The Manuscript Dissertation: A Means of Increasing Competitive Edge for Tenure-track Faculty Positions

Sydney Freeman Jr.
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 273-292

The traditional doctoral dissertation is the first major research project that is led by doctoral students, but it does not necessarily prepare them to publish shorter articles in journals. The manuscript dissertation provides a way for doctoral students to establish themselves as researchers while gaining the experience of developing peer-reviewed manuscripts before graduation, thus enhancing career opportunities as tenure-track faculty.

This paper demonstrates how the manuscript dissertation can be employed to increase doctoral student publications before graduation.

This article uses autoethnography to describe the process and results of writing a manuscript dissertation.

This paper contrasts dissertation styles, explaining the benefits and challenges of the manuscript dissertation option in particular.

I found that it was important to have an influential and established dissertation chair, develop credibility by displaying competence and clear goals, being curious about what you don’t know may be an asset and to be humble and comfortable with sharing what you don’t know. I also discuss the personal benefits I gained from developing a manuscript dissertation including producing refereed articles earlier, committee members serve as peer-reviewers of your chapters and gaining the opportunity to learn and master multiple methodological approaches. I also shared the challenges I encountered during my dissertation process which included, committee members not being familiar with and not being willing to invest the time to support me in developing the manuscript dissertation, the timeframe for completion of my dissertation was extended, and balancing my responsibilities as a doctoral candidate. I also discussed challenges that I had not experienced but still could be an issue for others utilizing this style of dissertation including, insuring the cohesion of publications and having the copyediting support.

Dissertation advisors and chairs should consider recommending the manuscript dissertation to doctoral students interested in gaining the experience of developing peer-reviewed manuscripts and becoming tenure-track faculty.

Doctoral students interested in becoming tenure-track faculty should consider the manuscript dissertation option as a means of producing publications before graduation, thus increasing competitive edge in the academic job market.

Publication before graduation will help young scholars to produce high-quality research earlier in their academic careers.

Future research should examine the prevalence of the manuscript dissertation, allowing researchers to determine where and how commonly it is used.

manuscript dissertation, doctoral dissertation, publication, tenure-track faculty, doctoral advisors
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