Career Development of Doctorate Holders (cdh)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
1.2. Contact organisation unit G4: Innovation and information society
1.5. Contact mail address 2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 06/03/2013
2.2. Metadata last posted 06/03/2013
2.3. Metadata last update 06/03/2013

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data presented concerns the Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) survey. This survey is a joint project of three organisations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and Eurostat. The first data collection was carried out in 2006 and the second in 2009 in most European countries and some of the most important other members of the OECD, such as the United States.

CDH statistics measure important characteristics of doctorate holders, i.e. holders of ISCED6 research qualification. The main topics covered within this collection are the following:

- personal characteristics

- employment situation

- work perceptions

- inward international mobility

Being the first round of the CDH survey, the 2006 data collection had a certain element of ‘pilot exercise’. Significant comparability issues between countries, mainly due to coverage inconsistencies, resulted in the request for new data under the following two restrictions:

- ISCED6 graduates aged below 70 years old

- ISCED6 graduates having awarded their degree after 1990.

The restricted data was gathered in March 2009 based on the 2006 data collection. CDH data presented here refer to both data collections, the core collection (total) and the restricted collection (graduates after 1990).

The CDH 2009 collection covers by definition the holders of ISCED 6 qualification aged below 70 years old. No restriction in the year of graduation has been implemented. However, CDH 2009 figures are also published for the two populations (core and restricted) for reasons of comparability between the two rounds.

For more information on the CDH project, please see Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) project.

3.2. Classification system

Data is classified by activity status, fields of science, sectors of employment and occupation (based on the ISCO88 classification for CDH 2006 and ISCO08 for CDH 2009).

3.3. Coverage - sector

Sectors of Employment

(1) Business Enterprise Sector

  • All firms, organisations and institutions whose primary activity is the market production of goods or services (other than higher education) for sale to the general public at an economically significant price.
  • The private non-profit institutions mainly serving them.

(2) Government Sector

  • All departments, offices and other bodies which furnish, but normally do not sell to the community, those common services, other than higher education, which cannot otherwise be conveniently and economically provided, as well as those that administer the state and the economic and social policy of the community. (Public enterprises mainly engaged in market production and sale of goods and services are included in the business enterprise sector.)
  • Non-profit institutions controlled and mainly financed by government, not administered by the higher education sector.

(3) Private Non-profit Sector

  • Non-market, private non-profit institutions serving households (i.e. the general public)
  • Private individuals or households.

The market activities of unincorporated enterprises owned by households, i.e. consultants undertaking projects for another unit at an economically significant price, should be included in the business enterprise sector in line with National Accounts conventions (unless the project is undertaken using staff and facilities in another sector, see below). Hence, the PNP sector should only include activities undertaken by non-market, unincorporated enterprises owned by households, i.e. individuals financed by their own resources or by “uneconomic” grants.

Furthermore, where grants and contracts are formally awarded to individuals who are primarily employed in another sector, such as grants made directly to a university professor, unless such persons undertake the activity concerned entirely on their own time and make no use of their employing unit’s staff and facilities, they should be included in the statistics of the employing unit. It therefore follows that this sector only includes activities performed by individuals exclusively on their own time and with their own facilities and at their own expense or supported by an uneconomic grant.

(4) Higher Education Sector

  • All universities, colleges of technology and other institutions providing tertiary education, whatever their source of finance or legal status.
  • It also includes all research institutes, experimental stations and clinics under the direct control of or administered by or associated with higher education institutions.

(5) Other Education Sector

All institutions providing pre-primary, primary or secondary education, whatever their source of finance or legal status.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Holder of advanced research qualification / Holder of an ISCED 6 qualification

Principal characteristics

This level is reserved for tertiary programmes which lead to the award of an advanced research qualification. The programmes are therefore devoted to advanced study and original research and are not based on course-work only.

Classification criteria

For the definition of this level, the following criteria are relevant:

Main criterion: It typically requires the submission of a thesis or dissertation of publishable quality which is the product of original research and represents a significant contribution to knowledge.

Subsidiary criterion: It prepares graduates for faculty posts in institutions offering ISCED 5A programmes, as well as research posts in government, industry, etc.

ISCED 6 qualification includes also the part concentrating on advanced research in those countries where students beginning tertiary education enroll directly for an advanced research programme.


Researchers are professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems and also in the management of the projects concerned (Frascati Manual).


