Saturday, February 21, 2015

Survey - Initial Results

Thanks to so many people who have already responded to the survey. I really appreciate the time taken to fill it out, and I have no doubt the responses will help other PhD students!

If you haven't had a chance to fill out the survey, here's the link! It will take 30 seconds, I swear!

I'll have a full blog post on the pieces of advice which people have left, which are immensely helpful, insightful, and positive for the most part. But here I want to briefly note a trend that I am already witnessing. Obviously, I will need more data, so take this with a pinch of salt!

I want to focus on the similarities and differences between the humanities and STEM responses. I had:

53% Humanities responses
30% STEM responses

Of the humanities responses, 94% already had the PhD and all were employed (which is brilliant!). What was interesting was that it was split down the middle: 50% were in academic jobs (lecturers, postdocs, JRF, etc.) and 50% in non-academic jobs (including teaching, administration, librarianship, etc.)

This was mirrored for the STEM responses. 67% of respondents had the PhD in hand, and all were employed, split evenly down the middle between academic and non-academic jobs.

What was really interesting, was the responses from those still in the process of gaining the PhD. They accounted for approximately 27% of respondents.

63% wanted to leave academia
25% wanted to stay in academia
12% were undecided

While the 63% represented PhD's in STEM, medicine, education, and business, almost 100% of current humanities PhD's wanted to stay in academia.

This makes me wonder. If non-humanities students are already considering leaving academia, are they more likely to be proactive in developing other skills for when they finish the PhD?

And, should humanities students be more realistic about the future and think about non-subject specific skills to develop?

If 50% of humanities phds are in non-academic jobs (according to this survey; the official figure is somewhere around the 80% mark!), are universities doing enough to support students identify and develop these non academic skills? And, should universities and supervisors alike be more pragmatic and realistic about the future prospects of their students?

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