A researcher’s discipline
A deep interest in your discipline is probably the single characteristic that defines you as a researcher.
This motivation, along with securing the necessary resources for their research, leads some researchers to a life-long career in a field. Research fields are specialised so inevitably a proportion of researchers do move, to varying degrees, away from their discipline.
Career destinations within disciplines
It is useful to get some perspective on the destination of researchers as defined by discipline. In the following sections, we explore the data and trends of researchers’ career destinations that have been observed in the broad disciplines listed below. Unfortunately, there is very little information available on researchers’ career destinations in the UK. UK universities, however, do collect data on the first destination of their graduates, including doctoral graduates.
Statistics and trends
Exploring the national data and trends on the first destinations of UK doctoral candidates gives us a reasonable starting point to work from. To do this we use data from analysis that Vitae (formerly the UK GRAD programme) conducted on 'What do researchers do?' together with career profiles to give you some examples of individual career paths.
- Arts and humanities
- Social sciences
- Biomedical sciences
- Biological sciences
- Physical sciences and engineering
Similar analysis can also be seen from the perspective of the employment sectors that doctoral researchers enter.
Using your discipline in your career
There are many variations in how researchers use their discipline throughout their careers.
In academia, researchers tend to have the opportunity to stay closest to their discipline, though bear in mind that funding mechanisms or organisational structures may mean that you have to remain flexible. Other researchers work far removed from their discipline, but use the transferable skills they have acquired.
How close do you want to be to your discipline?
An important question to consider is how close you would like to be to your discipline.
Here are examples of ways you can use knowledge, skills and experience gained in your discipline for future career choices:
- using the specialised material or knowledge of your subject directly
- using your methods of work and skills gained (eg your research methodology, critical analysis, logical presentation of information)
- using the knowledge of the environment you have worked in (structure of an organisation, contacts, general knowledge of a discipline).
Are all the factors important to you or can you put this list in order of importance?
In parallel, it is worth analysing your career priorities.
My work involves putting together opera programmes that consist, among other things, of articles by leading academics. In this sense I retain contact with the academic community and with academic work, and this is something I enjoy.
PhD music – Publications officer, Royal Opera House
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