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The PhD In Creative Writing
Accompanied By An Exegesis

Josie Arnold
Swinburne University of Technology


The position of this paper is to further the discussion on what constitutes academic assessment in the PhD by artefact and exegesis. In doing so, it explores some of the ideas that arose in setting up the PhD in creative writing at Swinburne University of Technology. Thus, I:

  • survey some of the questions that arise about the journeys made by the candidate, supervisor and examiner of the PhD in creative writing;

  • introduce discussion about what constitutes academic knowledge with particular reference to the PhD in writing at Swinburne University of Technology, Lilydale Campus;

  • bring to the fore multiple possibilities in understanding possible conceptualizations of legitimate scholarly, intellectual and cultural research; and

  • survey some ideas about research and/as creativity.

In doing so, I provide the basis for discussion of the dynamic nature of research, and situate this discussion within the framework of assessment.


'What is this thing we call a PhD?' When I began mine, I was astounded that there seemed to be a sort of dogged dedication to the necessity not only of doing the research and writing it up, but also of discovering the shape and size of the undertaking. It is this area of structure and its relationship to substance that I want to address here. Furthermore, I want to embed it in something that seems to me only to have recently entered most academics' consciousness: the students' journeys.

The end-point of these PhD journeys is to satisfy the assessors. Assessment too often drives curriculum, students, academics and even what we define as knowledge. The PhD journey is one from a possibly tentative question to a thetic production that must be assessed both in itself and as meeting University Regulations and the expectations of the Academy.

The structure of the PhD is not easily understood. The journey is not well-mapped, or rather the terrain of structural discovery is perhaps seen as some outward-bound struggle that the candidate must first discover and then overcome. Surely, establishing a research question, adding something new to knowledge in the area, reading prodigiously of academic literature, collecting data, and writing up is a large enough task in itself without also having to discover elements of the structure of the PhD. There are, of course, many books about how to do it, but they seem to me to be too often rather didactic and/or lacking any insight into the curriculum aspects of any learning undertaking.

Thinking about the PhD as a writer 'facing the blank page', invigorated my thinking about the relationship of the supervisors, the students, and examiners. I was very aware of the dead hand of conventions upon the structure of the thesis and at the same time unable to get a very clear and precise picture of the elements of those conventions as they apply to the elements of the creative artefact and the exegesis.

This paper is directed at enabling discussion upon issues such as those surveyed by Scrivener (2000) on how: '... theory and practice become inextricably linked and mutually dependent.' (p.1). It acts to take research into practical production into the domain of scholarship and to bring traditional PhD models into the domain of creativity. As such, it proposes that a new and dynamic understanding of the intellectual and cultural debates regarding knowledge can be addressed without subordinating one model to another. Both concern themselves, as Scrivener says, with '...a problem [that] is found, defined and followed through to the realisation of the solution' (p.1).

Furthermore, it endeavours to act to provide a space for us to explore his suggestion that: '...the term research is not an is socially constructed and its meaning shifts depending on the community using the term' (p.1). This exploration takes us beyond the prescriptions of the 'norms' that have developed for the PhD production. It reminds us that such 'norms' can be restrictive. This restriction can be seen to apply not only to the nature of the acceptable models of PhD, but also to the dynamism of the creative PhD process even within such traditional modes, for nothing in knowledge production and exploration can be static. Indeed, the PhD must make a new contribution to knowledge even within the 'norm'. Clearly new contributions to knowledge can sit outside the 'norm' while remaining within the scholarly discourse: maybe particularly within that discourse if we are to enable knowledge to expand and develop within the Academy.

If we can look at research in a more dynamic way, we may be able to resolve what Kroll (2004) calls 'the schizophrenic nature' (p.1) of the two attributes of the PhD in writing: the artefact and the exegesis. Indeed this model of the 'hybrid' thesis need not be perceived as applicable only to this model itself. It is true that a multi-layered discourse becomes evident in the artefact/exegesis model of the PhD, but it is also from a postmodernist perspective an intrinsic element of any text and hence of the traditional PhD. This perspective enables the traditional thetic discourse to be challenged as a structure that both defines and holds in but also restricts and places structure over substance.

