22 SES 09 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
Doctoral education is central to the aspirations of national governments and regions, such as the European Union and Asia, to develop twenty-first knowledge societies and economies. This is evident in unprecedented investment in doctoral education in emerging nations in Asia and Latin America for example (Jorgenson, 2012) and efforts to increase research intensity in geographies with longer histories of doctoral education (European Commission, 2012). An implicit assumption in such national and regional aspirations is that doctoral education will produce creative and innovative individuals with a capacity to produce and create new knowledge. As Lee and Boud (2009) have noted, the emphasis in doctoral education has shifted from an emphasis on the product of doctoral education – the doctoral thesis – to the production of particular kinds of people: researchers. In this paper we explore whether doctoral education is achieving this aim of producing creative researchers through analysis of accounts of research education and practice. We draw on data collected from a survey examining the contribution and impact of the doctoral experience to research success. Participants in the study are recipients of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, awarded through a competitive process to outstanding researchers in mid-career.
We focus on responses to two questions, one regarding the extent to which respondents’ doctoral education prepared them for a research career; and one asking to what respondents attribute their research success. We find surprisingly little explicit or implied reference to creativity in these accounts and some contradictions regarding this issue.
The preparatory role of the doctoral degree for a research career is largely articulated in terms of acquisition of research skills, and research expertise with little reference to the ontological process of becoming a creative researcher. There is some reference however, although limited, to doctoral education contributing to becoming a productive researcher. Further, only 20% of respondents attribute their research success, in part, to creativity, implied or invoked in a variety of ways. The findings raise questions regarding perceptions and definitions of creativity (Gibson, 2005) and perceptions of the importance of creativity in doctoral education and research.
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