The social and economic significance of the doctorate is recognised across the world, and particularly in developing countries (including South Africa) where economic growth, sustainable living and social well-being are critical priorities. Backhouse’s (2008) report that South Africa produces relatively few doctorates, that active researchers are ageing and that research continues to be an elitist activity amidst the existence of some well-resourced universities is therefore a matter of concern. An added concern is what McWilliam et al. (2008) call the ‘flight from science’ (p. 226), even though there is an ever-growing demand for high-level innovation in science and technology, and inter-/national initiatives to support development in these areas. The contribution of doctoral pedagogies towards building ‘creative capital’ (McWilliam and Dawson, 2008: 634) needs to be (re-)considered, particularly in countries such as South Africa. Doctoral study can be understood as inherently a creative endeavour. The United States of America Council of Graduate Schools (1977, as quoted in Bargar and Duncan, 1982: 1), proclaims the main purpose of a doctorate is preparation for ‘a lifetime of intellectual inquiry that manifests itself in creative scholarship and research’. National plans emphasise the potential of a doctorate for increasing innovation and economic growth (Backhouse, 2008), which marks the shift in understanding creativity as an individual, idiosyncratic pursuit to ‘ways of thinking and doing that are visible, sustainable and replicable as processes and practices within daily economic and social life’ (McWilliam et al., 2008: 230). This shift has helped to legitimise doctoral creativity as a scientific endeavour. The legitimacy of doctoral creativity, however, is not undisputed. Doctoral education in the sciences traditionally has focused on supporting disciplinespecific, project-based research of a positivist nature, conducted by individual students in singular relationships with their supervisors. In addition, the function of the doctorate as developing generic abilities (such as creativity) is placed often in opposition to the achievement of discipline-specific, knowledge-based outcomes. Such notions discredit creativity as an asset to doctoral quality and relevance in the sciences.