An alternative to the conventional written thesis is a thesis that comprises a portfolio of publications which have been published and/or submitted for publication and/or comprise unpublished and unsubmitted work written in a manuscript style.
The publications/ manuscripts must be closely related in terms of subject matter, form a cohesive research narrative and not have been accepted for any other University award. All publications included in the thesis must derive from research undertaken within candidature; publications generated outside of candidature cannot be included.
The thesis should contain, in addition to the relevant publications/manuscripts, a contextual statement which normally includes the aims underpinning the publications/manuscripts; a literature review or commentary which establishes the field of knowledge and provides a link between publications/manuscripts; and a conclusion showing the overall significance of the work and contribution to knowledge, problems encountered and future directions of the work. The discussion should not include a detailed re-working of the discussions from individual papers within the thesis.
All papers included in the thesis must be prefaced by a statement of authorship which quantifies and details your contribution (in terms of the conceptualisation of the work, its realisation and its documentation) as principal author. All authors are required to sign the statement and co-authors must give written permission for the paper to be included in the thesis. Original signatures are preferred but scanned signatures are acceptable. The statement of authorship template is available on the Adelaide Graduate Centre web site.
In addition to clarifying the candidate's contribution to a paper, a statement of authorship also provides clarity about the publication status of the work and therefore the scope of changes that examiners can recommend. Published/accepted papers which have already been subject to peer review are exempted from specific recommendations for change, rather, the examiners focus on an assessment of the quality and quantity of work and the presentation of the overall thesis against the criteria for award of the degree. In contrast, recommendations for change can be made to any part of 'submitted' or 'unpublished and unsubmitted' manuscripts.
Accordingly, statement(s) of authorship are still required for publication format theses which include only ‘paper(s)’ that comprise unpublished and unsubmitted work written in manuscript style. Typically such statements would list the candidate as the sole author.
To avoid delays in submitting your thesis for examination, you are encouraged to complete a statement of authorship for each paper as it is written.
How many papers are enough?
The number of publication(s) that are required for a doctorate thesis or a Master by Research thesis will vary greatly according to the discipline of study, the content of the publication(s) and where applicable, the impact factor of the journals in which they are published. In some fields of scientific research, three papers may be sufficient for a PhD, whilst in others, six may be the norm; for other fields, such as the Humanities, a single book length work may be sufficient.
The length and number of publications to be included in the thesis will be determined by your supervisory team. Each research project is different and the number of publications that will be required for your project may differ from that of other students, even those in the same School as you. The primary consideration is that the body of work included in the thesis satisfies the requirements for the degree for which it is presented.