Dimensions of Fit for Doctoral Candidates: Supporting an Academic Identity

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With an expectation that different doctoral programmes may encourage and support different student learning identities, this paper compares the experiences of doctoral candidates participating in doctoral studies in England and Germany. A comparison of the experiences of doctoral candidates as expressed through interviews is viewed through the lens of the theory of fit. This theory considers the alignment of values between those engaged in PhD study and the programmes created to support them. The paper claims that the identification of dimensions of fit is helpful for considering the data generated on the learning experiences and self-expressed identities of the doctoral candidates. Addressing how dimensions in relation to culture, environment and vocation change and strengthen or loosen the alignment between doctoral candidates’ values and those affecting their doctoral work are important for supporting progress. These dimensions should be discussed in order to develop supervisory, programme and university support for doctoral learning.

© 2021, Taylor & Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 24/09/2022) is an author produced version of a paper published in RESEARCH PAPERS IN EDUCATION uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021


  • academic identity
  • dimensions of fit
  • doctoral education systems
  • doctoral candidate agency

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