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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

In this introductory chapter we have covered the areas which we felt were important to get you started on your doctoral journey. We have explained what is meant by a professional doctorate and the standard and expectation of a doctoral level qualification, and a little about the history and aims of the professional doctorate. We have also outlined what you can expect to find in the rest of this book. We hope this will help you to decide if a professional doctorate is for you. In the next chapter we will begin to discuss how you might choose and frame your doctoral project.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

2. hoosing your Research Project and Framing your Research Question

This chapter has examined approaches you can take to the development of your ideas based on your work practice. The following areas have been explored:
  • Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge production, their differences and similarities.
  • The types of knowledge involved in practice and how these can be a starting point in your development of the professional doctorate study.
  • The ways in which your ideas can be framed and shaped into specific aims, objectives and a research question.
  • How your colleagues on the programme can support you and enhance your experience.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

3. Developing as a Researching Professional through Reflective Practice

In this chapter we have considered what it means to be a professional, and the importance of defining the professional community to which you belong. Because many professional doctorate candidates have a complex career history and have moved across role, and perhaps even discipline, boundaries, this task is not straightforward. It is, nevertheless, crucial to the doctoral process in order to clearly articulate your unique contribution to the profession.
We have considered how our professional identity — defined as the attributes, beliefs, values, motives and experiences in terms of which we define ourselves in a professional role — can affect:
  • How we locate ourselves in a social landscape (of our community of practice).
  • What we care about and what we neglect.
  • What we attempt to know and understand and what we choose to ignore.
  • With whom we seek connections and who we avoid.
  • How we engage and direct our energies.
  • How we attempt to teer our trajectories within the community (for example, on joining or deciding to leave a community of practice, or deliberately choosing to stay on the periphery of a community rather than embracing full membership).
We have considered learning as a social process by which people learn within their community of practice, adopting not only the expert knowledge that allows them to function as competent professionals, but also the norms, rituals and the tacit knowledge that are equally important to that functioning. However, we have also learned that sometimes this can restrict an individual’s ability to see things from a different perspective, hindering their ability to solve unexpected problems or to work with others from outside of their profession. This we have called ‘territorialisation’. Such territorialisation can act as a barrier to becoming a true researching professional.
Reflective practice has been considered as a way to break down territorialisation, help us to become more self-aware, understand the things that might affect our decisions and behaviours, and develop as more critical professionals.
Reflective practice is not an easy process and requires some practice. Techniques that can help you to master the processes are:
  • Professional community mapping
  • Professional identity metaphor
  • Biographical contents page
  • Critical incident technique
  • Storytelling
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

4. Methods of Enquiry

It is important to consider the stance you are taking and the basic philosophical assumptions which lie behind your research design. This chapter has outlined some of these approaches and the research methodologies which may be useful in structuring your work. They are not exclusive but representative of the approaches you may wish to take and the ways in which a professional doctorate may be structured.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

5. Contextualising and Planning your Doctoral Project

This chapter has explained the importance of setting your work in the context of the literature and the practice of others. Only by doing so can you develop your own practice, make an impact and demonstrate a contribution. The importance of project planning has also been discussed. The next chapter will consider personal development and transformation and how these might be approached within your own doctorate.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

6. Personal Development and Transformation

In this chapter we aimed to help you to appreciate the personal qualities that will assist you to become a researching professional with the capacity to have an on-going and enduring impact upon your profession, and to understand some of the approaches that can help facilitate lasting personal transformation.
We have discussed how the development of greater intellectual agility will advance your progress towards becoming a researching professional. You need to be able to think beyond the traditional boundaries of your profession and to see your working world through a fresh lens. The qualities that will help you do this are mindfulness, curiosity and imagination.
We have also considered how, in order to nurture these qualities, you can create learning spaces for yourself. These are spaces in your life where you are encouraged to think differently, for example by sharing and debating your ideas at conferences or through written papers, and with professionals from other disciplines who might be able to offer you different perspectives.
Your ability to receive and act on feedback and constructive criticism is important to your continued development. Similarly, your ability to apply your ideas in a sensitive and empathetic manner, mindful of the effect they may have on others, and your capacity to defend your ideas in an objective manner will influence your potential to contribute to your profession.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

