1.5.1 Rhetoric and rigour
Most students know that a PhD requires good science or good engineering or good disciplinary research of whatever flavour. Many forget that it also requires good ‘story telling’. Both rigour and rhetoric are essential ingredients of a successful dissertation. At the OU, rhetoric is an explicit criterion for a PhD.
Getting the form and voice of the dissertation right is just as important as getting the content right in showing mastery, rigour and insight; indeed, they are essential to conveying the content. The dissertation is the ‘highest form’ of academic writing, requiring content, precision, substantiation, and mastery of context beyond what is normally required in individual published papers. It is a ‘master piece’, not in the sense of an ‘ultimate work’, but in the sense of a piece that qualifies an apprentice to be called a master through its demonstration of techniques, skills, form, and function.