Are doctoral students creators of new knowledge? Implication of New Policies on Social Sciences Doctoral Programs in the UK
CALT & Anthropology & Centre for Personal and Professional Development University College London & University of Cambridge London, UK
Doctoral programmes in the UK have seen profound changes in recent years. These include the introduction of a training component, as well as more stringent deadlines and supervisory control. The changes are being introduced following the Roberts´ Set for Success report and the Joint Skills Statement by the Research Councils, the latter important funders of doctoral studies in the UK. Some say that the current changes affect the quality and reach of the research itself, which in turn affect the final result: the thesis.
This paper is based on in-depth interviews with supervisors and PhD students in Social Sciences departments in a UK research-intensive university. The main conclusions of this study are that individual supervisors have adopted compliance strategies in tune with departmental and institution-wide practices at times in opposition to their own individual view of what PhDs should be and should attain. Compliance strategies include introduction of transferable skills training, tighter rules for accepting new students, as well as co-supervision. An initial period of reaction and resistance to the new doctoral paradigm was followed by a more settled period of adaptation and compliance that show what Hockney calls "the art of the possible".
The presentation will focus on different perceptions of what the PhD is: the stakeholders', the supervisors' and the students'.