The Transition to Retirement Experiences of Academics in “Higher Education”: A Meta-Ethnography

The Transition to Retirement Experiences of Academics in “Higher Education”: A Meta-Ethnography Abstract Background and Objectives There are increasing numbers of older academics working in Higher Education Institutions worldwide. It is essential that academics’ retirement experiences are clearly understood as they tend to have different retirement trajectories than other occupational groups. This meta-ethnography aims to answer the research question “what are the experiences of academics transitioning to retirement” by identifying and synthesizing qualitative research using a meta-ethnographic approach. Research Design and Methods A systematic literature search was conducted from January 2000 to September 2016 to identify qualitative studies focusing on academics’ experiences of retirement. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of included papers. Concepts from each study were translated into each other to form theories, which were then combined through a “line-of-argument” synthesis. Results Twenty papers were included. Five themes were identified: (a) continuing to work in retirement, (b) the impact of the retirement transition on the academics’ identity, (c) changing relationships through the retirement transition, (d) experiencing aging processes, and (e) planning for retirement. For most, retirement is characterized by continuing to work in aspects of their role, maintaining associated relationships, with gradual disengagement from academic activities. For another smaller group, the retirement pathway is experienced as an event, with complete detachment from academic activities. Discussion and Implications The review highlights that academics transitioning to retirement experience varying retirement pathways. Awareness of the benefits of comprehensive retirement planning programs could enable academics to choose a retirement pathway that facilitates a smooth transition to retirement. Academics, Qualitative synthesis, Retirement process Retirement is widely considered a major life transition (Damman, Henkens, & Kalmijn, 2015; Moffatt & Heaven, 2016), which is influenced by changing demographics and aging workforce patterns worldwide. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that 23.9% of the workforce will be aged 55 years or older by 2018, having increased from 12.4% in 2008 (Toossi, 2009). With increasing numbers of older adults in the workforce, more people will transition to retirement than in previous decades (Wang, 2013). Recent research highlights that retirement pathways are varied, with some workers delaying retirement, whereas others pursue paid and unpaid activities (Kojola & Moen, 2016) through flexible part-time work, voluntary employment, or bridge employment (Cahill, Giandrea, & Quinn, 2015). The transition to retirement is increasingly relevant for those working in higher education institutions, with the median age of academics now greater than any other workforce group (Kaskie, 2016). Academics tend to have different retirement trajectories than other occupational groups (Dorfman, 2000, 2009). They are professionals who take many years to develop their careers, are salaried, have a lifelong commitment to work, and enter full-time positions later than many other professional groups (Sugar, Pruitt, Anstee, & Harris, 2005). Furthermore, academic environments tend to value age and experience, with many senior academics continuing to work beyond retirement age (Danson & Gilmore, 2009). Studies of retired academics in the United States have highlighted that between 50% and 70% continue their professional activities related to research, teaching, and professional activities (Dorfman, 2002, 2009). In retirement, discontinuing previous work-related activities for academics has resulted in greater stress and adjustment demands than for those who continued in their previous work-related roles (Chase, Eklund, & Pearson, 2003). The topic of academic retirement has received some attention over the past decade. Although there is a body of qualitative research exploring aspects of the retirement process, there is little longitudinal evidence on academics experience of the whole retirement process from preretirement, to adapting to complete retirement. With an aging academic workforce (Kaskie, 2016), there is a need to explore the totality of existing evidence in order to fully understand academics’ retirement experiences. This meta-ethnography aims to synthesize the qualitative literature on the topic to create a new conceptual understanding of the retirement experience of academics. Methods Study Design This review used a meta-ethnographic approach to address the research question: what are the experiences of academics transitioning to retirement? Meta-ethnography, the most frequently used qualitative synthesis approach (Campbell et al., 2011; Toye et al., 2013), is an interpretive, inductive approach that aims for a conceptual understanding of the topic being studied (Toye et al., 2013). Identifying Papers for Inclusion A systematic literature search was conducted in September 2016. The following database search engines were used: Pubmed; Web of Science, Embase, ERIC, Cinahl, Academic Search Complete, Social Sciences Index, and PsycINFO; and Scopus. A combination of the following key words and MeSH terms were used: retirement OR retiree AND academia or Academic or Faculty OR University OR Campus OR “Higher Education” or “Academic Staff.” The entire search string is available on request. Reference lists of included articles were also hand-searched. Studies were limited to those published in English from 2000 onwards as studies prior to 2000 do not reflect the contemporary issues around retirement for academics. To determine suitability for inclusion in the appraisal, the following screening questions were used: Does the paper report findings of qualitative research involving qualitative data collection and qualitative analysis? Is the focus of the paper relevant to the synthesis? Papers were considered for inclusion if they reported qualitative methods to describe academics experiences of the transition to retirement: this included academics perspectives on anticipating retirement as well their experiences of transitioning to retirement and being retired. The concept of retirement lacks a clear, concise definition (Beehr & Bowling, 2013) and is operationalized in a variety of ways, posing challenges of comparison across studies (Maestas, 2010). Eight different conceptualizations of retirement have been presented by Denton and Spencer (2009): nonparticipation in the workforce, reduction of hours worked, being in receipt of retirement income, hours worked or earnings below a specific cut off, exit from main employment, change of career or employment, self-assessed retirement, or combinations of the above. Retirement has also been described as comprising three phases: preretirement, transition to retirement, and adaptation postretirement (Muratore & Earl, 2015). For the purposes of this review, we did not limit ourselves to one definition of retirement given the variety of conceptualizations of retirement or to a single phase of retirement as we aimed to explore the entire retirement process. Within this study, the term “academic” describes individuals employed by higher education institutions, including professors, lecturers, and faculty. Studies that were conducted using mixed methods where quantitative data were only reported were excluded. Two authors (M.C. and R.G.) independently read the full text of potentially relevant studies to determine the relevance to the synthesis topic and disagreements were resolved by consensus. Critical Appraisal and Data Extraction Prior to conducting the synthesis, the methodological quality of each paper was independently assessed by two authors (M.C. and R.G.) using criteria derived from the ten questions on the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP; Atkins et al., 2008; Campbell et al., 2011; Pound et al., 2005). Each criterion was recorded as “Yes,” “No,” or “Unclear” along with reasons for this judgment. The CASP checklist also provides a number of prompts for each question. Results of the appraisal were discussed and consensus reached. Two team members read each of the included papers to identify and describe their interpretation of each concept within the primary studies. Minor differences in extracted concepts were resolved through discussion and consensus. M.C. proposed a collaborative interpretation of each concept and this was agreed by R.G. Both authors (R.G. and M.C.) extracted narrative quotations (first-order constructs) as exemplars of these concepts. In addition, descriptive details including the characteristics of the participants, description of the stage of retirement, theoretical perspective, and methodology employed in each of the studies were extracted and tabulated to provide context for the interpretations for the study (see Table 1). Analysis and Meta-Synthesis The analysis moved through four phases: (a) reading the studies; (b) determining how the studies were related; (c) translating the studies into one another; and (d) synthesizing the translations. Reading the Studies All studies were read several times in full, in chronological order. Key metaphors and concepts related to the retirement experiences of academics were extracted using words and explanations provided by the authors (second-order constructs). Determining How the Studies Were Related M.C. constructed a table in which the second-order concepts from each study were juxtaposed, along with relevant details of each study including setting and research design. Conceptual maps were also drawn for each paper, as suggested by Britten and colleagues (2002), to retain the relationships between concepts and retain the contextual meanings within the studies. Translating the Studies Into One Another Studies were translated into one another using reciprocal translation. To translate the studies, M.C. followed the translations process suggested by Malpass and colleagues (2009) where M.C. created an Excel grid in which each study was listed. Second-order constructs were entered into the column on the grids using the author’s original words. Each cell was populated with a description of the second-order concept, retaining the original words/phrases and metaphors used by the authors. This process enabled the author to read off the grid and write translations of the second-order concepts. Starting with the earliest paper, second-order constructs within themes were compared and translated from one study to another to develop explanatory theories. These theories have been described as “third-order constructs.” Table 2 shows the outcome of this process. Table 2. Theory Development Process Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less View Large Table 2. Theory Development Process Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less View Large Synthesizing Translations The third-order constructs formed the foundation for the line-of-argument synthesis, creating an overarching argument about the phenomenon of retirement experiences of academics. During the analysis phase, the first author shared and discussed the outcomes of each stage, with the other authors for reflection and discussion. This synthesis process was iterative and involved reflective discussion of the written findings among the authors to develop a line-of-argument synthesis about the phenomenon of retirement experiences of academics in a fuller way. The ENTREQ statement was used to ensure standardized conduct and reporting of the review (Tong, Flemming, McInnes, Oliver, & Craig, 2012). Findings Study Identification The initial search string yielded 22,051 articles, of which 13,716 remained following the removal of duplicates. A total of 13,623 were excluded based on the title and/or abstract. Full texts of 93 articles were retrieved and subsequently 73 were excluded. Twenty papers related to 18 studies were included in the final review. Three studies report data from the same primary study (Dorfman, 2000, 2002; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005). Figure 1 displays the flow of studies in the review. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Flow diagram of search results and selection of papers for review. