The UK has recognised itself as a world leading educator, particularly in higher education where ten of the top 100 institutions are based in the UK. And yet, establishments such as the British Academy and the Royal Society are questioning whether the UK will continue to hold this recognition. Ahead of the recommissioning of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) in 2023, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), one of seven council domains of UKRI (UK Research & Innovation, the largest funder of doctoral research in the UK distributing funding from the UK Government) has sought to understand what the ‘gap’ is and how to close it. The ESRC commissioned three projects (Adams & Neary, 2022; ESRC, 2022; Ferrie et al., 2022; Tazzyman et al., 2021) in preparation for recommissioning and this paper reviews their recommendations and anticipated impact on DTPs, and the education of doctoral researchers. Specifically, the plans to increase exposure of digital data and related skills/toolkits and project management skills including dissemination strategies will be evaluated. The paper critically asks how the new approach will benefit researchers with a focus on those intending to stay in the academy and those who choose to build a career ‘beyond’. To focus this critical work, an ‘alternative’ career pathway, that uses research skills but also dissemination and knowledge exchange skills, will be examined as a critical exemplar: journalism. This paper will close by considering the future for research methods training, at least within UK social sciences, and whether it meets the needs of doctoral researchers, whichever career pathway they intend to follow.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Catriona Forrest, Jo Ferrie