The (re-)positioning of the doctorate through the eyes of newly-qualified researchers

Crossouard, Barbara (2010) The (re-)positioning of the doctorate through the eyes of newly-qualified researchers. Twenty-first Century Society: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, 5 (3). pp. 197-214. ISSN 1745-0144

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Abstract

Policy interest in doctoral education has burgeoned in Europe and the UK with a realisation of its importance for producing highly skilled knowledge workers to sustain the knowledge economy. In the UK, doctoral education is increasingly constructed as a training ground for professional researchers, rather than as an entry to an academic career. With the aim of producing a cadre of knowledge workers primed to seek employment across different work sectors, a stream of UK government funding has targeted the skills development of doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, recently redefined as ‘early career’ or ‘early stage’ researchers. These emergent concepts reflect a new area of social enquiry where there is a paucity of data. This article reports on a small-scale, exploratory, mixed-method study that was positioned in this gap and which was conceptualised through post-positivist theories of learning and identity. Drawing upon an online survey followed by semi-structured interviews with 15 respondents, it explored the career trajectories of newly qualified researchers who had graduated with doctorates between 2006 and 2008. Although policy discourses before and in response to the recent economic crisis seem to reflect a rather restricted and instrumental view of research and education, the data suggest that newly qualified researchers maintain wider visions. Although recognised as a small-scale, exploratory study, the data also illuminate gender and social class inequities in the transition from the doctorate into employment, as well as equity issues within higher education employment structures, where it is suggested that the appeal of more traditional visions of higher education in society as an autonomous or ‘not for profit space’ is still powerful, but at the same time the appeal and commitment to such visions may paradoxically contribute to a perpetration of inequities.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Depositing User: Barbara Crossouard
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:48
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2012 10:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22250
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