8. Mentoring and career development

Measures for independent research and a successful career

  • Doctoral programs, graduate schools and professors highlight the wide range of possible career opportunities for doctoral graduates including alternative paths to an academic career.
    • Public Scholars Initiative der University of British Columbia: “Provide more career information and experience, affirm non-academic pathways“ (Peker et al. 2017: 4).
    • „Highlighting the wide range of possible career opportunities for doctoral graduates to our 17 candidates is a very important part of any doctoral programme. It is also important that candidates are supported in identifying and developing the skills they may need for the options they seek to follow”(LERU 2014: 16).
  • Doctoral candidates involved in teaching take part in at least one course of the Center for University Teaching and Learning. Specific didactic courses can also be attended by doctoral candidates in a doctoral program.
    • „(...) it is helpful to arrange classes on teaching (perhaps even the opportunity to do a diploma or certificate in teaching)” (Delamont et al. 2004: 192).
  • Courses in transferable skills offered by Graduate Campus enable doctoral candidates to acquire key competences which prepare them for an academic as well as non-academic career.
    • „The development of generic/transferable skills is fundamental to best practice doctoral training. Candidates undertake doctorates as preparation for a wide range of careers that require diverse skills in addition to the capacity to undertake independent research” (Marsh & Lamprecht 2012: 8).
  • The development of a mentoring system is recommended. At the beginning of a dissertation project, a person further ahead with his or her dissertation can take on the role of the mentor to support the doctoral candidate in the course of the project. Towards the end of the dissertation, the doctoral candidate’s next career step should be in focus. For this phase it is recommended that advanced researchers and/or alumni act as mentors. Mentoring is also intended to promote the independence and autonomy of young researchers.
    • “Graduate schools ought to consider appointing a mentor or equivalent for each PhD candidate, in addition to the supervisor team, to discuss programmes from another aspect than the science topic alone“ (ORPHEUS & AMSE 2016: 12).
  • Postdocs are involved as supervisors and mentors. This allows them to gain first supervisory experience.

  • Doctoral programs and graduate schools maintain contact with alumni to facilitate networking between doctoral candidates and alumni.

  • The involvement of doctoral candidates in national and international networks is promoted by supporting participation in scientific conferences as well as research stays abroad (mobility).

  • Interdisciplinary exchange and networking with non-university institutions should be made possible.
    • Salzburg Principle No. 9: „Increasing mobility: Doctoral programmes should seek to offer geographical as well as interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility and international collaboration within an integrated framework of cooperation between universities and other partners“ (EUA 2010: 4).
    • “Through conferences and other professional activities doctoral candidates should make links with society beyond academia to seek fresh ideas for their research, to develop ways of communicating their ideas and results, and their significance, to a wide variety of audiences, and to develop broader career perspectives” (LERU 2010: 8-9).
    • “Supervisors ought to have broad local and international scientific networks to be able to introduce the PhD candidate into the scientific community“ (ORPHEUS & AMSE 2016: 12).