The Hybrid PhD Structure

Envisaging the PhD as a place of contestation in structure as well as substance enables the academic world to do more than validate a pro-forma or templated PhD model. Rather it opens up for consideration a multi-layered discourse that draws together practicum and the academe into an artist-scholar nexus/praxis. This is rather more than a struggle between the validated and the new: it also provides an opportunity to attempt to describe the new. A traditional PhD is no less an 'authorial announcement' (Kroll 2004. p.4) than an exegesis. Therein too, '...writers reveal their personalities as well as their methodologies', even if rather more indirectly and more decently clothed in tradition. However, taking Barthes's (1977) axiom that the author as god is dead and the reader empowered as the co-writer, we understand that it's as applicable to any mode of thetic discourse. It could be asserted that it's most applicable to the traditional mode.

The Academy is by its very nature traditionalist and hence conservative. The paradox that energises it is that it also seeks to add significant and original contributions to knowledge, particularly through the PhD process of a major research project and its publication (substance). New modes of presenting this (structure) are also of value within the Academy, although more problematic to it. The elements of creative production (artefact) and academic research can readily be seen as complementary but different. The relationship between the two elements is always controversial and personal. Together they are accepted as knowledge, yet the academic element is too often regarded as a legitimising component.

Although there appears to be acceptance of doctoral writing in many forms (Richardson 1990), the debate between traditional academic practice and the form of the exegesis is far from over. For example, Milich and Schilo (2004) suggest that basing both the exegesis and the 'artefact' on a research question enables the relationship between the two elements to result in academic writing that is complementary to the creative component. This, they argue, enables the candidate to display a profound knowledge of the research area and makes clear new contributions, understandings and insights into it. This seems to be an incredibly stilted and excessively definitive model that subsumes the creative component into academic research model verification practices. What they describe as the uneasy relationship between the creative component and the academic might better be seen as the energising moment of writing an openly multi-layered text. How the PhD candidate achieves this is a necessary part of the substance of the work that becomes clear through the structure of the exegesis as a parallel work.

Clearly, the debate between 'academic writing' and 'the other' is far from over and for many people still quite unresolved. For example, Nelson (2004) describes the traditional thetic/exegesis as rather more of a straightjacket. In doing so, he enables a re-definition for the writing PhD as 'a cultural contribution of substantial significance' rather than the traditional 'original contribution to knowledge'. At his own University (Monash, Australia) he describes this as being seen as 'a very liberating declaration...received with relief and embraced warmly in amendments to the doctoral regulation' (Nelson 2004. p.3) The exegesis is moved from epistemological research terms as its defining characteristic into a 'conceptual background' to the artefact. 'It has to come to life again in order to appear as a significant cultural contribution and hence the writing cannot disappoint the high charter of the creative work. The creative material is in constant rebirthing through the text that sits beside it'. (Nelson 2004. p.3) To enable this, there has to be a recognition that acceptable methodology may vary from the traditional knowledge model based on scientific methods. Such research is about setting a question and finding data to legitimise or refute it. Bolt (2004) says of this '...researchers are expected to conceive an outcome in advance, and identify the significance and innovation of the research proposal. Intentionality sets in place preconceptions about what the work will do.' (Bolt 2004. p.4). She notes that such 'intentionality' is the opposite of the creative project that '...emerges in the working process'. and agrees with Deleuze (2003) that the template must be broken by a 'catastrophe occurring' so that the conceptual rhythms of the creative process can occur.

The Exuberant PhD

James and Baldwin (1999) affirm the desirability of a dynamic realization of the multiple possibilities of research. 'Research differs across the disciplines. What constitutes a contribution to knowledge and how this contribution is presented, differ similarly - creative novels, performances, and CD-ROMs, for example, are now establishing themselves in certain disciplines as alternatives or complements to the written thesis. Regardless of these differences in research cultures, all research involves critical enquiry, the strenuous intellectual activity of collecting, sifting and analyzing information and presenting new knowledge'. (James & Baldwin 1999. p.3)

Recognising the diversity of research outcomes, the examinable components of the PhD in Writing consist of either:

  1. A genre work that is accompanied by an exegesis. I call this the exuberant PhD because of its dynamism.
  1. A traditional dissertation on textuality and discourse and/or elements of the writing process usually referred to as the thesis.

