The role of doctoral education in early career academic development

Frick, Liezel ; Albertyn, Ruth ; Brodin, Eva ; McKenna, Sioux ; Claesson, Silwa (2016)

CITATION: Frick, L. et al. 2016. The Role of Doctoral Education in Early Career Academic Development, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 203-219. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/12.

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POINT OF DEPARTURE: The social and economic significance of the doctorate is recognised across the world, as doctoral candidates are considered to be key contributors to the knowledge society by contributing to socio-economic development through innovation (Barnacle 2005; Taylor 2012). Doctoral students – regardless of their discipline – are expected to take part actively in the knowledge creation process at universities, and this is especially important for those who will remain in academia and continue to contribute in this way.1 But knowledge creation is a complex process. Knowledge creation at the doctoral level and beyond requires a comprehensive understanding of relevant knowledge, sound judgment, and the ability to advise with insight. Doctoral learning also includes aspects such as abstract reasoning, the ability to conceptualise, and problem solving. Thus, through the original contribution candidates are expected to create during the doctorate, they are supposed to become experts in their chosen field of study. This process has been described by Evans (2014) as disciplinary acculturation. Various authors (for example Danby & Lee 2012; Lin & Cranton 2005; Manathunga & Goozée 2007) point out that this process of becoming an expert is by no means easy or straightforward. Rather, developing as a scholar is a lifelong process in which moving from a novice to an expert is an essential rite of passage into academic practice (Dreyfus & Dreyfus 1986). Benmore (2014) states that for those pursuing academic careers, it involves coming to know, but also coming to be an academic. Such a process of becoming doctorate implies movement over time, progression, and transformation (Barnacle, 2005).

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