Making internal conversations public: reflexivity of the connected doctoral researcher and its transmission beyond the walls of the academy

Jon Rainford


Advances in digital technologies, especially those associated with Web 2.0 such as blogs and Twitter, have created new spaces for discussion and to encourage the development of ideas. These advances have the ability to reduce the isolation of the doctoral researcher who may have previously been limited to discussions restricted to physical spaces such as departmental offices and at conferences. Whilst moving these conversations into public spaces can offer benefits, it also presents a distinct set of challenges. This paper adopts an autoethnographic approach in order to explore my experiences of using digital technologies to support my development as a doctoral researcher. Drawing on Archer’s (2003; 2007) theories of reflexivity and the internal conversation, it explores two critical incidents (Tripp, 1993) during my first year as a doctoral researcher. The first focuses on making sense of the rejection of a conference paper and the second on making sense of what ‘can’ and ‘should’ be said in a digital space as the result of tweeting and blogging at a conference. In doing so, this paper highlights the ways in which digital technologies have the capacity to support an individual’s varied modes of reflexivity. Through this, it also illuminates how bringing these conversations into a public space can also offer a form of public scholarship, opening up the inner workings of the academy to a wider public, challenging traditional academic practices. Consequently, the paper concludes with suggestions for future research and training needed to support digital scholarship for doctoral researchers.


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ISSN: ISSN 2398-5836

Copyright (c) 2016 Jon Rainford