Beyond the doctorate: Career trajectories of Canadian PhD graduates Professor Lynn McAlpine, Oxford Learning Centre, University of Oxford
Internationally, more than half of PhD graduates leave the higher education sector, though how individuals navigate their trajectories from doctorate to academic and non-academic careers is largely unexplored. Drawing on a longitudinal qualitative study, this paper examines the career trajectories of 30 Canadian social scientist and scientist PhD graduates. The evidence suggests the importance of attending to the interplay of national, disciplinary and institutional influences in the opportunity structures open to individuals. At the same time, individuals' efforts to craft their positions to achieve their goals played a powerful role as regards the choice of opportunity structures. The results suggest the need to conceptualise career trajectories in ways that integrate both subjective and objective perspectives.
Consistency and disjunction between assumptions and reality: Examining the doctoral examination process in Australia Professor Terry Lovat, The University of Newcastle, Australia
While standards vary, there seems to be a common assumption that the doctorate represents a custodial gateway to scholarly status, including offering an assured benchmark by which to judge suitability to an academic career. Yet research shows that examiners undertaking thesis appraisal assume that it will pass, and empirical work has confirmed extremely low failure rates. Indeed, the era of the mass doctoral regime has seen little expansion of failure over the earlier era of exclusivity. This raises fundamental questions about the supposed fundamentals of the doctorate – quality, originality, likely contribution to practice in the field in question, etc. This paper will explore some of these issues against data emanating from international work, with special attention to a series of projects funded by the Australian Research Council, and including a summary of recent findings about the impact of the viva.
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