University of Sussex
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PhD supervisors and faculty members might help to avoid burnout as well as enhance engagement and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) among PhD students.

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posted on 2023-06-09, 16:35 authored by Patricio Javier Saavedra Morales, Evangelos Ntontis, Sofia-Anna-Arabella Kyprianides
There has been increased interest in the wellbeing and mental health of postgraduate students in light of the recent portrayal of the academic career as overworked and isolated. Research points to PhD students as being particularly at risk, yet the factors that contribute to PhD students’ compromised wellbeing are unclear. In this study (N = 392), we combine the social cure approach in social psychology with advances in organizational psychology to investigate potential predictors of work-related wellbeing and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) among PhD students in the UK. In particular, we explore the relationships between social support, willingness to support others, clarity of role, group belonging, engagement, and burnout using structural equation modelling (SEM). Our results point to the importance of support provided by both the supervisor and faculty members in helping to avoid burnout and enhance engagement among students. We also found that students’ identification with supervisors and faculty members together with clarity of role are positively associated with students’ work-related well-being. Moreover, although particular processes differ for early vs. late stage PhD students, our findings suggest that support from faculty members is a key predictor of intentions to perform OCB. Thus, received support is positively related to performing OCB both directly and indirectly via a sense of identification with faculty members. We discuss the implications of our findings in relation to policies aiming at improving the well-being of PhD students.


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