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Flow diagram of search results and selection of papers for review. Descriptive Characteristics of Included Studies The details of the 20 papers are presented in Table 1. Twelve studies were conducted in the United States (Chase et al., 2003; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Euster, 2004; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Pelias, 2016; Williamson, Cook, Salmeron, & Burton, 2010), four in Canada (Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport, Finlay, & Hillan, 2015; Silver, Pang, & Williams, 2015; Strudsholm, 2011), and one study in each of the Philippines (de Guzman, Llantino, See, Villanueva, & Jung, 2008) and the United Kingdom (Davies & Jenkins, 2013). One comparative study was carried out across New Zealand and the United States (Winston & Barnes, 2007), and a further comparative study was conducted across the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014). Fourteen studies used individual one-to-one interviews, two studies used autoethnographic methods (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Pelias, 2016), and one used an interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach (Euster, 2004). Two further studies used focus groups (Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015) and one study reported qualitative findings from a semistructured questionnaire (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014). A total of 354 participants were included in the meta-synthesis. A study by Dorfman (2000) contains data from 17 professors working beyond retirement age—aspects of these data were also reported in two subsequent studies (Dorfman, 2002; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005) but were only counted in the initial study for the purposes of the review. Participants ranged in age from 40 years (Winston & Barnes, 2007) to 90 years (Dorfman, 2009). Academics participating in the studies were described using a variety of terms: professors, University faculty, emeriti and community college teaching staff. Thirteen studies had a mix of male and female participants (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Chase et al., 2003; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015), four studies focused exclusively on women participants (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007), two studies focused exclusively on men (Euster, 2004; Pelias, 2016), and two studies did not describe the gender of participants (Chase et al., 2003; de Guzman et al., 2008). Table 1 displays the descriptive characteristics of the studies included in the review. Table 1. Characteristics of the Studies Included Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career View Large Table 1. Characteristics of the Studies Included Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career View Large Quality Appraisal The methodological quality of the included studies is presented in Table 3. The overall quality of the studies was good. All studies highlighted the importance of the topic, had clear aims and clearly described the methods of data collection. However, one study did not use participant quotations to support their findings (Chase et al., 2003). Data saturation was not described in any of the studies. Reporting regarding the researchers own position and influence on the research process and outcomes (reflexivity) and ethical considerations was inconsistently addressed throughout the studies. Table 3. Quality Appraisal of Included Articles Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes View Large Table 3. Quality Appraisal of Included Articles Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes View Large Analysis and Synthesis of the Findings By using a process of reciprocal translation within and across the studies and subsequently developing a line-of-argument synthesis (see Supplementary Figure 1), we found that academics transitioning to retirement experienced one of two retirement pathways. For most academics, retirement is a gradual process occurring over time, whereas for another smaller group of academics, the retirement pathway is experienced as an event. This will be described in more detail in the Line-of-Argument Synthesis section. Five themes (second-order constructs) informed this new understanding of academics’ retirement experiences: (a) continuing working in retirement, (b) the impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity, (c) changing relationships through the retirement transition, (d) experiencing aging processes, and (e) planning for retirement. Continuing Working in Retirement Academics’ desire to continuing working in retirement is evident across all studies. Studies describe academics who anticipate they will work on academic activities in retirement as well as retired academics who continue working in their academic roles, in either a full-time or part-time manner. Winston and Barnes’ (2007) study of women academics describes the participants anticipating retirement to mean having the freedom to choose to continue work activities which they find enjoyable while continuing to work without aspects of the job they disliked (teaching and administration). I don’t see it (retirement) as a major change in how I’m going to live my life because I will continue to be active intellectually and active in research and writing. I don’t see that changing. (Winston & Barnes, 2007, p. 147) Four studies focusing exclusively on academics who are transitioning to retirement, highlight their desire to continue working in aspects of the academic role on retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Euster, 2004; Pelias, 2016). Davies and Jenkins (2013) describe typologies of academics, based on their findings, who continue working in aspects of their academic role as they transition to retirement. “Continuing scholar” (those who continue in aspects of the academic role), “opportunists” (those who retire and take up professional activities outside the university), and “avoiders” (those who do not appear to have plans and do not wish to discuss retirement) are classifications of academics who continue working in aspects of their academic roles, with varying connections to the university (Davies & Jenkins, 2013). Seven studies note that academics who work beyond retirement age continue to work in academic roles either full time, part-time, or in a voluntary capacity and experience positive benefits (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2002, 2009; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Williamson et al., 2010). Enjoyment of work, particularly teaching and research, was highlighted as the main reason for academics to continue working beyond retirement age (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Dorfman, 2000, 2002). Two studies note academics continuing to work beyond retirement due to the fulfillment that teaching brings (de Guzman et al., 2008; Williamson et al., 2010). In addition to fulfilment, happiness and delight with continuing to work are described by academics working in retirement (de Guzman et al., 2008). Happiness it appears, is one of the moving forces that make individuals pursue their teaching profession until their later years. (de Guzman et al., 2008) The Impact of the Retirement Transition on the Academic’s Identity The potential impact of the retirement process on academics’ identities was explicitly addressed in seven studies (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). For many academics, retirement is associated with feelings of fear regarding the potential loss of identity in retirement (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015; Williamson et al., 2010). Emerald and Carpenter (2014) highlight the importance of identity and the difficulty creating a new identity as one transitions to retirement. I am defined by what I have lost, not what I have gained. (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014) Silver and colleagues (2015) describe academics relationship between work and their position within the institution as a source of identity. Onyura and colleagues (2015) describe how retirement is considered a potential threat to several aspects of academics identity: their self-esteem, their self-worth, loss of meaningful provision of service, and loss of a feeling of belonging to a professional “community.” for many, the prospect of discontinuing work was disruptive to their sense of self in various ways and contemplations about retirement were associated with inner conflicts about looming later-career transitions. (Onyura et al., 2015, p. 796) Two studies describe academics maintaining their academic identity in retirement (Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004). Fishman (2010) describes an academic within his study using his previous teaching and classroom skills in a different subject area in a different type of institution. he has taken his classroom teaching experiences and created this new pathway in a completely different area from his former identity as a business scholar. (Fishman, 2010, p. 126) Strudsholm’s (2011) study of retired women academics refers to identity in the retirement transition as a negotiation of academics perceptions of time use and society’s expectations of how “retirees” should spend their time. Academics perceptions of themselves through the retirement transition are described in terms of disagreement with the traditional notions of a retiree as a person who withdraws from work and other productive activities. Participants felt they would always conceive themselves as hard workers, goal oriented, “true to my discipline” and “self-motivated.” (Strudsholm, 2011, p. 48) Changing Relationships Through the Retirement Transition Changing academics relationships with their students, colleagues, family, and the university in the transition to retirement process was a central theme in this synthesis. Six studies report findings in relation to academics relationships with their students as a positive benefit of working as an academic (de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2000, 2002; Pelias, 2016; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). A sense of contribution, usefulness, and facilitating student success is discussed within three studies (de Guzman et al., 2008; Pelias, 2016; Strudsholm, 2011). Loss of student relationships in retirement was identified in four studies (Chase et al., 2003; Dorfman, 2009; Rapoport et al., 2015; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Chase and colleagues (2003) reported that academics felt a sense of loss related to relationships with students following their retirement. Themes of missing interactions with students were found in about a third of the interviews. (Chase et al., 2003, p. 531) Eleven studies describe how academics experienced relationships with colleagues in the transition to retirement (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Dorfman, 2000; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Focusing on family relationships in retirement is reported within eight studies. (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2002; Euster, 2004; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015). A few believed they owed it to their family or partner to slow down their engagement. (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014, p. 73) In the study by Davies and Jenkins (2013), academics who intend to disconnect from the university by making a “clean break” from academic life mention that they wish to involve themselves in family interests including caring for children and grandchildren. Rapoport and colleagues (2015) describe how personal relationships and gender influenced some academics decisions to retire. Three of the female academic “phasers” describe that they had decided to retire to spend more time with their partners. The female phasers were crafting their retirement plans to follow their partners while male phasers in this study rarely mentioned their partners as important in their plans. (Rapoport et al., 2015, p. 15) Four studies report on the desire of some academics to discontinue both academic-related work and their relationship with the university on retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004). Davies and Jenkins (2013) describe how some academics continue their relationship with the university by selecting academic aspects of the role that they wish to continue whereas “clean breakers” discontinue their relationships with the university and “opportunists” remain involved in professional activities external to the university while continuing their relationship with the university. Experiencing Aging Processes Academics’ experience of the aging process, in terms of fear of decline in health and its implications on their retirement experiences, is described in 14 studies (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). Women academics in Williamson and colleagues’ (2010) study anticipate that retirement may be a risk to their health and well-being. Some worried about negative effects including intellectual and physical sluggishness from a lack of social contact, or having nothing scheduled to keep them active and stimulated. (Williamson et al., 2010, p. 153) Physical aging, hearing loss, changes in vision, and mobility issues triggered academics to question whether they should consider retiring (Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016). Although retired female academics in Strudsholm’s (2011) study reported a decline in health, retirement offered time to focus on maintaining their health and well-being. In Fishman’s (2010) study, retired academics describe their health status as a concern and retirement as a time to complete desired activities while still physically able. The contrast between academics internal expectations of what retirement means and consequently how they will spend their time and society’s expectations of retirees is described in six studies (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011). She did not consider herself retired, however others around her, both colleagues and socially, always referred to her as being retired, highlighting the significance of normal social expectations. (Davies & Jenkins, 2013, p. 322) Similarly, Rapoport and colleagues (2015) describe how academics portray themselves as defying the stereotypical ageing academic through phasing retirement. The term “retired” was felt to represent something that did not reflect participant experiences. (Strudsholm, 2011, p. 47) Planning for Retirement Planning for retirement is reported in seven studies (Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007). In contrast, four of the studies highlight that many academics do not plan for retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; de Guzman et al., 2008; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Silver et al., 2015). Three studies describe academics advising that strategic, intentional planning related to lifestyle is required to successfully navigate the retirement transition (Fishman, 2010; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011). In Silver and colleagues (2015), academics