Mapping the emotional journey of the doctoral ‘hero’: Challenges faced and breakthroughs made by creative arts and humanities candidates

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: an international journal of theory, research and practice, 2020, 19, (4), pp. 354-376
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2019. This article discusses how doctoral candidates identify and navigate personal learning challenges on their journey to becoming researchers. Our study asked creative arts and humanities candidates to think beyond the research project itself and reflect on emotional hurdles they were facing or had overcome. The findings point to a great deal of ‘invisible’ work that underpins doctoral study, and show that such hidden work can have a major influence not only on the research project, but also on progress and satisfaction with the learning journey. In this article, we outline the key themes that emerged from the study: on the emotional and transformational dimensions of the doctoral journey. Using these themes and the candidate stories surrounding them, we align the doctoral journey with Joseph Campbell’s journeying ‘hero’ and Mezirow’s concept of transformation, and suggest how making such invisible aspects of candidature more visible might enhance research training.
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