PhD Students’ Research Group Networks: a Qualitative Approach

This article examines the networks within the research groups where Spanish PhD students are pursuing their doctorate. Capó et al. (2007) used quantitative data to predict PhD students’ publishing performance from their background, attitudes, supervisors’ performance and research group networks. Variables related to the research group network had a negligible explanatory power on student performance once the remaining variables had been accounted for. In this article, a qualitative follow up of the same students is carried out using extreme case sampling and indepth interviews. The qualitative research shows networking as important for students. Out of the 115 aspects that students mention in the interviews as relevant to publishing in the qualitative research, 92 have to do with their supervisors, their research group or their network as a whole. Similarly, out of the 50 hindrances mentioned, 20 have to do with the networks or relations. The most commonly mentioned network-related topics are research group members pushing PhD students to publish, meeting researchers outside the research group, existence of other PhD students in the group, help with the PhD from group members, supervisor’s interest in the thesis, the possibility of discussing with experts on the PhD’s topic and frequent contact with the supervisor and research group members. Some of these characteristics were not, however, measured in the conventional quantitative social network survey ​
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