PhD days are important in ones life. They influence the research career as well as the academic career of a person to a great extent. In many cases it influences the personal life of a person to a large degree.

The quality of a PhD, in general, is assessed or understood by the thesis submitted by the student. So, thesis is a sole outcome in a documented form. It is then utmost important for a student to frame/write her thesis with great care. I am in search of abstract qualities/characteristics required for a PhD thesis.

The following are some characteristics of a PhD thesis I am aware of

  1. Novelty: the quality of being new or unusual, or a new or unusual experience

This characteristic says that the thesis pushed the boundary of the literature to certain extent which has not been pushed earlier by any other (at-least not documented).

  1. Original: An original piece of work, such as a painting, etc. is produced by the artist and not a copy

This characteristic is almost similar to the first one but the uniqueness of this characteristic is that it ensures that the author of thesis did not copy the work from any other and the novelty is originated from her only.

I may be unaware of any other characteristics that are required by a PhD thesis in general. Are there any other characteristics to keep in mind before starting thesis for PhD?

  • "So, thesis is a sole outcome in a documented form." Nowadays, that's often not the case. Peer-reviewed publications have become the main outcome of a PhD project. In Germany, in most STEM fields, you are expected to publish three papers. You then only need to write about 10 additional pages and these together with your papers are called your thesis.
    – user9482
    Aug 10, 2021 at 11:50
  • Possible duplicate: What defines a PhD dissertation/thesis?
    – cag51
    Aug 11, 2021 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


Originality and novelty are required, but not sufficient. In most fields, usefulness is just as important. But usefulness can be interpreted many ways. One is just that it contributes to understanding of a field. More important, when it occurs, is that it enables and opens the door to further explorations.

Very occasionally, however, a dissertation (or in general, any paper) can unify disparate threads of a field in which the existing theories leave gaps of understanding.

But, in some way, a "good" dissertation will push back against the darkness at the edge of understanding of a field, if only in a very limited sense. It should answer an interesting question for which an answer is not previously available.


My university defines a thesis worthy of a PhD as:

A candidate for the degree of PhD, PhD with Integrated Studies, MD, DDSc, DMedSci, EdD, DEdCPsy, DClinPsy or EngD is required to satisfy the examiners that his or her thesis:

  • Is original work which forms an addition to knowledge
  • Shows evidence of systematic study and of the ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject
  • Is worthy of publication either in full or in an abridged form

In addition, the form of the thesis should be such that it is demonstrably a coherent body of work, i.e. includes a summary, an introduction, a description of the aims of the research, an analytical discussion of the related findings to date, the main results and conclusions, and sets the total work in context.

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