Juggling competing activities: academic staff as doctoral candidates

Smith, Jan
Billot, Jennie
Clouder, Lynn
King, Virginia
Smith, Jan, Billot, Jennie, Clouder, Lynn, & King, Virginia. (2020). Juggling competing activities: academic staff as doctoral candidates. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(3), 591-605. doi:10.1080/07294360.2019.1685945
This article explores the experiences of a group of established academic staff in New Zealand and the UK, as they undertake a doctorate in their home institutions. Our interest is in how individuals negotiate this dual status from a cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) stance that explores how rules, tools, community and divisions of labour, and interacting activity systems, shape doctoral experiences. The focus in this article, having analysed their detailed narrative accounts, is on how academics experience three interdependent activity systems: those surrounding the thesis, the institutional context, and the home-life spheres. Issues related to time, workload and supervision issues, variability in collegial support and impact on personal priorities and time emerged. There is a range of particularities – from easy access to resources/supervisors to inflexible institutional regulations – applicable to this group of doctoral candidates. Negotiating life as an academic with concurrent doctoral candidature provides positive outcomes in terms of teaching, research confidence and general personal and professional development. However, a range of difficulties can also be encountered, particularly in relation to personal and professional relationships, and workload management.
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland