22 SES 01 A, Paper Session
According to the “Salzburg II Recommendations” (European University Association, 2010, p. 3) “the main outcome of doctoral education are the early stage researchers and their contribution to society through knowledge, competences and skills learnt by undertaking research, as well as awareness and openness towards other disciplines”.
Yazdani & Shokooh (2018) also highlight the graduate as a product of doctoral education (DE), although also considering the thesis and the degree awarding. For these authors personal development, a position in the scientific or professional community, and the development of schollarship and stewardship are the main purposes of DE. The doctorate is a formal lengthy educational process, developmental and transformative, in which, through apprenticeship, experience and socialization, the early-stage researchers develop the personal quality of “doctorateness” becoming an independent scholar and a “steward of the discipline”. Stewardship means respecting the ethical principles of the discipline and creating, critically conserving, and transforming disciplinary knowledge through its writing, teaching and application (Golde, 2006). The learning outcomes of the doctorate’s transformative learning process involve cognitive development, emotional competencies, construction of the self, and more reflective professional practice (Long et al., 2012).
Other references to different products and outcomes of DE can be found in scientific literature, such as degree awarding (Sverdlik et al., 2018), the development of specific and transversal skills (Durette et al., 2016), scientific publications (Pfeiffer et al., 2016), or the employability and career prospects of PhD graduates outside higher education (Young et al., 2020).
Through its products and outcomes, DE can have academic impact, widening the frontiers of knowledge (Bogle et al., 2010), but DE is also expected to promote “economic, scientific, technological and social development”, by “shaping the link between education, research and innovation” (EUA Council for Doctoral Education, 2018, p. 1).
The conception of the purposes of DE may vary according to the scientific area (Stubb et al., 2012). Even within the European Higher Education area, there are differences between countries in the structure of DE or in the quality assurance processes (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018). Furthermore, in recent decades, DE has been undergoing transformations in its characteristics and objectives (McAlpine, 2017), such as the emergence of new models of doctoral programs (Bao et al., 2018), or the increasing valorisation of the development of competencies that meet the needs of a more diversified labour market (Boon et al. 2018; Bogle et al. 2010). The differences between scientific areas and countries, and the transformations in DE question the conceptions on the DE purposes, and demand reflective doctoral practices fitting these diverse conceptions.
This research work aims to describe the most relevant products, outcomes and dimensions of impact of doctoral education in Social and Health Sciences, identifying bridges and tensions between scientific areas and different groups (directors or members of the scientific or monitoring commissions, PhD supervisors, PhD graduates, and early-stage researchers).
This study can be an important contribute to knowledge about DE, namely in the Portuguese context, still understudied. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of aligning the characteristics of the PhD programmes (e.g.: the syllabus, the curricular structure, the supervision practices, or the assessment methods) with the products, outcomes and dimensions of impact that are expected from DE and from each PhD programme, or each PhD project in particular.
This work is a qualitative exploratory study. In order to promote the interaction between the participants and to allow an understanding of shared visions and less consensual issues, data were collected through 25 focus groups (FG), between June 2020 and January 2021. Considering the restrictions on presential contact, caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the FG were carried out online, using the Zoom platform. The participants (n=105) were directors or members of the scientific or monitoring commissions (n=30, 29%); PhD supervisors (n=24, 23%); PhD graduates (n=27, 26%); or early-stage researchers (n=24, 23%), in PhD programmes in the areas of Health (n=63, 60%) and Social (n=42, 40%) Sciences, in one of the largest universities of Portugal. Only early-stage researchers enrolled in the 2nd or subsequent years of the PhD were considered, so that they can have a wider experience in DE. Considering the transformations in the characteristics of DE that emerged within the implementation of the Bologna Process (e.g. generalization of a curricular structure) (EUA Council for Doctoral Education, 2018), we included only PhD graduates that concluded their PhD from 2012 on. The selection of participants was made through research in the university's website, or using a snow-ball sampling method. The participants were invited via e-mail, using the institutional email contacts available in the university’s website, or other contacts available online (e.g. LinkedIn; CienciaVitae; scientific papers, etc.), and filled out an online calendar to check their availability. They were informed about the objectives and methodology of the study and signed an informed consent. Anonymity, confidentiality, and data security were guaranteed. The FG focused on the most relevant positive and negative experiences of the participants in the context of DE, the expected or desired products, outcomes and dimensions of impact of DE, and the factors and processes that can foster or hinder its achievement. Changes that could be implemented to improve the quality of DE were also discussed. Additionaly, the FG with graduates and early-stage researchers also addressed their motivations to attend the PhD and their expectations regarding the PhD attendance and the effects of the PhD in their life. FG were transcribed verbatim, and the transcripts were sent to the participants for their validation. Data were analysed thematically with the support of the NVivo software.
