The DocEnhance Career-tracking survey is on track!

As part of the project, a career-tracking survey of doctorate holders will be conducted by the European Science Foundation (ESF). It will enable the partner universities to better understand career paths of their doctorate graduates, including skills utilisation and added value of the PhD, as well as the contribution of PhD to research, industry and society. This information would ultimately serve to provide a more career-oriented curriculum for doctorate programmes, to enhance existing doctoral programmes and help to prepare PhD graduates for various careers in both academic and non-academic fields. For participating universities, the survey is a monitoring tool in order to map PhD graduate career-paths and evaluate the PhD skills training, as well as a way to engage with the PhD alumni and improve career advice. The DocEnhance career-tracking survey is built upon a PhD graduate tracking survey developed and conducted by the ESF in 2017. Seven European universities – members of the DocEnhance consortium – will take part of this survey, namely:  Arctic University of Norway Tromso (Norway), Maastricht University (Nederland), Technical University of Munich (Germany), University of Alcala (Spain), University of Chemistry and Industry Prague (Czech Republic), Matej Bel University (Slovakia), NOVA University Lisbon (Portugal).

The online survey will be launched in March 2021

It targets doctorate holders from the participating universities having graduated over the past five years, 2016-2020. Each university will send the online questionnaire to their PhD graduates and will monitor the response rates/send reminders in a coordinated fashion. The survey protocol and message templates will be provided by the ESF, who will also prepare the data sets and perform the data analysis. The main outcome will be a report with the data analysis based on the dataset with responses from doctorate holders from all participating universities. In addition, each participating institution will also receive a short institutional report with the data and analysis on their cohorts. The report will be published on the DocEnhance website, while the institutional reports are meant for internal monitoring and evaluation purposes. In addition, a good practice guide on setting up career tracking studies for universities would be developed summarizing lessons-learnt from the project.

Categories of questions

The Career Tracking Survey is anonymous, i.e. the contact data of doctorate holders is handled directly by the universities and is not linked to the survey datasets. Respondents will be asked to complete an informed consent form before accessing the online questionnaire. The online questionnaire includes 40-60 questions (depending on respondent’s career path) and will take about 20-30 minutes to fill out. It is composed of seven main sections, as follows:

  • Doctorate education and training: time to completion, research field of PhD, type of PhD, financial sources for PhD, motivation to do a PhD, satisfaction with support/training provided
  • Skills and competences: self-assessment of the various skills acquired during PhD, transferable skills training received
  • Transition from doctorate to the first job position: time between PhD and first position, sources of job search, self-assessment of the transition and level of preparedness
  • Employment and career-related experience: employment status, sector of employment, relation between job and PhD, engagement in research, activities performed as part of job, skills and competences needed in current job, satisfaction level with current job, career breaks
  • Intersectoral mobility: moving between different sectors, combining positions in different sectors
  • Geographical mobility: duration, destination and reasons for mobility
  • Demographical details: year of birth, citizenship, gender, children

Tentative timeline

  • PhD graduates contact data preparation (POs): 15 February 2021
  • Template invitation and reminder message (ESF): 15 February 2021
  • Survey launch date (ESF): 2 March 2021 (tbd)
  • Survey closed (ESF): 30 March 2021
  • Data analysis (ESF): April – June 2021
  • Report delivery (ESF): October 2021

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