Where are the leadership skills gaps in doctoral training?

There is no doubt that good doctoral programmes provide some of the most rigorous training around, but how well do they prepare scientists for the demands of the workplace?

Sinche et al. surveyed over 8,000 people who had completed their PhDs within last 11 years, asking them to rate both the degree to which they had developed a range of skills during their doctoral training, and how important these skills were to their current working role.

Comparing the two scores (both scored 1-5) allows us to calculate the gap between the level of each skill learnt during doctoral training and their level of importance in early career.

The results, summarised below, indicate that PhDs enter the workplace with great specialist knowledge and analytical skills (green), and reasonable competence in a range of other skills (blue). Where there is a clear deficit though, is in skills relating to collaboration and leadership, as well as in time and career management (red).

Gaps calculated by deducting rating of importance of each skill in current respondent’s job from perceived competence in that skill gained during doctoral training. Both rated on a scale 1-5.

Reference: Sinche M, Layton RL, Brandt PD, O’Connell AB, Hall JD, Freeman AM, Harrell JR, Cook JG, Brennwald PJ. An evidence-based evaluation of transferrable skills and job satisfaction for science PhDs. PLoS One. 2017 Sep 20;12(9):e0185023. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185023. PMID: 28931079; PMCID: PMC5607200.