WKU graduate-level work on the rise

Taylor Harrison

While the number of full-time students has decreased, the amount of scholarly work has gone up.

Kelly Madole, interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research, said in the 2011-2012 academic year, there were 117 dissertations and theses, an increase of 30 from the previous year.

“I think what you have when you have students doing theses and dissertations is they’re not just learning a body of work,” Madole said. “They are creating new information. They’re creating some new knowledge that wasn’t there before.”

She said one reason for the increase is because graduate study is being pushed more at WKU.

“I think that particular departments, particularly in Ogden but to some extent in some other colleges like Potter as well, have put an increased emphasis on students doing the kind of work that leads up to a thesis,” she said.

Madole said another reason for the increase is due to university programs to help fund their research.

Although this is a university-wide increase, the way research and dissertations are done is different throughout the multiple colleges at WKU.

“It varies a lot across disciplines,” she said. “In the sciences, it’s likely to be based on laboratory work.”

Cathleen Webb, department head of chemistry and associate dean for research of Ogden College, said the college is encouraging their students to move forward with research, but also to publish papers with faculty members and get their research out to the public.

“Research doesn’t do much if you’re the only one who knows what the results are,” Webb said.

Webb said most research should lead to a publication.

“This is how you communicate what you’re doing to the general public,” Webb said. “We are trying to get our students to really think about how to communicate their research results to not just a narrow group of scientists and engineers, but to communicate to the general public.”

Madole said it’s not necessarily about having more students — it’s about current WKU students doing more research.