Chapter 3 Special Conditions for Passmore PhD Advisees

I follow closely the specifications for graduate study provided by the WF ED graduate faculty in the WF ED Graduate Student Handbook and by Penn State’s Graduate School and other University authorities. Yet, I supplement these specifications for the advisees whose doctoral committees I chair.

My advisees who are pursuing the PhD degree in WF ED must meet two additional requirements:

  • After you qualify for the doctoral program, you follow a documented and doctoral committee-reviewed program of studies that is sufficiently rigorous to build the your competence for completing a worthy PhD dissertation.
  • Before you attempt the comprehensive examination for the PhD degree, two of your manuscripts are accepted for publication in peer-reviewed42 journals.

3.1 Program of Study

3.1.1 A Close Examination of Program & University Requirements

Both Penn State’s Graduate School and the WF ED Graduate Student Handbook highlight the importance of the program of studies for the PhD candidate. In the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin we read,

The doctoral committee is responsible for approving the broad outline of the student’s program and should review the program as soon as possible after the student’s admission to candidacy. Moreover, continuing communication among the student, the committee chair, the dissertation/performance adviser, and the members of the committee is strongly recommended, to preclude misunderstandings and to develop a collegial relationship between the candidate and the committee.43

The WF ED Graduate Student Handbook states that “Doctoral students are expected to take 21 credits of core course requirements, 18 credits of research course requirements, one required field-based internship course, and meet the requirements of their emphasis as outlined on the doctoral degree course requirement document at the following link: https://ed.psu.edu/lps/workforce-ed/documents/forms-and-resources”.

The Graduate School’s statement reveals that (a) establishment of a program of studies is important, (b) a written document containing a program of studies is not required officially by the WF ED program or the Graduate School, and (c) doctoral candidates can, as needed, deviate from the course distribution requirements specified at at http://goo.gl/WNFiFT if the advisor decides that an alternate path provides more flexibility for the student.

The WF ED Graduate Student Handbook does not indicate what form the student’s Program of Study should take, the process for committee approval of the Program of Study, or filing requirements for the Program of Study.

3.1.2 Documentation Requirement Established by Passmore

I establish a BOX44 online file storage location for each of my advisees. The file location is accessible to you, me, the WF ED Degree assistant, and members of your doctoral committee. This BOX file storage location contains digitized information that is pertinent to your degree program processing and uses BOX communications assets to document conversations and decisions about your stored files. This BOX storage location does not contain all of your graduate student records, but it contains records that you, me, and your doctoral committee deem important (see the WF ED Program Office to determine what records the Office maintains).

A note in your BOX file storage location refers to a Program of Studies template45 into which you should enter your program of studies by no later than the end of the semester when you were admitted to doctoral candidacy status. After you upload the completed template to your BOX storage location, I review and approve your program of studies and suggest that other members of your doctoral committee provide feedback to you about the PhD program of study you have planned.

  • I require that all doctoral candidates who I advise have a current, written, reviewed, and approved program of studies, even though neither the WF ED program nor the University require such a document. When you and I decide that your program of studies is ready for review by your committee, I will request using a note in BOX that your committee members review your program of studies. Unless a committee member requires a revision of your program of studies, your program of studies is approved. You may, of course, modify your program of studies as your needs and the availability of courses change.

3.2 Peer-Reviewed Publications

3.2.1 Importance

The process of attaining a PhD degree is a preparation for a career focus on the creation and utilization of knowledge…that is, on research. The PhD degree is designed for students with clear research interests and proven capability to excel at acquiring and applying knowledge and skills as a result of rigorous study. PhD students participate in research apprenticeships and assist their advisors and other faculty members in such activities as conceptualizing research projects and in collecting, organizing, and analyzing data.

Writing for publication in peer-reviewed journals is the way that this research activity and its outcomes are documented, weighed and judged by the scientific community, and communicated to scientific audiences. Publication in peer-reviewed journals is a touchstone of accomplishment for researchers and is an indication that the PhD student is ready to take a place in the research effort of a discipline or field of practice.

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. ~Benjamin Franklin46

3.2.2 Publication Requirement

You must demonstrate your conception-to-dissemination research competence by publishing the results of your scholarship in peer-reviewed journals. These types of journals require the author of an article to submit a manuscript to a journal editor who forwards the manuscript to experts in the field. Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author’s peers (hence the term, “peer review”). Because a peer-reviewed journal does not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication exemplify the best research practices in a field.

  • Before I approve the scheduling of a comprehensive oral examination for the PhD degree, I require that a doctoral candidate have two peer-reviewed articles accepted for publication in any journal indexed by Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science,47 Scopus,48 or the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI).49 You must submit these articles to a folder that I have created in the BOX account I established to track you progress through the PhD degree.

Ideally, you should be the sole author of these two articles. Your articles also may include me as a co-author, secondary to you, if you wish to receive mentoring from me during manuscript preparation, submission, and revision. Now, collaboration is a good thing in scholarly work. So, your articles may include any co-authors. However, you must detail your role in the creation of the collaborative work when you submit your articles for my consideration in BOX.

Ideally, you should strive to publish various types of manuscripts. For instance, you could publish a suite of articles that includes a review of literature, a policy-related article, and a research-based article. Or, you could publish a series of manuscripts that essentially report pilot tests that support the research you wish to conduct for your dissertation. The pattern represented by these two articles is yours to design. Whatever path you choose to follow, you must present to me either reprints of published articles or letters from journal editors documenting full and final acceptance of articles before I agree to certify your readiness to schedule your comprehensive oral examination for the PhD degree.


  1. “Essentially, ‘peer review’ is an academic term for quality control. Each article published in a peer-reviewed journal was closely examined by a panel of reviewers who are experts on the article’s topic (that is, the author’s professional peers…hence the term peer review). The reviewers look for proper use of research methods, significance of the paper’s contribution to the existing literature, and integration of previous authors’ work on the topic in any discussion (including citations!). Papers published in these journals are expert-approved…and the most authoritative sources of information.” From What does “peer reviewed” mean? at http://apus.libanswers.com/faq/2154.

  2. In section titled, “Responsibilities of Doctoral Committees,” at http://gradschool.psu.edu/graduate-education-policies/gcac/gcac-600/gcac-603-doctoral-dissertation-committee-responsibilities-research-doctorate/

  3. The home page for BOX is http://box.psu.edu. Access to BOX at Penn State requires two-factor authentication

  4. A Microsoft Word instance of this template is available at http://goo.gl/CfM1f5.

  5. Franklin, B. (1914). Poor Richard’s Almanack (1732 to 1759). Waterloo, IA. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/NmfPCv.

  6. Web of Science at http://goo.gl/RZBFMN.

  7. Published by Elsevier at https://goo.gl/bgcvQx.

  8. A list of indexed journals at http://goo.gl/4nI04L.