Less than one year ago, we invited all doctoral researchers working at Leibniz Institutes to take part in our second Leibniz PhD Survey. This online survey was developed by the Leibniz PhD Network and its N2 partner networks: the Max Planck PhDnet, Helmholtz Juniors and IPP Mainz. More than 900 doctoral researchers working at nearly 90 different Leibniz institutes accepted our invitation. Since end of last year, we were busy preparing data, checking data quality, analyzing responses, drawing conclusions and working on the final report. Our survey report is finally ready, published and can be accessed here.
The report tells us a lot about the status quo of doctoral researchers, their aspirations, and the challenges they face in their daily work as well as in their career planning. It also tells us a lot about positive or negative developments in the last two years when comparing results with the 2017 Leibniz PhD Survey. A higher share of respondents holds working contracts compared to the last PhD survey, while less respondents hold a stipend. Still, 1 out of 10 respondents is financed by a stipend, and those doctoral researchers face several economic disadvantages described in the report.
We aim to answer many interesting questions: How many days do doctoral researchers take off? How often should you meet your PhD supervisor for a higher satisfaction with your PhD supervision? Which measures could Leibniz institutes implement to meet care demands of doctoral researchers with children? How does leisure time and social support within the peer group of doctoral researchers influence our mental health?
For the first time ever in the history of the Leibniz Association, we also collected extensive information about power abuse in the Leibniz Association and the mental health of doctoral researchers. In line with many other studies in the academic sphere, a high share of respondents in our survey reports high levels of mental anxiety. Our data shows that access to psychological support, sufficient time for recreation, and a good relationship with the PhD supervisor help to lower anxiety and increase the mental health. The social support by the peer group, friends, and family are also quite important in this respect, showing us that we should take care and active interest in our fellow PhD candidates.
What comes next? The survey report will be presented and discussed on different occasions within the Leibniz Association. The N2 Network is about to prepare further analyses, comparing our results with those of the Max Planck PhDnet and the Helmholtz Juniors. Additionally, if in some of the Leibniz institutes a sufficient number of participants took part in the survey, we are also able to share descriptive analyses at the level of single institutes for internal purposes with their correspondent PhD representatives.
We aim to introduce this report as a valuable basis for evidence-based discussions within the Leibniz Association as well as other science policy stakeholders. With our work we wish to contribute to further improvements for a successful doctoral phase in the Leibniz Association.