7. Putting Together a Portfolio

A portfolio of evidence is an integral part of the professional doctorate scheme. It is important that thought is given to the overall portfolio content and structure and to its presentation in such a way as to maximise its impact. It is also very important to consider the porfolio in a formative sense as well as summative. It is a final product, but the act of compiling a portfolio is in itself creative, and leads to a much deeper appreciation and understanding of the innovations and changes which are the basis of the professional doctorate. The following example portfolio contains the opening section of a real student’s work, which you may find useful in structuring your own portfolio.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

8. The Student/Supervisor Relationship: Expectations and Challenges

In this chapter we have discussed how to develop an effective working relationship with your supervisor. The key to this is agreement on a learning contract between all parties so that the expectations of all concerned are clearly articulated and everyone understands their role in the process. The learning contract largely relates to what you should expect from your supervisor and what your supervisor should expect from you. One of these expectations relates to the dissemination of your findings and demonstrating how you have influenced your community of practice, which is covered in more detail in the next chapter.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

9. Dissemination and Influencing your Community of Practice

If you are going to bring about innovation in practice then people need to know what you are doing and what you have achieved. This chapter has outlined various approaches to disseminating that information. It is not exhaustive and you may be able to think of other ways to publicise your findings, but the important principle is to think about your audience and target them directly in the way that has the highest impact. To summarise:
  • At the planning stages begin to think of dissemination and identify a strategy.
  • Think of dissemination not as something you will do at the end of your study but as an on-going activity.
  • Identify your current community of practice and its various segments.
  • Think of the most appropriate approach to dissemination for all of your communities’ segments.
  • Follow the codes of practice for your chosen means of dissemination.
  • Do get feedback and capture these responses.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

10. Assessment and the Oral Examination

In this chapter we have discussed the issue of preparing for your viva and have made the point that this preparation begins at the start of the professional doctorate process, not at the end. The chapter provides practical advice for you to follow in terms of the structure of your submission, what to do while waiting to hear the date of your viva, putting together an oral presentation of your work, your behaviour in a viva. It attempts to demystify the viva by discussing some likely questions and describing the range of examination decisions which can be made and what they mean in practice.
The next chapter includes some case studies from actual graduates of a professional doctorate programme and describes their personal experiences of their examination.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

11. Case Studies

This chapter has presented eight detailed case studies of some of our successful professional doctorate graduates. They are from different backgrounds, completed different projects, studied for different lengths of time, and of course had different experiences along the way. So what can we learn from these? Despite the differences, there are also some common themes and important lessons that we hope will help to make the journey easier for you.
The first thing to note is that all of our graduates had quite complex career histories and had migrated away from their first disciplines to a greater or lesser extent. In their doctorates they made use of this, reflecting back on their learning journey and building their experience into their doctoral work. Their work was very practical and not simply confined to one discrete discipline as you would normally find with a more traditional PhD. They crossed professional boundaries and made a contribution that was applicable to multi-professional working environments. (We explored some of the issues related to this multi-professionalism in Chapter 3.) It was this that gave most of our candidates their motivation to do the professional doctorate. Some had previously considered doing, or even tried to do, a PhD. However, it was the opportunity to utilise their professional knowledge and to develop it further in order to make a real practical contribution that made the professional doctorate a more appealing, and ultimately successful, option for them. The words that our candidates use give us some clue as to why this might be. They talk about their real passion for the subject and how that drove them on. Fiona describes how she was sometimes ‘blinded’ by her passion for her subject; Siobhan had such belief and passion for hers that achieving the doctoral qualification almost became simply a by-product! There is an important lesson in this for anyone embarking on this journey: you should choose a research area in which you are really interested. Better still, one that you are passionate about. Siobhan tells us that this journey is ‘not for the fainthearted’. It will often be difficult, but if you are truly passionate about what you are doing you are much more likely to succeed.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith

12. Summary and the Future

In the checklist on the following pages we have grouped together the main points from each area of your professional doctorate. You might find this useful for reference as you progress through your doctorate.
John Fulton, Judith Kuit, Gail Sanders, Peter Smith
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