Tag: doctoral education

Hedda podcast: Doctoral education in Africa and the challenges for scientific growth in the Region

moutonEpisode 46 of our podcast series features Johann Mouton (CREST, Stellenbosch University). In the podcast he talks about doctoral production in Africa and the challenges for the scientific growth of the region, including the role of the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology and opportunities for PHD positions in Higher Education in South Africa.


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Johann Mouton is Professor in and Director of the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology at Stellenbosch University and the African Doctoral Academy. He is also the Programme Director of five post-graduate programmes in Monitoring and Evaluation Studies and Science and Technology Studies. He is on the editorial board of 6 international journals including the International Journal of Research Methodology, the Journal of Mixed Methods Research, Science and Public Policy, Science, Technology and Society and Minerva. He received two prizes from the Academy for Science and Arts in South Africa including one for his contribution to the promotion of research methodology in South Africa. In 2012 he was elected to the Council of the Academy of Science of South Africa. His main research interests are the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences, higher education knowledge production, sociology of science, scientometrics and science policy studies

EUREDOCS conference for PhD candidates

euredocs9th EUREDOCS conference “Missions of higher education and research in the 21st century” will be held at Centre de Sociologie des organisations, Sciences Po Paris in France at 23-24 May 2014.

EUREDOCS is a network of European doctoral students working on issues related to the Europeanization of higher education and research. It aims to facilitate and enable more communication among doctoral students and new doctoral candidates and to promote publication and dissemination of research results and to facilitate exchange and mobility among young scholars in this field. EUREDOCS is an interdisciplinary network and accepts membership from doctoral students and recent doctoral candidates in sociology, political science, economics, history, and educational studies.

The 9th EUREDOCS conference will explore the broad question of the evolving purposes and missions of higher education and research in the 21st century. Three subthemes have been identified for  the conference, but these should not be seen as exhaustive:

  • The influence of European union and international institutions in the redefinition of higher education and research missions
  • The transformations of higher education and research purposes and the changing university boundaries
  • Evolving higher education and research missions, the academic profession and the students

The specific benefit of the EUREDOCS conference is that all selected papers receive substantial feedback and discussion, usually there is between 45-60 minutes per paper for presentation and discussion. This implies that the conference is  rather selective and only 12-16 papers will be selected.

Participants will have to cover their own travel costs, but the organisers cover accomodation and meals during the time in Paris for those participants who present a paper.

The deadline for the submission of a proposal is 30 January 2014.

Download the call for more information on the conference theme, how to  submit a proposal and  the application form. 

Guest blogger: PhD projects and Christmas trees – where is teaching in PhD programmes?

Filipa M. Ribeiro  (University of Porto)

Filipa M. Ribeiro
(University of Porto)

This guest entry is written by Filipa M. Ribeiro. She is currently a PhD researcher at the University of Porto and a visiting researcher at Egolab at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She has a diverse background in digital media and science communication. Currently, her research involves topics on ubiquitous knowledge, sociology of science, social and personal networks and diversity of knowledges in higher education. 

The loneliness of the long distance runner

Any PhD comes with a notorious challenge. It is oriented for advanced practitioners or researchers. However, many of us contemporary researchers trying to do a PhD experience it as a dazzling anguish. “It is just a stage”; “It is just a step for something higher”. “It is just the beginning and where you prove that you know how to conduct research”. These are all worn-out lines that every student most likely has heard at some point of his/her efforts to get through their PhD. At that point, the promise they were told that they would get rich, young and beautiful with a PhD is knocked out. And knocked out is how they will feel most of the time during the schizophrenic journey of doing a PhD. And why is that? It seems that, for most cases, PhD students have to know before they are taught, have to teach without being taught, have to learn tools and software that their supervisors don’t master (any peasant in the eastern part of the planet would just laugh if he was told that a teacher does not know what his student has to learn), they have to write papers without having being taught scientific writing or research methodologies in any of their past curricular college years; they have to pay for conferences or summer schools without being properly paid; they have to attend classes that are not only unfit for their research purposes but for current science and this list goes on. And let’s not forget the cherry on the top of the cake: they have to cope with a heavy burden of bureaucracy. Needless to say that doctorate students are not alone in devoting time to such bureaucratic activities. Nor are universities special in this regard.

