Factors affecting timely completion of a PhD: a complex systems approach

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Jegar Pitchforth
Stephanie Beames
Aleysha Thomas
Matthew Falk
Charisse Farr
Susan Gasson
Sri Astuti Thamrin
Kerrie Mengersen


Completing a PhD on time is a complex process, influenced by many interacting factors. In this paper we take a Bayesian Network approach to analyzing the factors perceived to be important in achieving this aim. Focusing on a single research group in Mathematical Sciences, we develop a conceptual model to describe the factors considered to be important to students and then quantify the network based on five individual perspectives: the students, a supervisor and a university research students centre manager. The resultant network comprised 37 factors and 40 connections, with an overall probability of timely completion of between 0.6 and 0.8. Across all participants, the four factors that were considered to most directly influence timely completion were personal aspects, the research environment, the research project, and incoming skills.


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Pitchforth, J., Beames, S., Thomas, A., Falk, M., Farr, C., Gasson, S., Thamrin, S. A., & Mengersen, K. (2012). Factors affecting timely completion of a PhD: a complex systems approach. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(4), 124–135. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/3144
Author Biography

Matthew Falk


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