PhD program requirements

The Ph.D. program provides an opportunity to study interdisciplinary research topics within the field of library and information studies at the doctoral level. Students develop scholarly and innovative expertise in one of the four research areas within information studies: a) information-seeking behaviour; b) human-computer interaction; c) information resources in context; d) knowledge management and representation, as well as an awareness of the inter-relatedness of these areas. Students begin with a set of common core courses and proceed to specialization through advanced coursework and dissertation topics focused on areas of expertise that are supported by the research interests of current faculty members.


A thesis for the doctoral degree must constitute original scholarship and must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. It must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate ability to plan and carry out research, organize results, and defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner. The research presented must meet current standards of the discipline; as well, the thesis must clearly demonstrate how the research advances knowledge in the field. Finally, the thesis must be written in compliance with norms for academic and scholarly expression and for publication in the public domain.

Course Requirements

All PhD in Information Studies students are required to take the following courses:

  • GLIS 702 - Seminar in Information Studies (3 credits). Examination of students’ own specific areas of doctoral research with the broader field of information studies and comparisons of those areas with other traditions of inquiry. Theoretical models and research methodologies as applied in information studies.
  • GLIS 703 - Research Paradigms in IS (3 credits). Philosophical foundations of research in information studies, including traditions, approaches, methods, and models of inquiry to provide the capacity to critically assess the value of qualitative and quantitative research methods in relation to specific research problems identified in the discipline.
  • GLIS 704 - Research Design in IS (3 credits). Research project design and its application to the specific dissertation proposal through the exploration of ways to operationalize key concepts in information studies and to identify critical steps in data collection and analysis.
  • GLIS 705 - Readings in IS (3 credits). Exploration of the literature specifically relevant to the proposed area of research.
    • Note: Students may be required to take additional courses to prepare them for their research.

Comprehensive Examination

The PhD Comprehensive Examination is normally taken during the second year. Students must register for GLIS 701 - Comprehensive Examination . The written component requires a student to answer questions set by the Doctoral Advisory Committee. Normally, questions will address the subject area of the proposed research topic and appropriate methodological issues.

See PhD Comprehensive Examination information & procedures in the PhD Handbook.

McGill graduate courses outside of the School of Information Studies which may be of possible interest to PhD students include:

  • REDM 610 - Writing Science Articles 1 (3 credits). Offered by: Redpath Museum, Faculty of Science. Administered by: Graduate Studies
    Overview: Principles and techniques for clear scientific writing with an emphasis on how to transform complex ideas into direct and precise ones by explaining research to peers and writing for interdisciplinary audiences.
  • REDM 710 - Writing Science Articles 2 (3 credits). Offered by: Redpath Museum, Faculty of Science. Administered by: Graduate Studies
    Overview: Skills for writing and publishing scientific articles, including peer-reviewed manuscripts and short, critical reviews of published articles. Topics include techniques for developing logical arguments and writing publishable manuscripts.
  • EDPH 689 - Teaching&Learning in Higher Ed (3 credits). Offered by: Educational & Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education. Administered by: Graduate Studies
    Overview: Students will develop an understanding of teaching and learning as a process in which instruction is based on the learning to be accomplished. Students will design, develop, and evaluate a university course of their choice, and will develop facility and confidence in using teaching methods appropriate to their domains.
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