Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1991. Review of The Role and Nature of the Doctoral Dissertation, by The Council of Graduate Schools. Teaching Sociology 19 (4): 543.


Copyright 1991 Michael R. Hill


This brief, impressively sponsored report overflows with Machiavellian subtexts, bureaucratic rationalizations, and mendacious platitudes. While concluding that the doctoral dissertation "defines the essence of the PhD degree" (p. 31), the overall message is that doctoral dissertations have become all things to all disciplines and that-further-this diversity of options is legitimate and virtually inexorable. The shock to my academic sensibilities on reading this official policy statement of the Council of Graduate Schools is the realization (once again) that some of our colleagues in several of the engineering, natural, and physical sciences have thoroughly subverted the doctoral process, turning it into a grant-fuelled machine that spits out technically proficient clones rather than creative, independent scholars.