Doctoral Studies: recent developments, challenges and ways forward

A3ES with CIPES is organising a new seminar for October 2018 (7 to 9) dedicated to the analysis of “Doctoral Studies: recent developments, challenges and ways forward”.

Higher education has gone through deep transformations driven by massification and diversification of the student body, the rise of neoliberal policies, the emergence of the ‘knowledge economy’, reduction in public funding and growing demands for accountability. As result, higher education has been assigned new missions, more outward-looking, related to its contribution to the society and the economy. These developments have also affected doctoral education. Doctoral studies are therefore in a process of change, which explains the emergence of a number of reports and papers on the future of doctoral education, on options for the design and delivery the doctorate, or on the impacts of globalization on the quality of PhD education as well as of industrial and professional doctorates. Changes include an increase and diversification of the PhD student body, the multiplication of purposes and modes of delivery and increasing concerns with research cultures, completion rates, time to completion, placements and internships, employment skills of doctoral graduates, links with industry, the role of supervisors, and so on.

However this is an area where research is still scarce and not integrated into a comprehensive publication, which takes into account the variety of topics pertinent to doctoral education nowadays. In this seminar we want to bring various perspectives together and discuss a number of issues:

  1. The current context of doctoral education (massification, higher education policies, the knowledge economy, etc.)
    • What ate the effects of globalization on the quality of doctoral education?
    • What are the policies (and their frameworks) leading to changes in doctoral education? Do policies follow the changes or shape them?
    • What are the differences and similarities in different contexts? Special cases: the PhD in US, Europe, Australia and China
  2. Doctoral education (types of doctorates, modes of delivery, recruitment, progression, conclusion, role of supervisor, research culture)
    • What are the current modes and purposes of delivery of doctoral education?
    • What are the factors influencing the successful completion of a Doctorate at the various stages of a research student’s life? Do gender, ethnicity, play a role? 
    • What is the role of supervisors? Do supervisors from outside higher education have different roles?
    • Are modes of supervision changing? E.g. Group supervision, on line supervision, etc 
    • How should graduate students choose a supervisor? Who can supervise?
    • How do research cultures influence the nature of the doctoral experience?
    • What do we know about how to make research cultures permeable to doctoral candidates?
  3. Outcomes of doctoral education (learning outcomes, skills, competences, labour market for graduates, employability)
    • What are the desirable learning and professional outcomes of different types and modes of doctoral education?
    • Which generic and specific capabilities equip doctoral graduates for professional success?
    • How are doctoral candidates supported to acquire transferable skills?
    • What characterizes the labour market for doctoral graduates and researchers?
  4. Quality assurance (How can quality criteria, assessment, improvement etc. be adjusted to the nature of PhD education?)
    • How is doctoral education being assessed? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of assessment (e.g. USA, European, UK, Australian)? 
    • How does the diversification of doctoral training models reflect on quality assurance mechanisms?
    • What kinds of quality assurance and enhancement models are used with doctoral programmes?
  5. Funding (models, sources, articulation with industry)
    • How is doctoral education being financed?
    • How has the funding of doctoral education evolved?
  6. Structures and Organization of doctoral education 
    • How is doctoral organisation structured in different settings?
    • How effective are doctoral schools and graduate schools?
    • Do collaborative doctoral partnerships and networks add something significant to doctoral study?
    • In what ways is interdisciplinary supervision of doctoral candidates organised?