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Supervisors and students' conceptions of the nature and value of the doctorate


Ana V. Baptista and Isabel Huet


Abstract: The boom in doctoral programmes, the changing nature of doctoral journey, the growth of different forms of doctorates and the different students’ profiles reinforce the urgent need not only in understanding what is quality in the doctoral supervision process, but also in designing proper tools to evaluate this practice so the quality of the process is enhanced. With the aim of knowing the conceptions that doctoral students and supervisors share in terms of the nature and value of the doctorate, and the implications those conceptions may have on the definition of doctoral supervision quality, as well as students and supervisors’ quality profiles, a study was designed. Results of the content analysis of data collected through focus groups with doctoral supervisors and students showed that both doctoral students and supervisors share very close perspectives. A dichotomy arises: the ‘intrinsic’ or epistemological meaning they attribute to the doctorate and the significance the doctorate has nowadays, considering intrinsic and extrinsic factors. These results stress the strong urgency in understanding the conceptions both actors of the doctoral research process have on this particular phenomenon, so their supervision practices and competences’ profiles may be adjusted to the process, promoting the overall quality of this intense learning experience.


Keywords: doctorate; supervision process; quality assessment; student; supervisor.



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