PhD students and integrative research


  • G. Fry
  • B. Tress
  • G. Tress


The training of PhD students is currently very dynamic and varies widely from place to place. We present some examples of this variation and comment on how it may affect the way PhD students cope with integrative studies. Our focus is on the training needs of PhD students studying integrative research questions and their need for support from both supervisors and the wider institutional infrastructure. The role of supervisors seems key to the success or failure of integrative PhD projects. We find evidence that the disciplinary background, interest and motivation of the supervisor have much influence on research outcomes, in terms of the quality and whether PhD studies are completed on time (or at all). One clearly growing trend in PhD training is the inclusion of coursework, and more recently the inclusion of training in transferable skills aimed at easing the flow of doctoral students into the wider job market since the majority of PhD students will not end up in academic appointments. PhD students represent major academic and financial investments and contribute to much of the original research in universities. To help PhD students we need to guide them through the many choices of method and theoretical approaches, a guide that builds on existing knowledge of what works and does not work under different conditions and one that results in the generation of new integrative knowledge