The Failure of Dissertation Advice Books: Toward Alternative Pedagogies for Doctoral Writing

Nov. 20, 2008

Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 37, No. 8, 507-514 (2008)

Anxious doctoral researchers can now call on a proliferation of advice books telling them how to produce their dissertations. The present paper analyzes some characteristics of this self-help genre. The authors consider the ways this genre produces an expert–novice relationship with readers, reduces dissertation writing to a series of linear steps, reveals hidden rules, and asserts a mix of certainty and fear to position readers "correctly."
They argue for a more complex view of doctoral writing both as text work/identity work and as a discursive social practice. The authors reject transmission pedagogies that normalize the power-saturated relations of protégé and master. Instead, they point to alternate pedagogical approaches that position doctoral researchers as colleagues engaged in a shared, unequal, and changing practice.

Updated: Jan. 28, 2009