University of Oulu

Solveig Cornér, Kirsi Pyhältö, Jouni Peltonen, Søren S.E. Bengtsen, (2018) "Similar or different?: Researcher community and supervisory support experiences among Danish and Finnish social sciences and humanities PhD students", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 9 Issue: 2, pp.274-295,

Similar or different? : researcher community and supervisory support experiences among Danish and Finnish social sciences and humanities PhD students

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Author: Cornér, Solveig1; Pyhältö, Kirsi1,2; Peltonen, Jouni2;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Education, University of Helsinki
2Faculty of Education, University of Oulu
3Centre for Higher Education Futures, Aarhus University
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-12-27


Purpose: This paper aims to explore the support experiences of 381 PhD students within the humanities and social sciences from three research-intensive universities in Denmark (n = 145) and Finland (n = 236). The study investigates the cross-cultural variation in the researcher community support and supervisory support experiences, factors associated with their support experienced and the perceived support fit.

Design/methodology/approach: The study used a mixed methods design, both quantitative analyses and qualitative analyses (open-ended descriptions) were used.

Findings: The results showed that students in both Danish and Finnish programs emphasized researcher community support over supervisory support. The Danish students, however, reported slightly higher levels of researcher community support and experienced lower levels of friction than their Finnish counter partners. The results also indicated that the only form of support in which the students expressed more matched support than mismatched support was informational support.

Practical implications: The results imply investing in a stronger integration of PhD students into the research community is beneficial for the students’ progress. Building network-based and collaborative learning activities that enhance both instrumental and emotional support and a collective form of supervision could be further developed. The possibility of Phd student integration in the scholarly community is likely to lead to more efficient use of finacial and intellectual resources in academia and society more broadly.

Originality/value: This study offer a unique contribution on doctoral students’ academic and socialization experiences in terms of explicationg the sources of support, support forms and support fit among Danish and Finnish doctoral students. Both invariants and socio-culturally embedded aspects of support experience among the students were detected.

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Series: Studies in graduate and postdoctoral education
ISSN: 2398-4686
ISSN-E: 2398-4694
ISSN-L: 2398-4686
Volume: 9
Issue: 2
Pages: 274 - 295
DOI: 10.1108/SGPE-D-18-00003
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © Solveig Cornér, Kirsi Pyhältö, Jouni Peltonen and Søren S.E. Bengtsen. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at