concise description of the candidate’s personal involvement in and contribution to the project, so that the examiner is in no doubt as to the extent of the candidate’s contribution. Where other persons were involved in the project, a list of these persons who contributed intellectually to the project (each accompanied by a concise description of their contribution), must be included. (Note: This does not include people who ordinarily would be “acknowledged”, as opposed to those considered for authorship.)

Accepting the role of co-authors in the presentation of journal articles, and thus also active as actors in the article-format thesis’s contents, the UNCC5 puts certain prerequisites in place to assure the true writer-ownership of a thesis by the student who is going to graduate. Here, as an absolute prerequisite, the UNCC5 states that the student/graduate has to be the first author as to the entire collection of articles for the thesis. As first authors, students are exclusively responsible for the development and articulation of a concept or idea for research, the development of a proposal to pursue this idea, the development of a research design, the conducting of research and analysis, the writing of major portions of a manuscript, the designing of an intervention or assessment (if relevant), and the interpreting of results.  Secondly, co-authors must be identified and approved at the student’s proposal defence or formal defence. The article(s) and role(s) of the co-authors must be presented to and approved by all members of the dissertation committee. Any changes in co-authorship must be approved by the student’s committee.5

In comparison with UNCC5, the NTNU’s21 prescription on authorship, reads21:1-2: “… if any of the articles is written in cooperation with others, you must follow the rules and regulations concerning co-authorship. If the thesis mainly consists of articles, you should normally be the main author or the first author of at least half the articles. A written statement from each co-author should follow the thesis, detailing your and the co-authors’ contribution. Your independent contribution should be identifiable”.

The UJ8 and the UTA20 are both clear and specific in their rules on authorship. The UJ states the role of co-authorship as follows8:210-211:

Where an article is co-authored, the student’s contribution to such an article must in each case be clearly indicated and confirmed in writing, in the form of a declaration, by the individual co-authors. This information must eventually also be made available to the assessors of the dissertation or thesis. Faculty guidelines may specify further requirements regarding co-authorship, including the exclusion of the possibility altogether (p. 210).

The supervisor of a dissertation or thesis presented as a collection of articles or essays should include a clear declaration regarding the independence of the student’s work. Where articles are co-authored, the declaration should include a statement as described in above paragraph p. 211).

The UTA’s20 guideline on the authorship of the articles used in the article-format thesis, is very much in line with that of UNCC5, NTNU21 and UJ8. It reads20:3-4:

The author of the thesis/dissertation must be the sole or primary author of the articles included in the document. Co-authored papers may be included (if the thesis/dissertation author is the primary author). However, the contributions of the thesis/dissertation writer and his or her co-authors to the paper must be clearly stated in the thesis or dissertation. Descriptions of the contributions of co-authors are normally presented in a subsection of the introductory chapter of the document.

If the article has been published or has been accepted for publication, the author must secure written permission from the publisher (who owns the copyright to the paper), giving the author permission to use the material in the thesis/dissertation.

Permission to use material must be indicated at the beginning of each chapter containing copyrighted material. Copies of written permissions may also be submitted with the thesis or dissertation as an Appendix.

Co-authors should be informed of the thesis or dissertation writer’s intention to use co-authored work in their thesis or dissertation and the co-authors should agree to permit it.

UNB18,19 also allows co-authorship of the published papers, but however states clearly that the student must be the principal author for at least three parts of the published work. (This means that if it is a three-article thesis, the student must be the principal author of all three the articles, while in the four-article thesis one article may be outside the principal-author ruling).

The University of New England (UNE)35 requires on the issue of authorship that the candidate sing two statements, namely the Statement of Originality confirming his/her own work and a Statement of Contribution by Others indicating the input to the articles (and thus also to the article-thesis) by other persons. The UNE35 requires that these signed documents must be placed at the end of each paper/chapter.

Regarding the delinquent intertwining of possible authorship and plagiarism in journal articles and article-theses, the UKZN25 is very precise in excluding any plagiarism or the double use of research data to obtain another qualification, by requiring a clear statement from the candidate. It reads25:4:

  1. That the work described in this thesis has not been submitted to UKZN or other tertiary institution for purposes of obtaining an academic qualification, whether by myself or any other party.
  2. Where a colleague has indeed prepared a thesis based on related work essentially derived from the same project, this must be stated here, accompanied by the name, the degree for which submitted, the University, the year submitted (or in preparation) and a concise description of the work covered by that thesis such that the examiner can be assured that a single body of work is not being used to justify more than one degree. The candidate’s contribution to the project must be followed by a concise description of the candidate’s personal involvement in and contribution to the project, in sufficient detail that the examiner is in no doubt as to the extent of their contribution.

3.The contributions of others to the project must be reflected by a list of all others who contributed intellectually to the project, each accompanied by a concise description of their contribution. This does not include people who ordinarily would be “acknowledged” as opposed to considered for authorship.

Regarding the inclusion of previously published works in the thesis, both the UNB18, 19 and the UNCC5, specifically to cut out the delinquent intertwining of possible authorship and plagiarism, firstly, states that the student must obtain the necessary permission from the university’s advisory committees to include such work;  and secondly, must submit to his/her supervisor, prior to submission of the thesis to the Examining Board, the necessary letters of permission from editors, publishers, and co-authors or other copyright holders.5,18,19

4.1. Consequences of a forced supervisor-as-co-author

The allocation of authorship in the various articles that form the contents of the article-thesis, may hold serious consequences for both the student and the university where he/she is enrolled for the dissertation or thesis. It needs to be illustrated here with an example.

At one of the universities visited for this research, it is the custom (which is inscribed also by a ruling of its senate) that the supervisor’s name had to be put on each of the articles that form the body of the thesis, notwithstanding the significance or not of the role he/she played in the collecting, writing or publishing of the articles. In this case it was the student him/herself, a senior academic and researcher, very well-experienced in the writing, supervising and examination of article-theses and the publication of accredited articles, while his/her supervisor had never before supervised this kind of thesis. In addition, the supervisor had a substandard CV when it came to accredited publications. The immediate outcome of the above study was that the student wrote and published in total on his/her own nearly 30 articles in accredited journals, but was forced to put the non-involved supervisor’s name on all the articles too. As mentioned, the supervisor had never seen, read or had any input in the articles until the well-completed PhD was handed to him by the student for affixing his signature to it as a sign of his/her permission to have it examined.

Firstly, it meant that the supervisor had added nearly 30 accredited articles to his/her CV in a highly dubious way, diminishing the student’s sole authorship to a co-authorship. But this academic and research delinquency went further: for the nearly 30 accredited articles the amount of about R560 000 in total was paid out by the university in the form of Idea incentives to the student and supervisor. In this case the supervisor received (without any input from his/her side) nearly R280 000 in incentives, of which he/she drew R140 000 in cash for personal use (while the other R140 000 he/she used for own academic/research benefits, like personal travel overseas to attend conferences, the buying of books, etc.). The student thus only received (R280 000) of his initial R560 000 in research incentives.

Looking very critically at the above setup, it is clear that forced authorships, like that of supervisors of PhDs, offer the opportunity not only to exploit the PhD student but also the university academically and financially. It offers the opportunity practise self-enrichment as well as serious misconduct by the supervisor without any punitive steps being possible against him/her. Although this outcome may border on fraud and corruption, the senate ruling regarding the forced authorship of the supervisor as applicable to the student’s articles by his/her university safeguards the supervisor against any repercussions.

  1. Approaches to and prerequisites for the examination of a thesis

Regarding the examination of the thesis – either the traditional or the alternative-format thesis — there is great diversity worldwide in the way it has been evaluated. Examples are that the candidate is required, either to argue in defence of his/her thesis together with the examination of the written thesis, to do a formal written or oral and/or verbal examination together with the examination of the written thesis, or just to hand in a written thesis for evaluation by assessors. Notwithstanding this assessment or examination diversity, it is clear that the examination criteria and rules (and thus also the standards) for the article-format thesis are equal to the traditional thesis, as the guidelines of the UJ 8clearly prescribe8:211: “The assessment criteria for a dissertation or a thesis, based on articles or essays are equivalent to a conventional dissertation or a thesis.”

A prominent feature reflecting the diversity of examinations, is the so-called thesis defence (viva voce), which should be referred to here. This defence takes different forms in various countries and institutions. Nassi-Calo1 states the following1:2,4:

In the Netherlands, the defence has several examiners and includes a brief presentation of the work by the applicant, being open to the public. In Australia, the printed volume of the thesis is sent to the examiners who make comments in writing and return it to the candidate. He or she will make a presentation later, but this will not influence the final result. In Brazil, there are institutions that conduct thesis defences open to the public; others do a private session that includes only the candidate, the supervisor and a panel of examiners (p. 2); and:

Whatever the format of the thesis, the assessment by a panel of examiners is paramount for granting the title. In Israel, for example, defence is optional, and few students choose to go through it. As noted above, in The Netherlands it is a formal and open procedure, while in the UK, it is an event reserved only to the candidate and the examiners. In Australia, mainly for logistical and costs reasons, there is no proper defence, the thesis is only given to the examiners, who return it with comments. Moreover, the supporters of this process claim that oral defence rarely changes the outcome of the doctorate. In fact, institutions prefer not to reduce the number of doctors and masters, which weigh positively on university rankings [and the significant income generated by governments’ subsidy to universities for the graduation of masters and PhDs, and the study fees paid by candidates who are being awarded the masters and PhDs]. Moreover, it is really unlikely that a candidate who has gone through the entire process – assuming that there are effective mechanisms along the way – end up failing the final step – the thesis defence. Anyway, it is worth mentioning that a single model will not serve different countries, institutions and areas of knowledge. (p. 4)

Two outcomes are significant regarding institutions where the dissertation or the thesis is subject to the above prescribed defence inside the examination process, namely1:4:

1) The fact that the candidate has published papers in well-evaluated and accredited journals, does not exempt the dissertation or thesis from defence, and this process still must take place in accordance with the criteria established by the qualification-awarding institution;

2)  In cases where the articles, that form part of the article-format dissertation or thesis, have all already been published by a peer-reviewed journal(s), the examination of the masters and PhD is still subject to examination by the appointed examiners, who are required to bring out reports mentioning passed or failed.

In relation to the above points 1) and 2) as regards the quality and the standard of assessment (and legibility) of the examination process and confirmation of the article-thesis, the UJ8, on the specific assessment criteria and outcome of the article-format dissertation or thesis, states8:208: “The format as a collection of articles or essays alters the mode of presentation but not the academic standard of the submission. The mode of presentation does not affect requirements concerning original contribution, or any other academically significant feature of the dissertation or thesis.”

Such a rule bolsters the absolute nature of the examination and it is thus thus clear that for the last, final and formal examination, the reports of the various journals’ reviewers (who had already declared earlier that each of the journal articles that form the body of the article-format thesis is approved and of good standing), are at UJ8 not allowed into the formal examination process for evaluation.

In retrospect, it must further be emphasised that the final examination of the thesis is not a once-off and final act, but is an ongoing examination process, starting with the initial enrolment of the student and consecutively monitoring his/her progress and fulfilment of the prescribed rules as a student for the thesis study. In this context of the final examination of the article-format thesis (reaching at the end of the study the mandatory engagement to undergo a prescribed evaluation in various forms), it must be noted that the UNCC5 has instituted clear and well-described prerequirements in its rules, which start already with the initial registration of the student for the article-format thesis (a pathway many other universities are following too). These rules, that guide the initial process of registration and which have the power to ensure that certain requirements must be fulfilled in consecutive steps — otherwise the study is terminated or the student may be failed in the final examination — read for instance that already in the early stage of the many consecutive steps the article-dissertation must firstly be approved by the student’s advisory panel before formal registration is allowed and the candidate may initiate his/her work on it, etc.

The UNB18,19, as regards the final examination of the thesis, emphasises that the adherence to their Guidelines for the preparation of an article-format dissertation and thesis does not infer acceptance of such a written thesis, but that it is still subject to approval and the acceptance procedures laid down by their School of Graduate Studies for Masters and Doctoral Theses and that nothing in these guidelines limits the role of the Examining Committee of UNB18,19 as final arbitrators for the thesis.

The above stringent regulations on the constant application of trustworthy academic and research integrity during the writing of a thesis, is well-illustrated by the UJ’s8 warning on the correct execution of the article-thesis, as follows8:208: “The format as a collection of articles or essays alters the mode of presentation but not the academic standard of the submission. This mode of presentation does not affect requirements concerning original contribution, or any other academically significant feature of the dissertation or thesis.”

Regarding the final thesis-submission for assessment, the UKZN25 lays down that the thesis should be submitted for examination in a loose-bound form accompanied by a PDF copy. After the examination process the final-version PDF copy of the thesis must be submitted to the UKZN’s25 Post-graduate Office for onward submission to the library. It is not a requirement to submit a copy fully bound in leather, cloth or similar material.

  1. Formal enrolment for the thesis program as a prerequisite for title and topics registration and writing outputs

At the stage when articles, essays or papers should be written which may be recognised as part of the thesis, the UJ8 specifically requires that all the essays, papers or articles that will form part of the thesis, must have been written after the registration for the master’s or doctoral degree with UJ8, and under guidance of the supervisor. Referring specifically to the following three elements: (1) the topics for the essays, papers or articles; (2) the identification of appropriate (accredited) journals for publication; and (3) the timelines for submission to the identified journals to fulfil the registration requirements of the thesis, the UJ8 prescribes further that topics must form part of the research proposal developed and presented by the student and executed in terms of the standard procedures as prescribed by the UJ8 and by its specific faculties. The registered title for the master’s or doctoral research should be based on the central theme of the collection of essays or articles, and as part of the research proposal.

  1. Number of articles published before final examination

At the time of the submission for examination of the journal articles which are offered as part of the article-format thesis, the UJ8 states that it is not a prerequisite for examination submission of the article-format thesis that all the essays, papers or articles must have been published or even have been accepted for publication.

