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Medical Doctorate Theses – Academic Trash?

Their bad reputation precedes them: Compared to doctorate theses in other disciplines, medical doctorate theses are considered to be second-class. For some time now, doctorates in medicine have attracted criticism from scientific associations and bodies alike. Medical doctoral students that seek to apply for receiving funds from the European Research Council are actually required to prove their academic aptitude beforehand. Nevertheless, there are some options available for increasing the quality of medical doctoral theses at the individual level.


Academic Texts Of Inferior Quality


No other academic field accomodates more doctoral students than the medical field. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, medical scholars supervise five times as many dissertations as scholars in humanities do. Also, there is hardly any other academic field where doctorates have suffered more reputational damage than the medical field has. Why? Because medical doctorate theses in many cases do not meet the quality standards of other disciplines. In addition, there is a lack of homogeneous quality standards. As a result, deficits in quality are discernible in several respects.


Lower Volume

While the volume of non-medical doctorate theses is between 120 and 400 pages, medical doctorate theses, depending on the faculty, are comprised of 40 to 100 pages. There are cases of even lower volumes, though. For example, a doctoral student in Würzburg once obtained her doctorate degree based on a thesis that contained as little as 24 pages. In cases like this, in-depth research is the exception rather than the rule.


Shorter doctorate periods

Moreover, the path to obtaining a doctorate degree in medicine is usually much shorter than it is in other disciplines. Whereas non-medical doctorate students need three to five years to write their theses, many medical doctorate students do not take more than few months to complete the writing process. Besides the generally lower volume of medical theses, this circumstance is accounted for by the fact that medical doctorate students often can start working on their thesis in parallel to their studies or specialist training, rather than – as is common in other disciplines – after graduating. Good things do take some time.


Shortcomings in academic writing education and mentoring

Much to be desired is also left by medical doctorate students‘ academic writing skills. The blame for this lies not only with shortcomings in mentoring which can be traced back among other things to the sheer quantity of theses medical scholars have to cope with. Taking into consideration that there are more medical students than students of economics, social sciences, cultural sciences, linguistics and law combined, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there is not enough time available for scholars to supervise a thesis thoroughly. A more fundamental point of criticism, though, is that the teaching of scientific methodology and standards has little to no consideration in the medical curriculum. In many cases, the doctorate thesis is the first-ever academic text medical students are required to write. With this in mind, it is hardly any surprise that the majority of as yet documented cases of plagiarism comes from the medical field. How to use correct and uniform academic citation as well as how to write an argumentative text with all its formal, content-related and stylistic peculiarities is something one has to learn – this applies to medical students as well.


How Graduate Schools & Academic Ghostwriters Can Be Helpful

In order to increase the quality level of medical doctorate theses, the below-mentioned measures might be useful. A first measure might be for universities and higher-education institutions to foster the expansion of graduate schools. Graduate schools allow doctorate students, in unision with fellow students and under the direction of academics holding a doctorate or post-doctoral qualification, to structure and organize one’s own research activities within the scope of colloquia, seminars, workshops or conferences. They provide a platform for doctorate students to present their preliminary results and receive constructive feedback they benefit from in the further course of the writing process.


Another option is to seek the advice of an academic consultant such as an academic ghostwriter. Particularly when it comes to compensating for shortcomings in academic writing education and mentoring, academic ghostwriters who hold a doctorate may be a great help. On the one hand, they provide assistance in terms of coaches and mentors who provide valuable advice, recommendations and suggestions throughout the writing process. On the other hand, medical doctorate students have the opportunity to commission a tailored sample text that displays how to design a medical doctorate thesis in terms of form and content according to academic quality standards. Those templates help doctorate students, especially those who are untrained and overwhelmed when it comes to academic writing, find their way safely through the jungle of academic writing requirements and rules.

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