, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 59–83 | Cite as

Projectification of Doctoral Training? How Research Fields Respond to a New Funding Regime

  • Marc Torka


Funding is an important mechanism for exercising influence over ever more parts of academic systems. In order to do so, funding agencies attempt to export their functional and normative prerequisites for financing to new fields. One essential requirement for fundees is then to construct research processes in the form of a project beforehand, one that is limited in time, scope and content. This article demonstrates how the public funding of doctoral programs expands this model of project research from experienced academics to the socialization process for the new academic generation. This process of “projectification” underlies funding-driven institutional changes in doctoral training. A multi-level comparative study of German policies, funding mechanisms and organizational frameworks for doctoral training demonstrates the emergence of a specific model of predefined PhD projects. The investigation of doctoral training practices reveals that socio-epistemic preconditions regulate whether research fields adopted or rejected this demanding model. This result contradicts widespread claims about a radical change in doctoral training and suggests focusing on the actual practices of field-specific doctoral research.


Funding Institutional change Doctoral training Projectification Research fields 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WZB Berlin Social Science CenterBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Social ResearchFrankfurt UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Department of SociologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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