describe retirement as a process that must be strategized. Retirement was portrayed as a challenge to be managed with careful timing, the development of new objectives and a reprioritization of goals. (Silver et al., 2015, p. 340) Six studies note planning for retirement to be of a financial nature (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Many academics make reference to not wanting to consider or plan for retirement until a suitable candidate is recruited to fill their position. Succession is explicitly discussed in seven studies (Euster, 2004; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Rapoport et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015). Retirement, without a successor in position, is viewed as a threat to the continuation of the academics work. Some participants labeled as “delayers” (those who wish to delay their retirement) describe how they continue working due to their concern that they will not be replaced in retirement (Rapoport et al., 2015). Academics report an awareness of the need to retire to make way for junior colleagues in four studies (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Euster, 2004; Fishman, 2010; Onyura et al., 2015). Line-of-Argument Synthesis A line of argument was created to offer a fuller picture of academics’ experience of the retirement transition. The 18 studies (twenty papers) focused on different aspects of the retirement transition from anticipating retirement to fully retiring. Supplementary Figure 1 offers a visual representation of the transition to retirement experience of academics based on the synthesis findings. Academics’ contribution to the lives of their students, their professional field, and their university strengthens their self-worth, their self-esteem, commitment, academic identity, and interest in working in academia (Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Pelias, 2016). Retirement trajectories differed across the studies (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010). Many participants reported a strong attachment and relationship with the university, their students and to their professional fields. They chose to continue working and maintain their identity by participating in academic related work (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Pelias, 2016). For this group, retirement is a gradual process, which incorporates planning for a suitable successor to continue their life’s work (Fishman, 2010; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Silver et al., 2015) before eventually relinquishing their academic identity and deciding to fully retire. For a smaller group of academics, their retirement pathway is direct and operationalized in a traditional way, where they have planned for retirement and have a desire to detach from academic type tasks, roles, and academic identity in a complete manner. Instead, they prioritize focusing on developing new interests, reigniting previous interests, and devoting time to social and family relationships in retirement. Discussion Statement of Principal Findings This article systematically reviews and synthesizes the findings of academics’ experiences of the retirement process. It reveals that the majority of academics continue to work beyond retirement age, choosing aspects of the academic role, which they enjoy. The review describes many academics fear of losing contact with their students and their colleagues in retirement. The desire to retain their identity by continuing to work in desired aspects of the academic role is evident for many of the participants. Over time, in the transition to retirement, they gradually disengage from the academic role. The majority of academics within this study had a desire to continue working in aspects of their academic roles beyond retirement age. This finding mirrors results of quantitative studies of academics retirement experiences across the United States and United Kingdom. Dorfman (2009) found that professors in the United States continued to work in old age because they enjoyed their roles, particularly research. In the United Kingdom, Thody (2011) found that 50% of emeriti professors continued to engage in teaching and research. The academics within this review reported joy related to their academic role. Their desire to continue working is consistent with a survey of 741 of tenured senior faculty in the United States aged 50 and over, which found that enjoyment and fulfilment related to academic work were influencing factors for 75% of academics who planned to work beyond the age of 70 years (Yakaboski, 2015). The opportunity to work beyond retirement age is facilitated for many academics within this review through retirement policies in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Canada where retirement is no longer mandatory. Therefore, academics’ choice to retire or to continue working is context specific, with government policies either facilitating or constraining academics ability to continue working as they age. Continuing to work in an academic role may be linked with participants desire to retain their identity as an academic. When a person’s identity is connected with his or her work role, the person is more likely to seek employment in retirement (Feldman, 1994). Across general retirement research, individuals who demonstrate commitment and attachment to their roles are less likely to decide to retire (Adams, 1999; Adams & Beehr, 1998; Adams, Prescher, Beehr, & Lepisto, 2002; Luchak, Pohler, & Gellatly, 2008) than those who are not attached or committed to their roles (Beehr & Bowling, 2013; Bidwell, Griffin, & Hesketh, 2006). In a review of employee retirement experiences generally, those who are highly educated have more possibilities to continue to work in their professional area of expertise (Wang & Shultz, 2010). With their professional knowledge and skills, such individuals have greater potential to participate in consultation or other entrepreneurial roles (Ekerdt, Kosloski, & DeViney, 2000). Blended working describes work which has flexibility for the employee in terms of when and for how long they engage in their work (time independent) and in terms of where the work can be completed (Van Yperen, Rietzschel, & De Jonge, 2014). It combines both off site and on site working, through the use of information and communication technologies. Blended working practices have been proposed as particularly suitable at the end of workers’ careers (Van Yperen & Wörtler, 2017), and although the term did not arise in our findings, it resonates with the reported experiences of academics who continue to work in retirement. Women academics experiences in higher education and the structural and cultural barriers they face have been researched extensively (Howe-Walsh & Turnbull, 2016; O’Connor, 2015). Across subject areas, women progress more slowly than men and are underrepresented in senior positions (European Union, 2016; Jena, Khullar, Ho, Olenski, & Blumenthal, 2015). Across occupational groups, outside academia, women’s retirement experiences differ from men’s experiences due to a complex range of factors including women being more likely to have discontinuous work histories and to shoulder the burden of domestic and caregiving responsibilities (Damaske & Frech, 2016; Richardson, 1999). In this review, findings suggest gender may be important in understanding academics decisions to retire (Rapoport et al., 2015); however, gender did not emerge as a strong consistent finding across the included studies. This may be due to a lack of explicit attention to gender with only four studies focusing exclusively on women’s experiences (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007) and only two studies utilizing feminist paradigms in their analysis (Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Across the reviewed studies, some academics planned for retirement (Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007), whereas others did not (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; de Guzman et al., 2008; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Silver et al., 2015). Across public sector settings, planning for retirement was found to predict higher levels of postretirement adjustment (Taylor & Doverspike, 2003) with similar findings in private sector settings (Mutran, Reitzes, & Fernandez, 1997). Confidence in relation to the retirement transition is increased for those who prepare for retirement formally and informally (Anderson & Weber, 1993; Elder & Rudolph, 1999; Taylor-Carter, Cook, & Weinberg, 1997), whereas a lack of retirement planning has been linked with negative attitudes to retirement and consequently affects one’s adaptation to retirement (Kim & Moen, 2001). The lack of retirement planning by some academics is not surprising considering many academics in this review want to continue working and therefore may not perceive a need for retirement planning. Findings in this review revealed tensions between academics retirement experiences and age stereotypes. Across six studies, a disjuncture between society’s expectations of retirees and the actual experiences of retired academics was reported. Continuing to work in retirement challenges traditional notions of retirement and stereotypes about older workers. However, findings also revealed that some academics hold beliefs about needing to retire to make room for junior faculty and few reports were found articulating the wisdom and experience of older academics. This may be due to internalized negative age stereotypes by older academics. Negative age stereotypes and age discrimination are prevalent in workplaces (Harris, Krygsman, Waschenko, & Laliberte Rudman, 2017) and contrary to expectation, age stereotypes are worsening not improving (Levy, 2017). A recent analysis of academic researchers’ responses to a proposed NIH funded Emeritus Grant initiative aimed at funding older investigators revealed prevalent ageist attitudes among academics toward older researchers (Kahana, Slone, Kahana, Langendoerfer, & Reynolds, 2017). Academics within this review are concerned regarding physical aging and its impact on their lives as they transition and adjust to retirement. Academics’ health-related concerns may have arisen from knowledge that declining physical health status can hinder a person from continuing to work (Fisher, Chaffee, & Sonnega, 2016) as well as inconsistencies reported across general retirement studies regarding the impact of retirement on individual’s physical and mental health (van der Heide, van Rijn, Robroek, Burdorf, & Proper, 2013). A systematic review of the impact of retirement on blue-collar and white-collar workers found that retirement can have both beneficial and adverse health effects (van der Heide et al., 2013). Retirement was found to have a beneficial effect on mental health and conflicting evidence emerged for retirement having an effect on perceived general and physical health (van der Heide et al., 2013). Retirement has been linked to an increase in family relationships and a decrease in social relationships, both formal and informal (Kohli, Hank, & Künemund, 2009; van der Heide et al., 2013). Focusing on family relationships in the retirement process of academics was highlighted within the review, while some participants were also concerned regarding loss of relationships with students and colleagues. Across the retirement literature, transition in one’s role is suggested to be central to the retirement process (Moen, Robison, & Fields, 1994; Riley & Riley, 1994). However, during the retirement process, ones work roles can become lessened, whereas other nonwork-related roles are developed, for example, family or community member roles (Barnes-Farrell, 2003). Implications The findings of this meta-synthesis have implications at both the individual and the institutional levels. The various retirement pathways underscore the importance of institutions utilizing a nuanced approach to understanding and facilitating a range of retirement options for academics as they transition to retirement. Offering emeriti positions to academics who wish to continue working in aspects of the academic role has occurred for many years in North America (Kaskie, 2016). Thody (2011) suggest that emeriti could work collaboratively with universities to retain their desired roles, challenge perceptions of aging, while also sharing their expertise and supporting other staff who are considering retirement. At an institutional level, offering phased retirements programs enables academics who wish to gradually transition to retirement to continue working while at the same time enabling the university to retain the knowledge and skills of experienced academics. However, some phased retirement programs do not allow reversal of the retirement decision once it commences. Offering academics the opportunity to discuss and explore retirement with already retired individuals may assist those approaching retirement to choose the most appropriate potential retirement pathway (Kaskie, 2016). The findings of this review suggest that there is need for academics to have an awareness of the benefits of planning for retirement. Financial reviews and planning prior to envisioning retirement could assist academics to assess their actual financial situation rather than perceive they have inadequate finances to retire. It may also assist in making the decision to participate in a phased retirement program (Yakaboski, 2015). Comprehensive retirement counseling could be offered to academics, focusing on broader information services about the psychological aspects of retirement, family and social support issues, and health care insurance (Masterson, 2011). Although many of these options are offered in some universities, awareness of these programs among