Doctoral education: a review of the literature monitoring the doctoral student experience in selected OECD countries (mainly UK)

Tomasz John, Pam Denicolo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2006, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) published a review document which identified a need for research on how postgraduate researchers experience studying for a doctorate. This review sought evidence of such research development in the intervening years. Following a brief exploration of the historical context that led to the writing of HEA document, an overview of its findings is presented as a prelude to an analysis and synopsis of the publications that address the key issues identified. One of the main conclusions is that, in addition to those of other key stakeholders (including government, the Research and Funding Councils, and deans and supervisors in universities), a stronger student voice has been provided by a number of the new studies on postgraduate education. However, the number of studies carried out in the specific area of doctoral research student experience is rather underwhelming, even unsatisfactory in relation to fulfilling the needs of postgraduate education in a context in which governments have begun to see research as a main driver of the economy. This paper will recognise this in the methodology and summary of recommendations as well as noting further research gaps in the current post 2006 literature on doctoral student experience; celebrate those contributions currently being made by doctoral students themselves to this enquiry field; and make some recommendations for further relevant enquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalSpringer Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
Early online date1 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • doctoral experience
  • doctoral student experience
  • PhD/PGR/postgraduate student experience
  • research student experience
  • doctoral education


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