22 SES 11 A, Developing Doctorateness
Doctorateness is an elusive concept. The word itself has resonance for everyone involved with doctoral education. It appears in scholarly articles, books, international conference presentations and national research projects. And yet, to define it raises challenging questions ~ What does it actually mean? How does it apply to every type of doctorate? Does it have identical meanings in different educational and national settings? Do doctoral supervisors and doctoral candidates share common understandings of it? Do examiners, supervisors and candidates view it similarly? How do those administrating doctoral programmes interpret its regulatory implications? What is its practical significance?
This symposium draws together academics from three countries whose research, publications and international standing reflect their complimentary understandings of doctorateness. All are active researchers who supervise and examine theses. Their Abstracts illustrate ‘ways of seeing’ doctorateness as paradigms (Kuhn, 1970). The symposium draws on primary research into administering, supervising, undertaking and examining doctoral degrees. Evidence from 100+ doctoral defences in six countries, and their associated supporting activities, will illustrate these doctoral education processes.
Trafford explores three genres of doctorateness (Swales, 2004). Interrelationships are shown between governmental strategies for doctoral education, University processes for doctoral education and the summative examination/defense of theses. Their critical features are advanced as indicators of doctorateness by their respective proponents. However, nationally ‘…doctoral investment is predicated on economic growth and technological advancement’ (Powell and Green, 2007: 259), though Park (2007) argues that ‘. . . . different stakeholders have different views, different accounts of the nature of the doctorate and the domain is and has (throughout history) been in flux.’ Thus, contradictory views about nature, purpose and practice of doctoral degrees are unsurprizing.
Ahlberg, Sonesson and Lindberg-Sand show how delivering doctoral education in one University displays characteristics of communities of practice (Wenger, 1998). They illustrate this through their facilitation of supervisor development. Combining two models of learning as educational strategies have enabled supervisors to progress their candidates’ understanding of doctoral research. They argue that effective supervisors are brokers of learning throughout their candidates’ doctoral learning journeys. Thus, supervisors are encouraged to review their individual practices and departmental traditions through an understanding of doctorateness and how it looks in action.
Leshem addresses an often-overlooked aspect of doctoral education ~ the audit of quality and internal cohesion within theses (Pearce, 2005). This process checks, and ensures, that theses exhibit scholarly merit and are capable of being defended successfully (Trafford and Leshem, 2008: 172). Following ‘research audit trails’ shows how candidates have displayed doctorateness. Auditing also illustrates how doctoral research has significance beyond the scope of any specific thesis. Thus, auditing theses can acknowledge the demands and expectations of government, Universities, employers, examiners, supervisors and candidates.
Doctorateness is a generic notion within the lexicon of doctoral education (Trafford, 2010). It is short-hand for attributes of doctoral degrees that are commonly-held ~ especially when candidates ‘think like researchers’ (Perkins, 2007). However, if stakeholder opinions regarding doctorateness differ significantly then the outcomes from doctoral education and research will be contested.
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