Illustration by Dr. Kate Carruthers Thomas
Opening up the Black Box of Pre-Application Doctoral Communications (PADC1) and Searching for a Supervisor (PADC2) were two university-wide projects that investigated the informal communications between potential doctoral applicants and university staff from an inclusion perspective. Learn about the origins of the projectLink opens in a new window.
These projects were shortlisted for the Warwick Social Inclusion Award 2023Link opens in a new window.
This research comprised two distinct yet connected projects:
What were the project objectives?
Objectives for PADC1 (Feb-July 2022): Focus on institutional communication and staff roles
- To understand how supervisors, PGR Programme Directors and Programme Officers make decisions about responding to potential doctoral applicants at the pre-application stage, and to explore how these decisions may negatively impact the recruitment of diverse talent.
- To evaluate the extent to which the Warwick Doctoral College and departmental webpages on PGR admissions transparently describe the pre-application stage.
- To identify changes at institutional and department levels to create a more transparent and inclusive doctoral admissions process, with a particular focus on enhancing inclusivity for currently underrepresented groups.
- To produce a suite of professional development opportunities and enduring resources that facilitate the implementation of these changes.
Objectives for PADC2 (Jan-July 2023): Focus on the experiences of minoritised applicants and the resources available to them
- To undertake empirical research at Warwick to understand how current doctoral students who are members of minoritised social groups navigated locating a doctoral supervisor, identifying potential barriers and obstacles in the process as well as enabling factors. To identify recommendations for change based on these findings.
- To undertake a review of existing video resources which inform students about how to approach a supervisor, both at the institutional level and more widely across the global HE sector.
- To create a video resource to demystify the process of finding a supervisor which takes applicants from minoritised social groups as its primary target audience. This video resource brings together findings from PADC1, findings of the empirical research and video review from PADC2.
- To deliver previously piloted PADC workshops to supervisors, DPGRs and POs across Warwick faculties.
What did the research involve?
PADC1: Literature review of existing scholarship and grey literature on doctoral admissions to synthesise existing findings and best practice. Webpage analysis of public-facing admissions material on Warwick Doctoral College and departmental webpages. Data collection across Warwick faculties: Semi-structured interviews about departmental pre-application practices with PGR Programme Directors and Programme Officers; Solicited diaries and Focus Group Discussions with doctoral supervisors.
PADC2: Narrative interviews with minoritised Warwick doctoral students. Advice video analysis of YouTube content about contacting a supervisor.
These projects were funded by the Research England Enhancing Research Culture Fund.
PADC1 ran from Feb-July 2022; PADC ran from Dec 2022-July 2023.
Learn about the origins of the projectLink opens in a new window
Who worked on the project?
Co-Investigator: Dr Emily F. Henderson Link opens in a new windowDepartment of Education Studies, University of Warwick
PADC1 & PADC2 Post-Doctoral Researcher:
Dr Sophia Kier-Byfield, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick
PADC1 Research Assistants:
Dr Ahmad Akkad, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick
Dr Dangeni, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick