Projectification of doctoral training? How research fields respond to a new funding regime

Marc Torka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-83
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Doctoral training
  • Funding
  • Institutional change
  • Projectification
  • Research fields


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