This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Identifying the Knowledge and Skills that Doctoral Chemists Require in the Workplace




Cui, Qi

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



In 2012, the National Research Council and the American Chemical Society reported many critiques of graduate education in the chemical sciences that do not adequately prepare students for the interdisciplinary careers for which they are training. These reports highlight the need for graduate students to possess knowledge and skills necessary to perform in careers as chemists in academia, industry, and other sectors. Despite abundant suggestions and recommendations, very few efforts have been made to evaluate and assess what knowledge and skills the chemists possess in their current work. The new investigation here expands on the previous work by identifying the knowledge and skills required for careers in the academic and non-academic chemical sciences. To achieve this goal, a total of 31 doctoral chemists from academia, industry, and government were interviewed about the activities they conduct on a day-to-day basis and the knowledge and skills that were required to complete these activities. In this qualitative study, there were 12 major knowledge and skills identified by thematic analysis, such as communication skills, management skills, teaching skills. Based on the results, a quantitative instrument was developed and piloted amongst 60 chemists. Various sources of evidence were gathered to demonstrate the validity and reliability of the online survey. After validation, the full survey was distributed with the aim of achieving a national level picture of the knowledge and skills that were required by doctoral chemists in different job sectors. A total of 412 responses were collected and analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistics to indicate differences that exist in the knowledge and skills between the different job sectors.