academics needs to be increased (Masterson, 2011). Strengths and Limitations This is the first study to review and synthesize the findings of studies of academics’ experiences across the retirement process (envisioning retirement, the transition to retirement and postretirement). Synthesizing studies across the retirement process has enabled a broader understanding of the entire retirement process for academics. Systematic, robust methods were used to identify, select, appraise, and synthesize the findings. However, the findings need to be interpreted in the context of the study limitations. As meta-ethnography is an interpretative approach to qualitative synthesis, it is possible that a different research team may have provided a different interpretation of the studies. Nevertheless, meta-ethnography offers new insights by drawing together the findings of single studies. Given the challenges of identifying qualitative research, which can be subject to inconsistent indexing, we used a broad search strategy to optimize the identification of relevant studies. However, we applied limits to the search string. We only included peer-reviewed studies, and therefore, gray literature and books/book chapters were not included. An English language restriction was placed on the search strategy and therefore the majority of the included studies originated in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to other countries. The language restriction also likely limited the range of possible types of retirement experiences that could be reported on. Future Research There have been calls from researchers to study the research process in a longitudinal manner; however, only one study (Dorfman, 2009) reported the outcome of a follow-up of professors’ retirement experiences (Dorfman, 2000). Future research should consider a longitudinal design to capture the whole retirement process with one cohort of academics. Some academics appear to choose a traditional retirement pathway by disengaging with their employment, and exploration of the retirement experiences of this group is warranted. In this review, only four studies focused on women exclusively, and additional studies focusing on the retirement experience of female academics are warranted given the differing experiences of men and women in academia. In addition, studies exploring the experience of academics planning their retirement and participating in retirement planning programs offered by universities would yield useful data on the individual and organization planning requirements for academics. Within this review, definitions of retirement varied across studies. Retirement research would benefit from a clear definition of retirement to aid comparison, across studies and discipline. A consistent definition of retirement could enable specific meta-synthesis of particular phases of the retirement process. Further research to explore the role of blended working before, during, and after retirement of academics is required. Conclusion Our findings highlight that many academics wish to continue working in aspects of the academic role gradually easing into retirement over time and that planning is a central component of the retirement process for academics. For another smaller group of participants in this review, retirement is experienced as a complete discontinuation of the academic role. The identified themes will be useful areas to target in future studies examining the retirement experiences of academics. Supplementary Material Supplementary data is available at The Gerontologist online. Funding None reported. Conflict of Interest None reported. References Adams , G. A . ( 1999 ). Career-related variables and planned retirement age: An extension of Beehr’s model . 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The Transition to Retirement Experiences of Academics in “Higher Education”: A Meta-Ethnography

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Abstract

Abstract Background and Objectives There are increasing numbers of older academics working in Higher Education Institutions worldwide. It is essential that academics’ retirement experiences are clearly understood as they tend to have different retirement trajectories than other occupational groups. This meta-ethnography aims to answer the research question “what are the experiences of academics transitioning to retirement” by identifying and synthesizing qualitative research using a meta-ethnographic approach. Research Design and Methods A systematic literature search was conducted from January 2000 to September 2016 to identify qualitative studies focusing on academics’ experiences of retirement. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of included papers. Concepts from each study were translated into each other to form theories, which were then combined through a “line-of-argument” synthesis. Results Twenty papers were included. Five themes were identified: (a) continuing to work in retirement, (b) the impact of the retirement transition on the academics’ identity, (c) changing relationships through the retirement transition, (d) experiencing aging processes, and (e) planning for retirement. For most, retirement is characterized by continuing to work in aspects of their role, maintaining associated relationships, with gradual disengagement from academic activities. For another smaller group, the retirement pathway is experienced as an event, with complete detachment from academic activities. Discussion and Implications The review highlights that academics transitioning to retirement experience varying retirement pathways. Awareness of the benefits of comprehensive retirement planning programs could enable academics to choose a retirement pathway that facilitates a smooth transition to retirement. Academics, Qualitative synthesis, Retirement process Retirement is widely considered a major life transition (Damman, Henkens, & Kalmijn, 2015; Moffatt & Heaven, 2016), which is influenced by changing demographics and aging workforce patterns worldwide. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that 23.9% of the workforce will be aged 55 years or older by 2018, having increased from 12.4% in 2008 (Toossi, 2009). With increasing numbers of older adults in the workforce, more people will transition to retirement than in previous decades (Wang, 2013). Recent research highlights that retirement pathways are varied, with some workers delaying retirement, whereas others pursue paid and unpaid activities (Kojola & Moen, 2016) through flexible part-time work, voluntary employment, or bridge employment (Cahill, Giandrea, & Quinn, 2015). The transition to retirement is increasingly relevant for those working in higher education institutions, with the median age of academics now greater than any other workforce group (Kaskie, 2016). Academics tend to have different retirement trajectories than other occupational groups (Dorfman, 2000, 2009). They are professionals who take many years to develop their careers, are salaried, have a lifelong commitment to work, and enter full-time positions later than many other professional groups (Sugar, Pruitt, Anstee, & Harris, 2005). Furthermore, academic environments tend to value age and experience, with many senior academics continuing to work beyond retirement age (Danson & Gilmore, 2009). Studies of retired academics in the United States have highlighted that between 50% and 70% continue their professional activities related to research, teaching, and professional activities (Dorfman, 2002, 2009). In retirement, discontinuing previous work-related activities for academics has resulted in greater stress and adjustment demands than for those who continued in their previous work-related roles (Chase, Eklund, & Pearson, 2003). The topic of academic retirement has received some attention over the past decade. Although there is a body of qualitative research exploring aspects of the retirement process, there is little longitudinal evidence on academics experience of the whole retirement process from preretirement, to adapting to complete retirement. With an aging academic workforce (Kaskie, 2016), there is a need to explore the totality of existing evidence in order to fully understand academics’ retirement experiences. This meta-ethnography aims to synthesize the qualitative literature on the topic to create a new conceptual understanding of the retirement experience of academics. Methods Study Design This review used a meta-ethnographic approach to address the research question: what are the experiences of academics transitioning to retirement? Meta-ethnography, the most frequently used qualitative synthesis approach (Campbell et al., 2011; Toye et al., 2013), is an interpretive, inductive approach that aims for a conceptual understanding of the topic being studied (Toye et al., 2013). Identifying Papers for Inclusion A systematic literature search was conducted in September 2016. The following database search engines were used: Pubmed; Web of Science, Embase, ERIC, Cinahl, Academic Search Complete, Social Sciences Index, and PsycINFO; and Scopus. A combination of the following key words and MeSH terms were used: retirement OR retiree AND academia or Academic or Faculty OR University OR Campus OR “Higher Education” or “Academic Staff.” The entire search string is available on request. Reference lists of included articles were also hand-searched. Studies were limited to those published in English from 2000 onwards as studies prior to 2000 do not reflect the contemporary issues around retirement for academics. To determine suitability for inclusion in the appraisal, the following screening questions were used: Does the paper report findings of qualitative research involving qualitative data collection and qualitative analysis? Is the focus of the paper relevant to the synthesis? Papers were considered for inclusion if they reported qualitative methods to describe academics experiences of the transition to retirement: this included academics perspectives on anticipating retirement as well their experiences of transitioning to retirement and being retired. The concept of retirement lacks a clear, concise definition (Beehr & Bowling, 2013) and is operationalized in a variety of ways, posing challenges of comparison across studies (Maestas, 2010). Eight different conceptualizations of retirement have been presented by Denton and Spencer (2009): nonparticipation in the workforce, reduction of hours worked, being in receipt of retirement income, hours worked or earnings below a specific cut off, exit from main employment, change of career or employment, self-assessed retirement, or combinations of the above. Retirement has also been described as comprising three phases: preretirement, transition to retirement, and adaptation postretirement (Muratore & Earl, 2015). For the purposes of this review, we did not limit ourselves to one definition of retirement given the variety of conceptualizations of retirement or to a single phase of retirement as we aimed to explore the entire retirement process. Within this study, the term “academic” describes individuals employed by higher education institutions, including professors, lecturers, and faculty. Studies that were conducted using mixed methods where quantitative data were only reported were excluded. Two authors (M.C. and R.G.) independently read the full text of potentially relevant studies to determine the relevance to the synthesis topic and disagreements were resolved by consensus. Critical Appraisal and Data Extraction Prior to conducting the synthesis, the methodological quality of each paper was independently assessed by two authors (M.C. and R.G.) using criteria derived from the ten questions on the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP; Atkins et al., 2008; Campbell et al., 2011; Pound et al., 2005). Each criterion was recorded as “Yes,” “No,” or “Unclear” along with reasons for this judgment. The CASP checklist also provides a number of prompts for each question. Results of the appraisal were discussed and consensus reached. Two team members read each of the included papers to identify and describe their interpretation of each concept within the primary studies. Minor differences in extracted concepts were resolved through discussion and consensus. M.C. proposed a collaborative interpretation of each concept and this was agreed by R.G. Both authors (R.G. and M.C.) extracted narrative quotations (first-order constructs) as exemplars of these concepts. In addition, descriptive details including the characteristics of the participants, description of the stage of retirement, theoretical perspective, and methodology employed in each of the studies were extracted and tabulated to provide context for the interpretations for the study (see Table 1). Analysis and Meta-Synthesis The analysis moved through four phases: (a) reading the studies; (b) determining how the studies were related; (c) translating the studies into one another; and (d) synthesizing the translations. Reading the Studies All studies were read several times in full, in chronological order. Key metaphors and concepts related to the retirement experiences of academics were extracted using words and explanations provided by the authors (second-order constructs). Determining How the Studies Were Related M.C. constructed a table in which the second-order concepts from each study were juxtaposed, along with relevant details of each study including setting and research design. Conceptual maps were also drawn for each paper, as suggested by Britten and colleagues (2002), to retain the relationships between concepts and retain the contextual meanings within the studies. Translating the Studies Into One Another Studies were translated into one another using reciprocal translation. To translate the