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Webinar: The Swedish Doctoral Examination Committee – Boundary-Work Under Pressure

februari 7 kl 15:1516:45

We have explored the Swedish doctoral examination committees’ evaluation practice using focus group interviews with experienced committee members. Our results show how the object of evaluation emerges through a gradual interpretation of the thesis and defence, becoming more complex and nuanced as the process of evaluation progresses from its initial stages to the final closed discussions of the committee. The finalized object of evaluation, only fully present at the conclusion of the closed meeting and hence transient in nature, encompasses the research contribution, educational achievement, and academic competence of the candidate. Furthermore, the boundary-work conducted in this process often transcends the object of evaluation to include also supervision and the local context for doctoral education and research, and hence contributes to upholding, and potential changing, norms in research fields, educational contexts, and academia at large. This extended boundary work was intensified as problems and inconsistencies were discovered during the evaluation process. The ceremonial staging underscored the gravity of the decision and the extended boundary work. Despite changing conditions for the doctorate, our findings highlight the importance of the practice of evaluation committees, and the disciplinary communities to which they belong, for upholding and negotiating norms. However, we could also discern in one focus group the fracturing of the evaluation object and hence a weakening of the links between norms and expectations in research, academia, and doctoral education.


Anders Sonesson, Lund University


Online via Zoom. Zoom-links are sent out via mail after registration.


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februari 7
15:15 – 16:45
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