Annotated Bibliography: Doctoral Identity

Few investigations have been conducted to analyze the transition doctoral students make from being dependent to being autonomous. This study was conducted to determine the role of relationships in the process of becoming an autonomous doctoral student focuses is categorized into three themes: advice and support, student identity development, and academic identity development. Thirty-one business and higher education students participated in the study. Participants in the study were working towards completion of stage two of their doctoral journey or had already completed stage two.

The following information was gathered from each participant via interview: fundamental experiences and relationships, challenges, performance and progress goals, existent and non-existent support, an individuality.

Baker and Pifer found that supportive professional and personal relationships are imperative for students developing a doctoral identity and transitioning into independence as a doctoral student. Students with positive relationships during stage two of the doctoral program were able to rely on faculty to assist them in developing research plans for their dissertation topics.

Positive relationships are Researchers reported that negative relationships were documented in the study. Students lacking relationships or experiencing negative relationship experiences were secluded and felt a lack of self-confidence.

Including participants seeking a doctoral degree in programs outside of business and higher education would have enhanced research. While most of the study gathered data on positive relationships, it could be helpful for readers to also gain information on the impacts negative relationships may have on doctoral students transitioning to become scholars. Research on both the positive and negative relationships impacts will give readers a deeper understanding of how relationships truly impact students progressing toward autonomy.

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Doctoral students may find it beneficial that researchers broke apart the second stage of the doctoral process into three major themes. Having three key themes helps the reader think critically about the transition from dependence to independence without using the strength on

As a doctoral student, it is essential to remember that acquiring knowledge and the process of individualization do not occur in isolation of one another during stage two of doctoral education as stated in the article. Gardner, Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Maine, conducted this study seeking to understand conceptions of success in terms of retention, academic achievement, program completion, and professionalism in doctoral education and how disciplinary framework and culture effects success. Thirty-eight faculty members of the English, communication, psychology, mathematics, oceanography, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science departments of a Southern United States university were interviewed to discuss their experiences as doctoral advisors and their notions of what makes doctoral students successful and unsuccessful.

Cultural experiences, gender, and race all play a role in doctoral student’s ability to complete doctoral education programs. However, the unique culture and framework of each discipline significantly impact faculty members perception of success. Communication, oceanography, psychology, and English ranked highest completion rates among the disciplines. Mathematics, engineering, and computer science disciplines were among the low- ranking completion departments. Although faculty members from each department communicated several different success characteristics, all seven disciplines characterized students with self-motivation as being successful. In order to fully define and understand success in doctoral education, an understanding of the influence of pressure and degree completion, structure and procedures, and institutional funding are all needed.

In contrast to the study conducted by researchers Baker and Pifer, this study included a variety of different disciplines from one university, research could be enhanced by including a variety of disciplines from a variety of institutions. The method of data collection from the study could be considered biased and subjective due to faculty members giving their individuals ideas of what makes doctoral students successful and unsuccessful. Individuals ideas of success could be influenced by one’s own cultural and academic experiences. Participants could have also communicated characteristics of success based on their institutional and departmental expectations.

A faculty member from the mathematics department stated, “I would say the most successful student is the one who gets the doctorate, I think.” Most enrolled in a doctoral program may find this quote to be valuable and true because, for many doctoral students, they are ultimately working hard to complete the program. Findings from this research reiterate the notion that not all doctoral experiences will be the same. This research helped develop a deeper of understanding of how doctoral experiences differ due to the culture and expectations of different disciplines.

Researchers, Smith and Hatmaker explored the process students undergo to become researchers as public affairs doctoral students. The study conducted identifies student-faculty relationships that help enhance student success, hands-on research experiences, and researcher identity. Information and suggestions on socializing doctoral students into the research profession are offered in the article. Twenty-seven participants from 25 different universities and six different countries voluntarily participated in a professional development workshop for pursuing an academic career. The workshop offered doctoral students job market information, publishing information, and research feedback to students. Participant interviews focused on three areas of becoming academic professionals: research, teaching, and academic professionals.

Participants in the study provided insight on the process of becoming a researcher. Becoming a researcher requires a multilevel approach. Doctoral students become researchers on an organizational level, relational level, and individual level. Data reveals that the relational level may be the most important level of becoming a researcher as this level focuses on developing trust and mentor relationships with faculty. Data gathered during the study show that students’ relationships with faculty members offer support outside of academics. Collaboration with faculty members helps students develop confidence and overcome challenges. Researchers suggest doctoral education programs make professional development seminars a program requirement to give students a platform for consistent communication and provide skill development.

In comparison to previous journal article read, this article is relatable and relevant to individuals interested in pursuing an academic career. Doctoral students may find the findings from this study to be more valuable because data is gathered from participants in various stages in their doctoral journey. The article included sections that discussed the mechanisms of becoming a researcher in detail which helps readers gain a deeper understanding of the levels associated with becoming a researcher. Data was gathered from participants in the study via phone interview. Over-the-phone interviews leaves the credibility of data open to criticism.

How were researchers able to verify the identity of participants? Researchers stated that one of the interviews was not usable due to the quality. Therefore, researchers had to rely on the notes taken during the interview. This could have resulted in skewed data as the researchers may have recorded notes based on their perception of the participant. Although, student proactivity in establishing relationships with faculty plays a major role in successfully becoming a researcher, it is important to note the importance of faulty availability and willingness to take part in those relationships.

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Annotated Bibliography: Doctoral Identity. (2022, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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