Are doctoral progress reviews just a bureaucratic process? The influence of UK universities’ progress review procedures on doctoral completions

Dowle, S. (2022)

Perspectives: Practice and Policy in Higher Education

Abstract

Policy interventions have created tighter controls over the duration of individual doctoral candidatures. In response, institutional regulations in UK universities typically require that a doctoral researcher’s progress is carefully monitored through progress review procedures to maximise the chances of timely completion. Despite the ubiquity of progress review procedures, little is known about how they influence doctoral researchers’ progress and chances of completion. 

This study addresses that gap by drawing on case study data of progress monitoring procedures in a UK-based research-intensive university. These findings were also validated via two workshops with participants from other UK universities. 

The paper argues that progress monitoring can be an effective and supportive intervention for dealing with project-related and time management issues that occur during doctoral candidature. However, the effectiveness of progress reviews is contingent on how they are perceived within doctoral researchers’ social networks and overcoming social norms that create barriers to transparent reporting.

Cite this article

Dowle, S. (2022) Are doctoral progress reviews just a bureaucratic process? The influence of UK universities’ progress review procedures on doctoral completions. Perspectives: Practice and Policy in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603.2022.2077855

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