The first non-traditional option is the one under discussion here. It offers Swinburne writing PhD students the capacity to produce a substantial piece of work (approximately 60,000 words or the equivalent) that is suitable for publication that may be in one of the following broad genre categories or may include a number of them: creative writing ( for example, a novel, a screenplay, a multimedia production, a book of poetry, a stage play); research writing (for example, a scholarly book; a series of scholarly papers); curriculum writing (for example, a major curriculum plan, a textbook, a series of subject guides); business writing (for example, a company report; occupational health and safety; advertising manuals, strategies and guidelines). This is accompanied by an exegesis of approximately 20,000 words. The style and presentation of this exegesis, and especially its intent and relationship both to the artefact and to knowledge provides us with a dynamic debate. It is interesting that the initial eight PhD candidates in 2004-5 have all elected to write in the creative area.

The Creative Production

Many ideas about creativity and academic accreditation come from schools of art and design. Much foundational work in this area has been done by Stephen Scrivener, Professor of Art and Design at Coventry University, who has supervised over 20 such PhD candidates to successful completion. His publication 'Reflection in and on action and practice in creative-production doctoral projects in art and design' (2000) is a working paper from an art and design conference. The Swinburne Design School utilized this paper to enable it to clarify the contribution to knowledge and scholarship that produce examinable aspects of a practical PhD. In the context of the PhD, these pieces of writing (artefacts/productions) are a contribution to knowledge in that they are concerned with satisfying need and acting to '...transform the world from what it is to something better...concerned with intervention, innovation and change.' (Scrivener 2000. p.2)

Scrivener discusses how such creative projects either didn't exist before or are 'an enhanced variant of an existent product'. This is readily applicable to writing within a genre. He establishes a number of tables to indicate how such artefacts may come into practical production as well as provide creative enhancement of the culture. Central to this imaginative reconstruction of academic knowledge is the idea that researchers who are experienced practitioners want to engage in relevant research that enhances that practice, while at the same time '...they do not wish to suspend their creative work or allow it to become separate from, or subordinate to, the research activity'. (Scrivener 2000. p.3)

The artefact production or practical research component of the PhD process, then, is part of producing a work that, in Scrivener's words, will in its own terms and genres '...stand up in the public domain (e.g. be worthy of producing an exhibition)'. In writing, this means that peers/examiners would judge the work worthy of publication.

Scrivener (2000) discusses in some detail why it is valuable for practitioners to undertake PhD studies. Clearly, for them it presents ' opportunity to develop as creators and to produce more satisfactory work' (p.4). In design, artefacts are the project outcomes. By implication, it is readily understandable that it is also important for the Academy that such artefacts are produced within a PhD program.

In writing, this project outcome of a practical/genre nature is accompanied by an exegesis placing the artefact within a body of scholarly knowledge and hence acting to bring together theory and practice. Thus the PhD students show not only the ability to make a new 'product' but also the capacity to be '...a self-conscious and systematic problem-setter and solver.' (Scrivener 2000. p.6) both within their writing area and within the traditional scholarly discourse of the dissertation/exegesis.

Scrivener provides us with some helpful benchmarks for the creative work. It:

  • is not derivative or imitative of another's work
  • can be described as a response to a set of on-going issues, concerns and interests
  • is usually rooted in a cultural context
  • manifests cultural issues, concerns and interests
  • contributes to human experience and hence knowledge.

He suggests that as a result the PhD students should address the following questions about their practical submission. I have adapted his work for writing candidates who should ask of their product both has it, and how it has:

  • contributed to human experience?
  • displayed cultural preoccupations?
  • explored the relationship between the artefact and cultural issues?
  • presented original high quality and engaging artefacts that contribute to human experience?
  • communicated knowledge, learning and insight?
  • displayed self-conscious, systematic and reflective capacities of creativity within the genre?

