Doctoral Identity

Synthesis Paper – Doctoral Identity

Grand Canyon University: RES-811

December 19, 2018

The education of doctors in the United States involves a three-step process in professional scholarly identity development. In the process, students learn the nature of teaching skills, research, academic career and language in the field. The first stage is made up of the coursework for the first year to help you understand and also help with your writing to your researching on your topic, in the second stage, students pass candidacy exams to complete the coursework and begin developing the proposal for dissertation and dissertation itself. In the final stage, students complete their dissertations. The first and the third stages have been extensively focused on by research, as opposed to the second stage which is the critical stage involving a transition from dependence to independence by moving from course structures into a self-directed and isolating period (Gardner, 2009). In the stage, academic identities, professional voices, and scholarly independence are developed in a process characterized by personal and professional identity, challenges, experiences, advancing goals, performance, relationships and types of support.

Doctoral experience’ most crucial dimension is the development of identity although this process has eluded a lot of empirical studies. A lot less research attention has focused on the influence of the relationship students develop with others on identity development during graduate studies. A review of literature suggests productive doctoral identity is supported by student experiences focusing on academic success, developing relationships with faculty and peers, and Independence.

This paper examines the relationships of students with others and the process of development of identity during the second stage in the transition to self-regulating academics and the role of the relationships developed by students, in terms for the purposes and outcomes by focusing on three themes on identity development relationships, namely, advice and support, development of student identity during training and development of identity during practice. Comment by Seanan Kelly: Professional development/socialization

Themes Emerging from a Review of Literature

The common themes emerging from a review of literature and discussed in the following section include academic success, relationships and Professional Development/Socialization They are all addressed by the authors to show their centrality. Comment by Seanan Kelly: Alignment – keep the order the same as they appear in the body of the presentation:Academic SuccessRelationshipsIndependence

Academic Success Comment by Seanan Kelly: Headers are an important component of presentation style and format.Headers provide structure and clarity, but also provide us as writers a guide for content development through each section (this is where our work constructing outlines helps us). APA formatting provides a guide for primary, secondary; first-level, second-level, third-level headers that provide a means of categorizing information in descending order. We want to clearly mark sections not just for APA guidelines but to make the information accessible AND retrievable. Keep in mind future presentations will be based on more than just three to five articles and have more than our basic Intro-Body-Conclusion format. We want to give our audience the ability to go back in and find information quickly and easily.Finally, I go back to something a colleague of mine says with some frequency: “Organization is key. If I can’t see your message clearly, I can’t hear your message clearly.”

Through general support and advice is one of the ways themes around the role of relationships developed by students during the stage two. This is the stage in which many a student rely on in the development of relationships that help them navigate the challenges in the stage.

The second stage basically involves due dates, syllabus, coursework, and faculty, peers and administrator consistent interactions. Students in this stage are faced with lack of structure as one of the problems that relationships developed help them wade through. Students overcome lack of structure problem through the relationships they develop with educational counselors or overseers and progressive students. Academic advisors students, for instance, help students in developing task writing schedules as advanced students share with them their strategies including daily and weekly goals of writing, habits of support and successful writing (Smith & Hatmaker, 2014).

Another problem faced with isolation since students are not in the classroom in this stage, a factor that reduces their interaction with the members of the community. These relationships help students deal with isolation as it helped keep them on task. Gardner (2009) argues that these relationships bridge the gap between the students and the educational community and inform students on professional developments, events, and opportunities. These relationships also help students manage negative emotions and challenges in stage two.

These relationships also help students develop key experiences that are crucial in incorporating them into the community and in the process of developing distinctiveness (Gardner, 2009). These key experiences include brown bag lunches, research assistantship, student organization meetings and teaching assistantship that are associated with the career.

Students’ lack of relationship connections miss out on key experience opportunities and even question their sense of belonging. The relationships are, therefore, crucial in keeping students sane and connecting them to resources including knowledge, support and parallel process mastery behavioral strategies for identity development.

Relationships Comment by Seanan Kelly: Don’t limit the discussion of themes from within just the three or five article minimum.Keep in mind the research questions we started out with:What are factors of doctoral experiences that influence doctoral identity development?1. What is the role of a given factor in doctoral experiences?2. What is the influence of a given factor on identity development?These can be examined and informed from a much wider range of articles providing opportunity for greater depth of discussion.Are researchers reporting the same outcomes today (2018) about factors of doctoral experiences that influence doctoral identity, as they reported twenty years ago?If there has been a change – why?If no change or very little, we can say some factors remain constant or remain important over time and continue to warrant attention from academic practitioners and doctoral students.. but we only get that perspective by bringing in more literature.

This means that students as organizational newcomers are expected to know what is expected of them and must develop the abilities and strategies to meet those expectations to enable them to perform their roles effectively. Interaction with mentors, peers, family members and friends is crucial in this process referred to as role teaching (Gardner, 2009).

One of the ways relationships help students during role learning is through the creation of awareness of transition. Students in the second stage struggle with self-doubt as they transition from being used to classrooms and interactions with the academic community. Relationships and interactions with advanced students help them get the support and advice they need during their engagements with parallel identity development as scholars and students. These relationships help students become comfortable and overcome fear and undue stress.

Impression management is one of the fruits of relationships students develop with the academic community, advanced students and instructors as students are not confident as who they have become. They are in fear of embarrassments despite the increased knowledge and abilities (Baker & Pifer, 2011). Through this, they learn how to interact with faculty to share ideas and create intellectual discourse opportunities. Another way these relationships help is the development of network and collaborations that help them develop confidence and achieve success early in professions.


