Understanding identity trajectories of doctoral supervisors

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Over the last two decades, doctoral students and early career researchers, such as postdocs and researchers in post-PhD careers, have received increased research attention, and importantly so – with this work often addressing changes circumstance during this time, e.g., increased focus on timely completion; (lack of) well-being. However, research about doctoral supervisors seems not to have kept pace with significant changes over the past two decades, e.g., increase in co-supervision, increasing institutional oversight. Further, little attention has been paid to how more experienced doctoral supervisors have now moved into leadership positions and are influencing the policy work and educational practices in large research teams, units, centres, and even at the Graduate School level. In addition, most studies of supervisors use one-time only interviews; none that we know of have used longitudinal methods to understand changes in supervisory perspectives. In our workshop, we present the findings from a longitudinal study with doctoral supervisors from a Russell Group university, a study spanning 2015-2019. In the study we explore how changing institutional policies and practices influence doctoral supervisors’ understanding of the nature of research, their own educational responsibility and pedagogical motivation. The identity-trajectories of the doctoral supervisors reflect and respond to wider institutional realities of funding regimes, initiatives around co-supervision, post-PhD careers, and Graduate School leadership. The study draws from our earlier work on ‘zones of thinking’ (McAlpine et al, 2006), ‘nested contexts’ within doctoral education (McAlpine & Norton, 2006; McAlpine & Amundsen, 2016), ‘embedded pedagogy’ (Bengtsen, 2016), and ‘doctoral ecologies’ (Bengtsen, 2019).
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearJan 2020
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 2020
EventIDERN Network Meeting 2020 - Roskilde University (RUC), Roskilde, Denmark
Duration: 25 Jun 202026 Jun 2020


ConferenceIDERN Network Meeting 2020
LocationRoskilde University (RUC)
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Doctoral education, Doctoral supervision, Supervision, Supervisor identity, Academic identity, Institutional leadership, Doctoral student, PhD

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