On the specific requirement to have publications ready or published at the time of examination, the UNB18,19, to accommodate the lengthy time required for publication of a paper in a refereed journal, states that at least one of the articles of the three-article thesis must be fully published in a refereed journal at the time of submission of the thesis and that proof of publication must be provided to the supervisor prior to submission of the thesis to the Examining Board. Hereto, where any of the remaining articles are still to be published in a refereed journal at the time of submission of the thesis to the Examining Board, at least one of the remaining two articles (for the three-article thesis) must be accepted for publication and proof of acceptance must also be provided to the supervisor prior to submission of the thesis to the Examining Board. In the case of the minimum of three papers required, either to a conference, refereed journal, or book to constitute the article-thesis, proof of submission of the remaining paper must be provided to the supervisor prior to submission of the thesis to the Examining Board.

The UNCC5, in prescribing the consecutive steps of the pathway to be followed one by one from day one in the activation and execution of publishing the various journal articles for the body of the thesis, states5:2:

1) A maximum of one article published or accepted for publication prior to the proposal defence may be included. This article must represent work undertaken while the student is enrolled in the PhD program and be approved by the committee at the time of the student’s proposal defence. This article must be connected to the theme or themes of the dissertation.

2) The articles submitted for the defence must be of publishable quality. The student’s dissertation committee decides whether the articles meet this standard.

7.1. Publishing of prescribed manuscripts before final examination of article-thesis by manuscripts

The above guidelines bring us back to the article-thesis by publication (where all the journal articles are published or some are published before assessment can take place) versus the article-thesis by manuscripts as referred to earlier in the article. In the case of the article-thesis by manuscripts the “research-model” is based on a so-called theoretical and an assumed examination (which some antagonists of the article-thesis described as an examination based on promises) that will or may take place somewhere in the future after the PhD would already have been awarded. In this context the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB)23 and the University of Indiana (UI)36 provide that a PhD-article thesis by manuscripts may be examined and even awarded before any articles (manuscripts) have been submitted to an accredited journal or journals. Of course, in this case the student can submit his/her publications for examination and it can serve as valuable feedback from referees of journals and enable the student to improve his/her position at the examination, but in this setup the student is not obliged to submit any of them before the examination. If the examiners are convinced that the various (unevaluated) manuscripts presented to them are publishable and that they constitute a substantial original contribution to the research field, that the manuscripts have been correctly executed and well presented, then the student can qualify to obtain his/her PhD. The negative implication is here that the manuscripts may never be presented to journals or even be rejected by them, without a negative impact on the student’s already awarded PhD. Such an outright failure may mean that the contaminated PhD would stay unread on the library shelf, notwithstanding its legal status as a PhD!22,23,25

  1. Enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies

It is often argued that the maximum duration of enrolment for the article-format thesis (two years for the masters and three years for the PhD) before presenting for official examination, is too short. It is argued that this prescribed cut-off time as to the duration of study/registration limits the free-flow of the research character of a research project, minimising the inflow of information and the analysis of it, to make a trustworthy conclusion possible. The limitation created by such enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies, have been argued to be the main reason why the student fails to hand in his/her thesis in time for examination. In this context it is argued that the maximum duration of enrolment for the article-format thesis, other than that of the traditional thesis, must be lengthened.

This opinion may be true, depending on what the objectors specifically try to argue or see as the reasons and/or the factors that may lead to this delay. But there are many contradictions here.

Firstly, most research shows that most of these objections are without any grounds and are mostly vested in subjectivity and personal misapprehensions, as well as own academic and research failures by many of the proponents of the article-thesis.

Secondly, the liability around deadlines is present with and built into every kind of thesis: a) all the types of theses in use have a minimum time of enrolment and a clear deadline before the masters or PhD may be examined and awarded, and/or: b) a maximum time of enrolment after which deadline the enrolment for the masters or PhD may be cancelled. These maximum and minimum times were decided on after years of experience as the best outcomes. As said, the various duration times are exactly the same for the traditional thesis as for the article-thesis: any benefit exclusively for the article-thesis would constitute academic and research discrimination par excellence. (Note again: The minimum enrolment is mostly one year for the masters and two years for the PhD before it may be handed in for examination and be awarded, while the maximum duration of study is mostly two years for the masters and three years for the PhD after which the government’s subsidy paid to the university is generally cancelled).

It is clear that the present-day enrolment deadlines and formal duration of the article-thesis studies are well-balanced and in-depth tested as having worked excellently over many years but, as emphasised in this research, they are not necessarily appropriate for substandard academic and research students.

Regarding the deadlines for dissertations and theses, it must be noted that, besides the internal rules of the maximum time of enrolment, there is the government’s subsidy rules on the maximum duration of enrolment for dissertations and theses. This is coupled with the payment of subsidies to universities of which students qualify inside the maximum permitted time of study. This forced the universities in South Africa to align their rules to those of the government. In this context it must be noted that for a doctorate awarded inside the maximum of three years study, the DHET pays R360 000 (equivalent to three accredited journal articles with the value of R120 000 per article); for the masters the money value is R120 000 (one article payment); and for the mini-dissertation of the applied/directed master it R60 000 (half-payment of an article).

8.1. Only outstanding academically students should be enrolled for masters and PhD studies.

The background to poor academic and research outcomes shows that it is embedded in various impaired academic and research setups, and not so much in the type of the masters/doctorate model. This needs to be illuminated.

As shown above, there are certain prerequisites that form standard guidelines for aspirant thesis- students and their supervisors to adhere to if they want to deliver theses inside the maximum prescribed period of study. Firstly, only outstanding academic students with a clearly stable track record should be allowed into masters and PhD studies. Secondly, it is further of the utmost importance that masters and PhD students are devoted to their studies from the first day of their enrolment, and are focussed on their research and information collecting as well as writing down their findings; it does not matter if it is the output of prescribed articles for the article-format thesis or the collection of data for the delivery of the traditional thesis.

This setting of well-balanced and justified selection and recruiting rules, is the only way to attain the writing and the successful completion of the dissertations and theses in the prescribed time. The minimum and maximum times for the masters and PhD are based, as already indicated above, on experiences and outcomes coming over many years as correct and appropriate. There is just no excuse for substandard students and poor supervisorship: such negative influences — as especially aggravated by the ANC elite’s BAREE (Black-Academic-Research Economic Empowerment) in their focussed aim to appoint substandard Black cadres and comrades into universities’ posts as well as allowing of substandard Black students as masters and doctorate students to increase the ANC’s power by grabbing control of universities — must not further be allowed. It is nothing else than academic and research delinquency that leads to the poor output of dissertations and theses inside the maximum duration of study. Failure to deliver theses before or on the deadline can undoubtedly be avoided if there are strict pre-selection criteria before allowing students into postgraduate study. This will cut out substandard and under-par students, as well as poorly-trained and unqualified supervisors, that are doom for any advanced post-graduate study that needs action and involvement from day one.

Thus, to boost the arguments of the proponents of the article-format or its so-called “benefits” clichés such as the following are used1:3: “it is less laborious than writing a 200 page traditional thesis”, or1:3: “…if papers are published during the masters or doctorate research for the article-thesis it avoids employing valuable time in writing a traditional style thesis”. But then in the same breath such statements eulogising the advantages of the article-thesis, are self-contradicted by saying1:3: “…the time for writing, submitting and peer reviewing articles may not coincide with the deadlines for presentation and defence of the thesis”, reflecting a lack of understanding regarding quality research in general as applicable to the thesis and why many students for the article-format thesis failed to realise it in the prescribed studying time.

Again, and again, we may pinpoint as the central problem, the selection and admission of substandard students as well as supervisors who often lack academic and research quality and character. BAREE, representing the ANC elite’s present delinquent takeover with White staff at South African universities being forced out by mostly incompetent Black cadres in their effort to establish the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology at every South African institution, is the source of all these academic and research problems around the poor output of masters and doctorates in the maximum study period. Few dare speak out concerning this assault on South Africa’s research system.

The watering-down of the rules by some universities is confirmed specifically above by the article-thesis of manuscripts, showing that the rules on deadlines and the maximum durations of PhD studies have already been cleverly side-stepped by the proponents of the article-thesis. This is prominent in the present delivery of the alternative-format PhDs in a so-called “stretched-rules setup”, what many critics of the article-thesis see as the awarding of substandard PhDs and others describe as not a real PhD: for many critics solely to accommodate substandard students as well as their substandard supervisors and examiners. (Possibly due to a worldwide negative connotation, in the British hierarchy of types of doctorates the article-PhD is classed as a junior doctorate). The UJ8 is one of the few universities seemingly willing to point out the fact that the article-thesis is not meant for the under-standard student or the inexperienced supervisor (too difficult?) when it states8:1: “There are specific risks involved with doing a dissertation or thesis as a collection of essays or articles and therefore this option is recommended for top-performing academic students and experienced supervisors.”

8.2. BBBEE/BAREE and cadre-deployment in post-1994 South Africa Academia

In South Africa the above negative kinds of selections and outcomes as a result of substandard students must be read against the current contaminated political culture where those in high positions are allowed to steal, commit fraud and so-called “state capture”. Such outcomes flow directly from the implementation of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and cadre deployment which often enables the substandard and unqualified citizen to be appointed to high-profile positions that they do not deserve or are unable to handle with integrity. Our academic and research setup at our universities also became contaminated by these BBBEE and cadre employees where academic and research quality and integrity have been degraded many times with the less capable student and supervisor in order to obtain so-called equitable race ratios.1

As shown earlier, the lack of knowhow on strategy and project planning by supervisors may lead to a situation where article-thesis students become ensnared in an immensity of data, not only stalling the output of articles before the deadline, but also stalling the process of rapid publication of articles within a well-planned project centred around able, productive and trustworthy journals. On the other hand, even when not stalled, it may produce a mass of substandard masters and doctorates that can permanently contaminate the academic and research culture and environment of the country.

8.3. Lacking research planning and knowhow

The above problems reflect a misconception on what true post-graduate research means and how it must be managed and be steered, to ensure success before deadlines arrive. If the able and devoted student were correctly pre-selected as a candidate for the article-format thesis and his/her undergraduate research training and knowhow was of quality, he/she merely needs to successfully publish articles through trustworthy accredited journals and to collate those into article-theses before the deadline arrives, with good planning and excellent organisation steering the research inside the prescribed and permitted time period. This seems to be missing in our present research culture and the policy of BAREE.

Specific to the pre-organisation of planned data collection for the writing of the journal article, as well as to collect it for publishing as article-theses, Joy Burrough-Boenisch4 from Renkum, The Netherlands, in 2016 provided a good guide when he advised supervisors4:274:

  1. a) To be pro-active in the whole process of the delivery articles, and
  2. b) To inform beforehand editor(s), peer reviewer(s), and language professional(s), that particular article(s) that are going to be presented to him/her/them had to be evaluated in time as part of the obtaining of an academic title, otherwise it may negatively influence the time to deliver published articles and to complete the article-format thesis in time.

This approach and its accompanying learning-experience regarding the standards of journals, means in the first place the avoidance of journals with poor and/or slow histories as to the delivery of the evaluation and the publishing of articles, which in their turn block the delivery of article-theses. [This poor publication is often a characteristic of so-called “international as well as national journals of so-called good status” that offer the free publication of articles. It is important to reflect here on the time elapsed before articles are published by journals (accredited or not) after presented to them: a worldwide research covering 47 countries in 2020 shows the average days in waiting as 134, with the fastest 26 days and the slowest 380 days. In some cases researchers had waited eight months before publication realised. Instead of an increase in the speed with which articles are published, over the last ten years it has slowed down from between 50 and 130 days (average 90 days) to between 150 days and 250 days (average 200 days)]. This negative outcome as regards the publishing of articles that are needed urgently by article-theses, undoubtedly contributes to the poor output of article-theses inside the maximum time of study but, when critically analysed, it is the direct result of poor leadership by supervisors and not because the article-thesis’s research is difficult.37-40

Indeed, all that is left for an able and skilled supervisor to do if a student of excellence were pre-selected, is to activate the candidate to be creative, responsible, devoted and hard-working in delivering the required articles and to choose well-functioning, trustworthy journals to bring the research intentions and the article-thesis productions into action and to the finishing line and success.1,4

  1. Word and page counts of the article-thesis

Most of the universities’ guidelines on the writing of the article-format-dissertation and -thesis lack clear guidance on its minimum and maximum word count and page count.

