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I-determinants for a successful PhD or postdoctoral outcome

Authors Sørensen HT

Received 13 April 2016

Accepted for publication 3 June 2016

Published 12 August 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 297—303

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S110527

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Vera Ehrenstein


Henrik Toft Sørensen1–3

1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus N, Denmark; 2Department of Health Research and Policy, 3Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

Abstract: Many resources are invested in research training, but very little literature exists on predictors for a successful PhD and postdoctoral training outcome. A PhD program has two overall objectives: to extend knowledge about a hopefully important health topic and to provide extensive training to improve the PhD student’s skills through learning research methods and collaboration. A substantial number of PhD students may run into some kind of problem in the course of their PhD program. In this article, some determinants all starting with an “I” and indicative of a good PhD outcome are reported. The successful PhD student can be described as having an Interest in the PhD program, an Incentive for the program, and an Idea of what he or she wants to investigate, showing Initiative, and having high personal Integrity and good Interpersonal relationships. When these so-called I-determinants are present, the likelihood of success in a PhD program is high. More evidence is available for selection of candidates for postdoctoral appointments since it is known that the postdoctoral candidate has completed a PhD program, published papers in peer-reviewed journals, and received awarded grants. However, other characteristics determine a successful transition of the postdoctoral candidate into a research leader. These determinants are Identity, Independence and Image, Implementation ability in terms of being able to implement decisions and projects, working with Innovative and Important topics, having In-depth knowledge of the research topic, being Interactive and Integrated with the scientific community, and Internationally oriented. In conclusion, regardless of the framework of research, the personal characteristics of a researcher play a very important role in the quality of research. Application of some of the principles mentioned in this article might allow decision to reach a more evidence-based way to recruit PhD students and postdoctorals.

Keywords: academic training, epidemiologic determinants, outcome, PhD, postdoctoral

A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article.


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