Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky
During University Graduation ceremonies it’s easy to make a visual distinction between a graduating Doctoral Researcher (DR), a Postgraduate Taught student (aka a Masters Student) and an Undergraduate just by looking at their attire…but purple floppy hat aside, there are a LOT of differences between DRs and taught students than many don’t know about (unless you’re a DR yourself or know someone very well who is). So, to cast a little light on who these mysterious DRs are and what they do i’ve created a list of a few key facts…
- A doctorate (ie., PhD/EngD) is the highest academic qualification available!
- Those who receive this qualification become Doctors because they have made an original contribution to knowledge, written a thesis (up to 80,00 words!) that is worthy of publication, and demonstrated their understanding and application of appropriate research methods and training.
- Unlike the taught student populations, DRs do not have semesters or timetables, they are not part of a student cohort, and they do not undertake coursework or exams. Instead, DRs work independently on a novel research project over several years and at the end of their doctoral programme they have a Viva (also called a thesis defence) in which they are required to take part in a scholarly debate with academic examiners and defend their work.
- DRs arrive separately at the University and are inducted at 4 starting points each academic year (October, January, April and July) and spend 3–4 years (full-time) or approx. 5-years (part-time) researching their chosen research question(s).
- Some DRs are self-funded and others are funded (or part-funded) by the University/funding body/government of country.
- Some DRs have returned to academia from a professional career and most are in an older age bracket to undergraduates and postgraduate taught students with varying familial and financial circumstances – they juggle a lot!
- DRs are the ‘lifeblood’ of the University’s research capability. They also are essential to the Research Excellence Framework and raise the University’s national and international research profile – quite simply the University would not be as successful as it is without them!
- DRs often work with industry and make huge impact towards today’s challenges and that of the future.
- DRs form a vital part of the teaching experience of the taught student population at the University and contribute towards the Teaching Excellence Framework.
- DRs also form a crucial pastoral role at the University with ~50 appointed as Voluntary Sub-Wardens in the University’s halls of residences.
Disclaimer: The list above is by no means exhaustive…but hopefully it provides a snapshot of how awesome those receiving and undertaking a doctorate are! They are most definitely a P.retty H.uge D.eal!
Congratulations to all our Loughborough Doctoral Graduates! You did it and we are SO proud of you!
And to those who are currently undertaking their doctorates…you’ve got this! Being accepted to take on this academic endeavour as well as progress each year is a P.retty H.uge D.eal in itself and we are rooting for you!