The employed comprise all persons above a specified age who during a specified brief period, either one week or one day, were in the following categories:

-          at work: persons who during the reference period performed some work for a wage or salary, or persons who during the reference period performed some work for profit or family gain, in cash or in kind;

-          with a job but not at work: persons who, having already worked in their present job, were temporarily not at work during the reference period and had a formal attachment to their job. This formal attachment should be determined in the light of national circumstances, according to one or more of the following criteria: the continued receipt of wage or salary; an assurance of return to work following the end of the contingency, or an agreement as to the date of return; the elapsed duration of absence from the job which, wherever relevant, may be that duration for which workers can receive compensation benefits without obligations to accept other jobs;

-          with an enterprise but not at work: persons with an enterprise, which may be a business enterprise, a farm or a service undertaking, who were temporarily not at work during the reference period for any specific reason.


The unemployed comprise all persons above a specified age who during the reference period were:

-          without work, that is, were not in paid employment or self employment during the reference period;

-          currently available for work, that is, were available for paid employment or self-employment during the reference period; and

-          seeking work, that is, had taken specific steps to seek paid employment or self-employment. The specific steps may include registration at a public or private employment exchange; application to employers; checking at worksites, farms, factory gates, market or other assembly places; placing or answering newspaper advertisements; seeking assistance of friends or relatives; looking for land, building, machinery or equipment to establish own enterprise; arranging for financial resources; applying for permits and licenses, etc.


The "population not currently active", or, equivalently, persons not in the labour force, comprises all persons who were not employed or were unemployed and hence not currently active because of:

-          attendance at educational institutions,

-          engagement in household duties,

-          retirement or old age, or

-          other reasons such as infirmity or disablement, which may be specified.

Internationally mobile doctorate holder

An internationally mobile doctorate holder is a doctorate holder who, since the award of his/her research qualification, has moved to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least 3 months, except in cases where the movement to that country was for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends and relatives, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage.

Citizenship Status

Citizenship is defined as the particular legal bond between an individual and his/her State, acquired by birth or naturalization, whether by declaration, option, marriage or other means according to the national legislation.

A citizen is therefore a person with the legal nationality of a country.

In case of dual or multiple citizenships, the person should be counted only once and reported as citizen if he holds the nationality of the reporting country and as non-citizen in any other case.

Gross annual earning

Gross annual earnings cover remuneration in cash and in kind paid during the reference year before any tax deductions and social-security contributions payable by wage earners and retained by the employer.

For more concepts and definitions related to the CDH survey, please see the technical document “CDH Variables and Definitions” (please see the Annex at the bottom of the page).

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit is the single individual having a formal education at ISCED 6 level (awarded doctorate) and being resident (permanent or non-permanent) in the reporting country on the reference date.

3.6. Statistical population

All holders of research qualification aged below 70 years old and being resident (permanent or non-permanent) in the reporting country on the reference date, irrespective of the country where their diploma was awarded.

3.7. Reference area

CDH 2006: 13 EU Member States, i.e. Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland; Switzerland and the United States of America.


CDH 2009: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, Switzerland, Russia, Israel, the United States and the Chinese Taipei.


Portugal also delivered provisional output tables and Norway and Serbia will deliver their datasets in the coming months.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data is available for years 2006 and 2009.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Data is expressed in absolute numbers (only for personal characteristics) and percentages.

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the calendar year.

For the CDH exercise, the reference day is also relevant, i.e. point in time to which the measured observation (e.g. length of stay in the reporting country) refers. According to recommendations, this should be December 1 of the year before the year when the survey is conducted at national level (e.g. the recommended reference day therefore for the 2010 data collection is 1 December 2009). However countries are free to choose another reference date, but it should preferably be chosen as close to December 1 as possible, between 1 October and 31 December.

CDH 2006: In the present data collection the reference year was 2006 with the exception of the Netherlands (2005) and Italy (2007).

CDH 2009: In the present data collection the reference year was 2009 with the exception of the Denmark (some data refer to 2007 and 2008), Poland (2008), Finland (2008), the United States (some data refer to 2008, 2003) and Chinese Taipei, where the reference year varied from table to table depending on the data source used for its completion.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Not applicable.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Data are shared between the three organizations involved in the CDH exercise, i.e. OECD, UIS and Eurostat (until 2012).

