How to Keep your Doctorate on Track
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How to Keep your Doctorate on Track

Insights from Students’ and Supervisors’ Experiences

Edited by Keith Townsend, Mark N.K. Saunders, Rebecca Loudoun and Emily A. Morrison

The path of a doctoral student can feel challenging and isolating. This guide provides doctoral students with key ideas and support to kick-start a doctoral journey, inspire progress and complete their thesis or dissertation. Featuring observations from experienced supervisors, as well as the reflections of current and recent postgraduate researchers, this intimate and entertaining book offers vital insights into the critical moments in any doctoral experience.
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Chapter 35: Tightrope walking: balancing the dynamic tensions of the doctoral process

Andrea Casey


Drawing on the author’s own experience as a doctoral student as well as that as a doctoral advisor and faculty member, the chapter notes several dynamic tensions that surface in the doctoral process. These comprise the need for structure and flexibility in students’ knowledge creation process while engaging with their own ideas and those of others; the tension of knowledge creation as a solitary and social activity, cocreating accountability; and the experience of being an expert in a profession and a novice in the learning process of dissertation research. The author shares her experiences of these tensions as a way to help readers anticipate and navigate them, if and when they arise. Acknowledging and engaging in the tensions offers opportunities for learning and positive outcomes. The chapter concludes with three useful lessons, all with the aim of keeping the reader’s doctorate on track.

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