Nature logo


PhD survey 2019

The brief

The Nature Careers team has run a biennial PhD Survey since 2011. They wanted key areas of exploration – e.g. satisfaction, support, career destinations – to remain broadly the same as previous years in order to benchmark, with some new areas added to incorporate emerging themes that reflect current environmental challenges and trends, such as mental health, bullying and discrimination.

Our approach and methodology

Cognitive interviews: Nature wanted to ensure that the key areas of exploration would resonate with current PhD students, as well as to ensure validity of the questioning. We conducted 10 cognitive telephone interviews with PhD students from around the world – the results of which fed into the e-survey design.

E-survey: We designed a guide with up to 56 questions in collaboration with Nature. To reach a larger spread of respondents, the survey was translated into 4 languages: French, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish. We received a large response: 14,260 complete and partial responses. Following data cleaning, we analysed 6,812 usable responses.

Delivering results and value to our client

We delivered a full visual report and gave a presentation at Nature’s offices. We also provided access to Q Reader to allow a deeper dive into the data. The dataset will be made publicly accessible by Nature and the results will be disseminated through a series of articles within the journal.