Doctoral dissertations in human geography from Swedish universities 1884-2015: demographics, formats and productivity

Thomas Niedomysl, Martin Prowse, Anders Lund Hansen

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The doctoral dissertation is a key component of postgraduate education that plays an important role for knowledge production and hence the development of a discipline. Swedish human geography currently lacks an overview of dissertations. This article fills this knowledge gap by reporting findings from a unique database covering all doctoral dissertations between 1884 and 2015. The paper focuses on the demographics of the authors (age, gender), the format of the dissertation and explores productivity variations for authors of compilation dissertations. The findings show a notable increase in the number of doctoral dissertations since the late 1960s but a decreasing share of doctoral dissertations in the social sciences since the 1970s. In terms of demographics, we show that while the age of the authors remains relatively stable, the gender-balance has improved considerably. In terms of format, the monograph has rapidly given way to compilation dissertations, which now account for half the number of dissertations. More than 70% of all dissertations are now published in English. Statistical results suggest that the likelihood of completing a compilation dissertation is greater if the doctoral candidate is young and if attending Umeå University. But individual author productivity for compilation dissertations is mainly influenced by unobservables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-355
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Issue number3
Early online date12 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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