What is a Ph.D?

The acronym Ph.D. is short for "doctor of philosophy" although it does not have to be obtained from a department-of-philosophy. A doctorate is the highest degree awarded by most universities (says Encyclopedia Americana, 1982). A Ph.D. degree is an important turning point in the currently established university system. It is a license of transition from studentship to professorship and/or researchership.

There is rarely anything that forbids a non-Ph.D. from doing research in almost any field, and a Ph.D. title may never guarantee further research achievements. Someone's holding a Ph.D. degree all and only tells us that he/she has been able to achieve the capability of producing research, and has demonstrated that with an example, with which he/she has met the standards held by the jury/institution granting the title.

A License and Its Value

A license is valueable only as much as the achievement-standard backing it. Mass-publishing some Ph.D. titles, for a few dollars, would not make the whole society able lecturers and/or researchers. It would only result in the title being neglected.

An achievement-standard is a service by those who can evaluate, to the title-recipient, as well as to the public who needs the services of the licensed individuals. e.g:If the person has a valid license that he can read and write to some satisfactory degree, you may skip a testing, at an interview. In this case, the license may have been even granted by the grocer at the corner of the street, as long as you trust his/her evaluations of reading-and-writing skills.

Of course, a Ph.D. is a much bigger title, claiming to have already produced some original contribution in some field of knowledge, and even with sufficient time, in many cases, we may not be able to re-evaluate the candidate ourselves. As a result, we especially do expect the title-awarding juries doing their job very seriously. We can only tell how we relate to the result, as the outside public, when we observe the achievement, or not, of a title-grantee is presenting, later in life.

The Public Responsibility of the Ph.D.-Awardig Juries

A Ph.D. title signifies some critical turning-point - professionally. And the degree-granting juries must feel, if anything, the heavy responsibility when granting such a degree, and must concentrate on the objective facts, the tangible work, being already presented. Not on some sweet sensations, or diverted virtues like a misplaced-"benevolence" which is only a cruelty to many others. That not only introduces unfair-competition which can only cloud the accomplishments of the deserving recipients, but may probably leave generations of rather bright students and other employers, facing an incompetent service of teaching or research.

It is unfair competition against both the deserved-Ph.D. holders, and the non-Ph.D. rivals, in the markets. Furthermore, it leads to a mental abuse of minds in the classrooms, maybe for decades. Reading the case study for this site, an un-credible Ph.D. may suggest some Ph.D. juries to stop their recidivism in granting undeserved Ph.D. titles.

We, The Consumers, and The Licensed Services.

There are also other, which Encyclopedia Americana (1982 edition) says, are founded in the 20th century, for non-research-oriented, practical-service purposes. Not all fields have such other paths, and some may be granting research-oriented degrees with other names, too.

What we care most, as the service receivers (and providers, subcontracting, etc), is the standard-of-quality as a lecturer/serviceperson and/or as a researcher. We, as the consumers of the resulting services, may adapt to receive the declared service, once we know what service is being offered, with what standard of achievement expected from the title-recipients.

The Grain Size of Licensing.

A Ph.D. is a license at a very large granularity. In the currently established educational system, without a Ph.D., a person cannot become a university professor (with some very rare exceptions).

And, unfortunately, the reverse may also be true, in the lesser developed countries or regions, at least: No further evaluations of the quality and the tangible achievements afterwards, of a Ph.D.-holder, may essentially not exist. Because of lacking enough people who can evaluate, or for whatever reason. The result can be a mental abuse of a few generations of bright students, there.

In this iste, I propose a finer granularity of licensing, and for many branches, even no need for established institutions. Independent testing and a free-market for teaching, while also observing who is (and whose students are) succesful in learning what, and building the whole life-time educational process on this. The licensing granularity may be even at a single hour or less. For example, a [standard] lecture for [introduction to] polar co-ordinates.

Why is the Ph.D. title given also by non-philosophy departments?

Have you ever wondered why people doing work in many other areas of knowledge, not only at a department of philosophy, get the title Ph.D., a Doctor of Philosophy?

The answer may be this: It takes a bit of thinking to claim introducing some new work. Philosophy is a set of sharp tools, which a Ph.D. also must use, when producing the required original contribution to the field.

Those tools involve thinking: Observing the facts, formulating of (new) ideas, comparing and contrasting, weighing the possible consequences with respect to a whole frame, etc.

To put in the context of the current discussion: A good-quality research takes observing/reflecting, improving, comparing, contrasting, re-reflecting, and so on. It is not only a jotting of what the first comes to mind and/or cutting-and-pasting from other papers, or even being careless about them, when you very well know that such papers exist.

A Ph.D. is the last/highest title as a student. A mastery of the listed tools of thinking must have already be achieved by the time the title is granted. And a Ph.D. work is expected to demonstrate the well-established thinkability of the person, as well as being a contribution to the advancement of the human knowledge/thinking.

Surely, you do not need to attend any lecture of philosophy to learn about these. By this time in the development of human civilization, indeed, many branches which had formerly been considered as branches of philosophy, have long departed from it. For example, unlike in the days of Newton, physics is no more considered philosophy. Although some philosophers may still be pondering in physics, majority of such pondering are done by people called physicists.

Any aspiring scientist/scholar has to compare and contrast his/her work with the existing, and place his/her own contributions, if any, in the appropriate context.

CaseStudy: An Un-credible Ph.D.

In this site, we discuss a case of a non-grantable Ph.D. degree: An Un-credible Ph.D. The range and amount of errors in it, in addition to the the plagiarism of it point out a failure, not only for researchership, but also in the basic application. (Cut-and-merge-and-failure). The work has been granted a Ph.D. in 1982, and the person still being employed as an academician, in a third-world country. (Names are anonymous on the pages, but academicians, and board members, may learn the names in the case study through e-mail.)

A second case study is also started.

Forum: . . (Fair Menu . . . . . Fault Report? . . . . . Remedy for your case . . . . . Noticed Plagiarism?)

Last-Revised (text) on Sept. 26, 2003 . . . that was
Revised page-presentation (and corrected two little typoes), and added the second case-study link, on Aug. 11, 2005
mirror to, on June 15, 2009
Written by: Ahmed Ferzan/Ferzen R Midyat-Zila (or, Earth)
Copyright (c) [2002,] 2003, 2005, 2009 Ferzan Midyat. All rights reserved.