The guideline of the European International Joint Initiative’s PhD (EIJI)16 on the word count of its three-article thesis (five-chapter thesis) suggests that each of the articles should be between 5 000 and 10 000 words, adding up to a maximum 30 000-word count for the three articles.  The EIJI16 added that, as in the case of the traditional thesis, appendices of unlimited length may be added to its article-thesis, but this placing of extra words through appendices must still limit the word count to a maximum of about 35 000 words. The UKZN25 suggested word counts of 30 000 maximum and 15 000 as the minimum for the PhD. A study, based on an analysis of 1 000 PhDs awarded over nine years at a university, shows that when the measuring metrics only cover the content that is falling within the main body of the thesis (introduction, literature review, methods section, results chapter, discussions and conclusions while sections such as the title page, abstract, table of contents, acknowledgements, bibliography and appendices were omitted from the total word count), the average main body reflects a count of 52 000 words.41

Regarding the Masters study, UKZN25 suggested word counts of 15 000 maximum and 10 000 minimum, and for the word-count of the body (chapters) of the Masters a maximum of 11 000 words and a minimum of 6 000 words. Another independent investigation in this regard puts the Master-dissertation at an average word count of approximately 20 000 words (2 to 3 times less than that of the thesis).41-44

In contrast to the maximum word count of 30 000 at UKZN25 and EIJI16, AUEB23 and US24 state that their article-thesis’s total word count can go up to a maximum of a 75 000 words. (This word count excludes again the appendices which are sometimes added to the thesis and can be of unlimited length). The UNE35 goes further by stating that with the exclusion of the appendices, the word count of the article-thesis can go up to 100 000 words for its non-science subjects and for scientific subjects the word count should be not more than 50 000 words. This guideline is supported by a broad study of 100 cases which puts the ideal word count of the thesis as being between 80 000 and 100 000 words. Hereto the following universities state the word limits of their PhDs as follows: Edinburgh: 100 000, Exeter: 100 000, Leister: 80 000, Bath:  80 000 Warwick: 70 000. An analysis of over 100 PhD theses shows that the average thesis length is between 80 000 and 100 000 words. It seems as if many universities are opting for a maximum word count of 100 000 words.41-44

The Stellenbosch University (SU)43 and the University of Stanford43 do not include any prescribed ruling on the word count or page count of theses in their guidelines besides stating that the compiling and structuring of the article-thesis is unique  and that the word contents are directed by the subjects under study.41-43 In this context of  subjects/disciplines/fields that can direct the word count of theses, some universities indeed set different word-count limits for their departments, like the guidelines from the Universities of Birmingham and Sheffield as follows: Arts and Humanities: 75 000; Medicine, Dentistry & Health: 75 000; Science: 80 000 and Social Sciences:75 000 to 100 000.41-44

The introduction of new guidelines that indicate that two to four articles, even more articles, may in addition be included in the article-thesis, is starting to make the classical model of the “three-article thesis” in some way redundant and thus also its word count. This adaptation may lead to a rise in the word count from 35 000 words to possibly 60 000 words, and even as many as 200 000 words, depending on the amounts of articles included in the thesis. f6,23-25,41-44

Regarding the page count of the article-thesis, both the AUEB23 and US24 state that the total length of the article-thesis should be more or less 300 pages of A4. (This page length excludes the appendices which are sometimes added to the thesis and can be of unlimited length.) An analysis done on 1 000 PhD theses awarded between 2008 to 2017 at the University of Auckland reflects the average number of pages as 204, while the median number of pages is 198. Another similar kind of analysis reflects the median page length of theses as varying between 159 to 223.23-24,41

It seems as if it is overlooked by many researchers that the inclusion of more articles in the traditional three-article thesis surely is going to lead to an huge rise in the word count, which will automatically also bring a significant increase in the page count.23,24,41

Regarding the above various word and page counts reflected for the article-thesis and -dissertation16,23-25,41-44, a clear perspective is needed: Firstly, it is clear that some universities do not differentiate between the lengths or even serious differences in the composition of the article- and traditional theses: this phenomenon has already led to an overly prescriptive approach to the article-thesis contents, its structure and its functioning, wherein the elements of length and contents play a central role. This contradiction of no difference between the two types of theses has led to the large difference between researchers on the “ideal” word and page counts of the article-thesis. Indeed, much of the data offered above on the ideal word and page count of the article-thesis are just not applicable to the article-thesis and are impossible to execute and to deliver with the three-article thesis, even the five-article thesis. Most of these word counts are not reachable, and militate against the aim, motivation and intention of how the article-thesis must be implemented and be steered in research. This outcome reveals why some universities like Stellenbosch and Stanford, have no maximum or minimum prescriptions as to the number of words and pages that the article-thesis must comprise.40-44

Notwithstanding the above dilemma around the best/ideal word and page counts for the article-thesis, we need some criteria to determine later during the writing, supervising and examination of the article-thesis, if its word and page counts fulfil basic standards. As said, in light of the absence of a one-size-fits-all word-and-page-count guideline, the only guideline/criteria to determine in some way the best/ideal length (word and page counts) of the total article-thesis, is to analyse the word count of each one of its articles against specific criteria, such as the prescribed word count and pages of journal articles. In this context the guidelines of many accredited journals show a limiting word count of between 4 000 and 6 000 words for articles, while some others’ guidelines set the maximum word count at 12 000 and the minimum word count at 8 000. If this maximum word count at 12 000 and the minimum word count at 8 000 words per article is used as criteria/guiding, the three-article thesis’s word count can be maximum 36 000 and its minimum 24 000. In this case a four-article thesis’s maximum and minimum word counts will thus be between 48 000 and 32 000 words, while a five-article thesis’s word count will be respectively 60 000 and 40 000 words.1,23-25,41

The earlier suggestions by UKZN25 and EIJI1 (which both showed a maximum of a 30 000 word count) and AUEB23 and US24 (which reflected a maximum of a 75 000-word count), seems in this context very applicable to this research. To ensure optimal and trustworthy examination procedures for the article-thesis in Article Three of the series later, the maximum and minimum word counts of between 12 000 and 8 000 words per article were selected as criteria and will be used consecutively in the research.41-44

In Table 1 the maximum and minimum word counts of between 12 000 and 8 000 per article for a three-article thesis were compiled with the intention to later effect an analysis and comparison from it as the research of the project develops. In Table 1 the implementation of the total maximum and minimum word counts, together with the details of the various sub-word counts for the Introduction, the Chapters, the Synthesis and the Bridging, were given. The calculations are based on the guidelines and prescriptions of various research sources. 23-24,41-44

Table 1: Analysis of word counts of three-article thesis:

Sections Minimum Maximum
Introduction 2 700 2 700
Chapters 24 000 36 000
Synthesis 2 000 2 000
Bridging 300 300
Total 29 000 41 000

The word counts for the four-article PhD, similarly calculated as those described for Table 1, are reflected in Table 2.23-24,41-44

Table 2: Analysis of word counts of four-article thesis:

Sections Minimum Maximum
Introduction 2 700 2 700
Chapters  32 000 48 000
Synthesis 2 000 2 000
Bridging 300 300
Total  37 000 53 000

From this subsection’s discussion it is evident that the absence of a clear description in the literature to limit the maximum articles for the article-thesis, is creating at present an anomaly around the maximum word count and page count.

But, notwithstanding this lack of clarity, no limits should be placed on the word count and page count of the article-thesis: there does not exist a one-size-fits-all word and page count guideline. Each article-thesis must be structured according to the writing needs and preferences of the individual student/writer and always be adaptive to challenging research demands.

  • [Regarding the anomaly around the preferred page and word counts of the article-thesis, is it worthwhile to mention that in South Africa an article-thesis was recently published with the total length of 460 pages of A4 and a total word count of 180 000 words. An analysis of these 460 pages and 180 000 words reflects the following: 250 pages/100 000 words embedded in the thesis’s structure, typed in Times New Roman font at 12pt, while 200 pages/80 000 words embedded in the Addendum typed in Times New Roman font at 8pt. The research was the outcome of a five-article thesis (nine-chapter thesis), consisting of five accredited articles for the article structure and a further 14 accredited articles intertwined in the Introduction and Overview chapters].
  1. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis

Some universities are vague in their rules on either the minimum and or maximum articles required for the article-format thesis. For instance, in this context the UA6 defines its minimum numbers only as “several”. The subrules read as follows6:1: “At the doctoral level, “article-style” dissertations are unified works that include several distinct but closely related studies of research or creative activity, each of which is of publishable quality.” This vague description is echoed by the NTNU’s21 guidelines that states that the article-format doctoral thesis may be written also as a compendium of several short scientific or academic papers, and that the choice of it, for inclusion in the thesis, is determined by the research topic, norms in the field and of course the candidate’s personal choice of format.1,6,21 Both UA6 and NTNU21 neglect to prescribe the minimum articles for their article-format theses.

In this regard AUEB23 and US24 state that the total number of chapters is usually about eight, reflecting a presence of five to six accredited articles.

Putting the minimum prescribed number of articles of the article-thesis in context with its three related prerequisites (the execution, standard and type of the articles) in the presentation for a thesis, the rules of UJ8 provide the following guidelines8:209: “However, they must be in the proper format for submission to the identified journals. Individual faculties may set guidelines about the specific journals, or conference proceedings that are acceptable as a place of publication for an article or essay that form part of the dissertation or thesis under the option. Individual faculties [at UJ] may further set minimum requirements for the number of essays or articles that must have been accepted for publication before the candidate may submit the dissertation or thesis for examination”; and8:209: “The faculty guidelines may specify the appropriate number of articles or essays depending on the discipline concerned. The number of essays or articles should normally not be less than two for a master’s dissertation or less than four for a doctoral thesis.”

Much in the same vein as the reflection by the UJ8, the UNB18,19 describes the minimum number of articles for the article-format thesis as follows18:2: “…being based on published research which you conducted while enrolled as a graduate student at UNB but may not include articles derived from a previous thesis. An article-based thesis would involve the integration of no fewer than three published works into a coherent argument or sequence by using appropriate introductory and summarizing chapters”; and18:2: “A published work is defined as a refereed journal article, a book chapter, or conference proceeding. The assessment of a work as being suitable for inclusion as one of a minimum of three published works rests with the student’s supervisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.”

This prescription of three journal articles as minimum is also part of the guidelines of the UNCC5, although it reflects that sometimes, in order to achieve coherence, students may need to include more articles.  Also the UKZN25 stipulates that the number of articles may be more than three (without specifying the extent).

Notwithstanding the above clear guideline on the minimum of accredited journal articles that must form the body of the thesis by some universities, nowhere does one encounter a reference in their guiding literature on the maximum of articles that may or may not be included in the article-format thesis.5,6,8,18,19,23-25

  • [Referring to the present vagueness around the maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis, attention may be drawn again to the South African article-format thesis that was recently published consisting of 19 accredited journal articles. These 19 articles selected had exhibited some degree of independent viability, but contributed to a central theme, and a coherent whole, to be placed successfully in one volume. Of these 19 articles, 14 accredited articles were integrated in the Literature Review, reflecting respectively as Chapters 2 and 3. Hereto the other five articles of the thesis were placed in the contents (each as an independent article/chapter) as Chapters 4 to 8, to make it a five-articles thesis embedded in a nine-chapters thesis (instead of the traditional three-article-thesis embedded in a five-chapter-thesis)].

Reflected underneath is the traditional publication/manuscript model of the three-article thesis, as supported by SU.43:10 (See under 3.2.3.1.10.1. SU-Alternative Dissertation Structure: Individual Studies.) However, it is just too rigid and too limiting to do in-depth and convincing research on doctoral level. This kind of model is no longer the norm in the South African research community and needs some adaptation and revision.43

3.2.3.1.10.1. SU-Alternative Dissertation Structure: Individual Studies43:10

  1. Introduction
  • Background Information
  • Purpose of Study, Research Objectives
  • Significance and motivation
  • Thesis, delineation, research questions
  • Definitions, assumptions, limitations
  • Theory base, general literature review
  • Brief Chapter overviews
  1. Individual Study 1
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Individual Study 2
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Individual Study 3
  • Major section: Specific research hypothesis, delineations, etc.
  • Major section: Specific literature review
  • Major section: Method
  • Major section: Findings
  • Major section: Analysis
  • Major section: Sub conclusion
  1. Conclusion
  • Summary of Findings
  • Conclusions
  • Summary of Contributions
  • Future Research

Hereto the model of outlining/illustrating by UKZN25:3 (see under 3.2.3.1.10.2. UKZN-Outline of Three-Article-Thesis) displays the format that makes provision for the enlargement of the traditional three-article thesis. Below, in subsection 3.2.3.1.10.2., the outline for the thesis by manuscripts and thesis through publications is revealed: it reflects the excellent process of how to enlarge the three-article-thesis25:3with its indication of the undefined numeral symbol of n. (In 3.2.3.1.10.3. UKZN-Outline of Enlarged Five-Article Thesis this enlargement of the three-publication to a five-publication thesis, is given.)

3.2.3.1.10.2. UKZN-Outline of Three-Article-Thesis25:3

  1. Preliminary pages
  2. Title page
  3. Preface and Declaration

iii.   Dedication

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Table of contents
  3. List of figures, tables and acronyms (separately presented)

vii.  Abstract

  1. Main Text
  2. Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction including literature review

Research questions and/or objectives

Brief overview of general methodology including study design

  1. Chapter 2

First manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 3

Second manuscript/publication

4      Chapter n

Final manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter n+1: Synthesis

Synthesis

Conclusions

Recommendations

  1. References/Appendices
  • NB: Between the manuscripts or publications there must be a page (maximum) bridging text to demonstrate the link between them.

In 3.2.3.1.10.3. UKZN-Outline of Enlarged Five-Article Thesis underneath, the enlargement of the three-publication thesis to a five-publication thesis, as based on 3.2.3.1.10.2. UKZN-Outline of Three-Article Thesis, is given.

3.2.3.1.10.3. UKZN-Outline of Enlarged Five-Article Thesis25:3

  1. Main Text
  2. Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction including literature review

Research questions and/or objectives

Brief overview of general methodology including study design

  1. Chapter 2

First manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 3

Second manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 4

Third manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 5

Fourth manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 6

Fifth manuscript/publication

  1. Chapter 7: Synthesis

Synthesis

Conclusions

Recommendations

  1. References/Appendices
  2. NB: Between the manuscripts or publications there must be a page (maximum) bridging text to demonstrate the link between them.
  • The above result shows that no limit should be imposed on the amount of articles selected for the article-thesis, as long as all the articles are self-contained and thematically-linked, and contributes comprehensively to the whole of the thesis and its research intentions and outcomes. Indeed, the three-article thesis is in the process of being phased out and we can expect to see in the near future the advent of the five-article thesis and even the six-article thesis. This is the only route to follow if the article-thesis model wants to become a respected partner in the country’s academic and research community.
  1. Conclusions

The advent of the article-thesis and -dissertation in our research environment, seems to find itself at the moment in some way in a “research no-man’s-land”. It appears to have enjoyed support from a strong, independent academic and research community, but is at the same time not always allowed to enjoy total independence as a research entity. It needs the maximum support of the old-established academic and research environment to make a dynamic breakthrough.1-36

In retrospect it is evident that the writing of the article-doctorate and -master is a complex process and is many times constrained, driven and managed by a manifold of rules, regulations and stipulations, which are at times vague and in conflict with each other.

The writing of the article-thesis requires a clear and specific streamlined guiding framework that can adapt easily to the unique needs of its individual student/writer and offers him/her the opportunity to place outstanding accredited journal articles into the heart of his/her article-thesis and to become, depending on certain prerequirements and circumstances, a full participant in the Circle of Research Completeness.

In the next two intertwined articles, respectively entitled: “How to write and supervise an article-masters and –doctorate: Part 1”, and:“How to write and supervise an article-masters and –doctorate: Part 2”, the entities of the article-format masters and doctorate will be further explored and the process of how the writing and supervising of the article-thesis and -dissertation may be activated, will be described. Step-by-step guidance will be provided by compiling a summarised framework, extracted from the rules, regulations and stipulations of various universities, on the writing of the article-format master and doctorate.

