Review: A Doctorate and Beyond by Graham C. Goodwin and Stefan F. Graebe

book cover

This is an excellent book on careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), aimed at, “.. anybody contemplating or doing a doctorate in engineering or one of the physical sciences”.  In addition, this book will be of interest to those interested in the topics discussed, including ethics in science, interactions between students and supervisors, goal setting, balance of one’s work and personal life, and dealing with injustice. The authors are engineers with both industrial and academic experience.  Both authors are currently based in Australia and South Africa but their experience is international and a suite of more than 20 colleagues worldwide are acknowledged for critiquing manuscript drafts as well as making contributions to the text.

The authors stress that they hope to help career development whether through planning or as the result of luck or chance. The book has 24 chapters grouped into four parts. Part I is making the choice to pursue a doctorate (or not), Part II discusses the process of getting a Ph.D., Part III discusses how to use a newly acquired doctorate, and Part IV covers personal and professional development as a career evolves. Each chapter consists of an overview followed several questions which hopefully prompt “answers” appropriate for the reader. Each chapter concludes with a summary and references for further reading.

Chapter 1 leads off part I and examines the reasons, pro and con, for pursuing a STEM career including a Ph.D. vs. a Master’s Degree. In Chapter 2, “uses” or positions available for those with a STEM Ph.D. are discussed including academia, private or non-academia, government, and entrepreneurship. Alternative and even “novel” positions are discussed. Chapter 3 covers selections, of schools, supervisors, and research topics. Work/family/home relationships are discussed in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 elaborates on how long it will take to get the Ph.D. and strategies to optimize.

Part II is titled “Doing your Doctorate” and chapters discuss beginning and to-do suggestions, interactions with supervisors, networking, tools (including the all-important reading and use of the literature, publication, presentations, ethics, and thesis writing how-to’s.

Parts III and IV cover use of the Ph.D., early and later in the career respectively. Chapters 14-18 in Part III describe finding a job, academic positions (teaching, research, publication and other responsibilities), industrial positions (including transitions to administration, management, and entrepreneurship), back and forth transitions between academia and industry, and success “cycles” including skills resources, and leadership.

Chapters 19-24 in Part IV cover the evolution of the cycles of success in the later years in the career, public speaking including dealing with the media, changes in both jobs and careers, mentoring and planning for succession, balance of work and life, and focus on the bigger picture including how to deal with injustice.

Whimsically illustrated, footnotes and references for further reading conclude every chapter but there is no index. A related, continuously updated website is cited: .

This book is highly recommended to those in all stages of a STEM career. It’s a welcome addition to recent books and resources on STEM education and careers. (1, 2, 3, 4)  Bottom line: I wish I would have had a similar resource available at all stages of my education, job searching and my dual careers.


The author declares no competing financial interest


  1. Bloomfield, V. A., El-Fakahany.  The Chicago Guide to your Career in Science: A Toolkit for Students and Postdocs; Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA,  2008.  Reviewed in J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87, 371.
  2. Chakrabarty, P., A Guide to Academia: Getting Into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs, and a Research Job; Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK, 2012.  Reviewed in J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90, 149.
  3. Sinche, Melanie V., Next Gen PhD: A Guide to career Paths in Science; Harvard Coll., Cambridge, MA, USA, 2016.  Reviewed in ChemEd X, in print.
  4. Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Lincoln, Anne E., Failing Families, Failing Science: Work-Family Conflict in Academic Science; New York University Press, New York NY, 2016.  Reviewed in ChemEd X.
Publication information
Alt. Title: 

A Doctorate and Beyond

Pick Attribution: 

Graham C. Goodwin, Stefan F. Graebe

Publication Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017