He calls this creative artefact 'reflection in action...the process spirals through stages of appreciation, action and reappreciation, whereby the unique and uncertain situation comes to be understood through the attempt to change it, and changed through the attempt to understand it'. (p.8). Clearly this is a dynamic research process. It challenges traditional templates but does not diminish their powerful contribution to knowledge even as it suggests further, different and/or complementary models arising from intellectual and scholarly journeys in other domains.

He then calls upon a consideration of a very germinal question about the artefact: 'Given that the characteristic research stance is that of objectivity, control and distance, how might the stance of the practitioner be described?' (p.9) In the writing PhD, we can answer Scrivener's question by saying that this stance is displayed in the artefact and given scholarly consideration in the accompanying exegesis or dissertation. In considering this, we might exercise the caveat that research dynamism is not to be confused with practicum alone. In arguing for alternative models of scholarship, I think it is important to acknowledge that they can be congruent with those aspects of scholarship that we have come to understand in traditional research models, and that those models are creative in themselves, and can be shown to even more so in the exegesis accompanying the 'artefact'.

Answering Scrivener's (2000) question via the exegesis/production model enables the drawing together of two quite different approaches to knowledge creation, the 'scientific' and the 'creative'. For Scrivener, the: '...scientific language of theory of action, logic, experimentation, hypothesis and experimental rigour is at odds with my sense of creative production' (p.10) He spends some time in this reflection upon his 20 years in creative PhD supervision with this problem. In the context of the writing course, I think we at Swinburne present the opportunity for this apparent dichotomy to be resolved with the two examinable components. Thus creativity within a writing genre is displayed as is theory, logic, situating within the conceptual framework (etc) that would be expected in traditional thetic productions. At the same time, however, this apparently simple and direct solution is one that needs to be expanded, negotiated and developed by the candidates themselves in consultation with their supervisors as the two elements grow in their complementary relationship.

Scrivener (2000) affirms that there is value in undertaking the doctoral journey in creative production not only for the candidate but also for reflective qualities that are realized and above all '...because it is inventive and imaginative, and realized through and with artifacts.' (p.18). This emphasis on the value of creative productions within the academy is an important one for us to consider within the PhD in writing. It value-adds to the traditional modes of learning in an important way within a University of Technology that has an outstanding Design School and a long history of the production of artefacts within the various elements of engineering and applied science. Because the writing model includes an exegesis, there is opportunity for the old and tired dichotomy between the 'qualitative' and the 'quantitative' that underpins arguments about what is scholarship to be overcome. As we have seen, the production of the artefact is a dynamic contribution to the culture and extends our understanding of what makes up knowledge itself.

Barrett (2004) also comes from the creative arts perspective and speaks of the exegesis as a '...replication or re-versioning of the completed artistic work as well as a reflective discourse on significant moments in the process of unfolding and revealing' (p.2) She sees the exegesis as offering a cultural shift from the cataloguing and categorizing of art works that has provided a model for arts research: 'In addition to answering the crucial question-'What did the studio process reveal that could not have been revealed by any other mode of enquiry?'- the exegesis provides an opportunity for the creative arts researcher to elucidate why and how processes specific to the arts discipline concerned mutate to generate alternative models of understanding. At the same time, the researcher is able to elaborate the significance of these models within a research context.' (p.5. Her emphases)

Furthermore, she ties this into the emerging knowledge economy by averring that creative outputs need to be understood to encourage a creative society.

The Exegesis

The exegesis is not a critique of the work, but sits alongside it. Some see it as a more academic way of accompanying, writing about, exploring further and in a different way ideas in the non-academic writing, thus supporting the process of the non-academic writing which is a more public piece with a wider and/or different audience in mind. However, it is also evolving into a more reflective piece of writing in which the contribution to knowledge becomes insights into the individual creative process with reference to ideas in the relevant literature.

A scholarly piece of writing involves:

  • articulating the interactions with the discipline/subject/research area;
  • understanding that it is addressing a supervisor, examiners and wider discipline readers;
  • presenting the content clearly and effectively;
  • problematising and producing point rather than giving content alone;
  • clarifying the new contributions to scholarship;
  • placing the knowledge within its domain of scholarship;
  • utilising the best tone...this means that the expression should be appropriate for the audience for whom it is intended;
  • understanding the role of a scholarly publication, this means that the writing should 'speak' in the accepted 'voice'; and
  • extending and clarifying expert vocabulary...each knowledge area has its own words and terminologies, but care should be given to their effective use; clarify where necessary by explanations, footnotes and/or references.