studies, M.C. followed the translations process suggested by Malpass and colleagues (2009) where M.C. created an Excel grid in which each study was listed. Second-order constructs were entered into the column on the grids using the author’s original words. Each cell was populated with a description of the second-order concept, retaining the original words/phrases and metaphors used by the authors. This process enabled the author to read off the grid and write translations of the second-order concepts. Starting with the earliest paper, second-order constructs within themes were compared and translated from one study to another to develop explanatory theories. These theories have been described as “third-order constructs.” Table 2 shows the outcome of this process. Table 2. Theory Development Process Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less View Large Table 2. Theory Development Process Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2000) Chase et al. (2003) Euster (2004) Harris and Prentice (2004) de Guzman et al. (2008) Winston and Barnes (2007) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity Professors continued work beyond retirement age, due to their satisfaction and love of teaching and research and their contribution to their fields Retirement was viewed as the ideal, with freedom to choose desired activities. These activities include research, writing, and publishing Euster maintained his productive academic role because of enjoyment and the need to feel connected Participants retained their identity by continuing to work at teaching and research after retirement, whereas others used retirement to establish new professional/work identities away from teaching Teaching offered feelings of happiness. Academics felt a sense of privilege in their academic role. Retirement was a threat to their sources of happiness Not explicitly discussed. Many academics anticipated maintaining their academic identity by continuing with research and writing Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many professors continued working because they loved their work and research Some academics continued researching and teaching when retired Desire to continue work and to be productive for as long as possible but realized that with time he will gradually discontinue and detach from the University In retirement, some continued work by becoming adjunct professors, whereas others took the opportunity to disconnect at the earliest opportunity through early retirement Participants expressed needs to continue working for as long as possible, whereas some wanted to retire to be with family and friends Most participants saw retirement as an opportunity to continue to work in aspects of their academic role Changing relationships Perceived positive relationships with colleagues and the university were influencing factors in continuing to work Some retired academics experienced loss of relationships with students Retirement will mean letting go of connections and relationships Collegial relationships were important in retirement—over time these relationships were less important as new personal relationships were built Retirement will offer happiness in spending time with family (including grandchildren) and friends but could result in loss of relationships with students/colleagues Retirement may result in loss of social relationships at the university but will offer time to build personal and family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually disconnect from professional relationships and work activities when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Age was not a reason to retire. Deteriorating health impairments would trigger the retirement process Concerns about aging and health decline in retirement Not described Not described Concerns regarding the impact of cognitive aging on abilities when retired Concern regarding future health and physical abilities, but some actively promoting their own health The decision to discontinue work and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Planning was primarily financial with some consideration of relocation after retirement Not described Not described Financial planning was important in preparation for retirement Not described Planning was of primarily of a financial nature Those who had intentionally planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path (once off event). Those who had no plans for retirement were likely to gradually work less Theme Dorfman (2002, 2005, 2009) Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Fishman (2010) Williamson et al. (2010) Strudsholm (2011) Davies and Jenkins (2013) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Not described Retirement impact is variable on identity. Identity is maintained by continuing with some activities related to the academic role and gradually creating new identity. Impact on identity is greater if retirement is forced For emeriti, identity is not threatened by retirement as emeriti have a continued relationship with the university Retirement was viewed as threatening for identity-leaving academic posts for retirement was perceived as leaving their identity behind Negotiation between their own continued identity and activity patterns and others expectations of retirees as changing their activity patterns Retirement impacts identity in different ways, offering the opportunity to construct a new identity, but it can result in losing identity or offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s identity as an academic Academics continue to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjust to retirement and gradually “let go” of the academic role Continuing working in retirement Many who had retired were still working in academic activities. Some who had retired participated in nonwork-related activities Two participants were attached and continued their work-related activities. Those who were unattached began a new life and focused on family and friends The majority of Emeriti continue their attachment with the university, with a few pursuing new opportunities unrelated to their previous work Faculty continued to work being fulfilled by their work and viewed themselves as continuing scholars Some women continue with aspects of the academic role, whereas others “let go” of their academic career “Continuing scholars,” “opportunists,” and “reluctant” continued working, whereas “clean breakers” discontinued Changing relationships Working professors maintained good relationships with younger colleagues and their department Retirement means a loss of connection with students and colleagues Most emeriti desired and maintained relationships with their institution/department and colleagues Retirement was viewed as a potential loss of relationships with students and colleagues Maintaining and creating personal and professional social connections are important to well-being Maintaining and creating new professional relationships were necessary in retirement. Some strengthened personal family relationships Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Awareness that experiencing physical problems could mean they would work less Awareness and acceptance of decline of abilities as one ages Concern regarding the impact of current and future physical abilities, as they grew older Concerned that physical and cognitive decline would occur when one was retired. Aging faculty may need accommodations to work with physical decline Using available time in retirement to maintain health and promote health and well-being were very important Not described The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by actual physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Financial planning mainly. Travel volunteering and exercise were anticipated for and planned for in retirement Lifestyle planning assisted adjustment to the retirement transition The importance of planning for retirement in terms of activities and purpose was important Not described Retirement plans were important and was mostly deliberate and within the participant’s control Planning among academics was variable-strategic planning occurred for some, whereas the “reluctant” and “avoider” academics made no plans Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less Theme Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Onyura et al. (2015) Rapoport et al. (2015) Silver et al. (2015) Pelias (2016) Third-order interpretation Impact of the retirement transition on the academic identity Continuing to work beyond retirement maintained their identity Retirement and external messages regarding retirement threaten and confuse her identity as a scholar Loss of occupational identity a concern for retirement Not explicitly described Work is a major source of identity and loss of identity was a perceived threat to retirement Negotiating “hanging on “and letting go” of the identity as a scholar in the retirement transition Academics continue to “hang on” to work beyond retirement to maintain their identity and its associated benefits while they adjusting to retirement and gradually “letting go” Continuing working in retirement Participants were motivated to continue academic work due to their interest and sense of contribution Retirement is externally forced on the participant as an event, an expectation to become unattached Continuing to work was linked with ensuring there was continuation of service and a suitable successor was found where appropriate Unattached participants chose “phased” retirement, whereas other participants delayed their retirement due to their productivity, contributions, and attachment to the department Continued engagement with work because many had not planned what they would do after retirement Continued working due to the love of the role, the contribution and self-worth experienced as an academic Changing relationships Social connection afforded by continued working were important. Creating new friendships after retirement was considered necessary Not described Retirement could mean loss of professional colleagues/relationships Retirement meant strengthening family and spousal relationships Personal and professional relationships were linked with work and retirement could mean loss of these relationships Retirement perceived as losing relationships with colleagues while experiencing the need to spend time with his wife in retirement Academics transitioning to retirement gradually “let go” of professional relationships and work activities, when they have created new and activities or rekindled previous activities Experiencing aging processes Aging processes were experienced and had to be overcome to continue working Avoiding confronting the impact of physical and cognitive aging on her body and life Institutional policies did not support aging faculty continuing participation in work Physical health deterioration triggered the decision to retire. Delayers did not accept stereotypical aging perception Not discussed Aging affecting his role and influencing his decision to let go of the career The decision to “let go” and to retire is influenced by physical changes and concerns of physical and cognitive decline in future that will not only affect work but also life in retirement Planning for retirement Not described Not described Commitment to work role left little time for planning for retirement Female academics planned their retirement linked with partners Strategic planning for activities and lifestyle beyond retirement considered important for a successful retirement Not described Those who had planned for retirement were more likely to take the traditional retirement path of retirement as an event. Those who had no plans for retirement were more likely to “hang on” and gradually work less View Large Synthesizing Translations The third-order constructs formed the foundation for the line-of-argument synthesis, creating an overarching argument about the phenomenon of retirement experiences of academics. During the analysis phase, the first author shared and discussed the outcomes of each stage, with the other authors for reflection and discussion. This synthesis process was iterative and involved reflective discussion of the written findings among the authors to develop a line-of-argument synthesis about the phenomenon of retirement experiences of academics in a fuller way. The ENTREQ statement was used to ensure standardized conduct and reporting of the review (Tong, Flemming, McInnes, Oliver, & Craig, 2012). Findings Study Identification The initial search string yielded 22,051 articles, of which 13,716 remained following the removal of duplicates. A total of 13,623 were excluded based on the title and/or abstract. Full texts of 93 articles were retrieved and subsequently 73 were excluded. Twenty papers related to 18 studies were included in the final review. Three studies report data from the same primary study (Dorfman, 2000, 2002; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005). Figure 1 displays the flow of studies in the review. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Flow diagram of search results and selection of papers for review. