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Psychological health of doctoral candidates, study-related challenges and perceived performance

Barry, KM ORCID: 0000-0003-2297-7931, Woods, M ORCID: 0000-0002-6462-7692, Warnecke, E ORCID: 0000-0003-2972-8823, Stirling, CM ORCID: 0000-0003-2723-8302 and Martin, A ORCID: 0000-0003-0109-1218 2018 , 'Psychological health of doctoral candidates, study-related challenges and perceived performance' , Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 37, no. 3 , pp. 468-483 , doi: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1425979.

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Psychological distress is prevalent in doctoral degree training and affects students’ completion time. It is crucial to monitor the amount of distress experienced and understand the causes for it to inform the type of support most needed. This mixed method study explored challenges related to candidature, self-reported progress and measures of perceived and actual psychological distress with a convenience sample of 81 doctoral candidates in an Australian university. Using validated survey instruments, participants reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress than age-matched general population normative data. Additionally, those who self-reported being behind or exceedingtheir study schedule had significantly higher scores for depression, anxiety and stress than those who reported they were meeting schedule. Conversely, stage of candidature did not affect any of these attribute scores. The responses to open-ended questions about challenges associated with doctoral study were coded and explored with an existing typology. The most frequent challenge reported in doctoral study is related to the development of generic skills, followed by management of self, including motivation. Given that not all challenges could be included in the existing typology, we recommend expansion to the typology.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barry, KM and Woods, M and Warnecke, E and Stirling, CM and Martin, A
Keywords: PhD candidates, stress, challenges, postgraduate training, doctorate, psychological distress, DASS
Journal or Publication Title: Higher Education Research and Development
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1469-8366
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1425979
Copyright Information:

© 2018 HERDSA

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