Ongoing doctoral study process to live by: A narrative inquiry into the doctoral identity construction experiences—A Chinese case

Xiujuan SUN, John Gilbert TRENT

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

The study employs a narrative inquiry approach to probe a Chinese doctoral student’s identity construction experiences fraught with interruption and transformation. The longitudinal narratives gathered through participant entries in Evernote, a face-to-face life story interview, and researcher memos, have enabled a dynamic configuration of the intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual dimensions characterizing doctoral identity development. Using identity-trajectory as an analytical lens, the study highlights how individual agency is embodied and exercised in institutional, relational, and personal spaces where doctoral identity is formed and contested. Findings are episodically ordered as: beginning doctoral study with great expectations; conceptualizing the nature of becoming a doctoral student; forces that are disruptive to the development of the doctoral-researcher identity; the ongoing process of being mediated by socialization into an extended research community, socio-professional support, and agentic reflexivity over time. The study argues for using narrative inquiry to speak of and express the subtleties and continuities of doctoral students’ experiences. It also provides practical implications for action by supervisors and students in doctoral programs respectively. Copyright © 2020 Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-452
JournalFrontiers of Education in China
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Citation

Sun, X., & Trent, J. (2020). Ongoing doctoral study process to live by: A narrative inquiry into the doctoral identity construction experiences—A Chinese case. Frontiers of Education in China, 15(3), 422-452. doi: 10.1007/s11516-020-0018-4

Keywords

  • Narrative inquiry
  • Doctoral identity
  • Agency
  • Identity trajectory
  • Reflexivity
  • PG student publication

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