“The Florence Principles”
on the Doctorate in the Arts
A publication by
ELIA European League of the Institutes of the Arts
This paper is intended as a position paper on the doctorate in the arts. It is formulated as a point of reference for policy makers, university leaders, curriculum
designers and research funding agencies. It is addressed to art universities and scientific universities alike, helping the former to lobby for their endeavours (national funding bodies, legislature etc.), whilst helping the latter to learn about the research developments within the art university sector. This paper is also a consequence of the inclusion of “artistic research” in the OECD’s Frascati Manual, shaping further the understanding of research in the field of the arts and hoping to help create the necessary frameworks, environments and resources for early stage researchers (doctoral researchers) to develop their projects. Finally, this paper makes the point that all that holds true for doctoral research and the establishment of doctoral studies as defined in the central papers “Salzburg Recommendations” (2005) and “Taking Salzburg Forward (2016) ( both EUA) or “Innovative Doctoral Training” (European Commission) within the EU framework, is also valid for doctoral studies in the arts. As different as the research results might appear to be, the processes, the epistemological drive and consistency with which research projects in the arts are undertaken remain the same.
This paper has been developed by the Artistic Research Working Group installed by ELIA European League of the Institutes of the Arts. It was drafted by the members of this group, discussed with a working group of EUA’s Council for Doctoral Education, and continually edited by the ELIA working group until the final draft. Delegates of both the Society for Artistic Research (SAR) and the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) participated in the Working Group. The paper was endorsed by the ELIA board of representatives on November 4, 2016 and presented at the ELIA Biennial Conference in Florence, Dec. 2, 2016.
Part A: Context
Approximately 280 institutions around the world offer arts-based PhD. The administrative structures of the institutions that grant research degrees in the arts (fine art, design, music, architecture, dance, theatre, and all other disciplines) vary widely in different parts of the world, and the names of the degrees they offer (DCA, DPhil, PhD, DFA) also differ. All these institutions have special strengths, differences in assessment, funding, levels of international students and, of course, faculty and staff. Yet they share the same concern – to
realise doctoral programmes that allow artists to “advance knowledge through original [using artistic and other methodologies] research“4.
The doctorate in the arts has been established over the last four decades to varying degrees and in various forms throughout the EU – and the world. For example, some countries (UK, Norway, Sweden, Spain) have ten years and more experience of awarding doctoral degrees in the arts, and whilst other countries started introducing third cycle studies over the last ten years some have only recently decided to do so. As the legal conditions of national frameworks differ in allowing the introduction of artistic/arts/design based research doctoral studies, we can talk of a Europe of multiple speeds concerning the doctorate in the arts.
Whilst the legislature in Norway, for example, introduced a third cycle diploma in artistic reseach the arts as early as 2003, in Austria the University law was amended to include it only in 2015. Art universities also vary regarding their institutional status. Where many countries feature autonomous art universities with the same status (and legislative norms) as so-called comprehensive universities, in other countries art universities are organized as universities of applied sciences (e.g. Fachhochschulen in Switzerland or the Netherlands), or as academies (Italy), or faculties which form part of ‚classic’ universities. The establishment and implementation of doctoral programmes in the arts therefore follows different processes and regulative norms: where some countries introduced doctorates in the arts as co-operative study programmes (together with scientific universities, e.g. Switzerland and, in parts, Belgium), art universities in other countries have the right to implement artistic doctorates without having to go into co-operations (e.g. UK, Norway, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic). Whatever these differences may be, the discussions about the doctorate in the arts led by ELIA, arts universities and other organisations have shown that there is an ever-growing motivation to offer doctoral programmes all over Europe and beyond.
This coincides with, and to a certain degree is also a consequence of, the massive development of artistic research within the arts – in all artistic disciplines. Meanwhile, there is an international community of artistic research, an international and European-wide group of artistic research organizations (e.g. EARN, Society for Artistic Research, European Platform Artistic Research in Music), national organisations (e.g. PARSE Platform for Artistic Research Sweden), peer- reviewed journals for the dissemination of research results (e.g. JAR: Journal for Artistic Research; Parse-Journal, JAR), and funding programmes for artistic research projects (e.g. PEEK Programme at the Austrian Science Funds, Norwegian Artistic Research Programme or the funding programme for artistic research within the Swedish Research Council). Tackling research questions with artistic methods and creating works of art that deal with the big challenges of European – and, indeed, worldwide research and development in this area has become one of the most vibrant innovative endeavours. The OECD has reacted to this development by including “artistic research“ as a classifier for research and development in the “Frascati Manual 2015”, paving the way for the further inclusion
of artistic research within the European research frameworks. The European Research Council, for example, has already included artistic research in its funding
Looking at the development of artistic research and doctorates in the arts within the last 20 years, it is evident that a worldwide debate has been taking place, and the development of common standards for art based PhDs have started to emerge.
