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Navigate Doctoral Student Applications

How can we make the the application process for post-docs less challenging to navigate?


Prior to making formal applications, potential supervisees often send academics informal approaches. Academics often make snap judgements, but, in deciding how to respond, they effectively become gatekeepers to the academic profession.

The application process is challenging to navigate, especially for applicants from marginalised groups and Global South countries. Former studies on doctoral recruitment inequalities focussed on formal admissions. It is equally vital to understand the pre-application side of admissions.


Project objectives

This project, led by Dr James Burford from the Department of Education Studies, sought to understand how supervisors, DPGRs and POs, make decisions about responding to PADC, and to explore how these decisions may negatively impact recruitment.

Dr Burford and his team evaluated the extent to which the Warwick webpages on PGR admissions transparently describe the pre-application stage.

They identified 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. The team produced a suite of professional development opportunities and resources that facilitate the implementation of these changes.


Project summary and outputs

  • A literature review of existing scholarship was conducted on PADC and admissions

  • The research team conducted a webpage analysis of public-facing admissions & PADC material on Warwick webpages

  • Data collection took place across Warwick faculties, which included 20 interviews about departmental PADC practices

  • There were two open-access project briefings – for supervisors and HE institutions. This included sharing a set of open access PADC training materials.

  • The team created a Warwick-wide workshop for supervisors and specific briefing for DPGRs and POs

  • A final report is in development, as are blog posts and further research activity.

Image credit: Hollis Photography