The Impact of Doctoral Research in Information Science and Librarianship

Research-Related Career Advancement

Because of the time range involved, the fifteen award-holders who form the sample population of this project are currently at various stages of their post-doctoral careers. The career paths vary as well; some are academics and others practitioners in the field. All hold positions at the present time, most of them full-time.

Fourteen of the fifteen questionnaire respondents listed the titles of their first positions after Ph.D. completion; one noted that his Ph.D. was incomplete. For the majority, the first position obtained after Ph.D. completion was very much academic and/or research-related. The exact titles vary, but the word "research" appears in positions held by five persons. The titles given to these initial positions, and the numbers of respondents who held them, are as follows:

Lecturer (4)
Research Assistant (2)
Post-doctoral Research Fellow (2)
Research Associate (1)
Senior Lecturer (1)
Teaching Fellow (1)
Tutor (1)
Joint Planning Data Officer (1)
Training Consultant (1)

When asked specifically in the questionnaire the extent to which their doctoral research was important in obtaining their first post-doctoral position, ten replied that it was "very important," another four indicated "somewhat" important. However, when asked the extent to which their doctoral research was (or is) relevant to carrying out the duties of this first position, the numbers were slightly less emphatic. Seven replied that it was "very relevant," five indicated "somewhat," and two noted "little or none."

Three persons, Ph.D. graduates of 1992, 1994 and 1995, continue to hold their initial post-doctoral posts. One of these, a current Post-doctoral Research Fellow who completed in 1994, noted that "this position was totally dependent (her emphasis) upon my Ph.D., i.e. the fellowship had to be an extension of that research."

Eleven respondents have moved on from their initial post-doctoral position, some of them more than once before obtaining the position they now hold.

Positions currently held by the fourteen are as follows:

Senior Lecturer (3) [including one initial post still held, noted above]
Lecturer (2)
Post-doctoral Research Fellow (2) [initial posts still held, noted above]
Assistant Professor (1)
Research Fellow, occasional Lecturer (1)
Academic Support Officer (1)
Computer Scientist (1)
Development Consultant, in libraries (1)
OPAC Developer (1)
Principal Management Information Officer (1)

In terms of career advancement, two of the current Senior Lecturer positions are promotions from that of Lecturer. One Lecturer, who moved to a position at this level in one other university before his current position at Cambridge University, began his post-doctoral career as a Teaching Fellow. The career advancement paths of all respondents who no longer hold their initial post-doctoral positions can be shown as follows:

Ph.D.Initial Post-doctoral positionCurrent position
1986Research AssistantComputer Scientist
1987LecturerSenior Lecturer
1989Teaching FellowLecturer
1990LecturerSenior Lecturer
1991TutorOPAC Developer
1991Joint Planning Data OfficerPrincipal Management Info. Officer
1992Research AssociateAcademic Support Officer
1993Research AssistantLecturer
1993Training ConsultantDevelopment Consultant
1994LecturerResearch Fellow, occasional Lecturer
1995LecturerAssistant Professor

When asked specifically in the questionnaire the extent to which their doctoral research was important in obtaining their current positions, responses did not vary significantly from those given for initial post-doctoral positions. Eight of the eleven for whom the second question was relevant indicated that their doctoral research was "very important," two "somewhat," and one "little or none." One person noted that, for her current position, the Ph.D. qualification itself was not as important as the knowledge she had as a result of the doctoral research.

The same eleven who responded to the question about the importance of their doctoral research in obtaining their current position were, once again, somewhat less emphatic when asked the extent to which the research was relevant to carrying out the duties of the current position. Five of the eleven indicated "very relevant," four "somewhat," and three "little or none."

None of the respondents held positions between initial and current which were so different that they altered the degree of importance that the Ph.D. research had in obtaining them, nor the level of degree of relevance of the research to carrying out the duties involved.

Respondents were also asked at which stage they undertook to study for their Ph.D. For the majority it was early in their careers. Twelve of the fifteen indicated they began immediately after completion of their Master's (or other) degree; three undertook it within five years of this degree. Nine indicated that the doctoral research was undertaken prior to their first professional post, four that it was at the beginning of their professional career. Only two indicated that they were in what could be described as middle professional career before undertaking their Ph.D. research.

Mary Dykstra Lynch and T.D. Wilson©British Library Board 1997