1 Confronting the mysteries of withdrawal and delayed submission / completion at doctoral level Shane Dowle, Senior Academic Quality Officer (Postgraduate)
2 Today s session Overview of findings from the literature Why do some students complete on time? Why do some students complete late? Why do some students never complete? Group task What can we do to improve completion rates here?
3 Submission and completion rates why are they important? Financial Risks REF Research Council Awards (DTCs and Research Funding) Costs of prolonged registration Reputational Risks HEFCE Projections International league tables PRES The most vulnerable the doctoral researcher
4 Whose definition? Different measures: REF (Headcount HESA completion date) RCUK Bids (4 year submission rates) RCUK Completion survey (Pass/minor corrections date) HEFCE Projections (7 and 20 years) Overseas funders (three year submissions) Institutional regulations (PhD vs Practitioner Doctorates) Part-timers? How should we measure ourselves?
5 What do we know about withdrawal and completion in the UK? Not a lot HEFCE: 09/10 starters % (77%) projected to complete in 7 years 10/11 starters % (80%) projected to complete in 7 years HEFCE (2005): Younger, funded, overseas, natural sciences most successful Park (2005): Older, UK-domiciled, part-time, humanities and social sciences most likely non-completers Time to take a closer look at this?
6 What do we know about completion and withdrawal outside of the UK? A lot more Numerous studies from US and Australia BUT they each relate to one institution Discrepancies between institutions and departments within an institution De Valero (2001) No easy answer factors related to TTD [time to doctorate] are intertwined and involve a complex interplay of institutional and personal factors Wao & Onwuegbuzie (2011)
7 Thesis Completion Triangle Jiranek (2010)
8 Supervision Positive factors (de Valero, 2001; Wao & Onwuegbuzie, 2011; Green & Bowden, 2012): Involved Nurturing Supportive Negative factors (Golde, 2000): Personality clash Indifference towards project No time for doctoral researcher
9 Student Qualities and Personal Circumstances Student characteristics Age Gender Attitudinal factors Socio-economic factors? Registration characteristics Fee status Funding status Registration status (FT/PT) Previous qualifications
10 Research Facilities and Resources Additional support outside of the supervisor team (Jimenez y West, 2010): Graduate School Focal point for doctoral researchers Cohort building through workshops, weekend retreats and emotional support Resources are least important factor in determining success (Green and Bowden, 2012)
11 Over to you What can we do more of to improve on time completion rates for doctoral degrees?
12 Bibliography 1 de Valero, Y. F., Departmental factors affecting time-todegree and completion rates of doctoral students at one landgrant research institution. The Journal of Higher Education, 72(3), pp Golde, C. M., Should I stay or should I go? Student descriptions of the doctoral attrition process. The Review of Higher Education, 23(2), pp Green, P. & Bowden, J., Completion mindsets and contexts in doctoral supervision. Quality Assurance in Education, 20(1), pp HEFCE, PhD Research Degrees, Swindon: HEFCE. HEFCE, Rates of qualification from postgraduate research degrees: Projected study outcomes of full-time students starting postgraduate research degrees in and , Swindon: HEFCE.
13 Bibliography 2 HEFCE, Rates of qualification from postgraduate research degrees: Projected study outcomes of full-time students starting postgraduate research degrees in , Swindon: HEFCE. Jimenez y West, I. et al., Exploring effective support practices for doctoral students' degree completion. College Student Journal, 45(2), pp Jiranek, V., Potential predictors of timely completion among dissertation research students at an Australian Faculty of Sciences. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 5(1), pp Jump, P., Times Higher Education. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 December 2013].
14 Bibliography 3 Park, C., War of attrition: patterns of non-completion amongst postgraduate research students. Higher Education Review, 38(1), pp Rodwell, J. & Neumann, R., Predictors of timely doctoral student completions by type of attendance: the utility of a pragmatic approach. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 30(1), pp van de Schoot, R., Yerkes, M. A., Mouw, J. M. & Sonneveld, H., What took the so long? Explaining PhD delays among doctoral candidates. PLoS ONE, 8(7), pp Wakeling, P. & Hampden-Thompson, G., Transition to higher degrees across the UK: an analysis of national, institutional and individual differences, York: HEA. Wao, H. O. & Onwuegbuzie, A. J., A mixed research investigation of factors related to time to doctorate in Education. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 6(1), pp
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