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Eurostat does not publish confidential data. CDH data transmitted by the countries are in aggregated form. However, confidentiality protection, where needed, has been taken care by the countries.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

A standard frequency has not been agreed. The first collection run in 2007 with reference to 2006 and the second in 2010 with reference to 2009. Eurostat does not participate in the third collection with OECD and UIS in 2013.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Science, technology and innovation in Europe - Pocketbook 2012

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Eurostat Statistics Explained - Careers of Doctorate Holders

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Statistics on the Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH): Methodological guidelines.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Quality information has been made available by the countries in the national methodological/metadata documents. Eurostat has produced synthesis quality reports for the two rounds. However, these are for internal use only. The main conclusions are presented in the following sections.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

As the national methods for collecting the data may vary between countries, reflecting the diversity of the national statistical systems, harmonisation is carried out on the output of the CDH statistics, together with a control of quality. The aim is to obtain high quality results through a harmonised list of variables and indicators, together with their related definitions. Different countries are at different stages of development of the CDH statistics, in particular in reaching the final aim of full coverage of the target population. In a transition phase where countries make efforts to fully implement the methodological guidelines, incomplete coverage will have to be accepted to support their effort. However, this is at the expense of comparability of the data between countries. A priority is to limit incomplete coverage as the project develops and national practices are harmonised.


Indeed, countries have put a lot of effort thereon in the preparation of the CDH 2009 learning from the experience of CDH 2006. Despite the improvements, coverage inconsistencies are still persistent.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Although the CDH 2009 has improved in comparison to CDH 2006, an acceptable degree of harmonisation has not been achieved yet to allow sound comparison and combination of the data provided by the individual countries. National practices and conditions differ significantly, starting from the data sources used, the survey type, the age groups covered, grossing-up techniques, etc. These differences affect negatively the comparability of national statistics and extra effort should be put to further harmonise CDH data collection.

Moreover, since harmonization and the resulting comparability tend to be the basic issue with the CDH collection, other quality dimensions are given less priority. However, this is to be considered in future rounds, especially in what regards the accuracy of the figures and in particular the evaluation of sampling errors and response rates.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The user needs for statistics on CDH were thoroughly discussed during a series of workshops between 2003 and 2009. The main findings of these workshops may be summarized under the following four headings:

  • The role of doctorate holders in innovation and the knowledge economy

Where do doctorate holders work as compared to other tertiary graduates? Do they follow research career and on what sector and field?

  • Labour market supply and demand

Do we train too many or too few doctorate holders? Are there mismatches in the labour market? Why do doctorate holders choose research career in the public sector, or in the private sector or leave research? What is their perception of career opportunities and employment situation in the public versus the private sector? Do they earn more than the average citizen and which sectors of employment are the most profitable?

  • Education to work

How long is the time of transition to employment or post doctoral experience? How related is the job to the doctoral degree?

  • Mobility

How mobile are doctorate holders between sectors? When do doctorate holders leave research for a career in management? How big are the flows of doctorate holders between countries? How common it is for doctorate holder to reside in a country on a non-permanent basis? What are the reasons for doctorate holders to return to country of origin?

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

With the CDH statistics, policy makers should get much better information to address the aforementioned questions. Countries will be able to share information at international level, having their expatriates covered in the doctoral population observed by other countries.

12.3. Completeness

-               CDH 2006: Countries have been requested to deliver 33 output tables

Data availability is at a satisfactory level for most of the countries and especially for those carrying out a dedicated CDH survey. The outcome of this exercise reveals that collection methods, other than dedicated surveys, have a negative impact on the availability of the requested information. In fact, countries which use either the LFS or administrative data or population census to derive CDH figures tend to supply limited data in the output tables. On the contrary, data derived from dedicated surveys is very much complete in respect to the requirements set by the three international organisations. Referring to the latter case, the tables with the poorest availability were Inward Mobility tables (IMOB1 – IMOB3).

-               CDH 2009: Countries have been requested to deliver 35 output tables

Data completeness has improved compared to CDH 2009. In particular, data completeness has improved in all countries, with the exception of four countries where differences are mostly minor, and for all tables with the exception of tables P7, ED4 and EMP4, It is worth mentioning that the completeness of Inward and Outward Mobility tables has improved considerably.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

A clear picture about overall accuracy cannot be given because complete quantitative information is still missing. Overall, coverage inconsistencies and small response rates in some countries seem to be the main shortcomings of the accuracy of CDH 2009.

13.2. Sampling error

Very limited information available to make a sound assessment of sampling errors.