The Exegesis then, may have the following attributes:

  • traditional academic discourse is utilized, explored and, where appropriate, challenged;
  • there is evidence of scholarly research commentary;
  • systematic discovery and discourse is displayed and investigated;
  • the work is supported by a scholarly bibliography that is cited as appropriate;
  • it indicates skill in selection, sorting, asking questions' defining, decision-making;
  • it records the process of turning information into knowledge;
  • it situates thoughts, ideas and processes within relevant scholarly literature;
  • it records and reflects upon the processes of writing;
  • it explores the place of narrative in research;
  • it addresses ideas of 'truth' in writing;
  • it explores the ways in which traditional academic discourse is altering with the application of critical and creative cultural theories; and
  • ideas about readers as well as writers are clarified.

The writing of the exegesis may be undertaken at any stage of the process of producing the artefact. One style of scholarly production does not preclude the other. Although it might be that the artefact could be seen as data collection within traditional thetic forms, this is not always the best way of exploring the relationship of the two examinable aspects of the model. For the exegesis sits alongside the creative work. Neither tone, register nor style is superior 'knowledge' to another. Each has its place within this PhD structure.

The Swinburne PhD in Writing, then, has two distinct examinable elements that are interconnected through theory and practice. In considering this relationship we are lead to another understanding of the dynamic nature of research in its various modes. Stewart discusses the following research ideal: 'If we wish as artist researchers to challenge the traditional theory practice duality, then we also need to re-think established notions of knowledge and to understand that we become theory builders when we position practice and the acts of production to embody and express theory. This process redefines theory as a reflection of the intricate and many faceted nature of artists' knowledge and arts practice. As such, theory and practice become inextricably linked and mutually dependent.' (2003. p.1)

This provides a useful way of thinking about the production of a piece of genre writing (that in Scrivener's terms might be called an 'artefact') that recognises it in terms of a scholarly creative production both within itself and as accompanying and/or being accompanied by an exegesis that may be 'reflective' rather than 'scholarly'. The model for the PhD in writing of a practicum/artefact production is not uncommon. It gives us at Swinburne the opportunity to clarify for ourselves some of the questions about knowledge and the relationship of theory and practice that will enliven our teaching and learning and curriculum developments as well as our research commitments. The capacity to move our research from the accepted/established traditional foci to complementary ways of going about creating new knowledge of the creative act itself in relationship to the production of the artefact is one that enables the University to enrich our research profile. It is particularly apposite in Swinburne which has a strong history of practicum in engineering and design.

Freiman (2003) draws our attention to some of the questions that arise when creativity and traditional scholarship are seen to co-exist within the Academy: 'When creative writing encounters the academic institution a number of ideas about creativity enter the relationship. The discipline of creative writing is, at the very least, a site for the social interaction between writers, readers and texts, and while there are obvious differences between the creative writing done in the academy and the public reception of creative writing, assumptions brought to its learning and to its role as research bear some relationship to wider social as well as academic expectations of what writing and creativity is.' (p.1) She goes on to discuss ambiguity towards creative work as research, unpacking the myth of creativity being only in the act of initiating the artefact rather than also in the reflective process and the scholarly dialogue surrounding textuality and discourse: 'As we continue to define the discipline of creative writing, confronting myths about creativity and writing allows us to engage with wider possibilities of what creative writing is, in its material and discursive functions as text and as knowledge formation'. (p.2). Freiman investigates how we are inclined to recognise creativity as social and individual effect and outcome, yet its processes remain mysterious to us, difficult to define, outside the parameters of the knowledge disciplines with which we attempt to measure and understand it. She concludes that: 'We need to keep ourselves open to the openness and subversiveness of creativity while recognising our other roles as educators. It is the interfacing of creative writing and academic discourses that alerts us to the conditionality of both fields, and provides for the opportunity of creative engagements between the two' (p.14).

