University of Oulu, 2019

New ESR project ”ExpertZones” to support well-being and expertise of doctoral researchers

New ESR funded project “ExpertZones - developing the psychological well-being and expertise of doctoral researchers in Northern Finland” will be carried out 1.3.2021-31.5.2023 in the University of Oulu Graduate School (UniOGS).

The aim of this project is to improve the psychological well-being, expertise and career development of Finnish and international doctoral researchers. These actions will increase the prosperity of Northern Finland also more generally. University of Oulu has a central role in building the competitiveness and attractiveness of Northern Finland and therefore the doctoral researchers, as the top experts of the future, are important in terms of regional development.

Building the needed skills and identity of an expert should be approached as a multidimensional process that requires systematic support throughout the entire four-year doctoral research period. Furthermore, during this process much more attention should be paid to the career development of the scientists, especially by opening up alternative career paths for doctors in the industry. Accordingly, doctorate researchers in general and international researchers in particular need more opportunities for networking with companies and public organizations during their doctoral studies. In this way, the University of Oulu also can better meet the employment needs of the regional industry when training the future doctors.

Accordingly, this project builds an ExpertZones model that provides with a structured way to support the experts’ psychological well-being, career path and networking. The model helps doctoral researchers and other academics alike to understand the various dimensions of expertise and to become aware of their own strengths and development needs related to their growth into a specialist of their research field. 

The project establishes support groups and a well-being team to University of Oulu to maintain doctoral researchers’ well-being. In addition, the project integrates support for career development and networking, together with related skills training, into doctoral research process. As a result of this project, we expect the increase of the doctoral student’s well-being and the broadening of their expertise beyond the subject to their research. More generally, the expected outcome of the project is that graduated doctors, especially international talents, are increasingly prepared and able to continue their career in various industry sectors in Northern Finland.

ExpertZones project’s first course “Psychological well-being and self management skills of a doctoral researcher” ( will be organized 27-31.5.2021 together with the faculty of education. The course offers the participants a broad perspective on issues related to work-related stress and well-being. During the three-day course, the participants learn different ways to develop skills and resources that promote and support their psychological well-being at work, such as stress management and self-management skills. Upon completion of the course, the participants know the elements of work-related stress and well-being, and how they can strengthen the related skills and resources. The participants are able to identify challenges related to their psychological well-being. The participants are also able to utilize the tools learned in the course to promote their psychological well-being.

Last updated: 19.5.2021