A delay in PhD completion, while likely undesirable for PhD candidates, can also be detrimental to universities if and when PhD delay leads to attrition/termination. Termination of the PhD trajectory can lead to individual stress, a loss of valuable time and resources invested in the candidate and can also mean a loss of competitive advantage. Using data from two studies of doctoral candidates in the Netherlands, we take a closer look at PhD duration and delay in doctoral completion. Specifically, we address the question: Is it possible to predict which PhD candidates will experience delays in the completion of their doctorate degree? If so, it might be possible to take steps to shorten or even prevent delay, thereby helping to enhance university competitiveness. Moreover, we discuss practical do's and don'ts for universities and graduate schools to minimize delays.

Van de Schoot, R., Yerkes, M.A., Mouw, J.M. & Sonneveld, H. (2013). What Took Them So Long? Explaining PhD Delays among Doctoral Candidates. PLoS One, 8(7): e68839. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068839

The data and Mplus syntax files for Study 1

Please inform all the authors if you are planning to make use of the data for secondary analyses.

In our paper we could have been more explicit about the differences between the total sample size as reported in the first sentence of the participant section of Study 1 and the actual sample size used in the analyses. There is data available on 565 PhD recipients, however we only used 331 cases in the analyses. The difference is caused by: two outliers (see also the participant section), 72 cases with missing data on all variables used in the analyses, 53 with no information about their gender, and 107 cases with missing information about the start and end date of their project time.

Mara Yerkes
Assistant Professor Comparative Social Policy & Intervention Studies
Her research interests include comparative welfare state research, comparative social policy, industrial relations and the employment relationship, the sociology of gender and sexuality, and social inequality.
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Hans Sonneveld