Item Open AccessReport - Academic Practice Conference in Oxford, 2009(University of Cambridge, 2009) Arnold, RichardThe third conference organised by the Centre for Excellence in Preparing for Academic Practice will be held at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, from 13 to 15 December 2009. The event will be focused on the development of holistic depictions of academic careers - ones conceptualized as more than teaching and/or research. We seek a wide range of creative responses to this idea, but initial suggestions include academic practice as career development, mentoring, academic climate, relationships between academic work and wider life, academic writing and discourse, and emotions or affect in academic work. Item Open AccessDoctoral student experience in Education:Activities and difficulties influencing identity development(University of Cambridge, 2009) McAlpine, Lynn; Jazvac-Martek, Marian; Hopwood, NickThis paper explores variation in the events or activities Education doctoral students describe as contributing to their feeling of being an academic or belonging to an academic community as well as difficulties they experience. The results (drawing principally on students in a Canadian research-intensive university though with some in a UK university) demonstrate a rich variation in multiple formative activities that are experienced as contributing to a developing identity as an academic, with many lying outside formal and semi-formal aspects of the doctorate. Yet, at the same time students report tensions in the very sorts of activities they often find significant and positive in the development of their identity. We see this analysis as offering much-needed insights into the formative role of cumulative day-to-day activities in the development of academic identity. Item Open AccessPostdoctoral research positions as preparation for an academic career(University of Cambridge, 2009) Akerlind, GerleseDiscussions of the nature and purpose of postdoctoral contract research positions is an area where assumptions and stereotypes tend to predominate. This is due to (a) recent changes in the higher education sector that have impacted on postdoctoral positions in a way that conflicts with traditional expectations, and (b) a relative lack of data and publications on postdoctoral positions, which creates a climate in which stereotypes can continue relatively unchallenged. This is unfortunate, because it limits the ability of supervisors to provide sound career advice to their postdocs as well as the ability of postdocs to make informed career decisions. Based on an extensive study of PDRs in Australia, this paper challenges four commonly held assumptions: 1. that postdoctoral researchers want an academic career; 2. that postdoctoral research positions provide a stepping stone to academic careers; 3. that postdoctoral research positions provide an opportunity for novice researchers to become increasingly independent; and 4. that postdoctoral research positions provide an opportunity for the incumbents to concentrate solely on research. Item Open AccessMaking sense of doctoral training reforms in the social sciences:(University of Cambridge, 2009) Mills, DavidEducational reforms are increasingly driven by political and economic forces beyond the university. In this paper I describe how the policy initiatives of the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have steadily reshaped the length, content and structure of doctoral education in the social sciences. This history of the Council’s willingness to respond to national and international policy concerns about the doctorate dates back to the early years of the Thatcher Government in the 1980s. As well as redefining the doctoral student experience, this interventionist policy environment potentially challenges the institutional autonomy of academics and others involved in educational development. In this article I explore the implications of this for doctoral training provision, and for the meaning of educational development itself. I end by pointing to the possibilities for policy ‘activism’ in responding to these changes. Item Open AccessDeveloping researchers in the arts and humanities: lessons from a pilot programme to develop discipline-specific research skills(University of Cambridge, 2009) Saunders, ClareAlthough increasing emphasis is placed on the provision of research training for doctoral students, much of the support currently available is generic in nature, rather than tailored to the student’s particular field(s) of study. In this paper, I briefly review UK graduate education for arts and humanities research students, and some of the ways in which the distinctive demands of their discipline(s) shape the research student experience and hence their development needs. I describe the design and delivery of a pilot programme of discipline-specific research skills development, co-ordinated by the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, which aims to address such needs; and I evaluate its success. I conclude with some recommendations for future practice; in particular, I argue that doctoral training provision is more effective when it involves a subject-specific approach in which practising academics from the discipline(s) play a significant role – both in terms of fostering an improved level of student engagement with the programme, and of delivering training and development opportunities which are tailored to the student’s particular context and needs. Item Open AccessThe response of Physical Science post-graduates to training courses and the connection to their PhD studies(University of Cambridge, 2009) Pritchard, Jane; MacKenzie, Jane; Cusack, MaggieTraining in both employability and discipline-specific skills has been provided and expanded over a number of years for post-graduate research students, (PGRs) in the Faculty of Physical Sciences administered by the Physical Sciences Graduate School (PSGS) at the University of Glasgow. This project explored the training provided in 2005/06 with a view to further developing a programme that students and faculty alike consider appropriate, timely and developmental for the needs of research students. The training provided by the PSGS had grown over a number of years in response to suggestions from academic staff in the Faculty of Physical Sciences. Data were collected from Postgraduate Research students (PGRs) from all the stages of the 3 year PhD process to enable a complete map of views to emerge. In particular, the way PGR students perceive the training they undergo in relation to their core PhD research and career progression was examined. The students in our study also identified clearly where they perceived they were developing such transferable skills, and training sessions are not seen as the sole or even major source; the research group itself would appear to play a major role. The authors believe the finding could inform the provision of PGR training in other UK institutions Item Open AccessEnhancing Departments and Graduate Education in Geography(University of Cambridge, 2009) Foote, Kenneth; Solem, MichaelThis paper describes the development, implementation, and preliminary outcomes of Enhancing Departments and Graduate Education (EDGE) in Geography, a multi-year project begun in 2005 to study the process of professional development in graduate geography in the U.S and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. As a research and action project responding to the needs of graduate geography programs, EDGE seeks to provide academic geographers with an empirical perspective of disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary and generic skills that M.A./M.S. and Ph.D. students develop as a result of graduate education. Related objectives are to understand how disciplinary skills are applied by geography graduates once they enter the professional workforce in both academic and non-academic professional settings, and to gauge the extent graduate programs are sufficiently preparing geography graduates for those careers. We begin by summarizing the research goals and design of EDGE, highlighting the roles and contributions of geographers and educational researchers, and noting the interplay and synergy between disciplinary and interdisciplinary methodologies and practices. To date, research has focused on: 1) assessing contemporary workforce competencies in professional geography and 2) examining the role of department climate and culture on student experience and faculty development within masters and doctoral programs. Although the EDGE research efforts are still underway, we present some preliminary research findings and discuss the implications of those outcomes for professional development in geography and related social and environmental sciences. Also discussed is the complementary nature of discipline-based and interdisciplinary professional development efforts. Item Open AccessEditorial - Academic Practice - how is it changing?(University of Cambridge, 2009) Akerlind, Gerlese; McAlpine, LynnThis special issue grew out of a Government-funded initiative in the UK, the formation of a number of five-year Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. One of these, focused on Preparation for Academic Practice, is directed at better understanding and supporting the development of doctoral students and contract research staff for academic careers . This Centre, located at the University of Oxford, held its first conference in April 2007, and this special issue consists of papers contributed by conference participants. Item Open AccessIntroductory Comments - UK Research Careers Must Swap Pinch Points for Portfolios(University of Cambridge, 2009) Thrift, NigelThe UK Government’s Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) has a real concern that research careers are not always perceived to be attractive by the best graduates. This concern led to DIUS to ask Professor Thrift to examine whether this is the case and if so what might be done to improve matters.