The production/exegesis model is an enabling model within this academic construct. It encourages this interface between conceptual knowledge models and creative writing to achieve the dynamism of 'creative engagements between the two'. At the same time it opens up understanding that research models are not inert and dominated by templates, but in both traditional and new modes they provide dynamic creative intellectual engagements. To see only the artefact as creative work and only the exegesis as scholarly is to miss out on the opportunities offered to open up our concepts of the dynamic and lively nature of research. As Scrivener (2000) says: 'The artefacts are not exemplars of the project outcomes, they are the project outcomes.' He reminds us that the artefact production should not be subsumed under '...longer doctoral tradition and well-established norms.'(p.5)

This paper also opens up the possibility of thinking differently about research projects at the PhD level. This acts to enable us to interrogate those patterns and paradigms that have arisen as 'norms' within the Academy in general, and our own areas of research and teaching in particular. The leading contemporary French intellectual, scholar and thinker Jacques Derrida expressed a desire for us to do so as scholars in his essay upon his own interruption to his PhD thesis production. He asked himself why he should do what has already been done and took a 'punctuation' of over 30 years in presenting his PhD. He was finally awarded it on the basis of his publications that had re-evaluated the 'template' of the 'norm' in all forms of discourse. His interest is not in having different content within the same or very similar thetic form. He asks us to consider new forms, new ways of performing thetic knowledge. He suggests that we let go of the familiar forms of scholarly discourse and engage in new ones. He avers that: '... this strategy is a strategy without any finality; for this is what I hold and what in turn holds me in its grip, the aleatory strategy of someone who admits that he does not know where he is going... I should like it also to be like a headlong flight straight towards the end, a joyous self-contradiction, a disarmed desire, that is to say something very old and very cunning, but which also has just been born and delights in being without defense.' (1983. p.35)

The thinking of Derrida (1983) , then, is also helpful in this engagement: The very idea of a thetic presentation, of positional or oppositional logic, the idea of a position...was one of the essential parts of the system that was under deconstructive criticism. (1983. p.35). Opening up to dynamic thinking about scholarship and knowledge production presents us as academics with new and interesting insights into benchmarks that we may have seen as 'norms' but that can be usefully interrogated for valuable change to occur. Clearly this is a vexed and challenging position. Fletcher and Mann (2004) in their investigation of a number of similar artefact/exegesis combinations say: 'Clearly, the creative higher degree needs to be understood not as research about art-the province of the theorist or the critic- but art practice undertaken as research.' (2004. p.6)

Noting that not knowing where to start is a cause of 'considerable anxiety' for both student and supervisor, Brien (2004), a PhD candidate in creative writing, notes that her foundational research for the creative biography provided her with the reflective work for the exegesis: 'As I wrote more and more of my creative project, I developed, refined, edited and changed what I now think of as the exegesis, but at the time it always operated as a completely necessary foundation for the creative work.' (2004.p.3) In this way, she answers, I think, her own criticism: the structure of the exegesis can only be understood in broad terms and the candidate facilitated as well as possible by broad guidelines. The very nature of the creative component means that any exegesis is quite particular, so that the structure and relationship of the two aspects of the 'hybrid' degree can only be understood in a general way.

There is, of course, the possibility of a third model for performing a PhD in writing. This model could dispense with the exegesis and rely upon the integrity of the written genre performance itself as a contribution to knowledge within the scholarly domain.

Assessment and the Hybrid PhD

I have adapted Helmut Lueckenhauser's (Dean of Design at Swinburne) excellent checklist, constructed by the team of academics at the National School of Design (following Scrivener) to suggest the following possibilities for a non-traditional research artefact. Whatever the relationship of the two aspects, they must be examined. The following provide models for discussion about the ways in which all parties involved in PhD production and assessment might articulate their assessment goals. They are not intended as instructions to examiners, but rather as ways in which the supervisors and candidates might think about the examinable exegesis and creative artefact.

Examiner's Report - PhD in Writing

This report offers the examiner's considered thoughts on the suitability and sufficiency of the project to produce a genre/artefact in the PhD in Writing.

