Author:
The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers

Doctoral students’ self-analysis

Self-analysis contributes to your professional development and well-planned doctoral studies. It helps you become aware of and assess your personal development needs and opportunities. 

The doctoral students’ self-analysis form is a tool that helps you prepare your individual plan, annual period plans and progress review reports. You can also use the completed form to plan meetings with the supervisor. The self-analysis materials are not part of the mandatory progress review documents, but the progress review committee may ask questions about your self-analysis. 

In the self-analysis form, the emphasis is on transferable skills, i.e. skills generally needed in life. By combining these skills alongside your professional and research competencies, you can develop your all-round expertise and broader perspective, irrespective of whether you will be a researcher, lecturer, or professional working outside the university. This includes, for example, the ability to solve complex problems, collaborate and lead teams, work in a multicultural environment, innovate, explain your ideas, etc. Therefore, self-analysis is also a career-planning tool that you can use to build up your vocabulary and confidence for communicating with future employers. 

Recommended steps 

The self-analysis is based on your programme’s learning outcomes that describe the transferable skills you are expected to have to receive a doctoral degree. Start by reading the learning outcomes and the transferable skills frameworks below and try to break the learning outcomes down into logical skill-based components. 

You can develop your transferable skills in the course of daily work, including writing your thesis and doing other research and development activities, as well as at courses and training sessions. When you prepare the self-analysis, make a clear note of the activities you regard as necessary for your self-improvement during doctoral studies. 

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Recommended steps

Transferable skills carry different weight depending on the specialisation, research and career plans. Consider your needs, look for self-improvement opportunities offered by the university, and discuss your plans with your supervisor(s). Work according to the plan and make sure you stay on schedule. 

Needs and expectations are slightly different at different career stages. As you evolve, your action plan and schedule may also change over the years. Please review and update it from time to time to ensure it reflects your actual self-development needs. 

Supporting material 

When you do the self-analysis, you might familiarise yourself with transferable skills frameworks. Two European frameworks specifically intended for researchers are presented below for inspiration. These help you consider the transferable skills you need for your doctoral studies. Please note that the frameworks emphasise lifelong learning and do not assume a uniformly high level of excellence in all areas. 

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Transferable Skills for Early-Career Researchers
Weber, C. T. et al. (2018). Identifying and Documenting Transferable Skills and Competences to Enhance Early Career Researchers Employability and Competitiveness. Brussels: European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers. (author: The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers)

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