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Academics share advice on achieving a PhD through ‘alternative format’

Two academics are sharing advice for students undertaking a PhD through alternative format, in a new four-part podcast series.

Traditionally, a PhD is earned through completing a monograph or thesis. However, recently more students across different subjects from political science to marketing, have been choosing to complete their PhDs by alternative format. This consists of a series of three or four related articles suitable for publication in an academic journal.

Dr Scott Jones, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Birmingham, and Dr Anuja Pradhan, assistant professor in consumption, culture and commerce at the University of Southern Denmark, both completed their own PhDs by alternative format and have created a new podcast, called Alternative Format, in order to help students navigate their way through alternative format PhDs.

Dr Scott Jones said:

“I am delighted to be launching our podcast, Alternative Format. Having gone through the process of completing a PhD through alternative format ourselves, Anuja and I know the challenges students can face and we are keen to demystify the process and make it less daunting.

“Completing a PhD via alternative format is a perfectly acceptable and legitimate way to earn your qualification, but despite this, very little information is available for students. That is why we have created the podcast series. We want to offer some support for students who aren’t going down the more traditional PhD route.”

Each episode of the podcast tackles different issues related to doing a PhD by alternative format, such as why people choose to complete their PhDs this way; the writing process of the alternative format thesis and the advantages and challenges of writing journal-style articles; practical advice for preparing for and undertaking a viva, and how this might be different for a PhD by alternative format.

One episode is dedicated to PhD supervisors. Scott and Anuja are joined by Professor Maria Piacentini and Professor Emerita Margaret Hogg of Lancaster University, and Professor Finola Kerrigan of Birmingham University, who share their experiences as supervisors and examiners of alternative format PhDs.

Dr Anuja Pradhan said:

“As academics and teachers we want to empower students and PhD supervisors when it comes to alternative format PhDs. These kinds of PhDs are becoming more commonplace, but sometimes it can be hard to know how you should be assisting a student or formatting your papers. We hope that both future and current PhD students, and PhD supervisors will find Alternative Format a helpful resource created by two people who have gone through the experience themselves.”

The Alternative Format podcast is produced by Karsten Prinds at the University of Southern Denmark and will be available on all major podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

You can listen to and download episode one, Moving beyond Monographs of the Alternative Format podcast, from 31st May 2023. The remaining three episodes will be released on a weekly basis.

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