Ph.D.s Are Leaving the Ivory Tower

Ph.D.s Are Leaving the Ivory Tower

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Not so long ago, doctoral students were viewed as the galley slaves of the scientific world, spending long hours in the lab for a meagre wage and the promise that three precious letters — Ph.D. — would eventually burnish their name.

But that attitude has changed. Recognizing that few graduates spend their entire careers at the bench, research funders and education authorities are reshaping the PhD to train students in non-science skills such as networking as well as research. One of the most radical expositions of this philosophy is unfolding in the United Kingdom, where Ph.D. students are increasingly coming out from under the wing — and the shadow — of a supervisor. Instead of being trained individually in one academic’s research group, they are being taught in cohorts in a doctoral training centre — a university-based hub focusing on highly specific areas.

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