New RCUK report on the impact of doctoral careers


The study is based on survey responses from 1800 doctoral researchers who graduated from a UK institution in 2003-4 or 2005-6. This represents 4% of the total number of doctoral graduates. Interviews were also undertaken with almost 100 employers of doctoral holders to build a broader picture of the value of doctoral graduates in non-higher education employment settings.

Using the methodology developed for Vitae’s ‘What do researchers do?’ series to identify doctoral occupations, it builds on our knowledge of doctoral graduates’ first destinations and three and half years on to explore the destinations and impact of doctoral graduates 7-9 years on.

Key findings include:

  • That employers continue to value doctoral graduates’ research skills, specialist knowledge and capacity for critical thinking; and that they are key actors in the innovation process
  • That the employers interviewed valued the credibility that doctoral graduates could bring to their work, particularly in demonstrating rigor and or the underpinning evidence base
  • That doctoral graduates play a key role in bringing new ideas, knowledge and perspectives to companies which has a ‘spill over’ effect on other employees

Vitae welcomes this report as a significant addition to the evidence base to inform strategy and policy around researcher careers and to shape researcher development activities within institutions. 

Read the report.