The Thesis Paradox:

An Empirical Study of the Impact of Doctoral Research


Although the writing of a thesis is a very important step for scientists undertaking a career in research, little information exists on the impact of theses as a source of scientific information. The impact of theses is relevant not only for students undertaking graduate studies, but also for the building of Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) repositories. This paper shows that the impact of the thesis as an information source has been generally declining over the last century and raises questions about the justification for ETDs and appropriateness of writing monograph style theses as opposed to peer-reviewed publications for the fulfilment of a graduate studies programme.


Vincent Larivière,a,d Alesia Zuccalab and Éric Archambault a,c


a Observatoire des sciences et des technologies (OST),

Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST),

Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec (Canada)


b Rathenau Instituut, Den Haag (Nederlands)


c Science-Metrix, Montréal, Québec (Canada)


d Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University, Montréal, Québec (Canada)