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Constructing post‐PhD careers: negotiating opportunities and personal goals

Lynn McAlpine (Oxford Learning Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
Cheryl Amundsen (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)
Gill Turner (Oxford Learning Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)

International Journal for Researcher Development

ISSN: 2048-8696

Article publication date: 17 May 2013




Until relatively recently, the doctorate was generally perceived as preparation for a full‐time permanent academic position. However, this is no longer the case, with many PhD graduates working outside academia or in temporary full‐ and part‐time positions in higher education institutions. Yet, we know little of the ways in which they perceive and then navigate the transition from PhD to initial careers. Thus authors undertook an analysis of longitudinal data from six social sciences PhDs (part of a larger dataset) to document how they transitioned from the PhD and navigated a future.


Different forms of data, collected multiple times over two years, were analysed using emergent coding to capture the experiences of navigating a future.


The results enrich present understanding of this end‐of‐PhD period, in particular, highlighting individuals' growing understanding of academic, hybrid and non‐academic career opportunity structures, and the importance of personal intentions and relationships in defining possible horizons for action.


The conceptual and pedagogical contributions of this study to understanding doctoral and post‐doctoral career decision‐making are described.



McAlpine, L., Amundsen, C. and Turner, G. (2013), "Constructing post‐PhD careers: negotiating opportunities and personal goals", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 39-54.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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