Even the German universities feel the pressures of the modern age: Universities have ever so slowly started to accept Ph.D.-dissertations comprised of a number of articles instead of one monograph which Die Zeit discusses.
As always, there are pros and cons: The article doesn’t mention it, but articles may be easier to manage than a magnum opus, especially if you’re not an experienced researcher. Published articles of cause also make the author and the department he or she is affiliated with more visible than a “work in progress”. And the visibility has an economic element to it – Scandinavian countries have started implementing a system where research means are distributed according to journal publications.
On the down-side: The Zeit piece notes that the publication process even for articles that are eventually accepted by a scientific journal can be cumbersome – this doesn’t always play well with demands for streamlined Ph.D.-programmes. We can also note that there are no general guidelines for how many publications a dissertation should include – a problem known from the Swedish academic world as well, I may add.
Speaking of the new knowledge economy: Those belonging to the exclusive company of German-readers (a competence, modern educational policies in the Scandinavian countries have done their best to eradicate) may want to read and consider this piece about the new academic capitalism. What happens when academies are being made into enterprises?