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Flow diagram of search results and selection of papers for review. Descriptive Characteristics of Included Studies The details of the 20 papers are presented in Table 1. Twelve studies were conducted in the United States (Chase et al., 2003; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Euster, 2004; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Pelias, 2016; Williamson, Cook, Salmeron, & Burton, 2010), four in Canada (Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport, Finlay, & Hillan, 2015; Silver, Pang, & Williams, 2015; Strudsholm, 2011), and one study in each of the Philippines (de Guzman, Llantino, See, Villanueva, & Jung, 2008) and the United Kingdom (Davies & Jenkins, 2013). One comparative study was carried out across New Zealand and the United States (Winston & Barnes, 2007), and a further comparative study was conducted across the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014). Fourteen studies used individual one-to-one interviews, two studies used autoethnographic methods (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Pelias, 2016), and one used an interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach (Euster, 2004). Two further studies used focus groups (Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015) and one study reported qualitative findings from a semistructured questionnaire (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014). A total of 354 participants were included in the meta-synthesis. A study by Dorfman (2000) contains data from 17 professors working beyond retirement age—aspects of these data were also reported in two subsequent studies (Dorfman, 2002; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005) but were only counted in the initial study for the purposes of the review. Participants ranged in age from 40 years (Winston & Barnes, 2007) to 90 years (Dorfman, 2009). Academics participating in the studies were described using a variety of terms: professors, University faculty, emeriti and community college teaching staff. Thirteen studies had a mix of male and female participants (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Chase et al., 2003; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015), four studies focused exclusively on women participants (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007), two studies focused exclusively on men (Euster, 2004; Pelias, 2016), and two studies did not describe the gender of participants (Chase et al., 2003; de Guzman et al., 2008). Table 1 displays the descriptive characteristics of the studies included in the review. Table 1. Characteristics of the Studies Included Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career View Large Table 1. Characteristics of the Studies Included Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career Source paper Sample characteristics Stage of retirement Approach Context Data collection and methods Research aim Dorfman (2000) Professors who continued working beyond age 70 (n = 17) Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) To examine the experiences of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) To explore personal and professional reasons for decision to continuing to work Dorfman (2002) Professors (n = 71 in total).Working professors (n = 17) and retired professors (n = 54) Preretirement and retired (including those already retired) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long with questionnaire segment of interview (1) Compare personal and professional characteristics of professors who continued to work after age seventy. (2) Explore reasons for continuing to work or to retire. (3) Compare satisfaction levels of employed and retired professors Chase et al. (2003) Retirees (n = 33) Retired Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews University, United States Individual interviews, 1 hr long To describe feelings approaching retirement, best and worst of retirement, what retirees missed about academic work, role, and nonacademic activities Euster (2004) Professor (n = 1 male) of social work with 35 years of experience Transitioning to retirement Interior monologue, stream of consciousness approach University, United States Stream of conscious monologue-James Joyce To describe feeling regarding retirement Harris and Prentice (2004) Faculty members (n = 22; men, n = 11 and women, n = 11) Retired Ebaugh role exit theory Dallas County Community College, United States One-to-one interviews Describe the turning points of faculty in the decision to retire Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) (n = 71) in total; (n = 17) working professors and (n = 54) retired professors Preretirement (still working) Qualitative, content analysis University, United States Individual interviews 1 hr long and a written questionnaire segment of interview (1) Describe leisure and professional activities of retired professors, (2) anticipate leisure activities professors in retirements of older employed professors, (3) describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and leisure activities Winston and Barnes (2007) Full-time academics. All women (n = 32). Born between 1948 and 1964 Preretirement Qualitative, guided by a feminist paradigm and role theory University, United States (n = 21) and University, New Zealand (n = 11) One-to-one open interviews, guided by a feminist paradigm Determine meaning of retirement de Guzman et al. (2008) Professors (n = 10) beyond retirement age and still working. Gender not specified Preretirement Phenomenological, thematic analysis University, Philippines One-to-one interviews Capture the collective meanings and reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age Dorfman (2009) Academics (n = 13), women (n = 3)/males (n = 10) aged 80–84 years Preretired and retired Continuity theory and content analysis University, United States One-to-one interviews To describe faculty aged 80–84 reasons for continuing to work to retire (follow-up study). Preparation and plans for retirement. Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Men (n = 2) and women (n = 2)—upper middle-class white Caucasian Retired Case study method using grounded theory approach University, United States Series of individual interviews To describe the decision-making process and factors influencing faculty members Fishman (2010) Emeriti academics (n = 14; women n = 4; male n = 10) Retired Continuity theory/grounded theory approach University, United States One-to-one interviews To examines retired faculty’s expectations about retirement and relationships with their former institution Williamson et al. (2010) Academic (n = 6, all women) Preretired (continuing working) Phenomenological University, United States One-to-one interviews To examine the factors influencing retirement decision to stay in the workforce past retirement age? Strudsholm (2011) Academics (n = 5), all women, one widowed, one married Transitioning to retirement and recently retired Feminist gerontology perspective University, Canada One-to-one interviews To examine the impact of transition to retirement on the well-being of five academic women that had left full-time positions Davies and Jenkins (2013) (n = 32 total); men (n = 25) and women (n = 7). n = 12 were preretirement/n = 11 were in the process of retirement and n = 7 were postretirement (formally retired) Transitioning from preretirement to retired Qualitative using a three-stage matrix approach Ten universities in United Kingdom One-to-one interviews To examine the significance of the work to retirement transition for academic staff from a life course perspective and the meaning of retirement for older academics Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Academics (n = 41); women (n = 21), men (n = 20); 61–85 years. Professors (n = 27). n = 13 still working/remainder working part-time/voluntarily Preretirement and working beyond retirement age Qualitative–interpretative descriptive Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Canada Questionnaire to elicit qualitative responses—due to international nature questionnaire was used To explore what motivates academics to work beyond “usual retirement age” Emerald and Carpenter (2014) (n = 1) woman Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic United States Autoethnographic To make sense of the retirement transition Rapoport et al. (2015) Professors (n = 24); women (n = 13) and men (n = 11); 55 years and over, from a variety of departments Retiring and those who chose to continue working Phenomenological University, Canada Individual interviews 1 hr long To describe academic perspectives of being a senior in the university and their experiences of retirement including some participating in a phased retirement program Silver et al. (2015) Academic physicians over 50 years of age (n = 16). Men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) Preretirement transitioning and retired Qualitative using constructivist inductive approach University, Canada Focus groups—4 academics in each focus group To gain an understanding of retirement expectations and strategies for successful later-life transitions Onyura et al. (2015) Academic physicians (n = 21). Men (n = 15) and women (n = 6) n = 17 worked full time; n = 4 transitioned into partial retirement Qualitative, using thematic analysis University, Canada 3 focus groups took place. 66–84 min To examine psychosocial adjustment during late career transitions and factors that influence retirement decisions Pelias (2016) Male academic (n = 1) Transitioning to retirement Autoethnographic University, United States Autoethnographic To describe his feeling of the transitioning to retirement and the end of an academic career View Large Quality Appraisal The methodological quality of the included studies is presented in Table 3. The overall quality of the studies was good. All studies highlighted the importance of the topic, had clear aims and clearly described the methods of data collection. However, one study did not use participant quotations to support their findings (Chase et al., 2003). Data saturation was not described in any of the studies. Reporting regarding the researchers own position and influence on the research process and outcomes (reflexivity) and ethical considerations was inconsistently addressed throughout the studies. Table 3. Quality Appraisal of Included Articles Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes View Large Table 3. Quality Appraisal of Included Articles Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Study name CASP Criterion 1 CASP Criterion 2 CASP Criterion 3 CASP Criterion 4 CASP Criterion 5 CASP Criterion 6 CASP Criterion 7 CASP Criterion 8 CASP Criterion 9 CASP Criterion 10 Clear statement of aim Qualitative methodology appropriate Appropriate research design Sampling Data collection Researcher reflexivity Ethical consideration Appropriate data analysis Clear statement of findings Research value Winston and Barnes (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Silver et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Onyura et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Harris and Prentice (2004) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Yes Unclear Yes Yes Euster (2004) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unclear Unclear No Yes Yes Strudsholm (2011) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Davies and Jenkins (2013) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Emerald and Carpenter (2014) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Pelias (2016) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear No Yes Yes Dorfman (2000) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes de Guzman et al. (2008) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Williamson et al. (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Boulton-Lewis and Buys (2014) Yes Yes Unclear Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Yes Rapoport et al. (2015) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unclear Unclear Unclear Yes Yes Chase et al. (2003) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Unclear Unclear Yes Dorfman (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Firmin and Craycraft (2009) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Fishman (2010) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Dorfman (2002) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Unclear Yes Yes Yes View Large Analysis and Synthesis of the Findings By using a process of reciprocal translation within and across the studies and subsequently developing a line-of-argument synthesis (see Supplementary Figure 1), we found that academics transitioning to retirement experienced one of two retirement pathways. For most academics, retirement is a gradual process occurring over time, whereas for another smaller group of academics, the retirement pathway is experienced as an event. This will be described in more detail in the Line-of-Argument Synthesis section. Five themes (second-order constructs) informed this new understanding of academics’ retirement experiences: (a) continuing working in retirement, (b) the impact of the retirement transition on the academic’s identity, (c) changing relationships through the retirement transition, (d) experiencing aging processes, and (e) planning for retirement. Continuing Working in Retirement Academics’ desire to continuing working in retirement is evident across all studies. Studies describe academics who anticipate they will work on academic activities in retirement as well as retired academics who continue working in their academic roles, in either a full-time or part-time manner. Winston and Barnes’ (2007) study of women academics describes the participants anticipating retirement to mean having the freedom to choose to continue work activities which they find enjoyable while continuing to work without aspects of the job they disliked (teaching and administration). I don’t see it (retirement) as a major change in how I’m going to live my life because I will continue to be active intellectually and active in research and writing. I don’t see that changing. (Winston & Barnes, 2007, p. 147) Four studies focusing exclusively on academics who are transitioning to retirement, highlight their desire to continue working in aspects of the academic role on retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Euster, 2004; Pelias, 2016). Davies and