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Title: The socialisation of engineering postdoctoral scholars
A descriptive phenomenological research design using a socialization theoretical framework is employed to describe the lived experience of socialization and its influence in the career pathways of 16 engineering postdoctoral scholars. Descriptive phenomenological data analysis strategies resulted in four constituents regarding effective postdoctoral socialization: (1) academic identity is nurtured, (2) disciplinary belonging is reinforced, (3) scholarly performance is strengthened, and (4) career development is essential for pursuing the professoriate. The essential structure was conceptualized as follows: Effective socialization of engineering postdoctoral scholars includes the enhancement of their academic identity, disciplinary belonging, and scholarly performance, as well as attention to the career development needs of those aspiring to be a professor. These findings shed light on the importance of the supervisor-supervisee relationship in the socialization process and the role of supervisors in shaping postdoctoral scholars’ career trajectories.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1821008
NSF-PAR ID:
10303466
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Further and Higher Education
ISSN:
0309-877X
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    The number of engineering PhDs pursuing postdoctoral research scholar (postdoc) positions has steadily increased in the last 30 years. Postdoc positions are commonly thought of as a step toward academic careers. However, engineering PhDs are more likely to work in industry, which leaves open the question of the role of postdocs in the career trajectories of engineering PhDs.

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    This study examines the factors associated with attainment of postdocs. It also identifies the influence of postdocs on attainment of tenure‐track faculty positions and early career salaries.

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    Engineering PhDs primarily funded by research assistantships and who graduated from a doctoral program with higher‐ranked research activities and greater proportions of previous cohorts pursuing postdocs are more likely to attain postdoc positions. Among engineering PhDs, postdoctoral scholars are more likely than PhDs in nonacademic positions to attain tenure‐track faculty positions. Early career average salaries are relatively similar between postdoctoral scholars and PhDs without postdoc experiences working in the academic sector.

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    Postdoctoral research positions can provide a viable pathway toward careers in the academic sector. Engineering doctoral programs can potentially apply research findings toward student career development and preparation, and engineering students and PhDs can leverage the career outlook information for decision‐making and career preparation.

     
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