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Research-Creation Dissertation Guidelines

Approved April 22, 2021

The York-Ryerson Joint Program in Communication & Culture has been at the forefront of innovative scholarly and creative research in the fields of communication and cultural studies since its founding in 2000. ComCult faculty includes some of Canada’s leading art practitioners and research-creation scholars. The program’s research-creation option combines creative practice and methods with critical inquiry, embodying its commitment to interdisciplinarity and praxis.

The ComCult research-creation option offers an exciting opportunity for students seeking to extend their scholarly PhD studies to explore alternative forms of knowledge creation and dissemination, as well as artists or cultural producers seeking to complement their creative explorations with rigorous scholarship and academic writing.

Definition of Research-Creation

ComCult adheres closely to the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) definition, external link of research-creation as:

  • an approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices, and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation;
  • a process that is situated within the research activity and produces critically informed work in a variety of media (art forms);
  • a work that is not simply an interpretation or analysis of a creator’s work, not a conventional work of technological development, or work that focuses on the creation of curricula;
  • the research-creation process and the resulting creative work are judged according to established merit review criteria for doctoral work in our field and program.

Communication & Culture PhD Research-Creation

A research-creation dissertation employs both practice-based and scholarly research methods. It often engages with experimental forms of praxis, ways-of-knowing and being-in-the-world and methods which are participatory, consultative, and/or inclusive in nature.

It may include any of the following modes of creative production: architecture, design, creative writing, visual arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles), performing arts (e.g., dance, music, theatre), film, video, performance art, media creation, electronic arts, new artistic practices, technological prototypes, fashion, journalistic projects, and others.

A research-creation dissertation is comprised of both a creative work and a written manuscript (150-200 pages) that demonstrates how the work is implicated in and contributes to the exploration of a set of conceptual and theoretical concerns raised by the written component of the dissertation. The PhD Research-Creation option does not permit students to complete an artistic project in lieu of written PhD dissertation. The creative work must be available (in some form) so that the examining committee may assess its contribution to the larger project.

While the form of the research-creation dissertation is distinct, all academic requirements, supervisory arrangements, milestones, and evaluation criteria for the research-creation option are the same as those for the manuscript-only PhD dissertation option.

All ComCult PhD students are required to:

  • complete course work;
  • secure a supervisor and committee members from eligible faculty;
  • successfully write and defend comprehensive exams;
  • receive approval from their supervisor and committee members for their research proposal;
  • complete a dissertation which embodies the results of original research, demonstrates a critical understanding of relevant literature, and constitutes a significant contribution to knowledge, as per the academic policies of the program and the student’s home university: York FGS Thesis & Dissertation; Ryerson YSGS Dissertation, Thesis and Exams.
  • successfully defend their dissertation before an examination committee composed of an examiner external to York and Ryerson Universities, an examiner internal to their home institution, but external to the ComCult program, and the members of their supervisory committee.

PhD students pursuing the research-creation option are eligible for all internal funding as well as external funding through the Tri Council SSHRC and the Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS). See York University FGS Awards & Scholarships; Ryerson University Awards & Funding.

ComCult students have access to research centres and maker-spaces and state of the art production facilities and equipment.

It is assumed that students electing the research-creation option possess the practice-based skills required to complete their project at the time of admission. ComCult is not a studio-based program intended to advance artists’/practitioners’ studio skills or to prepare students to teach studio courses.

The PhD Research-Creation option does not permit students to complete an artistic project in lieu of written PhD dissertation.