Why? One of the many reasons that can be pointed out is that there’s an implicit compliance with the fact that bureaucracy and anything else comes before the basic missions a university assumes. Teaching has simply become the missing link in today’s doctoral studies. The researcher Stephan Park links this missing link to expectations and to modern changes in working modes. Shall we, then, just give up the expectation of being taught in a teaching institution?  Is a PhD just about making omelettes without eggs? Especially because if you propose yourself to learn something new, most likely you’ll have to do it alone, despite the fact that you are still taking a degree in an educational institution.

News: Quality assurance of doctoral education

EUAreportqualityThe European University Association (EUA) has published a new report examining internal and external quality assurance of doctoral education in Europe. The report summarises the work undertaken within the ARDE, a two year European Commission funded project.

The report was presented at an EUA event last week, and one of the report authors Thomas Jorgensen noted at the event the increased professionalisation, focus on accountability and quality enhancement amongst the 100 institutions that were studied.

Overall, the report argued that as doctoral education is fundamentally different from teaching in first and second cycle higher education, the practices also concern both the domains of teaching as well as research, creating a unique position for doctoral education in terms of quality assurance where practices have developed largely independent of doctoral education.

A key aspect of increased professionalisation is the creation of doctoral schools in a number of countries along with more professional management. Furthermore, various quality assurance mechanisms for doctoral education either have been established or are in the process of establishment across Europe. However, there are a number of various approaches in terms of whether doctoral education is a part of research assessments, or how they are included in national quality assurance systems. Finally, it is argued that “there is no lack of evaluation of doctoral education, rather a risk of uncoordinated over-evaluation”. This hints of a need for more coordination in this area.

Download and read the whole report here.

Call for Participants: SCANCOR workshop for institutional analysis

SCANCOR (The Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research) facilitates cooperation between member institutions in Scandinavia and greater Europe and Stanford University. Every year it holds a PhD workshop on institutional analysis. This year SCANCOR is hosting its annual PhD workshop at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) August 27-31, 2012.

The workshop is highly selective and is aimed at Nordic and European doctoral students and has focus on developing the theoretical and methodological knowledge of the participants. Relevant topics include a number of topics highly relevant for PhD students who work with universities and higher education.

The workshop is organised around three activities: research seminars presenting current research by the faculty, seminars to discuss both classic and modern institutional theory, and seminars for methodoloigical discussions. The presenters this year include world renowned scholars such as Bruce Carruthers from Northwestern University, Gili Drori from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Victoria Johnson and Jason Owen-Smith from University of Michigan and Walter W. Powell from Stanford.

You can find more information about the opportunities and requirements for participation by downloading the extended course information (.pdf) here.

Deadline: May 1st 2012

We have earlier interviewed Gili Drori for our Hedda podcast series where she reflects on the homogenisation and diversification and gives her insights of a project analyzing university branding. You can listen to the podcast here.

International Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools Increase

Council of Graduate SchoolsCompetition for global talent continues to increase around the world. The U.S. Council of Graduate Schools released findings from phase I of the 2010 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey of which 240 institutions responded to the survey. For the past five years, international applications to U.S. graduate schools have increased. In 2009-10 international graduate applications increased by 7%, a rise from the 4% increase in 2009. The largest increase of international applicants occurred in 2007 with a 9% increase. The survey also collects data on four key sending countries/regions including: India, China, South Korea, and the Middle East & Turkey. In 2009-10, the largest increase in applicants came from two places: applications from China increased by 19% while the Middle East & Turkey applications increased by 18%.

Brain Drain or Gain? Foreign Doctorates Stay in the U.S.

In the U.S., 40% of PhD students in the science and engineering fields are foreign-born. A recent study, StForeign Studentsay Rates of Foreign Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities, 2007,  conducted by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, prepared for the Division of Science Resources Statistics of the National Science Foundation, asks the question: has the stay rate of foreign-born doctorates begun to decline? With the increasing competition to be among the leading knowledge economies in the world, retaining global talent continues to be important for some countries. As stated in the executive summary of the study, “Our ability to continue to attract and keep foreign scientists and engineers is thus critical to our plans for increased investment in science and technology.”

