Tag Archive | avoiding drop-out

How to avoid dropping out of PhD programs

According to Vincent Larivière’s recent study, doctoral students are more likely to graduate if they are funded, and if they publish before they graduate. The research was conducted in Quebec, and explored the impact of federal and provincial scholarships on students. Some interesting findings: 
  • Only 17% of students in the province are funded by the 6 funding agencies (3 at each level for health, science, and social science/humanities); 
  • In my field, education, only 10% of students are funded (check out the article, he has stats for each discipline);
  • Funded students are twice as likely to publish at least one paper during their studies;
  • Less than 20% of students in Education publish during their PhDs;
  • Funded students are more likely to graduate (but only 50% of them do, compared to 34% of unfunded students);
  • Unfunded students who publish are just as likely to graduate as funded students who do or do not publish.
The author concludes by stating that the government should fund more students with smaller scholarships and eliminate the larger “super scholarships” that are given to fewer students. In the newspaper articles I have read about this article, (in French – Le Devoir, and on the Université de Montréal website) Dr. Larivière adds participation in a research team or lab as another condition that is likely to lead to success, because, he states, “graduate students never publish alone.” 
I like this study, probably because I have one of the small federal scholarships, and I have published a couple of articles (both alone and with my colleagues), so I think the odds are good that I will finish one day. Some days, like when I am asked to rewrite my conceptual framework chapter for the 4th time, this information is very reassuring. However, students who are studying part-time (because they are working full-time) don’t have access to any of the provincial or federal scholarships, and probably have little time to publish, although maybe they do manage to publish because typically their degrees can take between 6 and 10 years, here in Canada. I have no idea how people manage a full-time job and a phD at the same time at all (though I am not sure that all my part-time jobs add up to less than full-time work), but there is an interesting post by someone who did here