Jenkins (2013) describe typologies of academics, based on their findings, who continue working in aspects of their academic role as they transition to retirement. “Continuing scholar” (those who continue in aspects of the academic role), “opportunists” (those who retire and take up professional activities outside the university), and “avoiders” (those who do not appear to have plans and do not wish to discuss retirement) are classifications of academics who continue working in aspects of their academic roles, with varying connections to the university (Davies & Jenkins, 2013). Seven studies note that academics who work beyond retirement age continue to work in academic roles either full time, part-time, or in a voluntary capacity and experience positive benefits (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2002, 2009; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Williamson et al., 2010). Enjoyment of work, particularly teaching and research, was highlighted as the main reason for academics to continue working beyond retirement age (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Dorfman, 2000, 2002). Two studies note academics continuing to work beyond retirement due to the fulfillment that teaching brings (de Guzman et al., 2008; Williamson et al., 2010). In addition to fulfilment, happiness and delight with continuing to work are described by academics working in retirement (de Guzman et al., 2008). Happiness it appears, is one of the moving forces that make individuals pursue their teaching profession until their later years. (de Guzman et al., 2008) The Impact of the Retirement Transition on the Academic’s Identity The potential impact of the retirement process on academics’ identities was explicitly addressed in seven studies (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). For many academics, retirement is associated with feelings of fear regarding the potential loss of identity in retirement (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Onyura et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015; Williamson et al., 2010). Emerald and Carpenter (2014) highlight the importance of identity and the difficulty creating a new identity as one transitions to retirement. I am defined by what I have lost, not what I have gained. (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014) Silver and colleagues (2015) describe academics relationship between work and their position within the institution as a source of identity. Onyura and colleagues (2015) describe how retirement is considered a potential threat to several aspects of academics identity: their self-esteem, their self-worth, loss of meaningful provision of service, and loss of a feeling of belonging to a professional “community.” for many, the prospect of discontinuing work was disruptive to their sense of self in various ways and contemplations about retirement were associated with inner conflicts about looming later-career transitions. (Onyura et al., 2015, p. 796) Two studies describe academics maintaining their academic identity in retirement (Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004). Fishman (2010) describes an academic within his study using his previous teaching and classroom skills in a different subject area in a different type of institution. he has taken his classroom teaching experiences and created this new pathway in a completely different area from his former identity as a business scholar. (Fishman, 2010, p. 126) Strudsholm’s (2011) study of retired women academics refers to identity in the retirement transition as a negotiation of academics perceptions of time use and society’s expectations of how “retirees” should spend their time. Academics perceptions of themselves through the retirement transition are described in terms of disagreement with the traditional notions of a retiree as a person who withdraws from work and other productive activities. Participants felt they would always conceive themselves as hard workers, goal oriented, “true to my discipline” and “self-motivated.” (Strudsholm, 2011, p. 48) Changing Relationships Through the Retirement Transition Changing academics relationships with their students, colleagues, family, and the university in the transition to retirement process was a central theme in this synthesis. Six studies report findings in relation to academics relationships with their students as a positive benefit of working as an academic (de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2000, 2002; Pelias, 2016; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). A sense of contribution, usefulness, and facilitating student success is discussed within three studies (de Guzman et al., 2008; Pelias, 2016; Strudsholm, 2011). Loss of student relationships in retirement was identified in four studies (Chase et al., 2003; Dorfman, 2009; Rapoport et al., 2015; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Chase and colleagues (2003) reported that academics felt a sense of loss related to relationships with students following their retirement. Themes of missing interactions with students were found in about a third of the interviews. (Chase et al., 2003, p. 531) Eleven studies describe how academics experienced relationships with colleagues in the transition to retirement (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Dorfman, 2000; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Focusing on family relationships in retirement is reported within eight studies. (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2002; Euster, 2004; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015). A few believed they owed it to their family or partner to slow down their engagement. (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014, p. 73) In the study by Davies and Jenkins (2013), academics who intend to disconnect from the university by making a “clean break” from academic life mention that they wish to involve themselves in family interests including caring for children and grandchildren. Rapoport and colleagues (2015) describe how personal relationships and gender influenced some academics decisions to retire. Three of the female academic “phasers” describe that they had decided to retire to spend more time with their partners. The female phasers were crafting their retirement plans to follow their partners while male phasers in this study rarely mentioned their partners as important in their plans. (Rapoport et al., 2015, p. 15) Four studies report on the desire of some academics to discontinue both academic-related work and their relationship with the university on retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004). Davies and Jenkins (2013) describe how some academics continue their relationship with the university by selecting academic aspects of the role that they wish to continue whereas “clean breakers” discontinue their relationships with the university and “opportunists” remain involved in professional activities external to the university while continuing their relationship with the university. Experiencing Aging Processes Academics’ experience of the aging process, in terms of fear of decline in health and its implications on their retirement experiences, is described in 14 studies (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; de Guzman et al., 2008; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010). Women academics in Williamson and colleagues’ (2010) study anticipate that retirement may be a risk to their health and well-being. Some worried about negative effects including intellectual and physical sluggishness from a lack of social contact, or having nothing scheduled to keep them active and stimulated. (Williamson et al., 2010, p. 153) Physical aging, hearing loss, changes in vision, and mobility issues triggered academics to question whether they should consider retiring (Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016). Although retired female academics in Strudsholm’s (2011) study reported a decline in health, retirement offered time to focus on maintaining their health and well-being. In Fishman’s (2010) study, retired academics describe their health status as a concern and retirement as a time to complete desired activities while still physically able. The contrast between academics internal expectations of what retirement means and consequently how they will spend their time and society’s expectations of retirees is described in six studies (Boulton-Lewis & Buys, 2014; Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Onyura et al., 2015; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011). She did not consider herself retired, however others around her, both colleagues and socially, always referred to her as being retired, highlighting the significance of normal social expectations. (Davies & Jenkins, 2013, p. 322) Similarly, Rapoport and colleagues (2015) describe how academics portray themselves as defying the stereotypical ageing academic through phasing retirement. The term “retired” was felt to represent something that did not reflect participant experiences. (Strudsholm, 2011, p. 47) Planning for Retirement Planning for retirement is reported in seven studies (Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007). In contrast, four of the studies highlight that many academics do not plan for retirement (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; de Guzman et al., 2008; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Silver et al., 2015). Three studies describe academics advising that strategic, intentional planning related to lifestyle is required to successfully navigate the retirement transition (Fishman, 2010; Silver et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011). In Silver and colleagues (2015), academics describe retirement as a process that must be strategized. Retirement was portrayed as a challenge to be managed with careful timing, the development of new objectives and a reprioritization of goals. (Silver et al., 2015, p. 340) Six studies note planning for retirement to be of a financial nature (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Many academics make reference to not wanting to consider or plan for retirement until a suitable candidate is recruited to fill their position. Succession is explicitly discussed in seven studies (Euster, 2004; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Rapoport et al., 2015; Silver et al., 2015). Retirement, without a successor in position, is viewed as a threat to the continuation of the academics work. Some participants labeled as “delayers” (those who wish to delay their retirement) describe how they continue working due to their concern that they will not be replaced in retirement (Rapoport et al., 2015). Academics report an awareness of the need to retire to make way for junior colleagues in four studies (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Euster, 2004; Fishman, 2010; Onyura et al., 2015). Line-of-Argument Synthesis A line of argument was created to offer a fuller picture of academics’ experience of the retirement transition. The 18 studies (twenty papers) focused on different aspects of the retirement transition from anticipating retirement to fully retiring. Supplementary Figure 1 offers a visual representation of the transition to retirement experience of academics based on the synthesis findings. Academics’ contribution to the lives of their students, their professional field, and their university strengthens their self-worth, their self-esteem, commitment, academic identity, and interest in working in academia (Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Pelias, 2016). Retirement trajectories differed across the studies (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Fishman, 2010). Many participants reported a strong attachment and relationship with the university, their students and to their professional fields. They chose to continue working and maintain their identity by participating in academic related work (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000, 2002, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Pelias, 2016). For this group, retirement is a gradual process, which incorporates planning for a suitable successor to continue their life’s work (Fishman, 2010; Onyura et al., 2015; Pelias, 2016; Silver et al., 2015) before eventually relinquishing their academic identity and deciding to fully retire. For a smaller group of academics, their retirement pathway is direct and operationalized in a traditional way, where they have planned for retirement and have a desire to detach from academic type tasks, roles, and academic identity in a complete manner. Instead, they prioritize focusing on developing new interests, reigniting previous interests, and devoting time to social and family relationships in retirement. Discussion Statement of Principal Findings This article systematically reviews and synthesizes the findings of academics’ experiences of the retirement process. It reveals that the majority of academics continue to work beyond retirement age, choosing aspects of the academic role, which they enjoy. The review describes many academics fear of losing contact with their students and their colleagues in retirement. The desire to retain their identity by continuing to work in desired aspects of the academic role is evident for many of the participants. Over time, in the transition to retirement, they gradually disengage from the academic role. The majority of academics within this study had a desire to continue working in aspects of their academic roles beyond retirement age. This finding mirrors results of quantitative studies of academics retirement experiences across the United States and United Kingdom. Dorfman (2009) found that professors in the United