A transatlantic approach to showcasing doctoral education: the University of Iceland PhD alumni database

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Alumni databases are relatively common at American universities, yet are not prevalent in Europe. Drawing upon U.S. models, the University of Iceland Graduate School designed and launched phd.hi.is, a publically available web-based database of its PhD alumni from 2010 onwards.

In this presentation, we aim to show the institutional and public outreach advantages of the database, as well as recounting, for the benefit of universities potentially interesting in launching their own database, the story of our own project's difficult but ultimately successful implementation. As we shall prove, the database is a highly effective tool for showcasing doctoral education within our institution and communicating its value to broader society, even if setting up and operating the platform has not proven entirely risk free.

Institutionally, our database highlights doctoral research within a crowded field of different degree levels and study programs, allows our university to think PhD education as a continuum extending beyond the terminal point of graduation, helps current PhD researchers envision future career possibilities, and aids doctoral supervisors, career counsellors and graduate school officials in mapping career outcomes and reform doctoral curricula in light of those outcomes.

Within wider Icelandic society, for employers, labor market experts and government officials within the fields of higher education and innovation, the database highlights the diversity of research projects and career paths of the university's doctoral graduates, dispelling the popular notion that PhDs cannot survive outside narrow academic ecosystems. Even as we detail these benefits and encourage other institutions within the EUA-CDE to think about launching their own databases, we will be forthright about the difficulties of adapting the American concept of the alumni database to a European context, calling attention to the difficulties we have experienced regarding privacy and sustainability during the course of the project.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023
EventEngaged research - the role of communication in doctoral
education: 2023 EUA Council for Doctoral Education Annual Meeting
- Jointly hosted by Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology and University of Helsinki - Lahti, Finland
Duration: 14 Jun 202316 Jun 2023


ConferenceEngaged research - the role of communication in doctoral
Abbreviated titleEUACDE23
CityJointly hosted by Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology and University of Helsinki - Lahti
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