The role of the PhD in developing an academic career

Brew, Angela, Boud, David, Crawford, Karin and Lucas, Lisa (2014) The role of the PhD in developing an academic career. In: Quality in Post Graduate Research Conference, 9-11 April 2014, Adelaide, Australia.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


How do people become academics and what is the role of the PhD in this process? It is commonly assumed that the PhD prepares people for academic careers. However, a survey of academics in six UK and six Australian universities has demonstrated that the PhD is not particularly effective in preparing academics for independent research and teaching. So how does the PhD influence them? This paper critically examines the PhD experience of academics using rich qualitative data from interviews with 27 mid-career academics in Australia and the UK. Using an Archerian conceptual framework, it explores the role of the PhD in developing the skills needed, in getting going with publication and in providing opportunities for teaching and mentoring, all of which may be problematic. The role of the PhD supervisor prior to, during and after a PhD is not straightforward. They can have positive effects, e.g. if they encourage applying for an academic position, or provide ongoing mentoring; but they can also have negative effects, e.g. if they prevent work being published or are absent during the PhD period. In this paper we aim to paint a picture of the role of the PhD in how academics establish and maintain their academic careers. We highlight critical incidents which influence academics in developing their particular academic identity.

Keywords:academic careers, Academic Identities, PhD studies
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:Professional services > Lincoln Higher Education Research Institute
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ID Code:13817
Deposited On:15 Apr 2014 08:51

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