The proposition explored is that as research becomes more of a collective enterprise, so supervisor standing and research group environment will exert a greater influence on doctoral student performance and these same students’ future career development. The project is based on data relating to the careers of 15017 individuals who completed their doctoral degrees in medicine, natural science or social science between 2006 and 2012. We will compile a database of these individuals’ publication and employment history starting from their time as doctoral students up until the present. We will also identify the supervisor(s) of these doctoral candidates and create a publication history for each supervisor. Four empirical studies are proposed. The first study analyses the significance of supervisor standing and research group environment for doctoral students’ performance during their doctoral studies. The second study examines the significance of the doctoral students’ research performance and research group integration for their early career progression. The third study focuses on the phenomenon of cumulative advantage and its relevance for understanding longer-term career outcomes. Socio-bibliometric maps form a springboard to the fourth study which is an in-depth qualitative analysis of factors affecting career progression.