Re-imagining doctoral education: Professional Doctorates and beyond

Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Higher Education Research and Development, 2009, 28 (3), pp. 275 - 287
Issue Date:
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Portents of the demise of the Professional Doctorate have emerged in some recent policy and institutional circles in Australia, raising questions about the meaning and relevance of the Professional Doctorate in an era of 'league tables' and research assessment in Australia. This article argues that such portents, based largely on narrow market-driven arguments, are premature, reactive and unhelpful, in that they foreclose on a set of critical questions concerning the future purpose, scope and practice of doctoral education. The article argues that the simple re-assertion of the PhD as the default award represents a restoration of the logics and imperatives of disciplinarity and of older notions of so-called 'real' research. Further, questions of the changing economies of knowledge and practice within, between and beyond the reach of the university, are subordinated and disavowed. The article presents a re-reading of the emergence of Professional Doctorates, from the perspective of a decade-and-a-half of development and change. It suggests the need to revisit that history critically in the light of the current developments in doctoral education, in knowledge production and in developing different relations around knowledge between universities and different social and professional domains. Such revisitings can bring out emerging issues for doctoral education at a time when anxieties may inhibit taking up opportunities for innovation and linking with new kinds of knowledge production that go beyond Euro-centric and university-centric traditions.
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