Doctoral students' identities : does it matter

Leshem, Shosh (2016)

The original publication is available from AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, Stellenbosch: South Africa.

CITATION: Leshem, S. 2016. Doctoral students' identities : Does it matter?, in L. Frick, V. Trafford & M. Fourie-Malherbe (eds). Being Scholarly: Festschrift in honour of the work of Eli M Bitzer. Stellenbosch: SUN MeDIA. 135-143. doi:10.18820/9781928314219/13.

Chapters in Books

Introduction: These excerpts depict the sentiments of doctoral students who were at different stages in their doctoral journey and shared their narratives with me. My interest in their narratives started long before embarking on this research. They were staff members in my faculty and knowing of my interest in doctoral education, visited my office to share their experiences, frustrations, delights and quests. I was intrigued by the emotions they expressed, and the powerful influence that these emotions seemed to have on their doctoral journey. My collegial interest transformed into research when one of them stated very ardently that she felt she was in a constant ‘dance of identities’. It immediately captured my inquisitive mind and I wondered about the nature of these ‘identity dances’ and, in fact, why should it really matter. However, I recognized that that these comments accorded with the doctoral journey being highly emotional with students experiencing isolation, alienation, loneliness and distress (Jones 2013). Research also suggests that identity development is a crucial dimension of the doctoral student experience, and yet, few studies have examined the process (Jazvac-Mrtek 2009; Baker and Pifer 2011). I then commenced exploring students’ narratives, focusing on how identities are negotiated and constructed during the doctoral journey.

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