Completing a PhD is often regarded as the result of a work that requires strong scientific competences and, at times, major sacrifices. From 40 to 50% of graduate students quit this time-consuming and arduous professional path before completion. In order to improve our understanding of this phenomenon, we have decided to combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies and to develop three strands of research:

- An analysis of completion rates among the graduate students who started a PhD between 2004 and 2012 in the two universities included in the project.

- Qualitative interviews with former PhD students that either quitted or completed their PhD. These participants are from the two universities included in the project and the three academic sectors (sciences and technology, human sciences, and health sciences).

- A longitudinal online survey study. Between November 2013 and May 2015, we will contact current graduate students and track the evolution of their journey.


April 2014

November 2014

May 2015


Devos, C., Boudrenghien, G., Van der Linden, N., Azzi, A., Frenay, M., Galand, B., et Klein, O. (2016). Doctoral students' experiences leading to completion or attrition: A matter of sense, progress and distress. European Journal of Psychology of Education. doi:10.1007/s10212-016-0290-0 Access through DIAL

Devos, C., Van der Linden, N., Boudrenghien, G., Azzi, A., Frenay, M., Galand, B., et Klein, O. (2015). Doctoral supervision in the light of the three types of support promoted in self-determination theory. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 10, 438-464. Access through DIAL

Privacy right

We commit ourselves to respecting our participants’ rights to privacy. Participating to our studies is completely voluntary. Tools used to collect and store the data are hosted by the UCL and ULB. The collected data are kept strictly confidential and are subject to the conditions of professional secrecy. They will never be disclosed or transferred to a third party. These procedures are consistent with the provisions of the Belgian law (for more information, please see the notifications we submitted to the privacy commission).

Beside, our participants have the right to access and correct their answers. If you have participated to one of our studies and wish to use this right or if you have any question related to how your data will be analyzed, please contact us at the following address: nivdlind [at] or give us a call at: +32 (0)2 650 37 77.


Project F.R.F.C.2.4609.12 « Abandon et persévérance au doctorat », coordinated by Mariane Frenay (UCL), Benoit Galand (UCL), Assaad Azzi (ULB) and Olivier Klein (ULB).

Thank-you note

We are extremely grateful for the help which Francesca Fragapane and Wladyslaw Quinet gave us, respectively, in the creation of this website and in the development of the projet's logo. We are also extremely grateful to Bibiane Fréché and Marie Welsch for their valuable insights and for the help they provide us with concerning data collection.