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Industry, supervisor and graduate perceptions of industry engagement in the Australian PhD: What is the perceived value of industry engagement in the Australian PhD?

Roberts, Ashleigh (2019) Industry, supervisor and graduate perceptions of industry engagement in the Australian PhD: What is the perceived value of industry engagement in the Australian PhD? Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Australian PhD is evolving, following a more global response to ensure the PhD structure reflects current employment pathways (Group of Eight, 2013). Aligned to this, is the argument that experiences of doctoral candidates could be greatly enriched by developing integrated (and individualised) programs (Kiley, 2014). A review of the current literature deliberating the contemporary PhD, focusing on industry engagement, informed this study from conception through to development of the analytical framework. The review identified that little is known about the first-hand experiences of the diverse stakeholders involved with PhD industry engagement, leading to several assumptions and myths being perpetuated on this important aspect of PhD education. Importantly, the review also found that no surveys have been undertaken to analyse the value of industry engagement in the Australian PhD from the perspectives of graduates, academic supervisors and industry representatives. Therefore, this research project addressed these gaps through qualitative questionnaires designed to capture detailed perspectives of these three stakeholder groups and address the overall research question - what is the perceived value of industry engagement in the PhD from different stakeholders? While the focus of this research is the Australian PhD, this research is relevant to doctoral education globally. The analysis comprised top-down and bottom-up theming and coding in Nvivo11. Emergent themes clustered around perceived challenges, benefits, concerns and recommended practice when engaging in collaborative PhD programs. Key findings indicate that individual perceptions of PhD industry engagement are influenced by existing internalised values and attitudes, external factors such as relationships and networks, as well as institutional or systematic requirements, structures and processes. This research has potential and actual implications for decision-making regarding investing in opportunities for PhD candidates that encourage industry engagement. Recommended practice might be aimed at increasing opportunities for collaboration with industry throughout PhD candidature and offering work placements in multiple environments to keep skills and professional identities current. This approach would also allow for unstructured and individualised experiences vital for student learning. Increasing awareness of all stakeholders around alternative sector definitions, requirements, motivations and potential contributions to the research and innovation endeavour will demystify roles and expectations, unify all sides, break down the barriers and shift perspectives on the forces that drive innovation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Business
Supervisor(s): Paull, Megan
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