Research in universities is under scrutiny as never before. Can and should all universities and all parts of universities be funded to do research? How can research be best supported? What does it produce and can this be produced better under different conditions? What should be encouraged? Within this debate sits the vital role of preparing the next generation of researchers. How should this be done, by whom and under what circumstances? The domain of academic practice that was traditionally thought of as most characteristically the purview of universities, the research doctorate, is now the focus of public policy and the gaze of governments. In different countries, in different ways, the doctorate has become a site of contestation: What is it for? How should it be done? No longer is it simply a matter of disciplines reproducing their own; instead, as research has become a vital part of a global, competitive knowledge economy, the doctorate is increasingly becoming subject to the influence of policy-makers and others wanting to shape directions for development.