More and more common and shared topics have been defined and have become the subject of national and European discussions amongst the artistic research community and Arts Universities. Moreover, in the face of all identifiable specifications in the discussion there is one central commonality shared by the artistic research community: a doctorate in the arts complies with the prerequisites for a PhD, as formulated in the sciences and in the humanities and as described, for example, by the European position papers like the Salzburg Recommendations (EUA) or the Principles of Innovative Doctoral Training (EU Commission).
The international discussions and debates within the doctorates in the arts can be grouped around two poles. On the one hand, a series of practical, institutional questions concerning doctoral degree regulations (e.g. admission requirements, requirements of examination, requirements of the PhD project, taught courses, mandatory teaching) and the funding and financing of PhD candidates (employment, grants) have been discussed. On the other hand questions about what is at stake regarding a series of strategic areas have also been identified including:
– The Bologna Declaration, in which the PhD was positioned, and its effects.
– The formats for presenting the PhD outcomes and the significance of discursivity.
– The discussion about best practices and role models, without fixing a normative canon of criteria on the one hand, on not getting caught in loose
descriptions of criteria on the other hand.
– The tasks, quality and training of the doctoral supervisors.
– The organization and structure of doctoral programmes in the arts (e.g. mixed graduate schools, research groups, individual PhDs)
– Sustainability: What are the adequate formats for the dissemination of the result of doctoral work in the arts that should be developed urgently?
– Employability and different paths of development respectively, careers of artistic PhD graduates: do doctoral programmes in the arts mainly serve the individual’s development as an artist? Moreover, in which ways do PhD graduates become integrated into the research environment of Art Universities (Post-Docs)?
After a section (“Part B: Relations”) that references influential position papers for our discussion, we present (in section C of this paper) seven points of attention that try to work as orientation pillars in the discussion. Rather descriptive than normative in their rhetoric, the points draw attention to that which matters for the development and further success of doctorates in the arts
Part B: Relations
This section identifies the policy papers and strategic documents that form the “backbone” for our “Point of Attention concerning the doctorate in the arts”. They have shaped our discussions and form (in differing degrees) the substance and basis of our thinking about the doctorate in the arts.
With the publication of “The Salzburg Principles” in 2005 the ground was laid for starting and continuing the discussion of doctoral education as part of the Bologna process. The ten principles (doctoral training as advancement of knowledge through original research; the embedding of doctoral training in institutional strategies and policies; the importance of diversity; doctoral candidates as early- stage researchers; the crucial role of supervision and assessment; the achievement of critical mass as an important aim of doctoral programmes; the duration of three to four years; the promotion of innovative structures; the importance of mobility for doctoral researchers; the appropriate funding for doctoral candidates as a prerequisite) remain part and parcel of almost all discussions about doctoral education – although many of the principles, formulated more than ten years ago as intentions, have progressed to become certainties.
In 2010 the EUA published the Salzburg II Recommendations, a paper building upon the 10 principles of 2005 detailing them in order to serve as a “reference document for those who are either shaping doctoral education in their country, or
institution, or those who are involved in other aspects of the process of doctoral education reform.” The recommendations took into account the changing university structures which emphasised the role of the institution within the doctoral process, steering away from the traditional one-on-one supervision model.
In 2011, the European Commission’s Directorate-Generale for Research and Development published a further paper that would influence the discussion on Doctoral Education – and also the formulation of the position paper “Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training”. Building, too on the Salzburg Principles, the Commission’s document added the points of transferable skills’ training and quality assurance to the list of recommendations for third cycle education. Also, the point of “exposure [of doctoral candidates] to industry and other relevant employment sectors” was added, resonating the much-discussed (and criticised) notion of “employability” of the Bologna process.
All three of the above mentioned papers – and certainly also the recently published “Taking Salzburg Forward” (EUA), which adds dimensions of research ethos, global orientation of research and the necessitcy of research engagement with non-academic stakeholders – provide crucial and central points for the framework of artistic/design doctorates. However, they all lack any mention of the third cycle in the disciplines of arts universities. Of course, they do not mention any other discipline, either, that formulates the frames for doctoral education in a way that holds valid for all academic disciplines – so in this sense, the three papers are also valid for the doctorate in the arts. Nevertheless, within the arts several publications have been published during the last years that address the question of research and/or doctoral education in the art sector.
The last five years saw the publication of several position papers, white papers etc. coming from the arts concerning artistic research and – as a consequence – doctoral studies. The European Association for Architectural Education, EAAE, for example passed its Charter for Architectural Research in 2013, emphasising the necessity for inclusive and specific types of communicating knowledge within research, spanning from artistic to scholarly projects. In addition, the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musiques et Musikhochschulen, AEC, published a White Paper asserting the important role that artistic research plays in the field of musical arts. The White Paper adamantly confirms that “artistic research should aspire to the same procedural standards that apply across the whole research spectrum – replicability (especially of procedures), verifiability, justification of claims by reference to evidence, etc. – even though, especially in areas such as replicability, it must be allowed the freedom to achieve these standards in ways particular to its own nature, and to the individual and subjective nature of artistic practice.”
