The ‘creative-minded supervisor : gatekeeping and boundary breaking when supervising creative doctorates

Wisker, Gina ; Robinson, Gillian (2016)

CITATION: Wisker, G. & Robinson, G. 2016. The 'Creative-Minded Supevisor': Gatekeeping and Boundary Breaking when Supervising Creative Doctorates , in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 335-348. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/20.

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Chapters in Books

INTRODUCTION: Research into what examiners value in a PhD (Kiley & Mullins 2002) identified some characteristics which might surprise supervisors who seek to ensure that, as well as contributing to knowledge, their students undertake manageable research projects, use familiar (enough) methodologies and methods and conform (enough) to acceptable formats in the finished thesis. In their research, both risk-taking and creativity emerged as highly valued in successful PhD theses. Creativity and risktaking might be expected essentials in a PhD which centres on an artistic production, and are very familiar to those taking experimental approaches or challenging fixed ideas. However, for those of us supervising a much broader range of research it could be challenging to find ways to work with students or negotiate routes that are risky and creative, also sound, safe, familiar, and likely to be successful. This raises an exciting set of opportunities, located in supervisors’ roles, and in supervisorstudent interactions, in context. Supervisors are gatekeepers, boundary brokers, and boundary breakers, particularly when working with creative doctorates. Creative postgraduate students engaged in creative doctorates, whether in the creative arts, or taking creative approaches to problems and questions in a range of disciplines, might take us out of our own comfort zones. Yet, we would like to argue that, as supervisors, we need to be – in the words of one of our respondents – ‘creativeminded’ enough (Wisker & Robinson 2014) to encourage and reward the creative approaches and work, while also ensuring that the breaking of boundaries in new knowledge also fulfils expectations of a rigorous research project and wellcommunicated thesis.

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