Wayfarers Tales: Reflecting On The Doctoral Journey

Year: 2011

Author: Schulz, Christine, Ryan, Cheryl Maree, Angwin, Jennifer

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper provides a temporal snapshot of two midterm PhD candidates as they both grapple with paradigms and methodology, research questions, external challenges within the research field, locating their voices as doctoral students, and maintaining energy and focus to continue their doctoral journey. These two candidates, one of whom is interstate, share the same supervisor and have come to know each other through telephone reading groups, email communications, and face-to-face meetings with their supervisor, and attending conferences and other collegial opportunities. The catalyst for this paper was a reading group discussion of a paper by Pirrie and Macleod (2010, p. 367) applying the descriptors of 'journeyman, wayfarer, fellow traveller or craftsman' to the conceptualisation of the identities of researchers at temporal moments in the research process. We were also inspired by Kamler and Thomson's (2001) paper where they respond to each other's emails in a conversation formulating ideas and perspectives about 'writing up' research. Additionally, we have considered the work of Ryan, Amorim and Kusch (2010) and Lindsay, Kell, Ouellette and Westall (2010). We have linked their work on reflective learning to our experience of reflecting 'aloud' in a supportive learning community and our subsequent individual reflexive learning. At the heart of our reflections is a relationship between supervisor (Jennifer) and doctoral candidates (Christine and Cheryl); the relationship is a fluid community of practice (Wenger, 1998). A community of practice that depends not so much on direction from the supervisor, but rather as a space where concepts and ideas can be spoken aloud in a safe, critical and supportive environment. Members are able to listen, both to themselves and to each other, before reflecting and finding their own way. At other times each juggles their own professional and personal identities as they become teacher, journeyman, fellow traveller and recalcitrant.