Title of Doctoral Researcher Used for Doctoral Candidates in Future


The University Board of the University of Turku has decided that the title ‘doctoral researcher’ will be used instead of 'doctoral candidate' in future. The use of the title ‘doctoral candidate’ will be abandoned from 1 August 2022 onwards.

In its meeting on Friday, 20 May 2022, the University Board decided that the University stops using the term ‘doctoral candidate’ and instead uses ‘doctoral researcher’. In Finnish, the title to be used is ‘väitöskirjatutkija’. 

– The University of Turku has a graduate school with 2,000 people currently working on their dissertations in the doctoral degree programmes. In future, our University, like many other Finnish universities, will use the title ‘doctoral researcher’ to refer to everyone who is completing their doctoral degree. The proposal has received broad support, says Director of the Graduate School, Professor Pirjo Nuutila.

After the change, the title of ‘doctoral researcher’ will be used to refer to both a person who is completing their doctoral degree and a researcher at the first stage of the research career path. 

– All doctoral researchers, irrespective of their funding source, are members of the University community. To ensure non-discriminatory treatment and respect for researchers, the University of Turku wanted to use the same title for both those in an employment relationship and those completing their degrees. We hope that the community will broadly adopt the new title as soon as possible, says Head of Research Career unit Elise Pinta.

Over the past academic year, there has been as extensive an assessment within the University of Turku on the University community’s views on updating the terminology. The introduction of the title ‘doctoral researcher’ has received broad support from the University community. 

Doctoral Researcher Wilma Nissilä finds the change of title especially important because it values all doctoral researchers the same regardless of the source of their dissertation funding. Nissilä herself has participated in advancing the change in the Steering Committee of the Doctoral Programme of Turku School of Economics.

– This is a particularly important message for the society outside the academic world, showing that writing a dissertation is work, not studying. Previously, the terminology has been a source of confusion, and in media, in particular, postgraduate studies have been considered comparable with completing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. In my personal life, I have been asked about my studies for example when applying for a mortgage even though I have been in an employment relationship with the University, explains Nissilä.

In the public discussion, e.g. the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers has recommended using the title ‘doctoral researcher’ (väitöskirjatutkija) or ‘junior researcher’ (nuorempi tutkija) for first-stage researchers.

Created 25.05.2022 | Updated 25.05.2022