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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

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  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     

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  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 

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  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

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  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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