Milan Deskar Škrbić

Milan Deskar Škrbić

-          the first doctoral student at EFRI to write a doctoral dissertation according to the Scandinavian model

-          Senior Economic Researcher - Advisor at the Croatian National Bank

-          Columnist on the economic portal Ekonomski lab

-          Lecturer and external associate at several higher education institutions in Croatia 

You were the first to receive a doctoral degree at the Faculty according to the Scandinavian model - what made you break the ice?  Before the decision itself, how much did you know about the Scandinavian model?

I have always considered that doctoral models based on the publication of papers / essays are a more natural and more motivating way for the development of young scientists in comparison to classic "monographs". That is why I was very pleased that the doctoral study at EFRI, not only enables this type of doctorate, but also that it is actively encouraged.

However, I must admit that in the beginning I "mistook" the "three essays" model (such as the one at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana) with the Scandinavian model. Fortunately, the instructions for preparing a doctorate according to the Scandinavian model on the EFRI website were and are quite detailed, and the then head of the doctoral study, prof. Blažic was always available for questions.

I must also admit that at one point, I even thought about giving up the Scandinavian model, but prof. Blažic put me back on track and I am very grateful to her for that. The reason why I wanted to give up is precisely that in the process of writing the papers I misinterpreted some of the instructions, but prof. Blažic reacted quickly and explained the process in detail, after which I concluded that there was no reason to give up.

I also received great support for my doctorate according to the Scandinavian model from the vice-dean, prof. Žiković, who recognized all the advantages of this model and actively and enthusiastically communicated them to doctoral students. Finally, my supervisors, prof. Drezgić and prof. Šimović strongly encouraged me to go in that direction because they were aware of all the advantages of this model as well and knew that this path is much more valuable for the development of young scientists. 

If you had to do it once again, would you choose to rewrite your thesis according to the Scandinavian model or would you perhaps opt for the "classic variant"?

I would definitely opt for the Scandinavian model again.

In your opinion, what are the most important advantages of the Scandinavian model?

The most important advantage of the Scandinavian model is that in this type of a doctorate, the focus is predominantly on research results, which represent the most significant contribution of each dissertation. Colleagues who write classic monographs waste a lot of time on "theoretical chapters" and exhaustive reviews of the literature, which in addition to time, drains energy, and in this way many lose motivation and in some cases even give up. It must not be forgotten that most doctoral candidates are employed, very often, outside the higher education system or research institutions and unlike the latter, the writing of a doctoral thesis is not a part of their everyday job.

I am not sure that the theoretical chapters today make as much of a relevant contribution as they did in the past. Older professors like "systematizations,” but today the times are different and the original research contribution is valued more than the systematization of existing knowledge. Of course, this does not mean that quality doctoral students will not read a large number of papers and books, study models, etc., but I think that there is no need for each doctoral dissertation of approximately 250 pages to contain about 150 pages of literature and models copied from books. In classic monographs, out of about 250 pages, only 50 pages end up referring to research, which is not very logical. In the Scandinavian model, you must have a review of the literature, some theoretical framework, etc. in each paper, but the focus of these papers is precisely your research, not "systematization".

Of course, I do not underestimate classical dissertations. Most of my colleagues and all of my professors have received their doctoral degrees based on this model, but I think that times have changed and that more dissertations should go towards publishing papers. It is difficult to find a doctoral study abroad that still has classic monographs. The aim of the doctoral study is to encourage research and a "struggle in the scientific market" from the very beginning. The sooner you meet the reviewers and try yourself in an international environment, the higher the quality of your overall research. What is very illogical about a monograph is that you are not allowed to publish any paper from your dissertation before defending it, and even after that, it is questionable in what form to publish a paper and not have it "marked” as "plagiarism". This is by no means motivating, and it makes it difficult for young researchers at faculties and institutes to acquire the requirements for advancement. At the end of the Scandinavian model, you already have several published papers and / or papers in the publication process. That's a very big difference. 

What would you say to those considering enrolling in an EFRI doctoral program?

I would tell them that they have a serious job ahead of them, but that they will get the maximum support from the professors and the people in the administration. They will also make new acquaintances and further "strengthen" their network in both scientific and business terms - networking is an important aspect of doctoral studies.

However, it is important to have a clear idea of the topic you wish to research at the very beginning and accordingly get in touch with a potential supervisor as soon as possible. It is a long way, and a lot of research, so you must start immediately. Many colleagues enrol in doctoral studies without a clear vision of their research work, which makes the whole process significantly more difficult for them.

Milan Deskar Škrbić, PhD, in co-authorship with Darjan Milutinović, won the annual award of the Foundation prof. Dr. Marijan Hanžeković for Best Scientific Work in 2020.

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