In this type of reading there are a number of strategies. One is to adopt the condition that ‘if the references and assertions are valid …’. We can then approach the text at face value and engage with the meaning at the propositional level.
Going as I did into the ultimate truth value of the statements is a tiring job, and in doing so, I couldn’t partake in any meaningful exchange with the authors. Levels of acceptance of assumptions are in play, and I admire your tenacity in accepting H&N’s information at a level at which you could draw useful conclusions.
I do have a question for you. You write: “All claims by the authors are consistent with each other and follow logically from one to the next.” I think I can provide at least two inconsistencies—not so serious, but taken together, they point to instability in the paper. To you are these inconsistencies, or is there another way to rationalise them?
- The differences between PhD and EdD are “derived from the available literature addressed in this paper—are set out in Table 1” (p. 7). However, Table 1 itself is only “slightly” adapted from a single source.
- In page 4 in the paragraph starting “Doctoral degrees …”, there are the terms “dissatisfaction”, “criticism”, and “concerns” and in the paragraph on page 5 beginning, “In Australia”, there are “complaints” and “criticism”. Both paragraphs’ structure is similar and ends with the increase of professional doctorates. Then on page 9, N&H state, “It should be stressed that the professional doctorate has not been developed to solve problems associated with the traditional doctorate.” To my mind, these claims are inconsistencies. There are many more.
An extra question.
You say, “although one article referenced is from the author’s own work”. Is it necessarily weak to cite oneself? If the citations end up at either (contestable) empirical evidence or a clear statement of opinion, or some other sort of final point, I don’t see a problem with self-referencing. Indeed, in some cases (where the researcher is the only one doing work in a narrow sub-field) there may be no alternative.