Stay Rates of Temporary Resident Doctorate Recipients in 2007:

One-year stay rate (2006 grads)–73%

Two-year stay rate (2005 grads)–67%

Five-year stay rate (2002 grads)–62%

Ten-year stay rate (1997 grads)–60%

Open PhD Position in the UK

Open University logoCentre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) & the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) announce a PhD Studentship:

PhD Studentship linked to ESRC project on Changes in Networks, Higher
Education and Knowledge Societies

You are invited to apply for a fully funded three-year PhD studentship linked to the above ESRC research project which is part of the European Science Foundations multi-country research programme on Higher Education and Social Change. Participating countries are Finland, Germany, Portugal, UK, Japan and US. You will work as part of the UK research team in CHERI which is located in the Open University.

The main aim of the CINHEKS project is to analyse how knowledge society notions illuminate the changing relationships between higher education and society.You will develop your PhD research in relation to one main theme of the research.

You should have a first degree in a relevant social science subject and have successfully completed an ESRC recognised research methods training course at Masters level. You will be a UK/EU fee status student.

Closing date: 26 March 2010.

Alumni Spotlight: The Pursuit of a PhD in the United States

Leasa Weimer in Aveiro, PortugalThis entry continues the special series on HEEM alumni who are pursuing doctoral degrees around the world.

Leasa Weimer, from Colorado, U.S., graduated from the HEEM program in June 2008. Her Master’s thesis was a policy analysis comparing the Fulbright and Erasmus Mundus student mobility programs. Now, Leasa is in her second year of a four-year PhD program at the University of Georgia, Institute of Higher Education in the U.S. Her research interests include the foreign student market and student mobility. After completion of the PhD, Leasa hopes to work in an organization/university working with the international dimension of higher education: student mobility.

What is the difference between your PhD experience and the HEEM experience? In the U.S., the PhD experience is rigorous and demanding: more reading, papers, and work. In addition to the studies, I work 20 hours per week as a way to maintain a tuition waiver and small monthly stipend. But, you also have to take into account that I studied the master’s in Europe and I am studying the PhD in the U.S. which makes for two culturally different higher education experiences.

What have been the highlights and challenges of the PhD experience so far? One major highlight is that I am almost done with the first two years of coursework (PhD coursework is typical for U.S. PhD programs). I also had the opportunity to live/study at the University of Oxford, England for six months which proved to be the most rewarding academic experience thus far and a dream come true. Working towards a PhD takes constant persistence and is a lonely endeavor, which often times I find challenging. Sometimes it becomes difficult to balance personal passions with the academic work. But, if you want it bad enough…you somehow make it all work.

What advice would you give students who are considering a PhD? Make sure to find a program and professor that fits your research interests! This can potentially make or break your experience. Also, I would encourage you to speak with other PhD students currently in the program, as they can give you candid information about the program and their personal experience. Finally, do not sign up to do a PhD unless you are ready to commit your days and nights to research and endless hours on the computer.

Alumni Spotlight: The Pursuit of a PhD in Oslo, Norway

This entry continues the special series on HEEM alumni who are pursuing doctoral degrees around the world.

Martina VukasovicMartina Vukasovic, from Serbia, wrote her master’s thesis on, “Higher Education and Social Stratification in Serbia 1990-2005”. Currently, Martina is enrolled in the PhD program at the Faculty of Education, University of Oslo as a participant in the new NATED, the Norwegian graduate school in educational research. It is a four-year PhD program, where Martina will work three years on her PhD and one year teaching, supervising, doing administrative tasks and working on research projects, etc. Her research agenda explores changes in flagship universities in three countries of the former Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia. Martina will analyse to what extent the Bologna Process, Lisbon Agenda and the EU accession process has affected universities in these countries.

What is the biggest difference between your PhD experience and the HEEM experience?
I completed my Master thesis in Aveiro, so I spent only 6 months in Oslo and thus was not so much “exposed” to the way things were done at the Faculty of Education in Oslo. I think the biggest difference is related to the general differences between Master and PhD studies. One difference I already can identify is the long term perspective of the PhD. This has also, so far, been the biggest challenge for me.

What have been the highlights and challenges of the PhD experience so far?
So far, the biggest challenge of the PhD experience has been to think of my research in the long term perspective. PhD projects are more complex than master studies and, in my opinion, provide more opportunities for going in different, sometimes wrong, directions. I think the biggest challenge for me will be to strike good balance between exploring the topic wide enough and focusing on one “researchable” issue deep enough.

What advice would you give students who are considering a PhD?
I would share some advice I was given by my supervisors: (1) “it is just a PhD, it is not your life’s work” and (2) “choose a topic you really feel passionate about. You will need that passion when things get difficult”.