Penumbra: Doctoral support as drama: From the ‘lightside' to the ‘darkside'. From front of house to trapdoors and recesses

Gina Wisker, Gillian Robinson, Soren S.E. Bengsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Much international doctoral learning research focuses on the personal, institutional and learning support provided by supervisors through supervisory dialogues, managed relationships, and the ‘nudging' of robust, conceptual, critical and creative work. Other work focuses on the stresses experienced in both supervisor-student relationships and the doctoral journey itself. Some considers formal and informal learning communities supporting students on their research journeys, and roles played by families, friends and others, sometimes offering encouragement and sometimes an added stress. However, little has yet been explored, exposed and shared concerning the often unofficial, largely unrecognised range of meaningful others in students' ‘life-worlds', variously supporting their doctoral learning journeys in terms of research, writing and editing. Research, based in experience and interviews with doctoral students and supervisors from UK and international contexts, reveals a wide range of support (termed ‘the penumbra'), both university sanctioned (‘lightside'), as well as less well recognised often unsanctioned support (‘darkside') on the doctoral research and writing learning journey, opening up questions about doctoral student needs, and the range of support provided, both legitimately and well known, and perhaps less legitimately and less well known. This work concentrates in the main on the ‘darkside'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-538
Number of pages12
JournalInnovations in Education and Teaching International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Innovations in Education and Teaching International on 01/11/2017, available online:


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