Can our relationships be reconceptualized?  Examining doctoral communities  

through teaching, research, and practice.



Nations depend on their research capacity and knowledge production for social, cultural, and economic well being.  Doctoral programs offer a principal means of training new researchers to undertake creation and application of new knowledge.  In the doctoral education environment, communities of doctoral researchers are formed as candidates and academics collaborate formally and informally in projects that are situated in face-to-face and online environments. Globalization offers doctoral communities the potential to cross disciplines, universities, and nations; librarians and library educators are often entrenched within many of these doctoral communities through teaching, learning, research, and practice.


The session presenters – an Australian PhD / senior lecturer in information and knowledge management, and an American librarian / doctoral candidate – have recently engaged in separate, yet related, research studies intended to examine aspects of the doctoral experience across several disciplines.  Collectively, the mutual purpose of these studies makes visible individual and shared doctoral experiences and practices, drawn from the perspectives of academic librarians, doctoral candidates, and doctoral advisors.  The studies are founded on the assumption that librarians, learners, and academics, in highly negotiated and complex ways, all share agency and participation in educational processes. 



From a critical stance, the following questions are posed:



     How can traditional relationships among librarians, doctoral candidates, and academics be re-conceptualized?

     What lies beneath the fragmentation of academic work that separates librarians, students, and academics?

     What elements and ideologies construct a more comprehensive and holistic view of the doctoral enterprise as it is contextualized by librarians, learners, and educators?

     What can the ALISE community learn from these international studies?




This presentation stems from three independent studies that focus on preparing doctoral researchers to operate in research and professional communities.  The largest of the studies reports a current three-year Australian Research Council funded study titled, “Working students: Reconceptualising the doctoral experience.”  This project centers on the nexus of doctoral students’ lives as postgraduates and as professionals undertaking a doctorate; quantitative findings incorporate national survey results from Australian doctoral candidates across a range of academic disciplines. The second and third studies query the construct of information literacy as it is located in doctoral education.  ‘Doctoral research and scholarly communication: candidates, supervisors and information literacy’ reports a mixed-methods Australian doctoral study.  The third study also performs as a PhD on PhDs, using a qualitative paradigm to examine the literature review process as it is found in the narratives of doctoral candidates, doctoral advisors, and librarians from American and Australian universities.



Our research informs, questions, and even troubles the understandings and strategies that identify the roles of LIS practitioners, educators and researchers as they integrate into doctoral communities, and as they contribute to and participate in the creation of new ideas and knowledge through teaching, research and practice.  We hope to invite conversation with members of the ALISE collective who engage with intersecting communities of doctoral candidates, doctoral educators, librarians, and librarian-educators.