The following is a summary of the examiner's assessment of your writing project. The assessment sheet evaluates the characteristics of the project producing artefact as research and the characteristics of the creative production or practice. The assessment sheets thus suggest the required orientation, content and language of the artefact.








This report offers the examiner's considered thoughts on the suitability and sufficiency of the thesis in the PhD in Writing.

The following is a summary of the examiner's assessment of the exegesis. The assessment sheets thus suggest the required orientation, content and language of the exegesis.








Clearly, having teased out what aspects of the assessment are most important, we can begin to feel confident that the possibly idiosyncratic ideas of the individual candidate are reflected upon and able to be shared. Such checklists as these should not in themselves provide a straightjacket. Rather, they can lead to a shared understanding of the elements of the assessment procedure.

Such guidelines won't elucidate the embeddedness of the exegesis within the creative process of the artefact. However, these insights into the process of the exegesis act to display its parallel to the artefact itself and the resultant relationship between the two elements. They also act to clarify that the exegesis is not a traditional thesis yet contains some aspects of that genre such as the nature of the project, the action of the artefact, the nature of the field, the intent, and such other heads and sub-heads that will guide the examiner


This paper is directed at enabling discussion upon how to combine theory and practice. It acts both to take practicum into the domain of scholarship and to bring the PhD into the domain of creativity. As such, it proposes that a new and dynamic understanding of the intellectual and cultural debates regarding knowledge are addressed without subordinating one model to another. Both concern themselves with '...a problem [that] is found, defined and followed through to the realisation of the solution' (Scrivener 2000. p. 4)

Furthermore, it endeavours to act to provide a space for us to explore Scrivener's (2000) suggestion that: '...the term research is not an is socially constructed and its meaning shifts depending on the community using the term'. (p19) In doing so, it takes us beyond the prescriptions of the 'norms' that have developed for the PhD production. It reminds us that such 'norms' can be restrictive. This restriction can be seen to apply not only to the nature of the acceptable models of PhD but also to the dynamism of the creative PhD process even within such traditional modes, for nothing in knowledge production and exploration can be static. Indeed, the PhD must make a new contribution to knowledge even within the 'norm'. Clearly new contributions to knowledge can sit outside the 'norm' while remaining within the scholarly discourse: maybe particularly within that discourse if we are to have concepts that enable knowledge to expand and develop within the Academy.

Finally, this paper has offered some practical bases and guidelines for assessment of the 'hybrid' PhD in its complementary elements, suggesting that this provides candidates and supervisors with a basis for negotiation and examiners with a clear view of what has been done, making assessment open and clear, but not constrictive.


Barrett, E. What does it meme? The exegesis as valorisation and validation of the creative arts. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Barthes, J. 1977 Image-Music-Text. Fontana Collins, London.

Brien, D.L. The Problem of where to start: a foundation question for creative writing higher degree candidates and supervisors. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Bolt, B. The exegesis and the shock of the new. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Bourke, N and Neilsen, P. The problem of the exegesis in creative writing higher degrees. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Deleuze, G. 2003 Francis Bacon and the logic of sensation. London. Continuum.

Derrida, J. 1983. 'The Time of a Thesis: Punctuations.' Philosophy in France Today. Ed. Alan Montefiore. Cambridge: CUP, 34-50.

Fletcher, J and Mann, A. Illuminating the exegesis, an introduction Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Freiman, M. Dangerous Dreaming: Myths of creativity Text Vol 7 No.2.

James, R. and Baldwin, G. 1999 'Eleven Practices of effective postgraduate supervisors', The Centre for the Study of Higher Education and The School of Graduate Studies, University of Melbourne.

Kroll, J. The exegesis and the gentle reader/writer. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Milich, B and Schilo, A. 'Exit Jesus': Relating the exegesis and creative/production components of a research thesis. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Nelson, R. Doctoralness in the balance: The agonies of scholarly writing in studio research degrees. Text Special Issue No 3. April 2004

Richardson, L. 1990 Writing strategies: reaching diverse audiences. Sage. California

Scrivener, S. 2000 'Reflection in and on action and practice in creative-production doctoral projects in art and design'. In Working Papers in art and design' Vol. 1.

Stewart, R '(Re)inventing Artists' Research: Constructing living forms of theory

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