22 SES 07 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Global interest in doctoral education continues to grow (Nerad and Haggelund, 2008). The importance of developing research capacity in order to remain competitive within the global knowledge economy is evident within many policy developments (CEC, 2000; Bologna, 1999; 2003; CGS Banff Declaration, 2007; DIUS, 2008). In Europe, the development of highly qualified researchers is a priority for the Bologna Group and the European Commission (Brine, 2007). Rather than only a preparation for an academic career, doctoral education is therefore now constructed as a preparation for a career as a professional researcher, although it is also recognized that more has to be done to ensure that this becomes an attractive career pathway (CEC, 2005; 2007).
Within the UK, while the uptake in doctoral study in some sciences is a cause for concern (both for the flow of new researchers into industry as well as the sustainability of some academic disciplines), overall the doctoral student population has expanded. The overall growth is attributed to new forms of part-time professional doctorate provision which has made doctorates possible for a wider student body (Scott et al, 2004), and the attractiveness of UK doctoral provision to overseas candidates. However, even if recent studies (Vitae, 2009a and b) are beginning to provide data on the career destinations of UK doctoral graduates, research data about the experiences of newly qualified researchers remains thin. Since the research award that funded this study, UK initiatives have been launched to track doctoral careers, while contract researcher careers have been given prominence by the launch of the Concordat to Support the Development of Researchers (RCUK et al 2008).
This paper reports on mixed-method research that was positioned in the gap in UK contexts that national initiatives have just begun to consider. The study addressed the following research questions:
From the perspectives of newly qualified researchers, what are the characteristics of their postdoctoral career trajectories?
· Do newly qualified researchers have important needs for their future development and if so, where are these located?
· How do these perceptions differ across different groups of the postdoctoral researcher sample (e.g. by factors such as disciplinary area, age, gender, ethnicity, professional location)?
· What equity issues are illuminated by the research?
The research was based in feminist methodological frameworks that seek to attend to plurality, agency and equity (Morley, 1999, McNay, 2000). This standpoint calls into question Kantian conceptualizations of knowledge as transcendental and resists binary constructions of academic work and academic workplaces that divorce the cognitive from the affective.
Bologna Secretariat (1999) The Bologna Declaration. Available at http://www.bologna-berlin2003.de/pdf/ bologna_declaration.pdf, accessed on 1 May 2004. Bologna Secretariat (2003) Realising the European Higher Education Area. (Berlin, Bologna Secretariat). Brine, J. (2007) Doctoring the knowledge economy. Annual Meeting of Society for Research into Higher Education, Brighton, 11-13 December. Commission of the European Communities (2000) The Lisbon Summit (Lisbon, CEC). Commission of the European Communities (2005) European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Brussels, CEC). Commission of the European Communities (2007) The European Research Area: new perspectives. Green Paper. (Brussels, CEC). Council of Graduate Schools (2007) Banff Principles on Graduate Education. Global Summit on Graduate Education, Banff, Alberta. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (2008) Minister of Higher Education Wellcome Collection Conference Centre Speech, London, DIUS. Leonard, D., Becker, R. & Coate, K. (2005) To prove myself at the highest level: The benefits of doctoral study. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(2), 135-149. McNay, L. (2000) Gender and Agency. (Cambridge, Polity Press). Morley, L. (1999) Organising Feminisms. The Micropolitics of the Academy. (Basingstoke, Macmillan Press). Nerad, M. & Haggelund, M. (2008) Towards a Global Doctorate? Forces and forms of change in doctoral eduation worldwide. (Seattle, WA, University of Washington Press). Research Councils UK (2008) The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. (RCUK: Swindon). Scott, D., Brown, A., Lunt, I. & Thorne, L. (2004) Professional Doctorates: Integrating Professional and Academic Knowledge. (Maidenhead, SHRE & Open University Press). Vitae (2009a) What do researchers do? Career profiles of doctoral graduates. (Vitae and CRAC: Cambridge). Vitae (2009b) What do researchers do? First destinations of doctoral graduates by subject. (Vitae and CRAC: Cambridge).
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