The most comprehensive publication on third cycle studies and artistic research was undertaken by ELIA as part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme project on “Step-Change for Higher Arts and Research in Education – SHARE” (2010-2013). The “SHARE-Handbook” contains an overview of the development of doctoral programmes in the arts in Europe, identifying numerous “best practice” cases for PhD-projects from all over Europe. It gives insight into the debate about the discipline by featuring prominent representatives of the artistic research community and it contains a toolkit for curriculum building in terms of providing reflections on methodologies employed by research in the arts as well as an in-depth study on the
question of (new) disciplines.
Because the main aim (and success) of the SHARE
Project was to build a large network of institutions and people investing in doctoral education in the arts, the project’s final publication reflects a major effort to bring the respective research community in Europe together, taking up and reflecting many different voices in the area.
The seven “points of attention” in Part C of this document are built upon all the papers mentioned above. They try to extract the crucial and critical core of what matters in doctoral education in the arts and want to provide pillars to a field which has been developing and expanding over the last 20 or so years.
Part C: Seven Points of Attention (“The Florence Principles”)
Doctoral studies (doctorates and PhDs) in the arts enable candidates to make an original contribution to their disciplines. The principles for doctoral education, as elaborated in the Salzburg Recommendations II (EUA) – as well as in the “Principles on Innovative Doctoral Training” (EU Commission) are in general held to be valid and valuable for the doctoral studies in the arts. The following descriptions set out to clarify those points that are essential and maybe particular to doctoral studies in the arts.
Doctorates in the arts aim at the development of the artistic competence, at the creation of new knowledge and at the advancement of artistic researchers on the base of a diploma and/or master degree in relevant subject areas. Doctorates in the arts provide a research qualification that builds upon and goes beyond diploma/master studies and requires the pursuit of an in-depth development of an artistic research project. The doctoral study programmes in the arts advance candidates as artists and researchers, providing artistic competence and the ability to reflect and create new insights and knowledge by applying innovative artistic methods at the level of the third cycle. Doctoral candidates are selected by formal requirements defined by the institution and their artistic qualification and competences. Potential supervisors can be part of the selection process to ensure the academic quality of the dissertation process.
• Career Perspectives
Holders of doctoral degrees in the arts may enter (or continue) an academic career at a Higher Education institution and/or enter (or continue) their career as artists. A doctorate in the arts is normally undertaken when the candidate has completed graduate studies and produced a significant body of work. Cohorts of doctoral programmes are thus formed of already established artists, being highly mobile internationally. In bringing their academic research and professional artworld experience together cohorts build valuable networks and accumulate key transferable skills that shape future perspectives for doctoral candidates in the arts. Upon completion, holders of doctoral degrees have the potential to combine their career as artists with a career in Higher Education.
• Doctoral Work
The doctoral work (dissertation project) undertaken in the doctoral studies in the arts includes the development of an original and concrete artistic research project. The research project uses artistic methods and techniques, resulting in an original contribution to new insights and knowledge within the artistic fields. The artistic research project consists of the original work/s of art and contains a discursive component that critically reflects upon the project and documents the research process. Internationality, interdisciplinarity and interculturality are implicit in many artistic practices and can thus benefits for doctoral programmes in the arts.
• Research Environment
Artistic doctoral studies are embedded in an appropriate research environment to ensure the best possible (inter-) disciplinary advancement of artistic work.
Appropriate research environments consist of a critical mass of faculty and doctoral researchers, of an active artistic research profile within the institution, of an effective infrastructure that includes an international dimension (co-operations, partnerships, networks). Doctoral research projects in the arts advance discipline(s) and can advance interdisciplinary work, by widening the borders and by establishing new cross- disciplinary relations. Artistic doctoral projects require adequate resources and infrastructure, in particular studio space and exhibition/performance environment.
Funding for doctoral researchers in the arts is crucial.
Supervision is a core issue for good practice in doctoral education and at least two supervisors are recommended. A doctoral agreement defining the supervision roles (candidate – supervisor – institution) triangulates the supervision process.
Institutions establish a good supervision culture by defining responsibilities in guidelines, also accounting for conflict resolution. Supervision is to be separated (at least partially) from final evaluation (assessment, reviewers) and supervisors should focus on maintaining the quality of the dissertation project towards national and international standards. Doctoral programmes in the arts follow the standard QA&E procedures applicable in the different national and institutional contexts (accreditation, reviews, etc.).
• Dissemination through appropriate channels
The results of doctoral work in the arts are disseminated through appropriate channels. For artistic work exhibitions, performances, media installations and content, websites and so on provide appropriate dissemination frames, a particular effort needs to be made to create the adequate archives for the results of doctoral work. Accessibility of doctoral work has a high relevance, wherever possible and under the provision of proper copyright regulations “open access” is the guiding principle for the dissemination of artistic research work and the documentation of artistic work (e.g. digital portfolios in institutional repositories). Peer reviewed and/or externally validated contexts are to be prioritized, e.g. via exhibition programmes in museums or curatorial selection processes. The specificity of the dissemination contexts should be clarified at the beginning of the doctoral studies, e.g. in the doctoral agreement.