Group Members

Principal Investigator Professor Kirsi Pyhältö


Professor Kirsi Pyhältö is professor of educational sciences in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oulu, and research director in the Centre for Research and Development of Higher Education at the University of Helsinki.  She is expert in the area of researcher education and careers. Her research interest include doctoral education, supervision, researcher communities and post-doctoral careers. She as published over 50 articles and text-books on the area of doctoral education and researcher careers. Over the years Pyhältö has lead several externally funded research projects on the topic, in collaboration with her colleagues. Currently, she is conduction extensive comparative research on doctoral and post-doctoral experience among European early career researchers in collaboration with prof. Lynn McAlpine (University of Oxford) and prof. Montserrat Castello (University Ramon Llull). The project involves data collection from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, UK, and Spain. Pyhältö has been also involved in launching, developing and implementing training for doctoral supervisors in the University of Helsinki and Oulu. She is founding co-coordinator of EARLI Special Interest Group 24: Researcher Education and Careers.

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Vekkaila J (1)Jenna Vekkaila, PhD, is a lecturer in university pedagogy, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research interests include doctoral education and researcher training; learning, engagement, wellbeing and the scholarly community

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Yusuke SakuraiYusuke Sakurai, PhD is a project lecturer at the Center for International Exchange, the University of Tokyo, Japan. He received his PhD from the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests are students’ learning experiences in higher education, international education, particularly international doctoral students’ engagement and future self-visions.

Erika LErikaöfström, PhD, works as Vice-Rector for Development with special focus on innovation in education Tallinn University and as research fellow at Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki.  She is specialized in research ethics and academic integrity. In 2011-2016 her project “Teaching and Learning Academic Integrity in Social Sciences” was funded by the Academy of Finland, and she is currently (2016-2019) partner in the Horizon 2020 –funded project ENERI bringing together expertise and scholarship on research ethics and integrity. Her ethics and integrity projects involve research on ethical issues in doctoral training.

Viivi Viviivirtanen, PhD, works as senior lecturer in higher education, at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include doctoral education in STEM disciplines, especially in biological and environmental sciences. Further, her research focuses on qualitative investigations into early career researchers’ engaging and disengaging experiences. Hence, she is particularly interested in factors influencing academic engagement, and the ways that the research results can inform educational development.

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Peltonen_Jouni_Jouni Peltonen, PhD, works as a university lecturer in the Faculty of Education, University of Oulu. His research interests are in the doctoral education, theory and philosophy of education, and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

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Solveig Cornér, M.A.(Educ.), is a PhD student and belong to the Doctoral Programme in Psychology, Learning and Communication at the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences,  University of Helsinki. Her doctoral thesis concerns doctoral student supervision and the interrelation between the different elements of supervision and burnout in postgraduate education in both a Finnish and a Nordic context.

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Auli_2012Auli Toom, PhD., Adjunct Professor, works at the Center for Research and Development of Higher Education, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research in the field of doctoral education focuses on the factors contributing to PhD process and on supervisory relationships.

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National Collaborators

sariSari Lindblom-Ylänne, PhD, is Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include doctoral education. She has carried out research on international doctoral students’ study engagement and factors affecting it.

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kaiKai Hakkarainen, PhD, works as professor in the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki. His research interests include studies doctoral education from the perspective of collective creativity of academic knowledge creation. Toward that end he collects interview data from leaders of scientific research communities representing natural and education sciences as well as doctoral students growing up in these communities. He is especially interested in examining how young students can be socialized to practices of international publication through article-based dissertations.

Yvv-dekaanii Kirsti Lonka 2011 K Käyttäytymistieteellinen tdk

Kirsti Lonka, PhD, is professor of educational psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland. She is also Extraordinary Professor in Optentia Research Focus Area, North West University, South Africa. Her research interests in the area of doctoral education, include PhD students’ academic writing, engagement and learning. She gives workshops on “How to help doctoral students to finish their theses” and “How to lead a research team”. Her current research interest cover epistemologies, learning in the digital era and innovative practices in schools and higher education.

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About the projects

International Collaborators

Lynn (2)Lynn McAlpine, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Higher Education Development at the University of Oxford and Professor Emerita at McGill University. Her research examines how doctoral students and PhD graduates prepare for and navigate their careers both in and outside the academy. She regularly draw on this research into the experiences of PhD students, postdocs, and pre-tenure academics (along with that of others) to help inform both institutional policy and individual practice.

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sari (2)Montserrat Castelló, PhD. is a Professor in Educational Psychology at Universitat Ramon Llull in Barcelona, Spain. Her research activity and publications focus on Academic Writing Strategies and identity of Early Career Researchers and she is especially interested in collaborative revision of academic activity and writing regulation in situated learning communities.

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Juha Nieminen, MPsych, PhD, works as an educational developer at Karolinska Institutet. Much of his  work focuses on doctoral education and the training of  doctoral supervisors. His research interests include student learning and motivation, doctoral education and supervision, and the development of clinical skills


NimetönSøren S.E. Bengtsen, PhD, is Associate Professor at Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University, Denmark. His main areas of research include doctoral education and supervision, higher education, and educational philosophy. Dr. Bengtsen is the primary responsible researcher and developer within the area of doctoral education and supervision at the Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University. He has developed, and is running, the courses in doctoral supervision for doctoral supervisors and doctoral students at the Faculty of Arts, and he works in close collaboration with the Graduate School Arts around the links between the organisational infrastructure of the Graduate School and the doctoral pedagogy and curriculum in the PhD. Dr. Bengtsen has conducted observational and interview studies of doctoral supervision and its pedagogical and organisational implications at Aarhus University and the University of Oxford.

Liezel Frick, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies and the director of the Centre for Higher and Adult Education at the Faculty of Educatuntitledion at Stellenbosch University (South Africa). Her research interests are within the broader field of doctoral education, with a particular focus on aspects of doctoral creativity and originality, learning during the doctorate, and doctoral supervision. Liezel is a member of the International Doctoral Education Research Network (IDERN), as well as the Special Interest Group of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) on Researcher Education and Careers. In 2015 she received the Best African Accomplished Educational Researcher Award for 2013-2014 by the African Development Institute (ADI) and the Association for the Development of Education in South Africa (ADEA). She currently holds a South African National Research Foundation Y2 rating.