Feeling like a researcher: experiences of early doctoral students in Australia

Lilia Mantai*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    75 Citations (Scopus)


    Becoming a researcher is one of the roads travelled in the emotional, social, and intellectual process of PhD journeys. As such, developing a researcher identity during doctoral study is a social undertaking. This paper explores instances and practices where doctoral students identify as becoming researchers. Based on interviews with 30 PhD students from two Australian metropolitan universities, this paper presents students' experiences of moments when they feel like researchers. The paper finds identification as a researcher occurs early on in the PhD, and such instances are underpinned by external and internal validation of the student as a researcher. Validation is gained through research outputs (mainly publications), doing research, and talking about research. Such experiences are often mundane, occur daily, and constitute personal, social, informal, and formal learning opportunities for researcher development. Supervisors are largely absent as students draw on multiple individuals on and off campus in assuming a researcher identity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)636-650
    Number of pages15
    JournalStudies in Higher Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017


    • becoming a researcher
    • doctoral education
    • doctoral experience
    • researcher development
    • researcher identity
    • social support in PhD


    Dive into the research topics of 'Feeling like a researcher: experiences of early doctoral students in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this