PhD Skills? Is that an oxymoron?
What skills develop in the completion of a doctorate? A list of PhD skills follows. These are the PhD skills expected of students in the UK as a joint statement of research councils.
A: Research Skills and Techniques
- Recognising research problems
- Critical thinking
- Knowing current work in field
- Research methods
- Critical reviewing
- Documenting and reporting
B: Research Environment
- Understanding the research context
- Complying with ethical requirements
- Following good research practice
- Complying with heath and safety legislation
- Understanding research funding and evaluation
- Justifying research methods
- Understanding academic and commercial exploitation
C: Research Management
- Organising your work
- Information management
- Using information sources
- Using IT
D: Personal Effectiveness
- Ability to learn
- Creativity and innovation
- Flexibility and open-mindedness
- Asking for help
- Independent working
E: Communication Skills
- Academic writing
- Presenting to non-academics
- Academic presentations
- Promotion of public understanding
- Teaching, mentoring, demonstrating
F: Networking and Teamworking Skills
- Building relationships and networks
- Working in a team
- Giving and receiving feedback
G: Career Management
- Continued professional development
- Planning your career progression
- Identifying transferable skills
- Presenting yourself to employers
This sparse list outlines research training. Defense of an academic thesis is missing. Justifying research methods may take its place.
Some may feel that the term skills denigrates the lofty aims of a doctoral level education in the same way that the word training does. Skills hardly captures the daring creative leaps taken by some early career researchers. Research develops that spurs whole new fields of scholarship.
Can a program teach creative leaps? A program can model and demonstrate the skills that go into making a work of scholarship, but the daring creative leap part, that comes from somewhere else.
Skills are a good place to start though.