Australian doctoral employability: a systematic review of challenges and opportunities

Li’An Chen*, Inger Mewburn, Hanna Suominen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Research educators, scholars, and employers often debate the nature and purpose of doctoral training. Should doctoral degrees exist only to make new knowledge and replenish the academic workforce or are they part of broader societal-enhancement and employment agendas? Or both? This study aimed to identify and analyse tensions in Australian employability discourse in the doctoral degree. We systematically reviewed 41 articles published in journals and conferences on Australian doctoral employability training from 2000 to 2022 and put them in context with the broader debate about doctoral employability in the so-called ‘grey literature’ of government reports and policy papers. Our findings indicated that stakeholders are all grappling with the difficulty of meeting diverse learning needs and there are contested understandings of the value of the doctoral degree beyond academia. At the same time, we found a relatively poor evidence base for many claims that outcomes of doctoral education are poor for both students and employers. This paper will be of interest to research educators seeking to implement new training programs and policy makers trying to craft new initiatives to connect doctoral education with industry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2
    Pages (from-to)298-314
    Number of pages17
    JournalHigher Education Research and Development
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2023


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