In historical perspective we encounter the obtention of the ancient licence (licentia docendi) to be able to and allowed to teach at universities and its awarding of the honourable titles of magister (master) and docere (doctor). After many hundreds of years of constant use they remain the central drivers of our Modern-day academic and research culture. The centuries-old custom and tradition practised by the Catholic Church to require candidates who want to obtain the licentia docendi that they first had had to successfully pass a test, take an oath of allegiance and pay a fee, before they were awarded the master and doctorate (and thus were recognised as being able to each and as learned), did not change much over the years. Millions of students’ much-focused efforts today to obtain the master’s and doctor’s degrees through strict examination confirm it.

The next two intertwined articles (Numbers 5 and 6) further tell the story of this mass drive to obtain still today the exclusive and much sought-after licentia docendi. Also, the story is told of how the present-day candidates for the article-format master and doctorate are now caught up in this race.

  1. References
  2. Nassi-Calo L. Theses and dissertations: pros and cons of the traditional and alternative formats. [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec. 20]. Available from https://blog.scielo.org/en/2016/08/24/theses-and-dissertations-pros-and-cons-of-the-traditional-and-alternative-formats/
  3. The past, present and future of the PhD thesis. Nature. 2016, vol.535. no.7610. pp.7-7. DOI: 10.1038/535007a
  4. Gold J. What’s the point of the PhD thesis? Nature. 2016, vol.535, no 7610, pp.26-28. DOI: 10.1038/535026a
  5. Burrough-Boenisch J. PhD thesis: Being more open about PhD papers. 2016, Vol. 536, no 7616, pp. 274-274. DOI: 10. 1038/536274b
  6. University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). Three Articles Dissertation Guidelines, 2019-2020. [Internet]. [Cited 2021 Jan. 17]. Available from https://graduateschool.uncc.edu/sites/graduateschool.uncc.edu/files/media/Thesis-Dissertation-Misc/Three-Article%20Dissertation%202019-2020.pdf/
  7. University of Alabama (UA). Article-style dissertations. [Internet]. [Cited 2021 Jan. 212]. Available from https://services.graduate.ua.edu/UAHome/GraduateSchool/Academics/ElectronicTheses and Dissertations/Article-style-Dissertation.html/
  8. University of South Alabama (USA). Guide for preparing theses and dissertations. [Internet]. [Cited 2021 Jan. 10]. Available from https://www.southalabama.edu/thesisdissertationguide.pdf
  9. University of Johannesburg (UJ). Guidelines on theses or dissertations in article or essay format. [Internet]. [Cited 2018 Dec. 20]. Available from     https://www.uj.ac.za/humanities/Document/Guidelines/
  10. Walden University (WU). What’s the difference between a PhD and a professional doctoral degree. [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Jan. 9]. Available from https://www.waldenu.edu/Resources what-s-the-difference-between-a-phd-and-a-professional-doctoral/
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http://Library.nwu.ac.za/sites/Documents/ManualPostGraduate.pdf

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  15. University of Stellenbosch: Some guidelines for your Thesis/Dissertation Layout. [Internet]. [Cited 2016 Mar 18]. Available from https://www.sun.ac.za/Documents/GenericguidelinesforthesisanddissertationlayoutPG SkillUpdated Ja2019.pdf [See also: https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Documents/ Yearbook/Current/GeneralPoliciesRules2019.pdf; and: “Some Guidelines for Your Thesis/Dissertation Layout Compiled by the SU Postgraduate Office, pp. 1-17”].
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How to position the article-format master and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa (1): Part 1

Title: How to position the article-format-master and-doctorate in the Modern-day
Research-culture and -environment of South Africa (1): Part 1

Gabriel P Louw

iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-8093

Extraordinary Professor, Focus Area Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa (Author and Researcher: Healthcare, Higher Education, History and Politics).

Corresponding Author:

Prof. Dr GP Louw; MA (UNISA), PhD (PU for CHE), DPhil (PU for CHE), PhD (NWU)

Email: profgplouw@gmail.com

Keywords: Article-format-doctorate, article-format-masters, modern-day, position, research-culture, research-environment, South Africa.

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 3: 1

1. Background

Four years ago, in August 2016, the internationally acclaimed researcher, Professor Lilian Nassi-Calo, wrote as follows on the pros and cons of the alternative formatted dissertations and theses versus those of the traditional dissertations and theses, and the dynamic incoming of the alternative formats in present-day academics and research1:1:

Scholarly communication undergoes changes and evolves as science itself. The scientific article, its format and publication mode, dissemination and sharing has undergone significant changes since the emergence of the first scientific journals in the seventeenth century. The Internet, in the 1990s, dramatically changed the paradigm of science communication, an event comparable only to the invention of printing by Gutenberg in 1440, which enabled the dissemination of articles and journals to other instances, beyond the academy.

Dissertations and theses are monographs that constitute elements of scientific communication, but their primary role is to demonstrate that the candidate of an academic title is able to drive and communicate independent and original research.

An historical overview of advanced research worldwide shows that the scientific-journal article and the traditional master (dissertation) and doctorate (thesis) did in the past and are still today playing important roles in the collecting of scientific data and the reporting and communication of it to academics, researchers and the public. But, since the 1990s the format and publication mode, together with the dissemination and sharing of collected scientific data, underwent a significant change with the introducing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. It forces to the foreground a serious rethinking and replanning on how research should be addressed in the future: what is the most appropriate way to write a master (dissertation) and a doctorate (thesis), and what are the pros and cons of the article-format dissertation and thesis. The main intention of this article – the first of a series of four articles – is exactly to start a discussion in this context.

1.1. Introduction

In the present research setup on the delivery types of the post-graduate master and doctoral qualifications, the research language reflects various descriptions, definitions and meanings, like dissertation, thesis, supervisor, promoter, journal format, manuscript, monograph, article, essay, scientific article, alternative format, scientific communication, academic title, thesis defence, graduate program, collection of articles and essays, article style, etc. In this context many times different concepts are emphasised and indeed consistently offered in the various writings, but in many cases some of the descriptions are conflicting with their traditional meanings, while in other cases the same is being said seemingly for different descriptions and definitions, as for instance the meanings of thesis and dissertation, supervisor and promoter, article and essays, etc. This diverse nomenclature undoubtedly contributes to the confusion for post-graduate students, supervisors, examiners and readers in their quest for the knowhow on how to compile, write, supervise and examine the increasingly popular present-day article-format dissertation and thesis.1-8

1.1.1. Definitions and descriptions

The above diversity in descriptions and policies of the various Graduate Schools and Faculties of Universities as to their article-format postgraduate programmes and qualifications, and the positioning of the article-thesis and dissertation in modern-day research, thus needs thus some analysis.

The descriptions of thesis and dissertation refer to long essays on a particular subject, especially one written for a university degree or diploma. The biggest difference between a thesis and dissertation is the intended purpose, with the thesis being a more comprehensive and independent research format. It must be noted that the literature often refers to the dissertation which is also applicable to the doctorate and the thesis which is again applicable to the masters. For this article the description dissertation is applicable only to the research project of the master’s degree (also referred to as masters in the singular form and used also as such in the research) and the Honours degree, while the description thesis is only applicable to the research of the doctoral or doctorate study. (A prominent deviation on the position of the article-format dissertation (master) from the overall accepted research customs and rules, that represents something of an anomaly among the modern-day progressive academics and researchers, is the decision by the University of Alabama (UA)6 not to permit the article-style thesis to be presented there for a master’s degree. This limitation is absent at South African institutions and is mostly also globally absent at universities: The UA’s6 ruling is therefore ignored in this research project).6

With reference to the rules and regulations of masters and doctorates, my writing will further reflect on the rules of the thesis as equal to those of the dissertation (as mentioned, most universities regularly use the term thesis as a synonym for the term dissertation). This means that the rules, traditions and customs applicable to the thesis, are also fully applicable to the dissertation. Because there is very little difference between the rules of the dissertation and thesis, and to avoid unnecessary repetition every time, both the terms thesis and dissertation are respectively used in the research, but with “dissertation” identified with the masters and “thesis” with the doctorate.

In the above context the words article, paper, essay, conference paper, or book chapter, are seen as equal elements in the research culture, depending on the kind of presentation of research outcomes/products, as guided by the field or discipline (and faculty) of master’s and doctoral degrees. As such, article will be used as synonym for paper, essay, conference paper, or book chapter, in references where it forms part of the contents of the article thesis.

Although this series of four articles is especially focused on two outcomes, namely on how to write and supervise the article-format masters and doctorate, and how to supervise and examine the article-format masters and doctorate, it is of utmost importance that the so-called monograph or traditional masters and doctorate are also described, seeing that it still forms an essential part of the greater unity of postgraduate study and of the research foundation. The traditional masters and doctorate are still dynamic players in the distribution of research by way of the article-format masters and doctorate, the writing of journal articles and of books, contributing to the Complete Cycle of Research. In this context, the rules and the methods of compiling and writing the journal article, as well as that of the book (that reflects attaining a final stage total research), will thus also be illumined in the series of four articles.

1.1.2. The history of the entities master and doctorate

In this series of four articles the concepts master’s degree and doctorate (and also described as dissertation and thesis) take a central role. It is thus at this early stage a priority to define or describe the meaning of the two.

From the late Middle Ages the pattern of degrees for teaching at universities were the bachelor and masters in the lower faculties, and the doctor in the higher faculties. This system was strengthened by the Bologna declaration in 1999, which started the Bologna Process that led to the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). It confirmed the continuation of the three-integrated-cycle degrees: the bachelor-masters-doctorate. In this context there are already in some countries a kind of deviation appearing in their hierarchies: associate-bachelor>bachelor>honours-bachelor>masters>doctorate>post-doctorate). 9-14

The master’s degree is awarded to a student by a college or university usually after one or two years of additional study following a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent. The naming master of the degree comes from the Latin word magister and its original meaning refers to someone who had been admitted to the rank or degree of master. The master’s degree dated back to the origin of European universities, founded by a Papal bull of 1233, decreeing that anyone admitted to the mastership in the University of Toulouse (UT), should be allowed to teach freely at any other university. This right on an exclusive work occupation (to teach) became finalised over the years as the licentia docendi (licence to teach), making the master’s degree a prerequisite to be able to teach at a university. Originally masters and doctors were not to be distinguished, but this has changed over the years and by the 15th century it had become customary in the English universities to refer to the teachers/instructors (lecturers) in the so-called lower faculties (such as Arts) as master/masters (the plural term masters is also used in the literature to refer to the single titling of master) and those in the higher faculties as doctors.  The outcome was that the more advanced doctoral degree (like for instance the PhD) is mostly needed to be a professor. Since the Middle Ages the master’s degree, that was initially the MA, started to expand so as to include varies fields and disciplines of study (and rooted in research and coursework master degrees), leading to the equal expansion of the degree’s use in titles such as M.Sc., M.Ed., etc.9-14

The doctorate is the highest degree awarded by a university faculty or other approved educational organisation (that can be a college or another type of higher-education institution that has legally been awarded the power to confirm degrees). As the highest level of university training and education, it is usually given after an individual accomplishes both a master’s degree and a bachelor degree. The two terms doctorate and doctor, meaning respectively in Latin doctoratus and docere, are derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi, that means “licence to teach or to instruct”. The word doctorate is an umbrella term for a degree or rank, reflecting a program that can result in either an academic or a professional doctor’s degree. Inside the umbrella rank specific kinds of doctorates are awarded. The following abbreviations of doctorates awarded worldwide, are for instance the Dr. phil., Dr. rer nat. (natural sciences), Dr. rer pol. (social /political studies), D.A. (Doctor of Art), D.Ed., Ph.D., D.Sc., D.Ed., D.Phil., etc. These degrees can be obtained in different areas of study and specializations such as law, education, medicine, engineering, business, etc. Of all the numbers of doctoral degrees the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines. In addition there are also some types of technical or professional degrees that include the titling of doctor in their names and are classified as doctorates.9-14

Holders of a doctoral degree are considered scholars and experts in their field of study. Any kind of doctoral degree includes years of coursework, immense studies and fieldwork. The final requirement for the doctoral degree is a thesis, an original and documented paper, that tackles a particular issue or problem in the discipline as part of a research undertaking by the student. Doctorates can also be classified as traditional doctorate degrees (the student accomplishes all the requirements of the degree upon graduation) and the honorary doctorate degree (a person who is given the title of doctor due to their contribution to the field, study or profession, but is not necessarily capable of conducting research or contributing knowledge to a particular field). In this context the honorary masters and all its privileges, etc. must be seen as equal to that of the honorary doctorate. For this research the focus will be only on the traditional master and doctorate degrees.9-14

A doctorate is in most countries an advanced research qualification that enables the holder to teach at universities in the degree’s field or to work in a specific profession. Its roots can be traced to the early church in which the term doctor referred to the apostles, church fathers and other Christian-church officials who taught and interpreted the Bible. In this context the right to grant a doctorate (the licentia docende, or the “licence to teach”) was originally reserved for the Catholic Church which required the applicants for the doctorate to pass a test, to take an oath of allegiance and to pay a fee. This Catholic Church licence and titling exclusivity led to conflict between the church and universities, and in 1213 the Pope granted the right to the University of Paris (UP) to issue the licence too. After initially awarding the right to issue doctorates or “licences to teach” to universities, it became through custom and tradition a universal licence (Latin:  licentia ubique docende) at all universities to issue licences to candidates who had passed the evaluation prerequisites of the licentia ubique docende to teach and thus to use the title doctor. [It is alleged that the Catholic Church’s exclusive  privilege and right to issue doctorates was already side-stepped in the late 1100s by some European universities and that the UP indeed in 1150 awarded Europe’s first doctorate. Note also the Papal bull of 1233 that decreed that anyone admitted to the mastership in the University of Toulouse (UT) could use the title of master (magister)]. 9-14

In countries such as the UK and Ireland there developed over the years a tier or hierarchy of research doctorates: a higher level that reflects a high standard of research through the D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) and D.Litt. (Doctor of Letters), etc. On the middle level in the tier of doctorates is the Ph.D., while on the lower level of the hierarchy stands the junior-class doctorates, wherein the article-format doctorate is presently placed. It must be noted that although some of the North American universities issue degrees with “doctor” in their names, as the M.D., J.D. and the D.Pharm., they are professional undergraduate degrees. They are not doctorates, making the American M.D. and D.Pharm. Equal in academic/professional status as the South African degrees of M.B., Ch.B.- and B.Pharm.9-14

1.2. Aims of article (Continued in Article 2)

The purpose of this article, titled: “How to position the article-format masters and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 1, as part one of two intertwined articles, is to provide a general understanding and grounding for the aspirant student who is planning to write an article-format master (dissertation) or doctorate (thesis), as well as for the aspirant supervisor who intends to oversee this alternative research format and the aspirant examiner who wants to assess the article thesis. The next intertwined article, entitled: “How to position the article-format masters and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 2”,  will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the aspirant student who is planning to write an article-format master (dissertation) or doctorate (thesis), as well as for the aspirant supervisor who intends to oversee this alternative research-format and the aspirant examiner who wants to assess the article thesis.

