Volume 7 Issue 1 (2018)

A Supervisor's Role in Career Planning of Doctoral Students: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

pp. 39-47  |  Published Online: March 2018  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2018.71.3

Hale Turhan Damar, Ozlem Bilik, Yasemin Ayhan


The aim of this study is to reveal the experiences of doctoral students with their supervisors in planning their careers. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted at an Institute of Health Sciences in Turkey. A total of 16 doctoral students were interviewed in-depth (eight studied nursing, two studied biomechanics, three studied biochemistry, and three studied histology). Five themes were identified from the collected data: Satisfaction with Supervisor, Supervisor = God, Supervisor Inadequacy, Students with No Demands, and National and Institutional Obstacles. The findings of the study suggested that students have to continue their careers as academicians, and are aware that career planning is limited to participating in academic congresses, writing articles, and preparing research projects. The students stated that they do not demand anything from their supervisors with regards to planning their careers. This is related to students and supervisors having insufficient knowledge on this issue, and supervisors inadequate cooperation with the sector/industry.

Keywords: doctoral students, supervisors, career planning, qualitative research


Arsenjuk, U., & Vidmar, D. (2015). Careers paths doctorate holders. Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (B. Panič, Trans.). Ljubljana: Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia. Retrieved from http://www.stat.si/StatWeb/File/DocSysFile/8449/Careers-paths-doctorate-holders.pdf

Askew, C., Dixon, R., McCormick, R., Callaghan, K., Wang, G. Y., & Shulruf, B. (2016). Facilitators and barriers to doctoral supervision : A case study in health sciences. Issues in Educational Research, 26(1), 1-9.

Auriol, L., Misu, M., & Freeman, R. (2013). Careers of Doctorate Holders: Analysis of Labour Market and Mobility Indicators (No. 4). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Austin, J., & Alberts, B. (2012). Planning Career Paths for Ph.D.s. Science, 337(6099), 1149.

Barnacle, R., & Dall Alba, G. (2011). Research degrees as professional education ? Studies in Higher Education, 36(4), 459-470.

Boehe, D. M. (2016). Studies in Higher Education Supervisory styles : a contingency framework Supervisory styles : a contingency framework. Studies in Higher Education, 41(3), 399-414.

Breuninger, S., Pull, K., & Pferdmenges, B. (2012). Like father(s), like son(s): Does the Relation between Advisor and Student Productivity Persist on Group Level? Zeitschrift Für Personalforschung, 26(4), 331-345.

Carr, S. M., Lhussier, M., & Chandler, C. (2010). The supervision of professional doctorates: Experiences of the processes and ways forward. Nurse Education Today, 30, 279-284.

Denicolo, P. (2004). Doctoral supervision of colleagues : peeling off the veneer of satisfaction and competence. Studies in Higher Education, 29(6), 693-707.

Enders, J. (2004). Research training and careers in transition: a European perspective on the many faces of the Ph.D. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(3), 399-428.

Fuhrmann, C. N., Halme, D. G., Sullivan, P. S. O., & Lindstaedt, B. (2011). Improving Graduate Education to Support a Branching Career Pipeline : Recommendations Based on a Survey of Doctoral Students in the Basic Biomedical Sciences. CBE Life Sciences Education, 10(3), 239-249.

Ghadirian, L., Sayarifard, A., Majdzadeh, R., Rajabi, F., & Yunesian, M. (2014). Challenges for Better thesis supervision. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28(32), 1-9.

Gibbs, K. D., & Griffin, K. A. (2013). What do I want to be with my PHD? the roles of personal values and structural dynamics in shaping the career interests of recent biomedical science PHD graduates. CBE Life Sciences Education, 12(4), 711-723.

Gratrix, L., & Barrett, D. (2017). Desperately seeking consistency : Student nurses’ experiences and expectations of academic supervision. Nurse Education Today, 48, 7-12.

Hobin, J. A., Clifford, P. S., Dunn, B. M., Rich, S., & Justement, L. B. (2014). Putting PhDs to work: Career planning for today’s scientist. CBE Life Sciences Education, 13(1), 49-53.

Kandiko, C. B., & Kinchin, I. M. (2012). What is a doctorate ? A concept-mapped analysis of process versus product in the supervision of lab-based PhDs. Educational Research, 54(1), 3-16.

Kolmos, A., Kofoed, L. B., & Du, X. Y. (2010). PhD students’ work conditions and study environment in university-and industry-based PhD programmes. European Journal of Engineering Education, 33(5-6), 539-550.

Löfström, E., & Pyhaltö, K. (2012). The Supervisory Relationship as an Arena for Ethical Problem Solving. Education Research International, 2012, 961505.

Lunsford, L. (2012). Doctoral Advising or Mentoring? Effects on Student Outcomes Doctoral Advising or Mentoring? Effects on Student Outcomes. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 20(2), 251-270.

MIT Global Education and Career Development. (2015). Graduating Students Survey. Cambridge, MA: MIT Global Education and Career Development.

O’Meara, K., Knudsen, K., & Jones, J. (2013). The Role of Emotional Competencies in Faculty-Doctoral Student Relationships. The Review of Higher Education, 36(3), 315-347.

Saldafia, J. (Ed.). (2010). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Sauermann, H., & Roach, M. (2012). Science PhD Career Preferences: Levels, Changes, and Advisor Encouragement. PLoS ONE, 7(5), e36307.

Yükseköğretim Kurulu Başkanlığı. (2016). Lisansüstü Eğitim Ve Öğretim Yönetmeliği [Higher education and training regulations]. Ankara. Retrieved from http://www.yok.gov.tr/documents/10279/23688337/lisansustu_egitim_ve_ogretim_yönetmeligi.pdf/8451c3e1-7975-40f1-bc81-3ca01cb288c8

Zhao, C. M., Golde, C. M., McCormick, A. C., Mei, C., Golde, C. M., McCormick, A. C.,…Alexander, C. (2007). More than a signature : how advisor choice and advisor behaviour affect doctoral student satisfaction More than a signature : how advisor choice and advisor behaviour affect doctoral student satisfaction. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(3), 263-281.



► Journal Metrics

  • 8% acceptance rate
  • 3.4 (2023) CiteScore (Scopus)
  • Q2 (2023) CiteScore Best Quartile
  • 0.42 (2023) Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR)

EDUPIJ Statistics from Scopus

CiteScore: 3.4, view Scopus page

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

► Educational Process: International Journal is member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). 

► New issue coming soon! (Volume 13 Issue 3, 2024)