I am currently working my way through a PhD by Prior Publication under the supervision of Professor David Bawden in the Department of Library and Information Science. These PhDs are pretty rare – apparently mine is only the third to be undertaken in this department in the last ten years. You gain one by submitting a portfolio of peer-reviewed articles which you have published in the academic literature and supplementing these with a critical summary of around 20,000 words in which you put your research into context, draw out its threads into a coherent whole and discuss its relevance to contemporary and future research. There’s a viva to pass as well.
The research in the articles I’m submitting is all to do with metadata, ‘data about data’. More specifically, it’s about how it is possible to write ‘intermediary’ metadata schemas, which don’t represent the metadata for an object in its final form. These can be put to various uses: they can act as tightly-controlled schemas which are more interoperable than the more established ones to which they act as intermediaries, they can act as templates for complex digital objects, and they can act as ‘maps’ for complex metadata to make it easier to comprehend and manage.
These schemas are written in XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a well-known language for encoding data and metadata: this can often be very rigid, but the methods I describe in my articles attempt to make it more flexible and malleable, rather like RDF (Resource Description Framework), the language of the Semantic Web.
Only two months in, but it’s going well under David’s guidance. I’m looking forward to putting the commentary into shape and to talking through my ideas in the viva. This is certainly a route to a PhD which I would recommend to experienced researchers with a body of published works in peer-reviewed journals.