 The intention of these two intertwined articles are not to supply a single, rigid framework or guideline, or to underwrite a specific university’s guideline on how to write an article master (dissertation) or a doctorate (thesis), but to offer a focused, broad informative guide on most of the important regulations and rules of the various local and global universities in their prescriptions on the delivery of the article-format masters and doctorate.5-8

This article, titled: How to position the article-format masters and doctorate in the Modern-day Research-culture and environment of South Africa: Part 1, is the first part of a series of seven articles under the project entitled: “How to write, supervise and examine the article-format master and doctorate: A South African perspective”.

1.2.1. Scope of article (Continues Article 2)

The information applies to aspirant students, supervisors and examiners for article masters and doctorates, presented as a collection of essays or articles.

2. Method (Continues Article 2)

The research was done by means of a literature review. This method aims to construct a viewpoint from the available evidence as the research develops. This approach is being used in modern research where there is often not an established body of research, as is the case with the writing and publishing of the article-format dissertation and thesis. By means of this method the focus is on being informative as to the various local and global approaches to the delivery of article-format theses or dissertations. The sources consulted cover the period 2006 to 2021.

The research findings are being presented in narrative format.

3. Results and discussion (Continues Article 2)

Two clear types of theses (doctorates) and dissertations (masters) are practised today: the monograph thesis and dissertation and the article-format thesis and dissertation. Firstly, the description of the monograph thesis and dissertation will in short be reflected on in subdivision 3.1. The Monograph Masters and Doctorate, while the comprehensive description of the article-format thesis and dissertation will be reflected on in subdivision 3.2. The Article-Format Masters and Doctorate.

3.1.The Monograph Masters and Doctorate

3.1.1. Overview

In their arguing for the exclusive continuation of the Monograph Masters and Doctorate by various seasoned academics and salted researchers as the only future way to go, it is opinined by them that this approach is the only one that demonstrates the candidate’s full ability to frame the historical context of a problem, to describe in detail the purpose of the study and how it is executed, and finally to arrive at a credible conclusion.  Others argue that the doing away with the monograph approach would limit the focus of the doctorate to a mere paper factory. Furthermore, it is felt that the monograph avoids the rigid deadline for examination presentation, which has been argued to be the negative characteristic of the article-format theses: In this case an exclusively time-based deadline is rigidly locked in and fixed into the thesis in order to regulate the undisturbed delivery of published journal articles.1

Further boosting the putative strong stand of the traditional masters and doctorate in present-day research, is the unstoppable growth in the output of these kinds of research instruments since the early days. In this context Nassi-Calo1 for instance, reports that  the database of an agency of the Ministry of Education of Brazil, the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), registered 901 096 traditional dissertations and theses between 1987 to 2016 (meaning in 29 years an average yearly delivery of 31 079 research-documents for Brazil alone). A further positive characteristic, argued by the proponents of the traditional thesis, is that that the average number of pages comprising it has increased from about 100 pages in the 1950s to around 200 pages today, reflecting the rise of a more comprehensive study approach and evidence of an acceptable instrument which is providing the mass delivery of constructive and reliable research.1-4

Looking critically at the above prolific output of the traditional thesis in Brazil as an example, it will be a mistake to attribute it exclusively to a preference for these kinds of research documents there or worldwide. The above comprehensive graduations seem to be partly the outcome of  the personal and professional needs of researchers and academics to obtain the higher  qualifications of masters and doctorate: the traditional approach seems to be the only option available. and not as a preference ranking above the article thesis as many propagandists of the traditional thesis try to posit. On this practice of forcing most students into doing the traditional thesis without a real option, Nassi-Cola reflects1:2: “The volume of theses, however, will continue to increase, since thousands of masters and PhD candidates in the world will face this rite of passage that is the gateway to the academic world or the professional market”.

To provide an adequate description of article-format research later on, it is absolutely necessary to place the traditional thesis in perspective, seeing that there is still an immense base deriving from it cemented into the article-format thesis and the knowhow brought by it in the doing of quality research in general. It is undoubtedly a prerequisite for the advanced academic researcher to first master the principles and requirements of the traditional thesis, and to only move from there into the writing of the various journal articles – so-called “mini-dissertations or -theses” — that are to form the basic elements of the article-format thesis. Only then the path of the article thesis may be explored.

3.1.2. Defining the identity of the monograph thesis

The naming and description monograph thesis need also some illumination and description: It is also known by names such as the traditional thesis, standard thesis, conventional thesis, regular thesis, long piece of academic writing, canonical form of a thesis, a comprehensive manuscript based on original research or the traditional British format of one long monograph.1-4,15

For this article the name traditional thesis or doctorate (synonym for dissertation or masters) will be mostly used.15

3.1.3. Breakdown of contents of the traditional thesis

The traditional or monograph thesis is classed into two research-types, namely the empirical-model and theoretical-model. Although the two models differ in some way in construction, their contents and research approach are mostly similar. Their construction mostly varies broadly between four and five elements (chapters): (1) Theoretical context with references and Introduction, (2) Review of literature, (3) Aims, Objectives, Hypotheses, Methodology and Research plan, (4) Findings, Results and Discussion, (5) Conclusion and Considerations. (In some cases the literature review is, for the sake of uniformity and a better description, integrated into the Introduction, making it four chapters).15-19

Various descriptions, specifically as to the contents of the traditional or monograph thesis, are offered by universities. The University of Texas Arlington (UTA)20 describes the traditional thesis’s contents as follows20:2: “…containing a series of related chapters written principally to satisfy degree requirements. Early chapters typically provide an extensive literature review which is the basis of and rationale for a research problem that is analysed in subsequent chapters. A final chapter summarizes the work and explores its broader meanings and interpretations. The elements of a monograph style dissertation cohere because the content of each chapter exists expressly to provide the background and basis of later chapters”.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)21 describes the traditional or monograph thesis as follows21:1-2: “A monograph is a unified text describing a specialist topic in detail written by a single author. A doctoral thesis written as a monograph is structured in various chapters with an introduction and a conclusion, and the PhD-candidate is the sole author. Historically a monograph was the preferred form of doctoral thesis, and it still is in some academic fields”.

3.1.3.1. Antioch University Breakdown15

As a more specific breakdown of the contents of the traditional thesis, specifically in five parts, and making provision at the same time for the empirical and theoretical models, the undermentioned comprehensive description by the Antioch University (AU)15 is very applicable and informative. It reads as follows15:1:

3.1.3.1.1. General Introductory

3.1.3.1.1.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.1.2. Background on the problem

3.1.3.1.1.3. Statement of the problem

3.1.3.1.1.4. Purpose of the study

3.1.3.1.1.5. Research questions

3.1.3.1.1.6. Significance of the study

3.1.3.1.1.7. Definition of terms

3.1.3.1.1.8. Assumptions, limitations, and delimitations

3.1.3.1.1.9. Conclusion

3.1.3.1.2. Review of the literature

3.1.3.1.2.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.2.2. Review of the research (organised by variables or themes)

3.1.3.1.2.3. Conclusion

3.1.3.1.3. Methodology (Qualitative)

3.1.3.1.3.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.3.2. Research design

3.1.3.1.3.3. Research questions

3.1.3.1.3.4. Setting

3.1.3.1.3.5. Participants

3.1.3.1.3.6. Data collection

3.1.3.1.3.7. Data analysis, or

3.1.3.1.3. Methodology (Quantitative)

3.1.3.1.3.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.3.2. Research design

3.1.3.1.3.3. Research questions and hypotheses

3.1.3.1.3.4. Population and sample

3.1.3.1.3.5. Instrumentation

3.1.3.1.3.6. Data collection

3.1.3.1.3.7. Data analysis

3.1.3.1.3.8. Conclusion, or

3.1.3.1.3. Methodology (Mixed)

3.1.3.1.3.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.3.2. Research design

3.1.3.1.3.3. Research questions and hypotheses

3.1.3.1.3.4. Setting and sample

3.1.3.1.3.5. Data collection

3.1.3.1.3.6. Data analysis

3.1.3.1.3.7. Conclusion

3.1.3.1.4. Research findings

3.1.3.1.4.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.4.2. Findings (Organized by research questions or hypotheses)

3.1.3.1.4.3. Conclusion

3.1.3.1.5. Conclusions, discussion, and suggestions for future research

3.1.3.1.5.1. Introduction

3.1.3.1.5.2. Summary of findings

3.1.3.1.5.3. Conclusions (Organized by research questions or hypotheses)

3.1.3.1.5.4. Discussion

3.1.3.1.5.5. Suggestions for future research

3.1.3.1.5.6. Conclusion

The above presentation must be read in the context of the earlier polarisation of the two types of thesis: Today a less rigid classification is observed with the adapting and intertwining by both sides’ elements.

To provide another breakdown, underneath is the one offered by the UNB’s18,19 on the content structures of the traditional thesis and the article-thesis and presence of so-called “irreconcilable” characteristics between the two types, with the two types in Figure 122:1 being compared. Figure 1 reflects a picture of the most opposing elements. This apparently shows that there is a minimum of similarities between the two types of theses: It is this kind of radical juxtaposion that the antagonists of the traditional thesis are using to emphasise why the article-thesis must replace the traditional thesis and as sound evidence to argue for the absolute impossibility of mixing the two.

Figure 1: Comparing the contents structure of the Traditional Thesis and Article-format thesis.22:1

STANDARD THREE PAPERS
1 Introduction and Outline of the Problem Short overview, descriptions fully in three papers: see also 4-7
2 Introduction to the Overall Topic Include the logical link between the three papers
3 Conceptual or Theoretical Framework
4 Literature Review Included in three papers
5 Methodology Included in three papers
6 Results (Research Findings) Included in three papers
7 Three separate, publishable papers of normal journal article length related to the overall theme

• First Paper

• Second Paper

• Third Paper

8 Summary, Interpretations, Conclusions, Recommendations for Policy and/or Further Research Concluding scholarly discussion of the implications of the integrated findings
9 Resources  Included in three papers
10 Appendices Optional; where applicable: on overall thesis Optional ; where applicable: mostly limited to papers only

 The above descriptions and illustration in Figure 1 may serve as a guide for the aspirant student, aspirant supervisor and aspirant examiner of the article-thesis when they need to make comparisons between the article-thesis and the traditional thesis in order to do the planning of the writing of the article-thesis, but with some prerequisites. Notwithstanding the summary clear, precise differences, it must be emphasised that there is much intertwining and compromising in the present-day research environment and the moderate supporters of the article-thesis have adapted more and more of a mixed model, which seems to be finding approval with the proponents of the traditional thesis, and is playing a strong role in the recruiting of even the hard-line traditionalists to practise the article-thesis in their academic writing and research.15-22

The existence of an intertwining of the two models is already in some way established. It has undoubtedly become a habit to overemphasise the theoretical framework of the article-thesis as a radical deviation from the traditional thesis and its research setup. The practical implications of adopting the article-thesis requires a much more watered-down and easy-going or moderate approach, as opposed to that of many of the antagonists of the article-thesis as well as those of the traditional thesis who claim  in their research that it is absolutely impossible mix the two models.

3.2. The Article-Format Masters and Doctorate

Opposite in some way to the traditional thesis and dissertation, is the article-format thesis and dissertation. From the above overview it is clear that the primary guidelines of the traditional thesis give the aspirant article-format candidate firstly an excellent base as to how he/she must address research in general and specifically; secondly how he/she may selectively  collect research data, analyses and transfer it to various associated journal articles; and thirdly may accomplish the compiling and completion of the article-format thesis.

3.2.1. Other terms for the concept ‘article-format thesis’, as well as the concept ‘article’

As was done with the introduction earlier of the traditional thesis’s various other names that have commonly been used in the academic and research community, it is also necessary to offer here a short introduction to the various other terms for the article-format thesis. These other terms, published mostly in scholarly journals, refer to the article-format thesis as follows: article-based thesis, three-article-thesis, thesis based on the collection or a compendium of articles, thesis of published manuscripts, thesis by publishing, alternative-format thesis, journal-, compilation-, sandwich-, or stapler-thesis and thesis by publishing, publication or manuscripts.5,15,16,20,22-24

Closely related to the article-format thesis is its exclusively built-in entity, namely the article. This research element is also known by other names in scholarly journals as to the compendium of articles, such as the article-thesis. In this research setup the term article  is often replaced by descriptions such as paper, essay, conference paper, or book chapter, depending on the type of handling/process/outcome that is examined or is seen as an evaluation tool.5,15,16,20,22-24

Implicit in the term article-format thesis is the concept article firstly as a description for a published article in an accredited journal; and secondly as a description for a sub-unit or -part that forms with other published journal articles the contents of the article-format thesis. (The term article-format thesis will play a prominent role in the further discussion of this research project of four articles). Going with the two above descriptions article and article-format thesis (although less often used) is the unpublished manuscript that may also, together with other unpublished manuscripts, form the contents of an article-thesis.5,15,16,20,22-24

3.2.2. Overview

The strong research impact and hold of the traditional thesis on the research community at the moment, is often alleged to delay the adoption of any dynamic and constructive research outside the traditional setup. Also is it alleged that the traditional thesis’s workload and research requirements at times overpower the aspirant PhD candidate’s senses and enthusiasm for research, leading to a high dropout of students as well the activation of psychological problems among students. This alleged negative outcome put forward by many supporters of the article-format, is totally avoided by their research style.  Nassi-Cola1 in this context reflects1:3: “…students in the process of writing a thesis [instead of the much-more focused article] is in a very dark place indeed: lost in information, overwhelmed by literature, stuck for the next sentence, seduced by procrastination and wondering why on earth they signed up to this torture at all”.

