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Master's student publishes bachelor thesis in international academic journal

Alena Kahle next to the front page of the journal.

Few bachelor theses make it to publication. But a student currently in the Master's Programme in Sociology of Law recently managed the unusual feat when an international journal published a reworked version of her bachelor's project.

Occasionally, a master's student with an aptitude for academic work will see an abbreviated version of their thesis published in a scientific journal. But the thresholds for novelty, content and scientific rigour of a master's thesis is typically lower than what scientific journals require, leaving a good chunk of people with master's degrees without scientific publications.

It follows that publications based on bachelor theses are rare in journals not geared towards bachelor students. The bachelor thesis is mostly training in academic writing and research method. Its brief timeframe and limited scope are seldom enough to warrant publication in reputable journals.

Alena Kahle, currently enrolled in the final course of the Master's Programme in Sociology of Law, recently managed the uncommon accomplishment. In December last year, the International Journal of Mental Health and Capacity Law published "Not as Straight-Forward as that It's Just 'An Added Fuss' – Untangling How Indian Psychiatrists Construe Domestic Human Rights Legislation" with Kahle as the only author. The article is based on Kahle's bachelor thesis and covers India's implementation of the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in national law.

Implementing the UNCRPD in India entailed new legislation, resulting in the Mental Healthcare Act (MHA). Kahle found that some actors praised the law for adhering to the UN's vision. Psychiatrists, however, were critical.

Indian psychiatrists internalise the professional culture of prioritising patients' mental health, similar to how people internalise laws. When internalised, following the law or social norms is automatic and natural. Indian psychiatrists Kahle interviewed disclosed that the professional practice justifies a degree of paternalism to realise the human right to health. The MHA, however, finds paternalistic psychiatric procedures questionable and in need of justification. Psychiatrists find that lawmakers deprioritise patients' mental health with the MHA and hinder effective treatment.

Kahle concludes that psychiatrists are critical of losing power, but she does not understand this as a malicious claim.

"As such, at the core of the criticism that psychiatrists will lose power and that patients will suffer lies an awareness that the drafter does not agree with placing a patient's health as an indisputable top priority," Kahle writes about the psychiatrists' critique of the MHA.


Read Alena Kahle's article "Not as Straight-Forward as that It's Just 'An Added Fuss' – Untangling How Indian Psychiatrists Construe Domestic Human Rights Legislation" on