Ten Things Doctoral Programs Fail to Disclose

If you were examining a doctoral program on its worthiness, would you be able to find Information regarding:

  1. Its Quality Standards: What does the program want in terms of a first research project from a doctoral researcher? How does the program uphold these standards? What steps has the program taken to ensure that assessments are transparent? are valid? are reliable? are relevant?
  2. Its Criticality, Self-Assessment and Plans for Change: Does the program disclose its own self-assessment criteria on how it’s doing? Does the program even try to evolve or better align its self to achieve mission critical in any way? Does the program criticize its self, gather evidence, make changes, study changes, evolve over time etc.? Does it look ?the same today as it did 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, only now it has a web site.
  3. Its Activity in the Research of Doctoral Pedagogy: Does the program and its practitioners engage with research or discussions into doctoral pedagogy? Would administrators be aware of trends, new ideas, and the evaluation of same in doctoral pedagogy? Do academics in the program publish regarding their engagement with doctoral programs, doctoral pedagogy and doctoral innovations? Would academics be able to discuss differences in a doctoral program that is a one-stage or two-stage model, that has mode 1 or mode 2 knowledge production focus, that aims to produce a scholar-practitioner as opposed to a disciplinary-focused academic for example?
  4. Its Openness to Innovation: How is the program adapting to the infusion and penetration of ICT in scholarship? For example, the vast majority of academics can now work with other academics in other institutions and locations thanks to communications technologies and yet the vast majority of doctoral programs require solitary work on archaic document formats like the dissertation as monograph. Collaboration now defines academia, yet doctoral programs fail to reflect this.
  5. Its Awareness of Dysfunction in Academic Cultures: How does the program create and sustain a vibrant intellectual community for students? How does the program monitor its own culture to avoid the excessive isolation of scholars from each other in the past? How well can the program stretch its culture to diversify its student body?
  6. Its industrialized features or lack thereof: Not all features of industrialized educational packaging were bad: guidelines for supervision, for the oral exam, for editing/editorial assistance and some attempt at internal consistency for same would all be good for students and for the program quality for example.
  7. How it provides Experience with the Work of Academics: Most programs would like students to publish, but how is this incorporated into the program beyond a would–be-nice? Ditto for conference presentations, for collaboration, for inter-disciplinary experience, for the three minute thesis challenge etc.,
  8. Its Important Statistics: Time to completion, attrition, and exit interview data concerning early departers, the experience of graduates, or students in the program would be nice..
  9. Its Plan for Student Involvement with Doctoral Pedagogy: Do students blindly follow the footsteps of the program with little understanding or engagement? For example are students sent into an oral exam without any information or help with preparation? (Is the exam its self an assessment instrument worthy of a lengthy research process?) Where is student voice in the program and how is it heeded?


  10. What do you think? Please nominate #10


    Considering the failure to disclose this information, how serious are these omissions for the public or a potential supplicant oops applicant, and how can the world of doctoral study be changed so that important features of doctoral pedagogy and doctoral program success are disclosed?

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