With academic resources becoming more available in digital formats, scholars must write for an audience of 21st century consumers. Rapid innovation within the English language caused the Modern Language Association began to consider cutting the time it takes to earn a doctoral degree in half at their annual meeting two weeks ago.
MLA President Russell A. Berman, a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, felt pressure to address the issue following a survey that found 62 percent of departments reported that their graduate schools do not dictate the format of a necessary doctoral dissertation and deal with the issue of timeliness when approving or rejecting pitches. The same survey revealed a disturbing trend, as the approval rate for digital dissertations has dropped from 10.4 percent to 3.4 percent.
What can’t get lost in outdated dissertations is the difference between writing abstracts for web-based and print journals. Graduate students need to learn the difference and perform research that is useful for their colleagues in order to get the most of their money.