Students in the second stage are aware of the transitions, and develop experiences and gain insights into preparations by socializing with peers and members of academe. They are also able to articulating their own identity development (Rayner, Lord, Parr & Sharkey, 2015). The relationships helped students with their short term goal focus on exam dates and assignment due dates, beginning and end of semesters to long-term goals such as completion of dissertation and dissertation proposals which do not have due dates and graduation and academic employment. The relationships also helped students develop collaborations with scholars in their fields of interests, assistant professors and dissertation community members’ selection. It also helped them have a clear preview of faculty career when they become faculty members.


This review presented a discussion of three themes emerging from a review of empirical research articles examining doctoral identity. A discussion of themes across each of the studies was presented. Literature on the topic of doctoral identity development suggests academic success, relationships and independence influence doctoral identity. The presentation concludes with a summary of key findings, recommendations for future research and implications for practice. Comment by Seanan Kelly: ALIGNMENT – CONNECTING THE CONCLUSION TO THE THESIS, CONTENT and TAKEAWAYS Here we are attending to a structural element that retains alignment by reinforcing for the reader what it is they have just read.The short-hand for this is an approach that says: “Tell them what you are going to tell them (in the intro); Tell them (in the body of the work); Tell them what you just told them (in the conclusion).”We can follow this summary statement with a recap of the thesis statement and key points from the core discussion.From there we transition to the takeaways that come in our Recommendations for Future Research or Implications for Practice..

The understanding or relationship development during doctoral student training experience is crucial in managing challenges and issues that face students during stage 2 of their doctoral learning. It also helps draw the attention of stakeholders to this important phenomenon these relationships inform learning and role enactment. These relationships, just like the structure and climate of the program, are important components of the doctoral student education experience. It is important that a collective understanding is developed on doctoral education and professorial preparation based on theory and research to provide all involved in the practice preparation with facts on how to understanding and sustain upcoming scholars, in and out of classrooms.

Implications for Practice Comment by Seanan Kelly: • At this point in our presentation we are attempting to demonstrate where and/or how one or two points we’ve developed in the body of our work, apply or can be made actionable in other settings.In the narrow sense we are helping our reader see application of outcomes and recommendations from the research, across contexts and potentially, in their own experience.1. How does our talking point potentially change the way in which leadership attend to academic and doctoral identity outcomes and help doctoral students advance their sense of who they are as students, researchers and scholars? (for example)?2. How does our talking point perhaps texture how higher education institutions and doctoral programs in particular are constructed in an increasingly digital age? How is mentoring for doctoral learners impacted for instance?This will include a return to the literature review to support our observations/recommendations/implications for policy development, program development and gaps in the literature that arise from the research results.Black, R. (2017). E-Mentoring the Online Doctoral Student from the Dissertation Prospectus through Dissertation Completion. Journal of Learning in Higher Education, 13(1), 1-8.Kumar, S., & Johnson, M. (2017). Online mentoring of dissertations: the role of structure and support. Studies in Higher Education, 1-13.Welch, S. (2017). Virtual mentoring program within an online doctoral nursing education program: A Phenomenological Study. International journal of nursing education scholarship, 14(1).• Revisit the literature to inform understanding.• What does the lit say? Does the literature confirm our position?

Strategies should, therefore, be developed to acknowledge the doctoral students needed and concerns on their transition through the educational stages and identity development so they can become independent scholars.

References Comment by Seanan Kelly: Reviews of Literature – expanding our objective review of literature (not a mandate but a goal as we head in to our Enhanced Synthesis Paper)Continue to bring in more and more literature in to the practice of writing as this will only HELP our ability to discuss a subject with depth and critical thinking.In these small writing samples we will generally have on an eye on supporting three areas of our work, with three different reviews of literature: The background: we should be examining at least 5-7 articles (if not more) to establish for ourselves and for the reader, a historical and longitudinal understanding of what has been reported in the literature examining a specific focus – in this case doctoral experiences that influence productive doctoral identity development. Thesis/Body of our work: Here we should be focusing our review of literature on contemporary works (no more than five years old) that support our discussion in CURRENT terms – the background helps us understand a legacy of previous research and what has been reported to date. The body of work brings that historical perspective to bear in current terms. Limitations/Recommendations/Implications for Practice/Discussion – this third review of literature extends the research to which we’ve focused our attention to this point and basically says to the reader – ‘here’s what you can do with the information I’ve just given you…”So consider then our rule of thumb for the number of articles we should consider at a minimum for a small writing setting such as this: 5 to 7 articlesIf we carry that rule of thumb through each of the three reviews of literature we are illustrating here: Intro/Background = 5 to 7 articlesThesis/Body Content = 5 to 7 articlesRecommendations for research = 5 to 7 articlesWe should have 15 to 21 articles included in our work.

Baker, V. L., & Pifer, M. J. (2011). The role of relationships in the transition from doctoral student to independent scholar. Studies in Continuing Education33(1), 5-17.

Gardner, S. K. (2008). “What’s too much and what’s too little?” The process of becoming an independent researcher in doctoral education. The Journal of Higher Education79(3), Gardner, S. K. (2009). Conceptualizing success in doctoral education: Perspectives of faculty in seven disciplines. The Review of Higher Education32(3), 383-406.326-350.

Rayner, S., Lord, J., Parr, E., & Sharkey, R. (2015). ‘Why has my world become more confusing than it used to be? Professional doctoral students reflect on the development of their identity. Management in Education29(4), 158-163.

Smith, A. E., & Hatmaker, D. M. (2014). Knowing, doing, and becoming: professional identity construction among public affairs doctoral students. Journal of Public Affairs Education20(4), 545-564.