Historically, the doctoral dissertation has had two purposes: to train young scholars in proper research methodology, and to contribute original findings to research. However, some feel that the traditional dissertation format falls short of these goals for two reasons. First, the majority of dissertations never get published in academic journals, and dissertations are unlikely to get cited in academic articles. Second, many students in doctoral programs see little authenticity in traditional dissertations because the writing style and process differ from that of academic articles. In response to these concerns, many Instructional Technology programs have implemented alternative dissertation formats. This study used survey data to investigate the benefits, challenges, perceptions and current practices of alternative dissertation formats in Instructional Technology. Online surveys were sent to 74 students, 61 alumni, and 38 faculty of Instructional Technology programs in 2010, and 78 students, 43 alumni, and 12 department representatives in 2014. Data were analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods. Surveys found that alumni who completed alternative dissertation formats received more citations for their dissertations than those who completed traditional dissertations, showing that alternative dissertations increase the likelihood of impact. Additionally, respondents reported that alternative dissertation formats facilitate authenticity and collaboration, and prepare students for a career in academia. However, some participants perceived alternative dissertations as less rigorous than traditional dissertations, with ambiguous requirements and expectations of quality. More research is needed in order to understand current practices for alternative dissertation formats in Instructional Technology.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





alternative dissertation formats, multiple article format, instructional technology