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Doctoral writing through a trajectorial lens: an exploratory study on challenges, strategies and relationships

A Research Paper by Julio Gimenez, Richard Paterson and Doug Specht, published by Higher Education

Doctoral writing has burgeoned as a field of inquiry in the past decade. However, questions still remain as to how doctoral researchers navigate their writing trajectories, the strategies they deploy to deal with challenges, and what and who helps to shape their writing experiences. These questions may have resulted from the rather snapshot perspective followed by some existing research, failing to reveal developmental aspects of doctoral writing. This article argues that a trajectorial perspective on doctoral writing, offered here as a methodological lens, can help to shed some light on such questions, and provide effective guidance for pedagogic interventions. A group of six doctoral researchers were interviewed about their experiences as academic and professional writers, and about the texts they had written along their writing trajectories. An analysis of the data revealed a number of challenges these doctoral writers faced at specific stages of their writing trajectory, the strategies they deployed to deal with these challenges, the relationships they established along the way and how they changed at specific times, and what they have found most helpful to advance their writing. Based on the results, this exploratory study offers possible pedagogic interventions for specific stages of the doctoral writing trajectory.

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Doug Specht


Dr Doug Specht is a cultural geographer and educationalist. His research explores themes related to environmental justice, human rights, and access to education, with a focus on the production and codification of knowledge though cartographic artefacts and in educational settings. In recognition of his work, he has been appointed as a Chartered Geographer and Chartered Teacher. In addition, he has been awarded Advanced Teacher Status, alongside being a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr. Specht has authored numerous articles and books, including Mapping Crisis, the Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technology and Society, the Media and Communications Student Study Guide and Imagining Apocalyptic Politics in the Anthropocene. He writes regularly on ethics, environmental and human rights, education, and mapping practices in such publications as WonkHE, The Conversation, Geographical, and for Times Higher Education. Dr Specht is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Geography, Westminster papers in Communication and Culture, and Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.


3 March 2023
Research Area
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Higher Education
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