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Making social scientists, or not? Glimpses of the unmentionable in doctoral education

David Mills and Julia Paulson

Recent research on doctoral education in the U.K. has revealed the increasing number and diversity of academic relationships that shape the lives of research students, and students' own role in activating, mobilising and maintaining these relationships. Higher education policy reforms promoting doctoral 'skills training', interdisciplinary communities, thematic centres and supervisory teams, all create new networks for students to negotiate. Often beneficial and supportive, this article explores the 'unmentionable' consequences of relationships that gradually go awry.

This study began as a project exploring the everyday experiences of doctoral students and early career researchers in the Social Sciences within the U.K. As the research unfolded, we began to encounter accounts of neglect, exploitation and denigration. While such stories have long been part of postgraduate life, their seeming persistence in the face of robust quality assurance and supervisory codes needs further exploration. We offer three portraits of difficult doctoral journeys to explore these 'unmentionable' experiences and explore whether they are linked to growing institutional and career pressures on academics to prioritise research 'productivity'.

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Global perspectives on advocating for change in doctoral education

George A. Martinez, Maresi Nerad, and Elizabeth Rudd

This workshop report summarises the potentially far-reaching deliberations and results of a conference of experts in doctoral education from around the world. The conference was organised jointly by the U.S. Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE) at the University of Washington, Seattle and the German International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER) at the University of Kassel. Participants discussed critical issues in the globalisation of doctoral education, including global inequalities, diversity in types of students and modes of study, and intellectual risk-taking, and they sought to develop proposals for policy. The focus of the conference was on the research doctorate. This essay reports on the activities, discussions, and conclusions of the workshop. One of the task forces illustrated issues in the intellectual risk-taking faced by graduates by performing a highly realistic vignette written by a South African professor. We begin our workshop report with this vignette as a way to begin to frame the key issues.

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How has mobility become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education?

A brief overview of the history of a policy idea

Pavel Zgaga

This article addresses why and how mobility has become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education, aiming to reconstruct, in a historical perspective, the gradual conceptualisation of mobility as a policy idea. This process began with the discussion of academic mobility in the 1970s, when the European Communities had as yet no responsibility in the field of education, which resulted in the Erasmus Programme. In the late 1990s, the Bologna Process strengthened the discussion, substantially contributing to a consideration of mobility as a policy tool and the establishment of a mobility strategy. In connection with the EU research policy, the integration of doctoral studies into the Bologna Process is specifically analysed. The article concludes with some open questions, including the potentially negative consequences of the instrumentalisation of higher education for the concept of mobility.

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Constructing Anthropologists: Culture learning and culture making in U.S. doctoral education

Laura Bathurst

In the tradition of anthropological reflexivity, this article examines how the structure of early doctoral training contributes to the construction of particular kinds of anthropologists. Based on research conducted in an anthropology department in the U.S.A. during the late 1990s, the experience of the transition from undergraduate to doctoral studies is explored as simultaneously a process of culture learning and culture making, with power relations expressed, imposed, and contested through language. The implications for questions animating current anthropological debates, including calls for 'public anthropology', are considered.

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‘I’m like a snail carrying my entire house with me’

Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life

Lisbeth Kristine Olesen Walakira and Susan Wright

EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.

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From steward to leader

A decade of shifting roles for the PhD student

Corina Balaban

Works on doctoral education reviewed: Golde, C. and Walker, M. (eds) (2006) Envisioning the Future of Doctoral Education: Preparing Stewards of the Discipline , Carnegie Essays on the Doctorate, Jossey-Bass. Walker, G.E., Golde, C

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Introduction

Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond

Corina Balaban and Susan Wright

This special issue emerged as a result of Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE), a four-year collaborative research project and training programme for early-stage researchers that investigated the dynamic relationships between universities and knowledge economies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Rim. The project was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and included researchers based at six different universities in five European countries. Mobility was not only a widespread research interest within the UNIKE academic community but also a reality of the project, which was in itself a practical example of mobility in doctoral education, as envisaged by the European Commission. Many questions emerged as to how mobility became so central to the European Union’s policies for higher education, but also as to how the portrayal of mobility on a policy level compared to the actual lived experiences of mobile students and researchers. ‘Mobility’ can refer to many different things: geographical mobility, social mobility, cross-sectoral mobility or intellectual mobility (interdisciplinarity). The academic literature mostly treats them separately, with clusters of studies around each concept. In contrast, this special issue sets out to investigate these different types of mobility collectively, with authors covering several parts or the whole spectrum of mobilities. We believe it is valuable to discuss these four different aspects of mobility together for two reasons. First, they are often mentioned together in higher education policy as ‘desirable’ characteristics of a given education programme. Second, the ideal profile of the new, flexible knowledge worker supposedly combines all these aspects of mobility in one persona. The policy literature produced by influential stakeholders in higher education such as the European Commission and the OECD focuses on how to encourage, foster and support different kinds of mobility, working on the assumption that mobility is inherently good and will benefit countries, higher education systems and individuals. Much of the academic literature has adopted a similar approach, focusing on ways to enable mobility rather than challenge it.

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Book Reviews

Barbara Grant and Penny Welch

being made to doctoral education – on those desiccated grounds of efficiency – we risk the very production of ground-breaking and weighty research such as offered by Gritt Nielsen in this thought-provoking book. References Grant B.M. ( 1993

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Book Review

Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu

discusses the international debates on doctoral education as a future supply of academics or as training for professional skills pertinent to the knowledge economy. It presents data on the internationalisation of the doctorate in South Africa, with a