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ERIC Number: EJ1132866
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0018-1609
Post-PhD Trajectories: Desperately Seeking Careers?
McAlpine, Lynn
Higher Education Review, v47 n1 p4-35 Aut 2014
The doctorate has traditionally been perceived as preparation for an academic career (teaching and research). However, the evidence suggests that this assumption no longer holds true since internationally more than half of all PhD graduates leave the higher education sector. Though there has been considerable research examining the ways in which the PhD prepares people for academic careers, how individuals perceive and navigate the transition to post-PhD academic and nonacademic careers is largely unexplored. Drawing on an eight-year longitudinal qualitative research program, this paper examines the career trajectories of 40 individuals after their PhDs: Canadian and UK social scientists and Canadian scientists. Nine broad career trajectories emerged. The evidence emerging from the somewhat novel methodology suggested the power of a nested contexts perspective, one attentive to the interplay of national, disciplinary and institutional influences in career opportunity structures. At the same time, individuals' horizons for action, their efforts to craft their positions to achieve their goals, played a powerful role as regards the choice of different opportunity structures. The results support the conceptualization of career trajectories as an integration of both subjective and objective perspectives.
Tyrrell Burgess Associates. 34 Sandilands, Croydon, CRO 5DB, UK. Tel: +44-2086-561770; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A