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


Boudrenghien, G., Frenay, M., Devos, C., Van der Linden, N., Klein, O., Galand, B., & Azzi, A. (under review). Regards rétrospectifs sur des parcours de doctorants : Comment se construit la réussite vs. l’arrêt du doctorat ?

Devos, C., Boudrenghien, G., Van der Linden, N., Frenay, M., Azzi, A., Galand, B., & Klein, O. (2016). Misfits between doctoral students and their supervisors: (How) Do they regulate? International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 11, 467 486. Accès DIAL

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 Accès DIAL Accès DI-fusion

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. Accès DIAL

Van der Linden, N., Devos, C., Boudrenghien, G., Frenay, M., Galand, B., Assaad, A., & Klein, O. (2018). Gaining insight into doctoral persistence: Development and validation of Doctorate-related Need Support and Need Satisfaction short scales. Learning and Individual Differences, 65, 100-111. Accès DI-fusion

Wollast, R., Boudrenghien, G., Van der Linden, N., Galand, B., Roland, R., Devos, C., de Clercq, M., Klein, O., Azzi, A., & Frenay, M. (in press). Who are the doctoral students who drop out? Factors associated with the rate of doctoral degree completion in universities. International Journal of Higher Education.

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). With the support of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels.

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 Pambu Kita-Phambu, Alice McCathie, Bibiane Fréché and Marie Welsch for their valuable insights and for the help they provide us with concerning data collection.