Aim/Purpose In the time that we study for our dissertation, our learning takes many turns.
Sometimes we feel excited, motivated and accomplished, while other times frustrated,
tired or unsure. This paper presents a poem to illustrate one student’s PhD
journey through reflection on those fluctuations, milestones and learning moments
experienced along the way.
Background Central to the journey presented here is learning about the interpretivist paradigm,
its approaches, methods and critics. Interpretivism is a qualitative research approach
which, in many disciplines, continues to be the positivist’s poor cousin.
Methodology This original paper takes an autoethnographic approach, expressed through poetry.
Autoethnography uses self-reflection to connect personal experience to
wider social and cultural understandings and has been seldom applied to investigate
and uncover the contested and emergent doctoral experience.
Contribution Little opportunities arise during doctoral studies for the student to pause, reflect
and communicate new learnings or knowledge without the boundaries of academic
discursive conventions. In this way, the poetic medium of expression offers
an original contribution to the field. The poem also illuminates the struggles
with finding voice, an ontology that resonates, and the place that marks independence
from others in becoming a researcher.
Findings Poetry affords ideas and feelings intensity through a distinctive style and rhythm
of literature. This original poem offers a creative artefact that can be useful for supervisors
and students at any stage of their dissertation, to ignite conversation on
the challenges of higher education study.
This paper invites others to consider their learning journey and discovery of self,
to reflect on and record the milestones, tensions and catalysts of learning.
It opens doors particularly for those exploring, or wanting to explore, qualitative
research through an interpretivist paradigm where knowledge is socially or experientially
co-constructed and the researcher is inseparable to the research.