Kirsi Pyhältö knows that you’re not born a top researcher, but learn to become one

The professor of higher education is interested in the career paths of doctoral graduates.

What are your research topics?

I study learning and wellbeing, as well as their interrelations and the factors regulating them. My research focuses on students and teachers at the different levels of the educational system from basic education all the way to doctoral education. My speciality in higher education is investigating the professional role of teachers, as well as doctoral education and researcher careers. 

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact? 

Doctoral education and research are expected to produce solutions to many national and global problems. Future professional researchers – today’s doctoral students – will carry out research of a high standard, in addition to which they will come up with research-based innovations to meet the needs of the economy and society.

However, no one is born a top-level researcher or scientific expert. It takes learning, which in turn requires high-quality doctoral education based on research. To a large extent, the future of the academic community also rests on the quality of doctoral education.

Results gained from research on doctoral education can be utilised in the research-based development of that education. When we are able to identify the processes and factors which, for instance, advance postgraduate studies, help to accumulate scientific expertise and promote the wellbeing or employment of doctoral students, we can design the kind of doctoral education that makes all this possible. 

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Studying the career paths of doctoral graduates. With my research group and international colleagues, I am currently conducting a longitudinal comparison of doctoral graduates’ career paths in a number of countries. Of specific interest to me are the kinds of career paths doctoral graduates have and the transitions they make outside academic communities.

Multidisciplinary longitudinal research designs of a systemic nature open up genuinely interesting avenues for examining careers. 

  Kirsi Pyhältö is the professor of higher education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences.