2,200 doctoral candidates completed career-tracking survey

The DocEnhance career-tracking survey asked PhD graduates from eight universities across Europe about their careers since graduation. The aim is to explore:

  • the types of jobs taken by PhD students after graduation and their relation to the training received;
  • how the skills they developed during their PhD contributed to their employment; and
  • how the training delivered during PhD courses can best help graduates in their careers.

The survey was live from 9 March to 16 April 2021 so the results are now in and ready for analysis!


Doctorate holders who had graduated between January 2016 and December 2020 were invited to take part in the survey, so the focus is on early career stages.

In all, over 2,200 responses were collected, representing an overall response rate of 25% of eligible students contacted. The participants spanned many different fields of study, from natural sciences to social sciences and engineering to the humanities. Their current sectors of employment were equally diverse, covering universities, other research institutions, industry and the public sector. This will help to provide an invaluable resource for analysis.

Despite the detail covered by the survey (up to 60 questions were asked of some respondents), an impressive 79% of respondents completed the survey and those that did gave excellent feedback:

  • 98% thought the questions were clear
  • 92% thought the questions were relevant to their career experience

Next steps

The data collected from the survey is now being analysed.

The final report summarising the findings is expected to be published end of 2021. If you have a PhD or are studying for one, or you are considering starting a PhD course, you’re a doctoral school providing training or are just interested in how PhD courses can best support their graduates’ careers – make sure to look out for it!

Based on our experience from DocEnhance, a good practice guide for career-tracking surveys will also be published in January 2022. The questionnaire itself will also be available as an open resource. Our hope is to make it as easy as possible for higher education institutions interested in conducting their own tracking surveys to get started. An open resource should enable as many universities as possible to gather high-quality, comparable data.

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