13.3. Non-sampling error

The most important problem identified when analyzing the metadata is the that specific sub-groups of the target population, and especially ‘ISCED6 graduates awarded their degree outside the reporting country’, ‘Unemployed doctorate holders’, ‘Inactive doctorate holders’, ‘Non-permanent residents’ and ‘Foreign citizens’ where partly covered or not covered at all. This mainly occurs due to the lack of sufficient and complete data sources (registers, administrative data, etc.) concerning the population of doctorate holders in European countries.

Eurostat has a broad picture about these shortcomings; however, quantitative information to assess the impact of coverage errors is not available.

Regarding non-response, three countries have reported for CDH 2009 non-response greater than 70%. Another four have nearly reached 40% and 50% response rate, while for only three countries response is greater than 70%.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Timeliness of the CDH 2009 statistics, i.e. the length of time between the release of the statistics at national level and the reference date, varies among countries from 11 months to 24 months.

14.2. Punctuality

According to the methodological recommendations for the CDH 2009, countries are asked to return the CDH output tables 12 months after the end of the reference year at the latest.

In the CDH Task Force and the Expert Group meetings organized in Luxembourg in April 2009, Eurostat, the OECD and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics agreed that this deadline is extended to December 31, 2011.

Delivery dates of the output tables to Eurostat vary. Eleven countries have managed to deliver these data in time, i.e. by December 31, 2011. The rest of the countries have delivered data with some delays (up to six months).

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

CDH 2006: The comparability of CDH statistics between countries is limited as it is already highlighted. The main reasons are the coverage inconsistencies, the different survey types applied as well as the grossing-up methods implemented – in fact some countries did not carry out grossing-up to the collected data.

CDH 2009: Deviations from the recommended main variables and classifications, the statistical unit and the target population are few. Inconsistencies as already discussed about are related to the partly coverage / non-coverage of the particular sub-groups of the target population.  

15.2. Comparability - over time

Comparisons between the results of CDH 2006 and CDH 2009 are possible in the way that data for the two countries are presented in Eurobase. The restriction of the year of graduation, although not implemented for CDH 2009, was regarded necessary in order to make this comparison possible.

Other than that, no other significant methodological changes have been made that would result in breaks in the two series, other than the change from the ISCO-88 into the ISCO-08 classification of occupations.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

CDH 2006: Examining the coherence of CDH survey with LFS, we may compare the number of doctorate holders and the percentage of employed and inactive doctorate holders in the survey population. The comparison does not apply to countries which use the LFS figures to report CDH data. For the rest of the countries there is an indication that the number of doctorate holders in CDH is in most of the cases underestimated, compared with LFS results. These differences are due to coverage inconsistencies in the CDH survey, but the reliability of LFS results should also be taken into consideration. On the contrary, the percentage of employed doctorate holders in the survey population identified by CDH falls very closely to the LFS results. The latter may reveal good representativeness of employed and unemployed doctorate holders in CDH surveys.


CDH 2009: No comparison has been made yet between CDH 2009 and LFS series

15.4. Coherence - internal

CDH 2009: Inconsistencies in the published data are only relevant to some methodological deviations that some countries have reported (see point 15.1). Other than that, inconsistencies within a country’s dataset have been taken care with the implementation of validation controls in the submitted data.

16. Cost and Burden Top

No relevant information available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

No standard revision policy in place.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Revisions have been sent by the countries after data checks and corrections implemented either by the countries or Eurostat (that were also transmitted to the countries for correction/confirmation).

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

In most countries CDH survey frame was based on multiple sources as each one has certain special characteristics.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

The 2006 data collection was the first round of the CDH survey. The second round referred to CDH 2009. Eurostat is not participating in the third collection carried out in 2013.

18.3. Data collection

A core model questionnaire, has been used to design the national questionnaires. Various means were used to collect data over CDH 2006 and CDH 2009.

18.4. Data validation

NSIs have been asked to provide filled-in output tables as well as methodological description for the production of national CDH statistics. Countries were given a template in Excel to complete output tables which also contained automatic validation rules.

18.5. Data compilation

CDH 2009: Sample data are weighted according to national preferences of using different weighting schemes in order to estimate population means.

18.6. Adjustment

No adjustments have been made.

19. Comment Top

Eurostat participated in the two first rounds of the CDH data collection and published respective data for more than 20 countries. Participation of Eurostat was suspended in 2012 for the third round of data collection.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top