We would like to invite you to the PDDG forum at Middlesex University. Its aim is to stimulate, consolidate and share exciting advances in doctoral research and postgraduate education such as those generated in the past decade – specifically the professional doctorate.
Professional doctorates are research degrees equivalent to the PhD but rooted in the professional practice or workplace activity of the candidate. They can contain taught elements as well as recognition of prior learning. Professional doctorates are one of the pathways leading to doctoral-level degrees and cover a wide variety of areas such as business administration, education, nursing practice, transdisciplinarity, engineering, arts and so on. What distinguishes these programmes for other doctorates is their focus – the professional practice and work activities of the doctorate candidate themselves.
These candidates seek to solve strategic problems through their research within their contexts using appropriate applied research that takes into account the ethical and common good dimensions involved. They are frequently introducing innovations in professional practice and organisational development through their own reflective and critical engagement in the issue.
In short, professional doctorates seek to create a space between academia and the 'real world' where senior practitioners can develop their capabilities as change agents within their own organisation and profession to emerge as scholar practitioners. Professional doctorate programmes at Middlesex dialogue with organisations and communities to create knowledge that is grounded in practice.
Their unique contribution is acknowledged by the UK Economic and Social Research Council as "aim(ing) to develop an individual's professional practice and to support them in producing a contribution to (professional) knowledge." The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education too acknowledges professional doctorates for providing "an opportunity for individuals to situate professional knowledge developed over time in a theoretical academic framework".
For academics interested in the forefront of new forms of knowledge generation, professional doctorates have pioneered new understandings of doctoral pedagogies, redefining the form and content of doctoral supervision. In this context, learning and teaching have become more facilitative processes, dispensing with some of the more traditional power dynamics between academics and doctoral candidates. The academic's role now requires an understanding of work practices and values and is more open to dealing with tacit and informal learning. This has also influenced modes of doctoral assessment that go beyond subject disciplinary boundaries to making connections that are relevant, useful and creative, and have included non-academic professional practice specialists as well as academics.
The PDDG meets quarterly as a group of academics interested and involved in professional doctorates at Middlesex University and through its collaborative partners. We discuss and hold workshops on various theoretical, pedagogical, policy and administrative issues related to the provision of professional doctorates. We would like to extend our network and welcome interested colleagues. If you would like to contribute then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.