Full paper Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Tales from the abyss; ensuring doctoral candidates make the leap into meaningful outcomes (#114)

George Carayannopoulos 1
  1. University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Doctoral candidates are increasingly facing mixed outcomes upon the completion of their research degrees. Traditional pathways into academia or through research fellowships are becoming increasingly scarce as the number of doctoral graduates increase and academic pathways continue to narrow. This paper will provide an overview of the current state of play regarding the employment outcomes experienced by doctoral graduates with particular reference to the graduate destinations data as well as through an examination of the Commonwealth Research Workforce Strategy. It will also look at international trends and initiatives which are in place to assist doctoral researchers as they move beyond doctoral studies and into the early part of their research careers and provide a short case of a graduate as means of illustrating the complexities in progressing into a research career. Finally it will provide future directions for research in this area with a view to establishing a coherent research agenda in order to better inform best practice for doctoral graduates to make the leap into meaningful outcomes upon the completion of their degrees.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This proposed paper will address two of the key thematic areas of the conference; assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capacibilities and navigating uncertainty and complexity.

It will seek to understand the outcomes that are experienced by doctoral candidates upon completion of their degrees, in this way it is closely linked to understanding graduate capabilities and the readiness of doctoral candidates to apply the skill sets they have obtained through their degrees. This has been cited as critical given that assessing outcomes for research graduates is often more difficult, particularly given that traditional pathways through to academia are narrowing and as a result there is more uncertainty regarding the transition beyond completion of the doctoral degree.

In many ways it also poses questions about the nature of the doctoral degree process and whether there need to be further moves to embed elements which will enhance graduate outcomes. In this way, broader questions arise surrounding the ability to achieve meaningful outcomes from the investment in undertaking a research degree. This is particularly the case in a complex global environment where organisations that employ doctoral graduates are increasingly under pressure to continue to fund research and development programs.

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