States continued to work in old age because they enjoyed their roles, particularly research. In the United Kingdom, Thody (2011) found that 50% of emeriti professors continued to engage in teaching and research. The academics within this review reported joy related to their academic role. Their desire to continue working is consistent with a survey of 741 of tenured senior faculty in the United States aged 50 and over, which found that enjoyment and fulfilment related to academic work were influencing factors for 75% of academics who planned to work beyond the age of 70 years (Yakaboski, 2015). The opportunity to work beyond retirement age is facilitated for many academics within this review through retirement policies in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Canada where retirement is no longer mandatory. Therefore, academics’ choice to retire or to continue working is context specific, with government policies either facilitating or constraining academics ability to continue working as they age. Continuing to work in an academic role may be linked with participants desire to retain their identity as an academic. When a person’s identity is connected with his or her work role, the person is more likely to seek employment in retirement (Feldman, 1994). Across general retirement research, individuals who demonstrate commitment and attachment to their roles are less likely to decide to retire (Adams, 1999; Adams & Beehr, 1998; Adams, Prescher, Beehr, & Lepisto, 2002; Luchak, Pohler, & Gellatly, 2008) than those who are not attached or committed to their roles (Beehr & Bowling, 2013; Bidwell, Griffin, & Hesketh, 2006). In a review of employee retirement experiences generally, those who are highly educated have more possibilities to continue to work in their professional area of expertise (Wang & Shultz, 2010). With their professional knowledge and skills, such individuals have greater potential to participate in consultation or other entrepreneurial roles (Ekerdt, Kosloski, & DeViney, 2000). Blended working describes work which has flexibility for the employee in terms of when and for how long they engage in their work (time independent) and in terms of where the work can be completed (Van Yperen, Rietzschel, & De Jonge, 2014). It combines both off site and on site working, through the use of information and communication technologies. Blended working practices have been proposed as particularly suitable at the end of workers’ careers (Van Yperen & Wörtler, 2017), and although the term did not arise in our findings, it resonates with the reported experiences of academics who continue to work in retirement. Women academics experiences in higher education and the structural and cultural barriers they face have been researched extensively (Howe-Walsh & Turnbull, 2016; O’Connor, 2015). Across subject areas, women progress more slowly than men and are underrepresented in senior positions (European Union, 2016; Jena, Khullar, Ho, Olenski, & Blumenthal, 2015). Across occupational groups, outside academia, women’s retirement experiences differ from men’s experiences due to a complex range of factors including women being more likely to have discontinuous work histories and to shoulder the burden of domestic and caregiving responsibilities (Damaske & Frech, 2016; Richardson, 1999). In this review, findings suggest gender may be important in understanding academics decisions to retire (Rapoport et al., 2015); however, gender did not emerge as a strong consistent finding across the included studies. This may be due to a lack of explicit attention to gender with only four studies focusing exclusively on women’s experiences (Emerald & Carpenter, 2014; Strudsholm, 2011; Williamson et al., 2010; Winston & Barnes, 2007) and only two studies utilizing feminist paradigms in their analysis (Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007). Across the reviewed studies, some academics planned for retirement (Dorfman, 2000, 2009; Fishman, 2010; Harris & Prentice, 2004; Rapoport et al., 2015; Strudsholm, 2011; Winston & Barnes, 2007), whereas others did not (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; de Guzman et al., 2008; Firmin & Craycraft, 2009; Silver et al., 2015). Across public sector settings, planning for retirement was found to predict higher levels of postretirement adjustment (Taylor & Doverspike, 2003) with similar findings in private sector settings (Mutran, Reitzes, & Fernandez, 1997). Confidence in relation to the retirement transition is increased for those who prepare for retirement formally and informally (Anderson & Weber, 1993; Elder & Rudolph, 1999; Taylor-Carter, Cook, & Weinberg, 1997), whereas a lack of retirement planning has been linked with negative attitudes to retirement and consequently affects one’s adaptation to retirement (Kim & Moen, 2001). The lack of retirement planning by some academics is not surprising considering many academics in this review want to continue working and therefore may not perceive a need for retirement planning. Findings in this review revealed tensions between academics retirement experiences and age stereotypes. Across six studies, a disjuncture between society’s expectations of retirees and the actual experiences of retired academics was reported. Continuing to work in retirement challenges traditional notions of retirement and stereotypes about older workers. However, findings also revealed that some academics hold beliefs about needing to retire to make room for junior faculty and few reports were found articulating the wisdom and experience of older academics. This may be due to internalized negative age stereotypes by older academics. Negative age stereotypes and age discrimination are prevalent in workplaces (Harris, Krygsman, Waschenko, & Laliberte Rudman, 2017) and contrary to expectation, age stereotypes are worsening not improving (Levy, 2017). A recent analysis of academic researchers’ responses to a proposed NIH funded Emeritus Grant initiative aimed at funding older investigators revealed prevalent ageist attitudes among academics toward older researchers (Kahana, Slone, Kahana, Langendoerfer, & Reynolds, 2017). Academics within this review are concerned regarding physical aging and its impact on their lives as they transition and adjust to retirement. Academics’ health-related concerns may have arisen from knowledge that declining physical health status can hinder a person from continuing to work (Fisher, Chaffee, & Sonnega, 2016) as well as inconsistencies reported across general retirement studies regarding the impact of retirement on individual’s physical and mental health (van der Heide, van Rijn, Robroek, Burdorf, & Proper, 2013). A systematic review of the impact of retirement on blue-collar and white-collar workers found that retirement can have both beneficial and adverse health effects (van der Heide et al., 2013). Retirement was found to have a beneficial effect on mental health and conflicting evidence emerged for retirement having an effect on perceived general and physical health (van der Heide et al., 2013). Retirement has been linked to an increase in family relationships and a decrease in social relationships, both formal and informal (Kohli, Hank, & Künemund, 2009; van der Heide et al., 2013). Focusing on family relationships in the retirement process of academics was highlighted within the review, while some participants were also concerned regarding loss of relationships with students and colleagues. Across the retirement literature, transition in one’s role is suggested to be central to the retirement process (Moen, Robison, & Fields, 1994; Riley & Riley, 1994). However, during the retirement process, ones work roles can become lessened, whereas other nonwork-related roles are developed, for example, family or community member roles (Barnes-Farrell, 2003). Implications The findings of this meta-synthesis have implications at both the individual and the institutional levels. The various retirement pathways underscore the importance of institutions utilizing a nuanced approach to understanding and facilitating a range of retirement options for academics as they transition to retirement. Offering emeriti positions to academics who wish to continue working in aspects of the academic role has occurred for many years in North America (Kaskie, 2016). Thody (2011) suggest that emeriti could work collaboratively with universities to retain their desired roles, challenge perceptions of aging, while also sharing their expertise and supporting other staff who are considering retirement. At an institutional level, offering phased retirements programs enables academics who wish to gradually transition to retirement to continue working while at the same time enabling the university to retain the knowledge and skills of experienced academics. However, some phased retirement programs do not allow reversal of the retirement decision once it commences. Offering academics the opportunity to discuss and explore retirement with already retired individuals may assist those approaching retirement to choose the most appropriate potential retirement pathway (Kaskie, 2016). The findings of this review suggest that there is need for academics to have an awareness of the benefits of planning for retirement. Financial reviews and planning prior to envisioning retirement could assist academics to assess their actual financial situation rather than perceive they have inadequate finances to retire. It may also assist in making the decision to participate in a phased retirement program (Yakaboski, 2015). Comprehensive retirement counseling could be offered to academics, focusing on broader information services about the psychological aspects of retirement, family and social support issues, and health care insurance (Masterson, 2011). Although many of these options are offered in some universities, awareness of these programs among academics needs to be increased (Masterson, 2011). Strengths and Limitations This is the first study to review and synthesize the findings of studies of academics’ experiences across the retirement process (envisioning retirement, the transition to retirement and postretirement). Synthesizing studies across the retirement process has enabled a broader understanding of the entire retirement process for academics. Systematic, robust methods were used to identify, select, appraise, and synthesize the findings. However, the findings need to be interpreted in the context of the study limitations. As meta-ethnography is an interpretative approach to qualitative synthesis, it is possible that a different research team may have provided a different interpretation of the studies. Nevertheless, meta-ethnography offers new insights by drawing together the findings of single studies. Given the challenges of identifying qualitative research, which can be subject to inconsistent indexing, we used a broad search strategy to optimize the identification of relevant studies. However, we applied limits to the search string. We only included peer-reviewed studies, and therefore, gray literature and books/book chapters were not included. An English language restriction was placed on the search strategy and therefore the majority of the included studies originated in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to other countries. The language restriction also likely limited the range of possible types of retirement experiences that could be reported on. Future Research There have been calls from researchers to study the research process in a longitudinal manner; however, only one study (Dorfman, 2009) reported the outcome of a follow-up of professors’ retirement experiences (Dorfman, 2000). Future research should consider a longitudinal design to capture the whole retirement process with one cohort of academics. Some academics appear to choose a traditional retirement pathway by disengaging with their employment, and exploration of the retirement experiences of this group is warranted. In this review, only four studies focused on women exclusively, and additional studies focusing on the retirement experience of female academics are warranted given the differing experiences of men and women in academia. In addition, studies exploring the experience of academics planning their retirement and participating in retirement planning programs offered by universities would yield useful data on the individual and organization planning requirements for academics. Within this review, definitions of retirement varied across studies. Retirement research would benefit from a clear definition of retirement to aid comparison, across studies and discipline. A consistent definition of retirement could enable specific meta-synthesis of particular phases of the retirement process. Further research to explore the role of blended working before, during, and after retirement of academics is required. Conclusion Our findings highlight that many academics wish to continue working in aspects of the academic role gradually easing into retirement over time and that planning is a central component of the retirement process for academics. For another smaller group of participants in this review, retirement is experienced as a complete discontinuation of the academic role. The identified themes will be useful areas to target in future studies examining the retirement experiences of academics. Supplementary Material Supplementary data is available at The Gerontologist online. Funding None reported. Conflict of Interest None reported. References Adams , G. A . ( 1999 ). Career-related variables and planned retirement age: An extension of Beehr’s model . 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The GerontologistOxford University Press

Published: Jan 27, 2018

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