Doctor of Philosophy by publication

Method of awarding an academic degree

A Doctor of Philosophy by publication (also known as a Ph.D. by Published Work, PhD by portfolio or Ph.D. under Special Regulation) is a manner of awarding a Ph.D. degree offered by some universities in which a series of articles usually with a common theme are published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals to meet the requirements for the degree, in lieu of presentation of a final dissertation. Many PhD by Publication programs require the submission of a formal thesis and a viva voce.


In general, awarding of the Ph.D. requires an original contribution to human knowledge. This is typically achieved through a period of research culminating in the presentation and examination of a major dissertation on an approved subject, and may be preceded by one or more years of formal coursework on research methodology and academic writing. A Ph.D. awarded "by publication", by contrast, may not require any formal coursework and does not necessitate preparation of a dissertation. Instead, the candidate proves the past publication of several quality articles in peer-reviewed, scholarly journals which, in the opinion of the degree-granting university, represent an original contribution to human knowledge equal to that which would be demonstrated by a dissertation. Notwithstanding many PhD by Publication programs require a viva voce, and the submission of a formal thesis.

The PhD by publication may involve either the demonstration of work previously published prior to application to the program, or the achievement of publications during the period of enrollment, or some combination of the two.[1]

In a 2018 study, it was found that recent doctorates awarded by publication in Australia involved the publication of an average of 4.5 journal articles, though some were awarded with as few as one article published, and others with as many as twelve.[2]


At the University of Cambridge, the doctor of philosophy may be awarded "under the special regulations" only to alumni of Cambridge who can prove the publication of works constituting "a significant contribution to scholarship" and to which are appended an original statement "summarizing the rationale behind the works submitted". Like conventional doctoral students, the candidate must present an oral defense of his or her work before a committee of examiners. According to the university, "the standard required for the PhD Degree under the Special Regulations is the same for the PhD Degree awarded to a Graduate Student on the submission of a dissertation embodying the results of three years of research".[3]

Notable recipients

Notable recipients of Ph.D.'s by publication include:


  1. ^ Smith, Susan (2015). PhD by Published Work: A Practical Guide for Success. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 4–6. ISBN 1137385219.
  2. ^ Mason, Shannon (March 2018). "A Current View of the Thesis by Publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences" (PDF). International Journal of Doctoral Studies. 13: 139–154. doi:10.28945/3983.
  3. ^ "Guide to Applicants: PhD Degree under Special Regulations" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  4. ^ McMartin, Pete (July 27, 2009). "Research Pays Off with PhD after 54 Year Wait". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved December 20, 2018 – via open access.
  5. ^ "Mary Ellen O'Connell". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "JOHN MULVANEY ao cmg fba fsa frai FAHa" (PDF). Australian Academy of the Humanities. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  7. ^ Catherwood, Christopher (2008). Making War in the Name of God. Kensington. p. xi. ISBN 0806531673.
  8. ^ McMurdo, Wendy (2015) "Children and computers : collected works (1995-2014)," British Library EThOs e-theses online service. Retrieved 23 November 2019.