Relationships and agency in doctoral and early career academic experience

Publisher:
Higher Education Research & Development Society of Australasia
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
Proceedings of the 32nd HERDSA Annual Conference: The Student Experience, 2009, 32 pp. 210 - 218
Issue Date:
2009-01
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Research on doctoral and early career academic experience has emphasised relationships within departmental communities, although a limited number of studies suggests the importance of interactions with a wide range of individuals. In this paper we consider new empirical evidence, and theorise experience in terms of relational agency. We show how knowing how to know whom to ask for help can be a significant means for individuals to influence their own experience. Given that doctoral students are in many ways undertaking academic work, and many undertake doctoral study with academic careers in mind, our discussion explores parallels between the doctoral student and early career academic experience, finding strong resonances across the two. We argue that relational agency is indeed important, but that it is often accompanied by knowing how to know when the locus of agency resides in oneself.
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