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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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