Journal articles

  • McAlpine, L., Turner, G., Saunders, S., & Wilson, N. (2016). Becoming a PI: Agency, persistence, and some luck! International Journal for Researcher Development, 7 (2), 106 – 122. 
    Reports on 60 postdocs awarded grants as principal investigators. Regardless of the length of the journey to their first grant, more than a third reported luck played in role. Invoking luck helped sustain self-belief and persistence in managing the challenges of the journey.
  • McAlpine, L., & Amundsen, C. (2016). The challenges of entering ‘mid-career’: Charting a balanced future. Higher Education Review, 48 (2), 5-30.
    Reports how 13 academics, five or more years post-PhD, experienced their research-teaching positions. While others might characterise them as entering mid-career, they still saw themselves striving towards their post-PhD goals of a) gaining permanence and b) feeling more established in their field.
  • McAlpine, L. (2016). Post-PhD non-academic careers: Intentions during and after degree. International Journal for Researcher Development, 7 (1), 2-14.
    More than half of PhD graduates work outside the academy as did the eight social scientists in this study. Their PhD experience was powerful in developing confidence, critical reading and thinking skills, and the ability to engage with others, and they were actively applying the skills they had developed.
  • McAlpine, L. (2016). Why might you use narrative methodology? A story about narrative. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri. Estonian Journal of Education, 4 (1), 32-57.
    Lays out the broad landscape of narrative research before describing the thinking, processes and procedures involved in the ten-year career trajectory study. The goal is to engage other researchers to consider exploring the use of narrative – if it aligns with their epistemological stance.
  • McAlpine, L. (2016). Becoming a PI: Shifting from ‘doing’ to ‘managing’ research. Teaching in Higher Education, 21 (1), 49-63.
    Describes how 16 science Principal Investigators (PI) prepared for and dealt with the career transition from postdoc to PI. Individuals demonstrated commitment to lengthy periods of postdoctoral work in different institutions before achieving PI-status. Once they had their grant the new challenges distanced them from actively researching.
  • Ashwin, P., Deem, R., & McAlpine, L. (2016). Newer researchers in higher education: Policy actors or policy subjects? Studies in Higher Education, 41 (12), 2184-2197.
    Explores how 42 mostly European newer researchers in the field of higher education responded to and negotiated their careers in relation to higher education policies. Two similarly-sized groups emerged: ‘policy actors’ who made strategic use of higher education policy and ‘policy subjects’ who felt that they were shaped by policy.



  • McAlpine, L., & Amundsen, C. (2016). Post-PhD Career Trajectories: Intentions, Decision-Making and Life Aspirations. London: Palgrave MacMillan.


  • Hum, G. (2016). Learning experiences during postgraduate studies in the sciences: Exploring variations and outcomes. PhD thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada.
    This dissertation documents a range and variation of postgraduate science students’ experiences and examines them from a workplace learning perspective both quantitatively and qualitatively. Postgraduates in Canada and the United Kingdom were studied in order to better understand the elements which influence degree experiences and post-graduation outcomes.