Finding ways to flourish: Exploring connections between doctoral students’ well-being, resilience and support to completion

Janet McCray, Paul Joseph-Richard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


We ask what makes United Kingdom PhD completers resilient and which resilience protection factors help them manage their well -being and complete their doctoral programme? Findings from two studies (McCray and Joseph-Richard, 2020, 2021) will be presented and discussed. Data collected from an online survey (n=67) with current PhD students and from interview conversations (n=11) with completers were analysed using well -being and resilience theory as a lens. Results from the survey indicated that more than half of the survey participants viewed their mental health negatively and saw their mental health as their own problem. Further when it came to support the respondent’s universities offer was limited, with only 5% of Postgraduate training input on the topic of managing mental well- being and resilience. When it came to the PhD completers, findings from interviews reveal that success did not rely solely on the individual student, nor was the role of supervisors elevated, particularly for social and emotional support. Of importance was the students’ family and social network, institutional context and the nature of university central services and how these were available to the completers.

The presentation’s contribution is in showing how the alignment of the completers’ personal responses, environmental and social connections and institutional processes was available to build resilience and are needed to support well -being , as we present a model for resilience protection in doctoral students . We consider the implications of the studies’ findings for institutions and departments. Asking what form of postgraduate support can offer more targeted input for the PhD student, through a further examination of the academic setting and how it could adapt to affect positive mental well-being and influence the PhD student and their study outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 May 2021
EventUKCGE Annual Conference 2021: Resilience in Postgraduate Education: Adapting, Supporting, Sustaining. - Online
Duration: 28 Jun 20212 Jul 2021


ConferenceUKCGE Annual Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleUKCGE2021
Internet address


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