It is further argued by some of the proponents of the article-format thesis that the lack of being research-orientated and publications later in life, as well as the disappearance from the academic and research radar of Masters and PhD graduates who had obtained their degrees through the traditional approach, can and must be read in terms of this early so-called “academic/research torture” during their traditionally-styled post-graduate studies. Strongly  associated herewith, is the so-called conditioning of “hardships to be suffered” in the traditional-training mindset, that will be rooted in the life-history of the traditional Masters and PhD graduates and block their academic and personal development and progress lifelong.22, 24-25

A retrospective evaluation in terms of the present and the past on the benefits versus the drawbacks of the traditional thesis, is seen not to be done (or even possible) by supervisors of the traditional thesis regarding the later successes versus failures of their students. In practice it means that the public conclusion of the proponents of the traditional thesis as to the “benefits” of this kind of thesis, as well as the successes of these types of graduates in later life, may be false and even outright untested. As said before, no trustworthy research has been done so far to support or to reject the above postulation (but this research has so far not been done on the article-format thesis either). But, the possibility of such an insecure “career-and performance-outcome” of the traditional thesis graduates in the long term — as a direct result of a fatalistic inclination internalised in the mindset of the supporters and the fathers of the traditional thesis – is of “no concern to the consequences of their research-model”, has in some way been projected by Tilghman1 when he posits, that, to later determine the status/excellence of the graduate in terms of his academic title, it is1:4: “…only possible to really evaluate a student at the 25 years reunion. In the end, [it is] the only way you can assess whether the graduates of the program became successful scientists: If they do, you’ve done a good job [with your traditional PhD training]. If they haven’t, you haven’t [done a good job with your program and the program was a failure]”.

Notwithstanding that universities worldwide today allow the option of the alternative thesis format in their norms of post-graduate programmes, the alternative format is not always everywhere easily accepted and practised. Prominent here is the counter-argument by the proponents of the traditional thesis that the article-thesis is of limited usability and only applicable and appropriate for certain kinds of research. The specific argument for this “closed door” policy is based on the alleged significant differences between the areas of knowledge that are being captured in specific faculties of universities with regard to research, the production of journal articles and the publication of such in scientific journals. This cognition is strongly contested by supporters of the article-format thesis: They argue that the outright reason for the hostile stance by proponents of the traditional thesis is coming from their outdated and rigid thinking as to only the disadvantages of the article-thesis. It seems a significant portion of so-called “old-world academics and researchers” are implicated here because of their utter lack of knowledge regarding new developments in research methodology that are turning into imperatives on daily basis as a result of new research needs and demands. These “old-world academics and researchers” have become captivated by rigid, outdated thinking and practices meant to hold the traditional thesis in esteem as an absolutely different entity to the article-thesis which should be rejected outright as lacking in academic, research and scientific foundation. From a critical analysis, it is clear that they base their rejection of the article-thesis only on the few dissimilarities instead of differentiating the two as to their real differences and limitations (or clear pros versus cons).

For many proponents of the article-format thesis, opposing the dominance of the traditional thesis, there is no coherent policy inside many universities regarding alternative research approaches. Firstly, there are: academic bias, lack of knowledge, fear to change to a new way of thinking and doing. Secondly, there is an immense power struggle between a large sector of muchempowered academics and researchers from the so-called old age that are bullying the less-empowered researchers and academics of the new research age. Nassi-Cola1 is of the opinion that this conflict between the new-age researchers versus the old researchers (although she is less outspoken than many of her colleagues) is the primary reason for this  contradictory approach. She also feels that the opposition to the use of the article-format thesis lies in the greater power that  “discretion allowed”  would confer upon certain faculties of universities (with the emphasis again on the power wielded by the older researchers and their associates in these faculties) to decide for themselves: a) if the publishing of journal articles will be allowed; and b) if the article-format thesis may be instituted. Referring to this “discretion” (but undoubtedly the ongoing power enjoyed at faculties by their “conservative” leaderships), she writes1:2-3: “It is known that the areas of Natural Sciences generate more publications than the Social Sciences and Humanities, where the publication of books and book chapters often exceeds that of journal articles. The areas of Computer Science and Engineering have as an important dissemination channel of research results conference proceedings and technical manuals”.

There is no doubt that academics, researchers and the public had positively gained over the years from the traditional-thesis programmes when their study approaches were concise and objective. But today, in light of the inexorably new scientific-research developments, demands and needs, the fact is that these traditional-research instruments are not so popular any more as has been so often argued by their supporters. It is the opinion of many academics and researchers that the traditional theses are less consulted already and are going to be less consulted in the future for information or used as a way to disperse new information than a decade ago. Although this opinion is counter-evidenced by some propenents of the traditional theses — arguing that these kinds of research products are still intensively being read and consulted by students and newly-entered researchers – it seems as if journal articles and article-format theses are independently more read and cited than the traditional theses. In this context of contradiction – and a lack of enthusiasm by most students, researchers and academics to read in-depth published traditional theses – Nassi-Calo1 quoted the following from an editorial of the journal Nature, dated the 7th July 2016, when she posits1:1:“According to one of these often-quoted statistics that should be true but probably isn’t, the average number of people who read a [traditional] PhD thesis all the way through is 1.6. And that includes the author.” Nassi-Calo1 goes further1:1: “The text goes further on questioning what would be the number of [traditional] theses that the typical researcher – and reader of Nature –  has read in full. According to the same editorial, it possibly would not reach the 1.6 benchmark.”

In this context the decline in the reading of the traditional thesis has been confirmed by the fact that the traditional British psychology thesis (a large and thorough document) is rarely read by more than three people after it has been awarded. The traditional dissertation and thesis has indeed become more and more shelved and gathering dust on libraries’ racks.22,24-25

One of the main criticisms against the article-format thesis is its alleged condensed contents, as seemingly reflected in its limited number of pages and words. This clearly moves the in-depth internalised cognition of length to the foreground as a criterion for examiners to evaluate a thesis. (A lack of page and word length for some examiners usually equates to the presence of a so-called “sub-standard” regarding the thesis). It is argued that the unlimited pages of the traditional thesis allow the candidate per se the best opportunity to demonstrate comprehensively his/her research abilities and skills within the historical context of the problem researched, to describe in-depth and in detail the purpose of the study, and thus to  give a comprehensive account of the material in focus so as to reach a credible conclusion. This opinion falls flat fast when it has become clear that the average length of the traditional thesis (most prominently in the USA) is not very long: more or less 200 pages (some proponents of the traditional thesis mentioned themselves that the length may be just 100 pages, and possible another hundred or more).1 This internally condensed page and word form of the traditional thesis, very similar to the article-format thesis in length, is also putting a question mark behind the applicable, comprehensive and true content of the research topic of the traditional thesis and its capacity to lead to a full, trustworthy conclusion and thus to make a significant contribution to modern-day science. In the context of the “length in pages and large numbers of words” as an evidently false criterion to appraise the standard and quality of the traditional thesis as “excellent/passed” or “sub-standard/failed”, Nassi-Cola1 specifically points to the presence of a possible research inability by candidates of the traditional thesis to reduce their theses’ volume and to cut out inapplicable material (just to give it body). About this negative outcome she posits1:2: “…it is difficult to educate students to reduce the theses’ volume, which would make them easier to write, read and appraise”. On their misuse of “fillers” to lengthen the traditional theses, Nassi-Cola1 reflects1:2: “Obviously, the number of pages is not proportional to the quality and originality of the work…”

The above description summarises clearly for many proponents of the article-thesis why this type of thesis is with good reason not only shorter than the traditional thesis, but enunciates for them also its alleged effectiveness and applicability, and why it is growing in preference as a research instrument above the traditional thesis.3

In light of the above seemingly good outcome, it is for the supporters of the article-thesis thus no surprise why some universities worldwide are moving more and more to the article-format modality, to be able to award and to deliver masters and doctorates. Elaborating on this positive development, Nassi-Cola1 writes1:3:

This modality is favourably viewed by researchers and students, as it stimulates the publication of articles, and is less laborious than writing a 200-page thesis. Not that publishing journal articles is an easy task, far from it. The academic community, particularly from developing countries, makes a significant effort to write and publish articles – especially in English – in quality journals. But if the papers are published during the masters or doctorate research, it avoids employing valuable time in writing a traditional style thesis; and

The importance of the topic was evidenced by a workshop organized by the Australian Council of Learned Academics (ACOLA) in Melbourne in January 2016. The meeting, aimed at the reform of the thesis format as part of the review process of research training which is the main purpose of the master’s and doctoral programs.

Since 2016 there has undoubtedly been global growth in the utilisation of the article-format thesis, together with an immense strengthening of efforts to “reform” the traditional master’s and doctoral programmes in various ways. This outcome is seen by many of the proponents of the traditional thesis as a deliberate and orchestrated attack on the traditional masters and doctorate and indeed a steered effort to phase it out. In South Africa it seems at this stage that the status of the traditional thesis is not much negatively affected. The practice of the article-format thesis here mostly still seems to be seen by most academics and researchers as so-called “sub-standard research and as a kind of general contamination of the thesis’s integrity”. In this context, as already stated, the universities in several oversees countries, in order to expedite the phasing-out of the traditional thesis, are opting more and more to allow candidates who have (already) published journal articles during their incoming masters or doctorate research, to place directly and in original form some of the traditional thesis’s chapters with these published articles. (Note: At this stage it seems as if the intent to publish later on some risky unpublished manuscripts, or to replace directly and in original form some of the traditional thesis’s chapters with such unpublished manuscripts, does not attract much attention).

In practice these (already) published articles are (as a stamp of approval) each one essentially a complete kind of mini-dissertation or -thesis: each headed by an introduction, a review of the scientific literature, conclusions and references, etc. In this context of adapting information to a new form or format (as a published article) for presentation in a thesis (article-thesis), Nassi-Cola1 – specifically on the guidelines of being ablo or allowed to do it, together with the official sanctioning of it as acceptable and correct – writes1:3: “The criteria to judge which articles can replace the wording of the thesis is in charge of the graduate programs coordination. CAPES, the body that assesses graduate courses throughout Brazil, recognizes this modality of theses, as well as FAPESP and Research Foundations from other states, for scholarship and grant purposes.”

An excellent example favouring the article-format thesis, is the situation at the Karolinska Institute (KI) (an institute with university status), in Stockholm, Sweden. There, since 2016, most of the theses have comprised the compilation of articles published by students into article-theses. After the compilation of these articles it is supplemented by a discussion by a 50-page-volume with the aim to lend credence to it as a good research-instrument.1 Nassi-Calo posits:1:3 “In the view of the leaders of this institution, the [article-format] publication should be an important part of master’s and doctorate academic training, since it enables candidates to enter the research career.”

In supporting the advent of the article-format thesis, the NTNU21 states that the collection or compendium of articles is the most common type of thesis for the masters and doctorate in Nordic countries today. Evidence is further there that the choice of the article-format is becoming increasingly common in fields that have previously been dominated by the monograph masters and doctorate. Although the UA6 and the University of South Alabama (USA)7 state that the option of the article-format thesis is only available to students in certain fields whose graduate faculty have determined it to be an appropriate option, the UAin reality allows an ongoing broad right of registration for it. These fields are manifold at the UA,6:2 spreading out to most of its faculties, like Architecture, Fine Arts, Humanities, Accountancy, Applied Statistics, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, Social, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering,  Agricultural, Bio-, Biology, Environment, Nutrition, Medical, Health, Physical-Education and Dentistry Sciences, Geodynamics and Geophysics, Chemistry, Ecology, Physics, Management, Marketing, Finance, Economics, Psychology, etc.1,6,7

3.2.3. Prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions guiding the writing of the article-format thesis

Two approaches may be followed to impart information on how you can or may write an article-format masters and doctorate (or as some universities said in the enforcement of their rules: Should instead of can and may) to the aspirant student, to supervise an article-thesis by the aspirant supervisor and how to assess an article-thesis by the examiner. The one is the Open-guide Approach (See under subdivision 3.2.3.1.) and the other is the Closed-guide Approach that will be discussed in depth in the next article, tilted: “How to write and supervise the article-masters and -doctorate”.

In this article the Open-guide Approach reflects a collection of various universities’ expert-advices, rules, regulations and stipulations as locked into their writing guidelines of article-theses. A general, broad extraction was done by me for this article from the various frameworks of these universities to put together the consecutive steps prescribed by the various universities on how the writing of the article-thesis, as embedded in their guidelines, may, can or should be done. The important elements that are driving the consecutive steps to be followed in the compiling and writing of the article-thesis, were selected and focussed on. Similarities and differences in advices, rules and stipulations in the various guidelines were described in depth. In this way it was attempted to offer, in general, the aspirant student and aspirant supervisor of the article-thesis, besides preparing them in the writing of the article-thesis, different views on what is going on at present in the research culture around the article-thesis and the possibilities as to what is possible and permitted in executing the compiling and writing of the article-thesis.

Regarding specifically the contents of the Open-guide Approach, it, as has been said, reflects various clear prerequisites, rules discretions and traditions that are in place to direct the compiling and the writing of the article-format thesis. These guidelines, mostly focussing on the structure of the contents of the article-format thesis, spells out clearly the various and possible paths to follow pertaining to the aspirant student. Included in such guidelines is a juxtaposition of the differences as well as the similarities between the article-format and traditional thesis. These university guidelines are not uniform: what is absolute for the one university, is not essential for another university. For the aspirant student, aspirant supervisor and aspirant examiner it is very important to note these prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions in general as well as specifically to make them well-educated on the various models of the article-thesis, as well as to prepare students on how to evaluate the universities they are considering to enrol at and how their needs and demands in their intention to do the article-thesis, are being met or not. As mentioned, in this way it was assured that they would be informed in a very constructive way of how universities are seeing the the article-thesis and the clear rules put in place by them on how the article-thesis can, may and should be executed.

