While Collaboration Is Increasing in the Profession the LIS Dissertation Remains a Solo-Authored Monograph

Diana K. Wakimoto

Abstract


Objective – To investigate collaboration in LIS doctoral education, in particular the extent and perception of collaboration between advisors and advisees, and the dissertation as a collaborative product.

Design – Quantitative and qualitative analysis of questionnaire data. Qualitative analysis of interviews. Bibliometric analysis of curricula vitae (CVs) and dissertation citations.

Setting – American Library Association (ALA)-accredited, doctorate-granting schools in the United States and Canada.

Subjects – A total of 374 full-time, tenured faculty members with the rank of associate or full professor (advisor group) and 294 assistant professors (advisee group) comprised the pool of faculty members (n=668) who were sent the questionnaire. Of these, 30 individuals participated in follow-up telephone interviews, which were equally split between the two groups. There were 97 faculty members from the original pool of 668 faculty members were included in the bibliometric analyses.

Methods – The author developed two questionnaires, one for the advisors (associate and full professors) and one for the advisees (assistant professors), and sent the surveys to faculty members at ALA-accredited schools in the United States and Canada. The questionnaires gathered information about the extent of collaboration and perceptions of collaboration in LIS doctoral education. The author also collected contact information from those interested in participating in a follow-up interview. The author selected the first 30 individuals who responded as the interview participants. The interview participants were split equally between advisors and advisees.

A separate subpopulation of 97 faculty members was chosen for the bibliometric analysis phase of the study. These faculty members were chosen with the following criteria: graduation from an ALA-accredited school; full-text of dissertation available online; and a current, full CV available online. CVs were searched to determine the level of co-authoring before and after graduation.

Main Results – A total of 215 faculty members completed the questionnaires. The results from the surveys showed that more than 61% of the advisors reported collaborating with at least half of their advisees, while 58% of the advisees reported collaborating with their advisors. Both advisors and advisees defined collaboration mainly as publishing, researching, and presenting together. More than 50% of the advisors reported co-publishing with half of their advisees during the advisees’ doctoral education. The advisors reported co-publishing with less than 30% of their advisees after the students completed their doctoral education. Advisees reported similar numbers: 44% and 31%, respectively.

Following graduation, the majority of advisees (96%) planned to publish from their dissertations. Of these, 78% did not plan to include their advisor as co-author in these publications. 42% of the advisors reported that none of their advisees included them as co-authors, while 3% of advisors stated that their advisees always included them as co-authors.

After the 30 interview transcripts were coded using inductive and deductive approaches, the results showed that advisees saw research as a process whereby they became collaborators with their advisors. Advisees also found collaboration with other doctoral students as “kind of key” (p. 7). Advisors saw collaboration as a form of mentorship. However, both advisees and advisors reported that the dissertation itself was not a collaborative product, with the responsibilities of the dissertation tasks falling more heavily on the advisees than the advisors, except in the realm of reviewing and approving the final version of the dissertation.

Analysis of the CVs for co-publishing between advisees and their advisor and/or committee members showed that 41% of the advisees published with their advisors and 34% published with at least one committee member before receiving their doctorate. After receiving their doctorates, 31% of the advisees published with their advisors and 32% published with a committee member.

Conclusion – The author concluded that a majority of advisors and advisees see collaboration as joint publication during the period of doctoral studies. Both advisors and advisees see the doctoral dissertation as a solo-authored monograph and not a collaborative product. However, other forms of collaboration among advisees and their advisors, committee members, and fellow doctoral students are viewed as important parts of the doctoral education experience. Based on these findings, the author suggests that the profession may need to adapt its model of doctoral education to become more aligned with the increasingly collaborative nature of LIS research.

Keywords


doctoral education

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