Dissertation, Textbook, and Peer Review: Do you know the Difference?

Good morning

This week our focus is on the difference between scholarly elements.  Peer review is often a challenge for students to navigate regarding the gray areas specifically for doctoral research.  For example, for students conducting a doctoral study, there are specific parameters of what types of sources may be used in a doctoral study.  Often a university will not allow textbooks or other dissertations to be used within their doc study and students want to know why.  The answer involves peer review.

Examples to consider:

  • A textbook is written by scholars that has final review by an editor or editing team. (NOT considered peer reviewed).
  • A dissertation is written by a student (considered a scholar after graduation) that includes 6 to 8 levels of peer review by doctoral scholars (and the Institutional Review Board (IRB). (NOT considered peer reviewed).
  • Journal articles are written by scholars and reviewed by experts in the field. (YES–Peer Reviewed!)

The first two—a textbook and a dissertation—are NOT considered peer reviewed.  Yes, I know a textbook is written by scholars, sometimes by doctoral scholars, but is edited, NOT peer reviewed.

Editing (of which there are many kinds of editing–see previous blog posts here for clarification) is the art of reviewing for content, grammar, APA (or MLA or others) and alignment format).  Editing is NOT to be confused with being peer reviewed.

A dissertation has up to 8 levels of review, but is not considered peer reviewed.

Only journal articles submitted for publication in a Trade or Professional Journal or a doctoral series such as The Refractive Thinker   are considered peer reviewed. These sources meet the requirements of a university for inclusion as part of a doctoral dissertation.

Why is this distinction so important?  It is not just the who does the peer reviewing, but the process of peer reviewing that is important, particularly the nature of evaluation of the empirical study findings.  Not every submission meets peer review standards for publication.  Did you know that there is very high rejection rate for submissions?  See this link for specific rejection rates to review for specific journals; APA tracks these every year.

I hope that this explanation regarding this distinction clears up the confusion as to what sources are considered peer reviewed and appropriate for inclusion in a master thesis and a doctoral dissertation.  Please share your thoughts with us.

My best,

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
The Academic Entrepreneur.

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July 6th, 2018 by admin

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