The University of Brighton offers a route to PhD via published works or creative practice, known as the PhD by Publication. Unlike many universities, which limit registration to their own staff, this degree is open to all applicants. Rather than submit an original bound thesis, the PhD by Publication allows applicants to submit a portfolio of works (which could be published papers or other creative practice) that represent a coherent and original body of research. In selecting the works to submit, candidates must demonstrate evidence of an original and distinct contribution to knowledge within a recognised disciplinary field. It is normally the case that academic papers will have been published in peer-reviewed journals or their equivalents, and that other creative works will have been subject to a similarly rigorous review process. The portfolio must be accompanied by a substantial supporting statement, often known as a bridging chapter, which offers a critical appraisal of the submitted works, explains how they fit together, accounts for and supports the research methods that have been used, and highlights the significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once admitted, each candidate is allocated a mentor to guide them in selecting their most appropriate works and writing the supporting statement. This can take up to 12 months of study (the maximum period of registration at Brighton), particularly if combined with paid work. Once the work has been completed and submitted, the candidate will be subject to a viva voce examination under the same conditions and regulations as for any other form of doctoral thesis.
Thus, while the traditional route to a PhD remains suitable for those at the start of their research careers, the PhD by publication offers distinct advantages for those who are well established in their research careers but who have not had the opportunity to complete a conventional PhD. Thus, we do not encourage people to set out to achieve a PhD by Publication by writing or creating new material, but rather we encourage them to reflect on what they have already produced. Many of those who follow this route may therefore have been unable to attend a university to conduct postgraduate study, but they have managed to do the necessary research in other ways, for example, as part of their employment outside academia. Given that both routes undertake the same oral examination, there is no doubt that the standards for PhD by Publication are as rigorous as for conventional doctorates.