From talking to colleagues in a variety of fields and different institutions, there seems to be a huge variability in the ways committees handle their responsibilities of reviewing dissertation chapters. I would like to know two things:
- What do you consider the best practices for advisors, other committee members, and candidates in order to move the dissertation writing along efficiently?
- Does the Journal Review policy (specified below) seem reasonable to you?
Journal Review Method
In this model, the dissertation advisor treats his or her role as the chair of the candidate's committee as if he or she were the editor of a journal and the dissertation chapters articles submitted for review. The student submits a chapter to the advisor who decides whether it is ready to send for review. If it is, then the advisor sends the chapter to committee members for review. The committee members make a brief (2-4 page) report to the advisor that either: accepts the chapter as is, accepts it pending minor revisions, rejects it pending major revisions, or rejects the chapter entirely. The advisor then makes the final determination as to the status of the chapter. It will be the advisor's responsibility to make sure other committee members submit their reports in a timely fashion. The defense is held when the advisor judges all of the chapters to be "accepted".
The primary benefits of this policy are that it creates a clear organizational structure which allows candidates to receive prompt, actionable feedback on their work.