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28 May 2015

European Science Foundation publishes report on career tracking of doctorate holders

The European Science Foundation (ESF) published a report on a pilot study of the career paths of post-doctorates and doctorate alumni from five research funding and research performing organisations on 28 May 2015.

The study "Career Tracking of Doctorate Holders" covered the following organisations: AXA Research Fund (AXA RF), France, Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), Luxembourg, Goethe Graduate Academy at the Goethe University Frankfurt (GRADE), Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Switzerland and TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, a co-sponsored programme of UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO.

The study comprised focus groups and a survey of 880 doctorate holders. The main findings included different research outputs and satisfaction levels between respondents with employment continuity and those with temporary contracts. The report also discusses the related issue of growing numbers of doctorate holders internationally and the preference of doctorate holders for a career in academia, resulting in bottlenecks and crushing levels of competition for very few posts. The low level of transfer to other employment sectors is noted as is the need for enhanced guidance information and policy strategies to encourage alternative career choices.

Doctorate holders are found to be highly mobile: Some 90% have worked or studied in another country for a period of at least three months, with geographic mobility tending to be largely intra-European and uni-directional (south to north). Those who move country to undertake their doctoral study seem to base themselves in those countries subsequently. The existence of an explicit funding policy to encourage the return of doctorate holders or their equivalent appears to be one way to encourage doctorate holders to return after qualifying or post-doctoral experience abroad.

The report includes a set of recommendations aimed at doctoral funding and employing institutions as well as European policy-makers. It will be presented at the Luxembourg EU Presidency Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) conference on 10-11 December 2015.

For more information:

ESF - News

Detailed information on the project (including the report): www.esf.org/career-tracking-pilot

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