TESTING OF METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES IN PhD THESIS PROPOSALS

EARLY TESTING OF METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES IN PhD THESIS PROPOSALS DURING DOCTORAL STUDIES

Slobodan M. Janković, Nebojöa N. Arsenijević

Medical Faculty, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Serbia

The main point of PhD studies is adequate design, conduct and writing of PhD thesis. This part is usually proposed by the candidate and her/his mentor, and decided on by the University Senate. However, from time to time, serious methodological errors are overlooked, and candidates work for years, producing useless results.

In order to help candidates to make valid design of their research, during courses from the 1st year of doctoral studies (devoted to research methodology) at Medical Faculty, University of Kragujevac, students are required to write research proposal for their thesis, consulting their potential mentors. This proposal is then reviewed by the Facultyís experts in general research methodology, and peers from 2nd year of doctoral studies. In this way, the students from the 1st year receive comprehensive feedback on methodological quality of their proposal, and get in the position to further improve it, before submission to the Senate.

From 38 thesis proposals made by the students of second semester in the 2006/7 school year, 14 (37%) needed major revision, and 8 (21%) minor one. After receiving feedback, the students made revisions according to suggestions of their peers and the Facultyís experts, and resubmitted thesis proposals were accepted without requests for further revisions.

Early peer and expert review of methodological issues in PhD thesis proposals could help to both students and mentors to build valid proposal, which will result with material publishable in highly-ranked medical journals.