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The situation for Swedish doctoral researchers has been described as a ‘heavenly hell’. Many are satisfied with their education and have a good relationship with their supervisor. Still, there are also problematic aspects of life as a doctoral researcher which at the worst can lead to illness and/or dropping out. A similar dualism exists in studies at the international level.

This chapter aims to explore the complexity experienced and handled by Swedish doctoral researchers from a workplace perspective. It reveals some of the greatest difficulties and proposes means to cope with them. The arguments presented are based on previous research, personal experience and empirical data from qualitative questionnaires and interviews. Here, leaders of doctoral education and policymakers are provided with examples from which to develop and enhance their doctoral researchers’ working conditions in order to minimise work-related illness and attrition, stimulate creativity and passion, and encourage flexibility to cope with the rigors inherent in research. The special circumstances caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic are noted. The theoretical starting-points of the measures suggested are the Demand-Control-Support Model and relational pedagogy.

In: Doctoral Education as If People Matter
In: Doctoral Education as If People Matter
In: Doctoral Education as If People Matter
With the view of improving doctoral education, contributors from diverse cultural, political and disciplinary contexts critically analyse challenges and opportunities that impact on the experience of researchers and university staff. Readers are invited to consider their own circumstances and how the presented policies, procedures, values and practices, both common and unique, might either detract from or enhance their performance and well-being. Reflection on lessons learned through the pandemic are incorporated, reinforcing the value of collaboration and mutual respect between researchers and their supporters at all levels, for both the conduct of good science and a fulfilled work life.

Contributors are: Britt-Marie Apelgren, Diogo Casanova, Pam Denicolo, Shane Dowle, Dawn Duke, Fabiane Garcia, Martin Gough, Erika Hansson, Gill Houston, Isabel Huet, Sverker Lindblad, Bing Lu, Alistair McCulloch, Marie-Louise Österlind, Julie Reeves, Manuela Schmidt, Matthew Sillence and Gun-Britt Wärvik.