How to Prepare a Scientific Doctoral Dissertation Based on Research Articles

How to prepare doctoral thesisBjörn Gustavii

Cambridge University Press, £14.99

A piece of independent academic research which is considered to expand knowledge within the discipline being studied can be accepted as a doctoral dissertation. It may be produced as a monograph or as an article-based dissertation, in which case it contains several publications, or manuscripts that have been accepted for publication, dealing with the same research topic and including a summary of all the work. This compilation model of PhD thesis is standard in Scandinavia and is increasingly being adopted elsewhere, especially for biology and medicine.

This slim book guides the postgraduate research student through the process of thesis writing and submission. It focuses primarily on the central issue of how to produce a scientific manuscript for publication (the subject of a previous text by the same author) but through the eyes of a novice writer. Gustavii uses his experience of journal editing to highlight both good and bad practice in writing style, literature citation, table construction and figure preparation. The issues of abbreviations, acknowledgements, reprint permission and copyright are also discussed.

Lastly, the important topic of how a higher degree candidate should approach the task of constructing an overall summary of their research, the thesis overview, is covered in detail. After all, upon submission this forms the one part of the thesis which has not passed prior editorial scrutiny.

I recommend this book as an accessible, highly practical guide to thesis preparation which any current or prospective PhD student in the biological sciences would benefit from reading.

Dr Andrew Taylor-Robinson CBiol FSB