Nacaps – National Academics Panel Study


Doing Your Doctorate? Why You Should Participate in the Nacaps Survey:

Copyright: © Kurt Beyer



Ralitza Bliznakov

Organizational Matters


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Since 2019, RWTH has participated in the National Academics Panel Study, Nacaps for short, a longitudinal study of doctoral candidates and doctoral graduates by the German Center for Higher Education and Science Studies (DZHW).

The Nacaps study surveys doctoral students and doctoral graduates throughout Germany on a regular basis to gather information about issues such as general conditions of doctoral study, career prospects and career paths, and general life situation.

RWTH has been a partner university of DZHW since the beginning of the initiative and participated in both surveys in February 2019 and February 2021. Some selected nationwide results of the first surveys can be found at Nacaps Data Portal (de) or in this Flyer.

The next study survey starts February 27, 2023, and will be managed at RWTH by Thomas Czirnich, Department 12.1 Career Development of Young Academics and Talent Management in the Center for Young Academics.

We would lime to invite you to participat in the survey – your feedback is invaluable to us!

How do I participate?

Doctoral candidates at RWTH will receive an invitation by email from the RWTH Doctoral Academy to participate in the nacaps online survey starting February 27, 2023.


Five Good Reasons to Take Part in the Study

Your Experience Has an Impact on Future Decisions

The results of the study fnd their way into scientific publications and serve as a basis for political reporting, for example in the quarterly Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs (BuWin). Your experiences and insights will help rethink doctoral education for current and future doctoral candidates at RWTH. The University's own results will be evaluated by the CYA and possible needs for action identified. By participating, you provide new impetus and help shape university policy.

You Help to Underpin Arguments with Facts

The survey asks about your experiences as a doctoral candidate; whether you would like to have more support and guidance and if so, in what ways. This is useful feedback for us at RWTH.

Your Personal Path Counts

Even if you took a (seemingly) unusual path to – or during – your doctorate, or have since terminated your doctoral studies, your participation is very important. Only a wide range of respondents makes it possible for us to gain a full picture of the post-graduate landscape in Germany. This also applies if you came to Germany for your doctorate or if you intend to leave Germany after completing your PhD.

You Can Reflect on Your Own Career

The Nacaps questionnaire touches on a variety of topics related to your doctoral studies. Completing the survey thus helps you reflect on your current situation, your own attitude towards your work, and possible future career paths.

You Contribute to a Unique Study

Support this Germany-wide research project and become part of a unique study.


Nacaps Facts

  • 17 percent of doctoral candidates have children
  • 97 percent of doctoral candidates who are employed at a university have a limited employment contract
  • 7 percent of doctoral candidates are working on their dissertation in a cooperative process with a university of applied sciences
  • 42 percent of doctoral candidates have 19 or fewer hours a week to work on their dissertation
  • 32 percent of doctoral candidates are aiming for a professorship
  • 35 percent are still undecided on whether to pursue a professorship
  • Doctoral students have an average net income of 1,841 euros
  • 27 months is the average contract duration for doctoral students employed at universities and research institutions
  • 29 percent of doctoral candidates talk to their supervisor no more than once a semester
  • 76 percent of doctoral candidates find their doctoratal research exciting
  • 28 percent of doctoral candidates have stayed abroad at least once as part of their doctorate.

Further Nacaps results can be found on the Nacaps data portal or on the Nacaps website.



What is Nacaps?

Nacaps stands for National Academics Panel Study and is a new longitudinal study of doctoral candidates and doctoral graduates in Germany. At regular intervals, Nacaps surveys doctoral candidates and doctoral graduates in Germany about their general conditions of doctoral study, career prospects and career paths, and their general life situation.

Who is behind Nacaps?

Nacaps is conducted by the German Center for Higher Education and Science Studies (DZHW) in cooperation with currently 65 German universities authorized to award doctorates.

Through its participation in the National Education Panel (NEPS) or the Social Survey and its own panel studies such as ProFile, WiNbus, or Careers of Doctoral Graduates, the DZHW stands for competence and experience in administering online surveys in science and academia. The Nacaps project team combines expertise from empirical social research, technical data management skills, and many years of experience in conducting and analyzing longitudinal studies.

Nacaps is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

What opportunities for analysis do the results of the study provide?

The survey results does not only provide information on the situation of doctoral researchers and their varied career paths, but also can be analyzed in relation to overarching national and international developments in the higher education and science sectors. This makes it possible to systematically examine the significance of early-career researchers for the higher education and science systems as well as for Germany as a hub for innovation. The results are are published, for example, in the National Report on Junior Scholars (BuWiN), which is published every four years.

Researchers who are interested in the research data from the study have the opportunity to request them for their own analyses from the Research Data Center (FDZ) of the DZHW.

How long has the study been running?

The first online survey was conducted in spring 2019. Since then, over 42,000 doctoral students have participated in the Nacaps surveys. For the panel study, Nacaps invites respondents to participate in annual follow-up surveys.

Where can I find the results of the study?

Nacaps makes the results of the surveys available through its public Data Portal. For further reports, papers, and presentations, as well as information on how to use the data for your own research, please visit the NACAPS website.