A Functional Review of Literature on Research Careers

Richard Woolley, Carolina Cañibano, Jakob Tesch
This paper is designed to systematically reflect upon available theories and empirical developments leading to the proposal of a conceptual framework that will identify:
i) main career types of PhD holders;
ii) key milestones in career development of each type; and
iii) main factors affecting the career decision-making and development process, including personal, organizational, disciplinary, job market and systemic factors.
The starting point for this task is the conception of the career as an interactive decision-making process, where career decisions are shaped and taken based on a set of framework conditions. The broad target population both for the conceptual and subsequent empirical exercises are PhD students and holders in all fields of knowledge.
The work will focus on providing the following main analytical tools:
1. A typology of careers for PhD students/holders, taking into account both disciplinary and cross-country diversity. Special attention will be devoted to assess the difference between conventional research careers, both in the public and private sector and more unconventional career types (Lee et al., 2010);
2. A sequence of main career milestones for each identified career type; and
3. A structured framework of main factors shaping the career decision-making and development process. A set of most relevant factors will be proposed, taking into account the above-mentioned factors as well as their mutual interaction. Special attention will be paid to cross-country and disciplinary diversity.