Immersive Training Weeks in Doctoral Education
Ph.D. training worldwide, including Doctoral education in Marketing or Engineering fields, has been in trouble for some time. These last turbulent times (pandemic, energy, inflation, and war crises) have only increased the problems previously reported by the 3rd cycle students and early career researchers, including chronic lack of support and poor-quality supervision, with senior researchers rarely trained in mentorship. It is also reported that Ph.D. candidates are inadequately prepared for the cross-disciplinary working and large teams that characterize cutting-edge science today. In the last two decades, opposite decisions took place in Europe concerning the curricula of Doctoral programs. In the 2010s, a large number of classes was added to the Ph.D.s, contributing to almost residual time for thesis research in the first year of the programs. However, ten years later, an abrupt change took place and almost all classes were removed from the Ph.D. curricula, creating a void in (hard and soft skills) training and leaving all the responsibility of training to the supervisor. Ph.D. students reported guidance and isolation issues in the first year. Moreover, today’s little Ph.D. training is fully dedicated to the obtention of their Ph.D. and not to their role in society after the Ph.D. defense. This work discusses a new approach to doctoral education which started first at a professional doctorate implemented at University of Aveiro, Portugal, where few classes take place. This approach considers a novel Ph.D. training, both hard and soft skills development, through special intensive weeks, called Immersive Weeks. In these, distributed during the first year, Ph.D. students exclusively participate in several workshops, acquiring the tools for accomplishing both a successful Ph.D. and a future job. Pilots of this approach took place at the University of Aveiro with large success, while some improvement suggestions have also been pointed out by students.