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Nurse Res. 2014 Jul;21(6):8-11. doi: 10.7748/nr.21.6.8.e1254.

What does originality in research mean? A student's perspective.

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  • 1University of South Wales Cardiff, UK.



To provide a student's perspective of what it means to be original when undertaking a PhD.


A review of the literature related to the concept of originality in doctoral research highlights the subjective nature of the concept in academia. Although there is much literature that explores the issues concerning examiners' views of originality, there is little on students' perspectives.


A snowballing technique was used, where a recent article was read, and the references cited were then explored. Given the time constraints, the author recognises that the literature review was not as extensive as a systematic literature review.


It is important for students to be clear about what is required to achieve a PhD. However, the vagaries associated with the formal assessment of the doctoral thesis and subsequent performance at viva can cause considerable uncertainty and anxiety for students.


Originality in the PhD is a subjective concept and is not the only consideration for examiners. Of comparable importance is the assessment of the student's ability to demonstrate independence of thought and increasing maturity so they can become independent researchers.


This article expresses a different perspective on what is meant when undertaking a PhD in terms of originality in the doctoral thesis. It is intended to help guide and reassure current and potential PhD students.


PhD; Student perspectives; doctoral research; originality

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