To define the Structure of the article-format thesis, as guided later in Article Two of the series by the framework of the Closed-guide Approach, the Open-guide Approach needed the following: Firstly, to be described as an inclusive introduction that offers comprehensive information and guidance; and, secondly, to lay a sound foundation on how to compile and to write the article-thesis as required by the Closed-guide Approach.

The second approach, the Closed-guide Approach — which lacks the comprehensive description and analysis of the manifold prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions of the Open-guide Approach — will be reflected as said, later on in a summary, based on eighteen universities’ guidelines that will primarily describe the consecutive steps to be followed in the writing of the article-thesis. It will be done in the next article, entitled: “How to write and supervise the article-masters and -doctorate”.

3.2.3.1. Open-guide Approach

In this division the manifold prerequisites, rules, discretions and traditions unique to the article-format thesis, as well as the elements and/or concepts associated with it, are comprehensively elaborated. They are offered under the following ten subdivisions: 1. Formatting; 2. The concepts of recognized international peer-reviewed, accredited or listed journals and the appropriateness and selectiveness of journals; 3. Coherence and sequence-connection of a thesis’s selective articles; 4. Authorship; 5. Approaches to and prerequisites for the examination of a thesis; 6. Enrolment for the thesis program as a prerequisite for title and topics registration and writing outputs; 7. Number of articles published before final examination; 8. Enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies; 9. Word and page-length of the article-thesis; and 10. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis.

  1. Formatting

One of the key differences between a monograph-based and article-based thesis is in the formatting, as posited by the University of Texas Arlington (UTA)20. The UTA20, in this context, reflects20:3:

An article-based document may contain manuscripts written to conform to the standards of their intended publishers.  With few exceptions these formats can be preserved in the thesis or dissertation, even if the format varies somewhat between the manuscripts. In contrast, monograph-based theses or dissertations are required to follow a University-defined format throughout. With few exceptions, the UT Arlington’s format requirement for monograph-style theses and dissertations is they must be formatted in a consistent manner that follows the standards of the writer’s field of study.

On the formatting element, the University of Johannesburg (UJ)8 describes the theses, offered in article- or essay-format, as follows8:208: “A dissertation or thesis by collection of articles or essays consists of a collection of a number of pieces of work which (a) may exhibit some degree of independence or stand-alone viability, while (b) contributing to a central theme, and (c) are presented as a coherent whole in one volume, with introductory, conclusory and connective material as necessary.”

The UA6:1 defines the format of their “article style” thesis which is offered, as follows6:1: “At the doctoral level, “article-style” dissertations are unified works that include several distinct but closely related studies of research or creative activity, each of which is of publishable quality.

The NTNU’s21 description of the article-format thesis’s contents, as reflected in its structure, reads21:1-2:

Collection of articles is the most common type of thesis at NTNU today and it is becoming increasingly common in fields that have previously been dominated by the monograph. There are few absolute requirements in the PhD regulations as concerns this kind of thesis and a lot will therefore depend on the individual thesis and the norms in the field as concerns number of articles, length of summary-article, etc.

 

When a thesis consists of several shorter papers [other than the traditional “long paper” of the traditional thesis], the thesis must include clarification concerning how they are interrelated. Such a clarification is often called a summary article.

Specifying further the meaning of the so-called “journal format” that their theses are rooted in, the UA6 states6:1:

“A “journal-format” dissertation or thesis is acceptable. Such a dissertation or thesis follows the format of a particular journal in which the student and advisor want to publish the manuscript. To prepare a journal-format dissertation or thesis, the student uses the journal’s “information for authors” or similarly titled guidelines in conjunction with the [UA] Graduate School’s Student Guide to prepare Electronic Theses and Dissertations”.

The UTA20, in a more comprehensive approach on the formatting issue, describes the article-based thesis as follows20:2-3

The article-based thesis or dissertation contains chapters that contain complete manuscripts which may be in preparation for publication, in press, or published. The original purpose for writing these manuscripts may or may not have been to satisfy current master’s or doctoral degree requirements. Nonetheless, they may be used to demonstrate the author’s capacity for independent scholarship and his or her contribution to knowledge.

Coherence across the chapters of article-based theses or dissertations is of mayor concern because the thesis/dissertation must not be a collection of unrelated manuscripts. The manuscripts must address related issues. Careful selection of manuscripts and convincing, incisive introductory and concluding chapters are required in order to show readers how the articles relate to each other and contribute to the central theme of the thesis/dissertation. The common theme or problem that the manuscripts address is identified and discussed in an introductory chapter. A final concluding chapter discusses the theme or problem in light of the information contained in the manuscripts and provides an opportunity for the writer to explore the broader implications of the work. In the article-based option the chapters are entire research papers as prepared or accepted for publication.

With specific further reference to the formatting styles of the  article-based and monograph-based thesis as prescribed by the UTA20, and the key differences between the two models, its guidelines read that, in additional to the formatting style provided by its electronic template, the detailed style choices for the article-format thesis also include the formatting styles of the  article-based and monograph-based thesis as required by well-known journals in the major field or a style described in one of several different style guides. The examples offered by the UTA20 of widely-used style guides which are included in this ruling, are20:4:

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations.
  • Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
  • The ACS Style Guide.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers.

To assist and further support the execution of the above outcomes, the formatting of the article-based thesis should for the UTA20 contain manuscripts written to:20:4 “…conform to the standards of the intended publishers, and that with few exceptions these formats can be preserved in the thesis even if the format varies somewhat between manuscripts”. The only change required to be made by rules of the UTA20 on the initial writing contents of the journal articles, is that the page numbers of the manuscript must be changed so that the paging continues consecutively throughout the article-based thesis: starting up with page one for the first page of chapter one and running consecutively on till the last page of the final chapter. (In contrast to this, the students enrolled for the monograph-based theses, must follow a very rigid UTA20-defined format throughout, meaning the theses had to be20:4: “… formatted in a consistent manner that follows the standards writer’s field/faculty of study”). Note here again the earlier description of the manuscript and article, and the significant difference between the use of the manuscript and the use of the published article in article-theses.

The UNCC5 is far less rigid and strict on the style in which to format the article(s) and the article-format dissertation or thesis. It states clearly that the student is allowed to follow the format of the particular journal in which the student and his advisor have or want to publish the article(s).

Also, the University of New Brunswick (UNB)18,19 which is less restrictive on the writing style as prescribed by other universities, states19:3: “Reflecting the desire to construct a “coherent’ thesis document, the writing style of the Introductory Chapter, the Bridging Sections, and Final Chapter should reflect as much as is possible the compact writing style associated with journal publications. In no way does this mean that completeness should be compromised for compactness. However, the entire thesis should be a concise, coherent development of an argument.”

On the formatting of the article-thesis and -dissertation, the UA6 further guides the aspirant student and supervisor on the style to be used, as follows6:2:

As with regular dissertations, students must select a prominent style guide appropriate to their field of study and whose provisions must be applied to the manuscript as a whole. When individual articles have been prepared for or accepted by journals for publication, and the articles have been prepared using the author and style guide issued by the journal(s), the articles must be revised as appropriate to conform with the overall style of “A Student Guide to Preparing Theses and Dissertations” before submission to the Graduate School as a dissertation. The chosen style must be applied consistently across all articles with reference to any exceptions from the specific provisions of “A Student Guide to Preparing Theses and Dissertations”.

Hereto the UJ 8, on the style of referencing in the individual essays or articles, states otherwise, namely that it will be determined by the requirements of the identified journal where the essay or article will be submitted for publication. At UJ8 it is only the style of referencing in the introduction and conclusions that must follow standard guidelines, as set by the university’s individual faculties.

At the North-West University (NWU)26-31, South Africa, the style of reference of Harvard, American Psychological Association (APA) and the Legal References Styles are underwritten but not prescribed, while various other reference styles are also commonly used, like that of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) or the Ottawa Style, etc. in all its types of publications, especially the theses. The ICMJE is preferred by many authors/students of medical publications and is prescribed by many medical/science journals worldwide. Many medical journals specifically underwrite the reference style of the ICMJE because of its “streamlining” and “easing” of the reading of the contents of publications by only reflecting the sources in small numbers at the top of the page.26-31

1.1. Two examples of universities with comprehensive requirements and prescriptions on style and formatting

Some universities have long lists of requirements and specifications regarding the style and formatting to be followed strictly by the aspirant candidates for the article-format thesis or dissertation. The same policy is followed by many accredited journals for publishing articles. This technical layout and formatting can be complicated, even for the seasoned supervisor. Although many private publishers today are taking care of the technical preparation of journals and theses regarding the implementing of the correct styling and formatting, for a fee, it is still the primary duty of students to set the basic framework and data collection, interpretation and writing of their research-projects on their own in the concept-thesis. This urgency and independence in research knowhow makes it imperative for every student and supervisor to have an in-depth understanding of the styles and formats as practised and followed by universities as well as journals.

On what is needed to make a thesis’s style and formatting compliant with universities’ requirements and prescriptions, it was decided to include here as an extra subdivision two universities’ prescriptions, because they have given much attention to the formatting aspect of the article-thesis and because their guidelines are highly informative. As examples we have selected the guidelines of two universities, namely the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN25 and UTA20. In reflecting this, comprehensive use has been made of direct quotations.

UKZN25 offers a specific set of formatting to be followed. It reads25:6-7:

  1. Font: Times New Roman 11pt should be used throughout the thesis. However, major headings may be made bigger (12pt) but using the same font type
  2. Paper size and margins: A4 (297 x 210 mm) should be used and in the final thesis both sides of the paper should be used. However, the loose bound copy submitted for examination should be printed on only one side. The recommended margins are 30mm for all the left, right, top and bottom margins.
  3. Line spacing: The copy submitted for examination should have 1.5 line-spacing but the final copy should have single line spacing. Paragraphs should be separated by a blank line. Published or submitted manuscripts should remain in their original format in all aspects as they are inserted in their published format in appropriate places.
  4. Headings: A consistent numbering system and captions should be maintained with first level being in CAPS and centred, second level being normal bold font and third level being italics bold. If there is need for 4th level it should be normal italics.
  5. Pagination: Page numbers should be centred at the bottom of the page. All preliminary pages should be numbered in lower case Roman numerals and subsequent pages should be numbered consecutively in this style. The title page should not be numbered.
  6. Body: The body of the thesis (chapter 1 onwards) should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals. The numbers should continue consecutively from the introduction through the through the publications or submitted manuscripts and subsequent sections. The published papers will therefore bear two numbers: a set specific to the manuscript (it is recommended to place these in the upper right-hand corner) or published paper, as well as the consecutive numbers belonging to the thesis as a whole. Care must be taken to distinguish these in terms of position and font.
  7. Referencing: Supervisors have the freedom to decide the type of citation of references but there must be consistency. This is mainly applicable to the standard type of thesis. In the case of thesis by manuscripts or publications, individual papers will maintain the reference system of the journal but the supervisor can decide on the type of referencing for the introductory and synthesis chapters.

UTA20 is more comprehensive in its description of formatting than the UKZN25. The page-spacing and page-layout of UTA20 for the article-style thesis reads as follows20:7-8:

  • Pages must be equivalent to 8½ x 11-inches (letter size). Pages with figures and tables that do not fit optimally in “portrait” position may be set in “landscape” position (11” x 8.5”.),
  • When creating the PDF file, make certain all fonts and symbols are embedded.
  • The text should be double-spaced. The same line spacing must be used throughout the document except in the following cases where writers may choose to use either a single or double spacing. The decision to single or double space must be followed every time these cases reoccur in the thesis or dissertation
  • Block quotations, lists in text and table and figure titles can be single-spaced.
  • Appendices: Spacing in appendices will depend upon the nature of the material. Line spacing in appendices may differ from the spacing in the text and may also differ across different appendices.
  • Footnotes may be single-spaced and a single space should separate each footnote on a page.
  • Endnotes may be single-spaced with single spacing of text between the notes.
  • Reference Section may use the same spacing of the text throughout or single space.
  • Figure and Table Titles: It is recommended that they be single-spaced to help differentiate them from text.

On the numbering and the placement of pages in the dissertation or thesis, the UTA20 guideline advises 20:8:

Page numbering begins with the first page of the Body of the document [Chapter One’s first page]. All pages beginning with page one and continuing to the last page of the thesis or dissertation must be numbered consecutively with Arabic s (1, 2, 3, 4, …etc.). Pages prior to the first page of the body of the text need not be numbered. However, if these pages are numbered, they should be numbered with Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, …etc.).

Page numbers must be placed in the same location on all numbered pages. Numbers may be placed at the top right corner, bottom right corner, or bottom centre. Only the appropriate Arabic (or Roman) number is to be placed in the location selected for page numbers. Page numbers must not contain text Arabic (or Roman) number is to be placed in the location selected or other symbols.

Page numbers on landscape pages must appear in the same location as portrait pages. Type “portrait page number to a landscape page” along with the name and version of the word processing program you are using into a search engine for instructions on how to do this.

The UTA20 guidelines are also very useful and informative on other technical outputs, like the use of margins, fonts and figures, illustrations, etc.

On the prescription of margins, UTA20 states that all margins must be a minimum of 1-inch, these margins must be the same size throughout the thesis or dissertation and that charts, maps, and other illustrative material must fit within the selected margins. Regarding the font chosen, the guideline states that any 10 or 12-point font, except for italic, or ornamental or script is acceptable, while Times New Roman or Arial are the preferred font styles. What is important, is that the one font size and style must be chosen and used throughout the dissertation or thesis. In the case of footnotes, end notes, figure captions, large tables, and appendices – as long as they remain legible – smaller font sizes may be used, but fonts smaller than 7 are never considered legible.20

On the use of figures, illustrations, diagrams, drawings, paintings, photographs and graphs, the guidelines of UTA20 further inform and instruct20:8-9:

Figures are also referred to as illustrations. Diagrams, drawings, paintings, photographs, graphs are labelled as figures. Tables list information in an organized array of rows and columns.