Based on previous research, and on preliminary findings, we expect to indentify knowledge creation and the personal development of the early-stage researchers as the two main outcomes of DE, which may positivelly impact science and society, although scientific publications may be considered an important output. Preliminary findings indicate that the creation of knowledge within DE directly promotes the advancement of science, however, it also promotes it indirectly, by raising research questions and research lines. This knowledge may have practical applicability, by solving problems, supporting decisions, validating practices or promoting innovation, however in some scientific areas, practical applicability may be more difficult and indirect. The PhD attendance promotes the development of academic (e.g.: teaching), scientific (e.g.: scientific writing), and transversal (e.g.: critical thinking) competencies. This personal development of the early-stage researchers fosters the improvement of their professional performance in the higher education and in other sectors of activity. Through the creation of knowledge, and the personal development of the early-stage researchers, DE may have social impact, by promoting social change, improving the life conditions, or the well-being of the population. As an output of DE, scientific publications disseminate knowledge and promote peer recognition of the early-stage researchers. Furthermore, publishing promotes the development of research skills, however, some early-stage researchers disagreed with assessment criteria based on the number of scientific publications, and felt disconfort with the excessive pressure to publish during the PhD. These findings may have practical implications for the design, the pedagogical practices and the academic management of doctoral programmes, highlighting the need to clarify the products, outcomes and dimensions of impact expected from each PhD project, and each doctoral programme, and to implement practices that promote its achievement.
Bao, Y., Kehm, B.M., & Ma, Y.(2018). From Product to Process. The Reform of Doctoral Education in Europe and China. Studies in Higher Education, 43(3),524-541.https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2016.1182481. Bogle, D., Dron, M., Eggermont, J., & van Henten, J.W.(2010). Doctoral Degrees Beyond 2010: Training Talented Researchers for Society: [Position paper]. League of European Research Universities.https://www.leru.org/publications/doctoral-degrees-beyond-2010-training-talented-researchers-for-society. Boon, J. van der, Kahmen, S., Maes, K., & Waaijer, C.(2018). Delivering Talent: Careers of Researchers Inside and Outside Academia [Position paper]. Leuven: League of European Research Universities.https://www.leru.org/publications/delivering-talent-careers-of-researchers-inside-and-outside-academia#. Durette, B., Fournier, M., & Lafon, M.(2016). The Core Competencies of PhDs. Studies in Higher Education, 41(8), 1355-1370.http://doi:10.1080/03075079.2014.968540 EUA Council for Doctoral Education.(2018). Doctoral Education: Why it Matters for Europe.https://eua-cde.org/reports-publications/299:doctoral-education-why-it-matters-for-europe.html European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice.(2018). The European Higher Education Area in 2018: Bologna Process Implementation Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/european-higher-education-area-2018-bologna-process-implementation-report_en. European University Association.(2010). Salzburg II Recommendations. European Universities' Achievements since 2005 in implementing the Salzburg Principles [Position paper]. Brussels: European University Association.https://eua.eu/resources/publications/615:salzburg-ii-%E2%80%93-recommendations.html. Golde, C.M.(2006). Preparing Stewards of the Discipline. In C.M. Golde & G.E. Walker (Eds.), Envisioning The Future of Doctoral Education: Preparing Stewards of the Discipline - Carnegie Essays on the Doctorate (pp. 3-20). San Francisco:Jossey-Bass. Long, J., Schapiro, S., & McClintock, C.(2012). Passionate Scholars: Transformative Learning in Doctoral Education. Adult Education Quarterly, 62, 180-198. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713611402046 McAlpine, L.(2017). Building on Success? Future Challenges for Doctoral Education Globally. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 8(2),66-77.doi:10.1108/SGPE-D-17-00035 Pfeiffer, M., Fischer, M.R., & Bauer, D.(2016). Publication Activities of German Junior Researchers in Academic Medicine: Which Factors Impact Impact Factors? BMC Medical Education, 16(1),190.doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0712-3 Stubb, J., Pyhalta, K., & Lonka, K.(2012). The Experienced Meaning of Working with a PhD Thesis. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 56(4),439-456.doi:10.1080/00313831.2011.599422 Sverdlik, A., Hall, N. C., McAlpine, L., & Hubbard, K.(2018). The PhD Experience: A Review of the Factors Influencing Doctoral Students` Completion, Achievement, and Well-being. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13,361-388.doi:https://doi.org/10.28945/4113 Yazdani, S., & Shokooh, F.(2018). Defining Doctorateness: a Concept Analysis. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13,31-48.doi:https://doi.org/10.28945/3939 Young, S., Kelder, J. & Crawford, J.(2020) Doctoral Employability: A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 3(1),1-11.doi: 10.37074/jalt.2020.3.s1.5
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