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Becoming a Doctoral Researcher in a Digital World: Reflections on the Role of Twitter for Reflexivity and the Internal Conversation

E-Learning and Digital Media Volume 13, Number 1, ISSN 2042-7530


Twitter and other social networking sites have much to offer doctoral students, especially given that models for doctoral education are increasingly becoming more diverse with more students studying part-time for traditional PhDs, or on programmes such as professional doctorates. Prior research has highlighted the benefits of Twitter but, as other studies show, its use amongst doctoral students is not always common place. Social networking sites such as Twitter allow for virtual networks to develop and supplement traditional institutional networks, and for many students these are becoming increasingly vital to combat the loneliness of the doctoral researcher. In this paper I have reflected on some of my own uses of Twitter and argue that its impact upon my development can be theorized through Margaret Archer's notion of the internal conversation. This is done through drawing on autoethnographic reflections of my own doctoral experiences and through this extends understandings of reflexivity into digital spaces. In doing so, this paper also highlights different ways in which Twitter can support these conversations. This paper also foregrounds some of the potential challenges of moving these conversations into a public space, such as the need to build networks, and the potential implications of putting emerging thinking into a permanent form. In considering these issues, this paper offers suggestions on how effective Twitter use can be supported in doctoral training to ensure that doctoral students can enjoy its affordances and be prepared to navigate the potential challenges it poses to the emerging researcher.


Rainford, J. (2016). Becoming a Doctoral Researcher in a Digital World: Reflections on the Role of Twitter for Reflexivity and the Internal Conversation. E-Learning and Digital Media, 13(1), 99-105. Retrieved December 9, 2022 from .

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