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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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Portrait

Maurice Bloch

Maurice Bloch, Laurent Berger, David Berliner, Fenella Cannell, and Webb Keane

Th e refl ections presented here demonstrate the coherence and continuity of the part of my work that can be labeled as dealing with religion and ritual. Th is of course does not mean that everything I have written on the subject is coherent and continuous. Indeed as time has passed I have learned many things from my readings and experiences, from interacting with colleagues and friends, and from working with others, including the people I have studied and, above all, the PhD students I have supervised. As a result I have had to modify what I thought. Looking back I believe there is an ongoing line of argument in what I have published and this is what I attempt to clarify in what follows.

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From steward to leader

A decade of shifting roles for the PhD student

Corina Balaban

. (eds) (2014) Globalization and Its Impacts on the Quality of PhD Education: Forces and Forms in Doctoral Education Worldwide , Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Globalisation: changing context for the PhD student Over the last two decades, the

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Editorial

Edited by Bryan Loughrey and Graham Holderness

remarkable: to launch careers. One of the first essays published in the journal was written by a PhD student at the University of Birmingham. Malcolm Bradbury went on to become one of the great novelists of his age, an outstanding scholar and a knight of the

Open access

Editorial

Penny Welch and Susan Wright

overall approach to doctoral supervision had not changed. Institutional and departmental policies, such as more use of team supervision and the requirement for a termly progress report on each PhD student, were seen as having a positive impact on their

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Adapting to Crisis

Migration Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aydan Greatrick, Jumana Al-Waeli, Hannah Sender, Susanna Corona Maioli, Jin L. Li, and Ellen Goodwin

PhD students’ research projects and personal lives have been affected by COVID-19, as have other researchers’ ( Corbera et al. 2020 ). COVID-19 restrictions have also created new dynamics between PhD researchers and potential participants. Whereas

Open access

Book Review Essay

Inge Zwart, Susanne Boersma, Franziska Mucha, and Cassandra Kist

their words to build a case for critically examining the institution and discussing community engagement in a way that is both very specific and can be applied on a wider scale. We write this review as four PhD students collaborating in a research

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Editorial

Penny Welch and Susan Wright

interventions to understand and rectify the problem. This process culminated in the introduction of a guided fieldwork model based on building an online learning community mentored by PhD students. During their semester of fieldwork, students complete a series

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From rite of passage to a mentored educational activity

Fieldwork for master’s students of anthropology

Helle Bundgaard and Cecilie Rubow

wanted students to be part of a learning community ( Lave and Wenger 1991 ) consisting of co-students and a PhD student who assisted the participants in organising cooperative reflection. Strengthening the teaching aspect of fieldwork we thus incorporated

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Canon Fire

Decolonizing the Curriculum

Andrew Sanchez

’s critical discussion of fieldwork training and teaching, which draws on their experiences as first year PhD students. 3 We then move to a discussion of the colonial resonances of African Studies, authored by the director of the Cambridge Centre of African