What do researchers do?

Vitae member content iconOur series of publications exploring the destinations and career paths of doctoral graduates and how they contribute to society, culture and economy.


Read out latest edition to the series, published September 2022

‘What do researchers do?' builds our knowledge and understanding of the landscape of researchers careers, the diversity of pathways and the contribution our most highly trained make to UK economy and society.’  Professor Ian Diamond, ex-Chair, Research Councils UK Executive Group


What do researchers do? data studies

Do researchers' early careers have to be precarious? is part one of a new series. For full context, read the accompanying research article

What do researchers do? Early career progression of doctoral graduates (2013). Trends in employment for doctoral graduates three years from graduation. Highlights the major value of doctoral study to researchers, employers and society. Evidence for the relative employability and value of doctoral graduates

What do researchers do? Career paths of doctoral graduates (2011). Early career mobility of doctoral graduates within and between occupational clusters, three to four years post-graduation

What do researchers do? Doctoral graduate destinations and impact three years on, 2010. The value of doctoral study to researchers, their employers and society at large. How researchers contribute to innovation and knowledge transfer

What do researchers do? First destinations of doctoral graduates by subject, 2009. First employment destinations of doctoral graduates by 37 subject areas

What do researchers do? career profiles and stories

What do research staff do next? 2016 A report in the series of What do researchers do? on careers of research staff who have made successful transitions to other occupations

Vitae researcher career stories. A searchable collection illustrating the range of careers that people with a research training go on to do and their wider impact on society

What do researchers do? Career profiles of doctoral entrepreneurs, 2010. 30 career stories from researchers who have gone on to become entrepreneurs

What do researchers do? Career profiles of doctoral graduates, 2009. 40 career profiles and around 1000 first destination job titles of doctoral graduates

Researcher career stories on film. People with a research background, working within and outside higher education, and from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines and experience.

What do researchers want to do?

What do researchers want to do? The career intentions of doctoral researchers (2012). Views of over 4,500 researchers undertaking doctoral study in the UK. Career trajectories into postgraduate research, career aspirations and how these are shaped by their experiences

Other reports into the career intentions of researchers:

The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2015 (PRES) includes a question on the anticipated career of doctoral researchers by domicile. Overall 46% anticipate going into a research and teaching role, while another 13% anticipate going into a research-only role in higher education

Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) 2015 UK aggregate results includes the career aspirations and expectations of research staff employed in higher education institutions

What do researchers do? background

What do researchers do? is designed to help:

  • doctoral researchers, research staff and prospective researchers make well-informed career choices
  • careers advisors, researcher developers, supervisors and principal investigators to be aware of the breadth of potential careers
  • funders and policymakers understand the contribution of doctoral graduates to society, culture and the economy
  • employers better appreciate what researchers can offer them

What do researchers do? data studies are primarily based on data from the HESA destinations of leavers from higher education surveys

What do researchers do? Doctoral graduate destinations and impact three years on. Methodology (2010). Key processes in the analysis and interpretation of data

What do researchers do? future projects

What do female doctoral researchers do?

For further information about What do researchers do? and other Vitae researcher careers related projects contact us