Material presented in figures or tables MUST fit within the required margins of the thesis/dissertation. They must not extend past left, right, top, or bottom margins.

Tables or figures which are too long or too wide for a single page may continue on the next page. The continued material should be labelled with the word Table or Figure, followed by the table or figure number and the abbreviation (Cont.). All column and row headings for tables must be repeated on each continued page.

Figures and tables are often inserted into the body of text of text near the text that makes reference to them. If included in the body of the text, a figure should be placed as closed as possible to the first reference made to it. However, inserting figures or tables into the body of the text is NOT required. With the approval of the supervising committee, figures and tables may be grouped at the end of each chapter or at the end of the Main Body.

Elaborating on the above requirements that must be met if Figures and Tables are presented in a grouped format, the UTA20 specifically describes the lay-out approach as follows20:9:

  • Do not insert some figures and/or tables into the text and group others at the end of chapters. Group all figures and tables or do not group any of them.
  • Do not use figures or table “call outs” (e.g., <Place Figure 1.3 about here> or <Place Table 3.2 about here>anywhere in the thesis or dissertation.
  • If figures and tables are presented at the end of the chapter, they must be grouped in the order they occur in the text. Do not group together by type. If the figure is followed by a table in the text, the figure should be followed by the table when presented at the end of the chapter.
  • When figures and tables are grouped at the end of a chapter within the main text, they are considered a section of that chapter and should be given the appropriate section heading, such as “Figures.” “Tables.” “Figures and Tables.”
  • If figures and tables are grouped at the end of the main text instead of at the end of chapters within the text, they are to be collected in a separate chapter or Appendix which is number and given an appropriate title, such as “Figures”, Tables,” or “Figures and Tables.”
  • Each figure or table may be placed on separate pages.
  • Several figures or tables may be placed on a single page as long as they remain legible.

Regarding the use of Headings, referring here to chapters’ title headings, section headings, etc., the guidelines of the UTA20:9 emphasises that it must be formatted consistently. For instance, the headings of chapters — their titles — are always presented at the top centre of a new page. Regarding the use of subheadings, is it up to the author/student to decide to use or not to use it. But when using subheadings, it can be numbered by level. During the use of headings, and where applicable subheadings, it is important to give attention to the format of it, such as bolding, capitalizing, and numbering, and to assure that these practices are followed throughout the thesis or dissertation. Note: It is not necessary to list subsections in the Table of Contents.

On the compiling of the Appendices embedded in the Back Matter, the UTA-guidelines20 state that20:10: a) Each appendix must start on a new page; and b) The appendices should be labelled alphabetically, starting as Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, etc. Each of these appendices may be given a subtitle to identify its content clearly, for instance “Appendix A: Figure and Tables.” Further, on the setting out of the appendices, it provides the following guidance 20:10:

  • The label is centred on the first page of an appendix.
  • The title of the appendix should be centred and placed two lines beneath the label.
  • The title should be double spaced if it is more than one line in length.
  • Information included in the appendix begins on the second page of the appendix.
  • The next appendix begins on a new page.
  • The page number of the first page in the first Appendix follows consecutively from the last page from the body of the text and is an Arabic number.
  • Additional details on the background, methods, procedures, data, etc., may be included in appendices embedded in a chapter containing an article.

Although an appendix or a set of appendices are not required as part of the structure of a thesis/dissertation, it may well be used to present relevant material when the material is not suitable for inclusion in the body of the document. Here the items that might be included are raw data, detailed tables for presentation in the text, computer programs, technical notes on methods, schedules and forms used in the collecting of materials, the copies of documents which are not generally available to the reader of the document, case studies too long to put in the text and others. It is up to the author to choose if the appendices are placed at the end of each chapter or in the Back Matter.20:10

References, reflecting all the sources cited, can be presented in reference lists:  either at the end of each chapter separately of the Main Text, or all the references of the thesis/dissertation as a whole, can be presented in one list in the Back Matter-section of the document.  Specifically on the handling of the List of Citations at the end of the thesis/ dissertation, the UTA20:9-10 guides that it should begin on a new page with the section heading centred, and, while its heading is listed like a chapter title in the Table of Contents, the citation list should not be given a chapter number. Hereto the page numbers on the lists of citations that occur at the end of the thesis/dissertation must continue the sequence as followed in the Main Text, as well as the Appendices if there are any. The citations must be preceded by a subheading or heading, for example the common headings may include descriptions such as “Literature Cited,” “References,” or “Bibliography.”20:9-10

1.2. The concepts of recognized international peer-reviewed, accredited or listed journals and the appropriateness and selectiveness of journals

Notwithstanding a clear and precise requirement by most universities that the journal articles included in the article-format thesis must be “accredited”, “listed” or ”refereed”, some universities frequently refer to these accredited journals exclusively to be “international journals” and “recognized international peer-reviewed journals”, as specifically done by the NTNU21. For example, its requirement of “publishing” of so-called “accredited or listed journals” states that it must be of international standing. Its Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art specifically describes this requirement as21:2: “…international journal”, its Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology, as well as Faculty of Medicine describe the requirement as21:2: “…recognized international peer-reviewed journals”. Hereto most universities are vague on the so-called classification of journals in terms of location, place or country, or about the classification local versus global and the national versus international standing of journals, besides that it must be simply a listed journal.  These reflect very confusing rulings or pre-requisites: firstly, because there does not exist for instance a universal, global official registration/certification body to make a local listed American journal a so-called American or South African “international” journal without being biased or subjective. Secondly, the difference between international and national seems in practice to be embedded in the concept that a local journal is simply classed as a national journal and an overseas one as an international journal, depending on the country you are living in.

Regarding the establishment of accredited or listed journals in South Africa, there exists a well-established system under the guardianship of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in the keeping of a general list of accredited journals, nationally and internationally, which is at all times available to the public, universities and their staff to  select journals from. This DHET list is updated annually and published on the DHET’s website. Six groupings of lists exist under the DHET, namely the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), The Journal Citation Reports of ISI (the ISI Web of Social Science or WOS), consisting of Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index and Arts and Humanities Index, the Norwegian List, the SciELO SA List, the Scopus List, and the DHET List. In addition, all universities have their own Department of Research Support to oversee all their staff’s research done yearly and to control that all the accredited journal articles, published by their staff, are registered immediately after publication with the DHET, for the payment of subsidies to universities after two years of the publications at a fee of R120 000 for national publications and R124 000 for international publications.32-34

1.2.1. The who’s and whose in the selection of accredited journals

At most of the universities the right to select the accredited journals to publish in by the candidate is not a free process, thus often leaving the candidate not a free choice to select the journal(s). The University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC)5 for instance requires that the journals, to submit a draft article to, must be pre-approved by the UNCC’s5 advisory committee. This includes their somewhat confusing ruling that5:2: “The committee should assist in the identifying and the choosing of refereed journals that will both challenge the student as well as offer a reasonable chance of publication success.”

Research shows that the right of the supervisors to select on behalf of the aspirant student the journals he or she may publish in, is very controversial and is often one of the main reasons why article-theses failed to realise in the end. Investigation shows that for many of the journals selected by the supervisors and the members of the supervisory committee, the supervisors as well as the members of the supervisory committees often plaintively failed to publish in successfully themselves. In this respect, it is often clear that the supervisors have poor records of publishing themselves in accredited journals, while their PhDs are overwhelmingly the traditional-thesis type, stripped from published articles. Even after graduation most supervisors failed to publish in accredited journals. Also, because of their own limited publishing of articles in accredited journals, and thus their accompanying research ignorance and artlessness, many of them are very much attached to the one-by-one publishing approach of articles in different, unrelated journals, instead of steering the three or more articles that form the basis of the article-thesis through a series/project at one journal alone. These sub-standard research abilities and experience of the supervisors, especially around strategy and project planning that are essential elements for executing the article-thesis, have often created the situation where they lack the cardinal knowhow that the collection of the same kinds of articles (style, formatting, contents, etc.)  published in one journal, form the best basis for the article-thesis, as well as ensuring that the publishing time is speeded up. The doing of research in terms of the project approach, where all the articles of the planned article-thesis are published in one journal, is a new challenge to many of the supervisors as they are not at all in-time “research-matured and experienced”. Also, they lack a pre-publishing agreement with an accredited journal to ensure that presented articles, after handing in, are fast reviewed and published, making them all ready on short notice and available for incorporation into the article-thesis before the date of examination. Such a constructive and well-planned research inclination would eliminate the habit of sub-standard students and supervisors to hand in theses based on a set of manuscripts that are still not published and may fail in the end, to undermine the integrity of the article-thesis.5

No-one will object to the universities’ cautioning that candidates20:2: “…generally should be guided by disciplinary-based standards regarding academic writing and the all-time guidance of their supervising committees”; and universities’ strict warning as to their prescribed steered examination process which may still entail failing18:1: “Mere adherence to these guidelines does not infer acceptance of the thesis. Once written following these guidelines, the thesis is subject to approval and acceptance procedures set down by the School of Graduate Studies for Masters and Doctoral theses. Nothing in these guidelines limits the role of the Examining Committee as final arbitrator for the thesis.” These kinds of statements that are issued in terms of the universities’ prescribed quality-assurance-charter, which is overseen and executed at all times by the universities’ supervisors, supervising committees, faculties, etc., are understandable because it represents the interest of the universities in awarding the degree. But it may also be regarded as autocratic and undemocratic, emanating from the Middle-Age-university, and manifesting itself in the twenty-first century. Here we undoubtedly have some bullying and the violation of the academic and research rights of a student present when a university writes 20:2: “…that it is its exclusively policy and that of the student’s supervising committee to solely determine if a monograph-based or article-based format is appropriate or not for a student”, without offering a clear fact or other form of evidence to say on what grounds this decision is made. The same can be said when a university’s rules read that the general style and format of a thesis or dissertation, including footnotes, and bibliographies must20:4: “…conform to the style and format appropriate to the writer’s discipline [meaning faculty where the student is enrolled] and that the supervising committees determine the details of the format and styles that shall be followed”.

If the above kinds of statements are read with the evidence often reflecting the inexperience and under-trained academic staff who are simply unable to manage, to supervise and to successfully deliver a large contingent of article-format dissertations and theses, it becomes worrying. We also have to keep in mind – especially the older – academic and research-staff’s addiction to the the traditional dissertation and their sheltering behind the traditional dissertation’s and thesis’s writing culture to escape their duties as researchers.5-7,18-25

The fundamental problem is one of hanging on to rigid, prescribed and suppressing rules, often emanating from an outdated and dying old-academic culture that is still rigidly, blindly and foolishly used to guarantee so-called traditional, old-world academic and research standards and qualities. In this context one senior academic and a director of research at a South African university said to me that the article-thesis is not a real thesis and that he/she does not like it at all, and if he/she supervised such a thesis he/she would require that it must be styled through-out on the foundation of the traditional thesis: from the first chapter to the last chapter! Another director of a research school even said that he/she would not allow such a thesis in his/her school if it could be avoided. There is no doubt that this outdated research policy is maintained entirely at the cost of modern-day highly intelligent and innovative students, dynamic and creative persons who can think constructively and independently for themselves.

Many PhD and master students will tell you of occasions when an inexperienced academic and sub-standard researcher and a not-so-clever supervisor, consumed by self-importance and a sense of institutional power, told them: “You do it my way or you are out of the University.”

The alleged basis/reason for the failure of some students to ever obtain the PhD degree or who stall long in study before obtaining the degree because they are not “ready to undertake responsible and constructive post-graduate studies” and need “extreme, constant supervision and rules” (as is often foolishly argued by the old guard of academics), may often be traced back to the students’ defective graduate studies, the lack of exposure to advanced research and inadequate supervisors. This failure is a faculty fault and not so much a student fault: the present emphasis on Black Academic Research Economic Empowerment (BAREE) at universities is going to strength and enlarge this failure.  As already said, the outright academic and research shortcomings of many teaching academics and researchers, making them not skilled and able supervisors for both the article-format and the traditional thesis and dissertation, are mostly the grounds for this failure. For the new and young Albert Einstein there is undoubtedly not always a secure place in the South African Modern-day-Middle-Age-Academia and the incoming BAREE.20

  • The next article, titled: “How to position the article-format masters and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 2”, will continue the description and discussion of the above section 3.2.3.1. Open-guide Approach’s other eight subsections, namely: 3. Coherence and sequence connection of a thesis’s selective articles; 4. Authorship; 5. Approaches to and prerequisites for the examination of a thesis; 6. Enrolment for the thesis programme as a prerequisite for title and topics registration and writing outputs; 7. Number of articles published before final examination; 8. Enrolment deadlines and the formal duration of thesis studies; 9. Word and page-length of the article-thesis; and 10. Minimum and maximum number of articles prescribed for the article-thesis.25-44

4. Conclusions

It is clear from the article above and the research overview reflecting on the various rules and regulations regulating and managing the formatting, styles, study setting, etc., of the article-thesis and dissertation, that certain universities indeed rigidly prescribe certain stylistic and format rules to determine and to steer the writing of the article-format master/dissertation and doctorate/thesis. On the other hand, there are many alternatives, as evidenced by less rigidly-driven and rule-enslaved universities which offer candidates the opportunity to approach their studies with spontaneity and enthusiasm, free from a “bullying” research culture. This outcome leaves us thankfully with the reality that there is still worldwide no one-size-fits-all format to which all article-format theses and dissertations at must conform to.1-36

The current advent of the article-thesis and -dissertation in our research environment, seems to find itself to some extent in a “research no-man’s-land”. It seems it may sometimes be bolstered by a strong independent academic and research environment, but at the same time is not always allowed to enjoy total independence as a research entity. To really blossom, it needs the maximum support of the established old-academic and research environment to  make a dynamic breakthrough.

The next related article (Number 2), entitled: “How to position the article-format masters and doctorate in the Modern-day Research culture and environment of South Africa: Part 2”,  will continue to provide a general understanding and grounding for the aspirant student who is planning to write an article-format master (dissertation) or doctorate (thesis), as well as for the aspirant supervisor who intends to oversee this alternative research format and the aspirant examiner who wants to assess the article-thesis.

5. References

 

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