Turning back to the story of my life: an autoethnographic exploration of a researcher’s identity during the PhD process

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Previous research has stated that there is a lack of insight into the literature about doctoral research that recognises the diverse experiences that come from the life of the researcher. In addition, there is limited research or discussion of an author’s presentation of the ‘self’ or ‘identity’, which inevitably influences the developing narrative within a thesis. This paper highlights how the development of a series of autoethnographies helped the author to reflect on his identity as he started to write up his PhD. The paper provides an analysis of what it might mean to be autoethnographic as a way to reflect on identity. The paper explores some of the autoethnographies from the thesis, highlighting some of the emotional and inspiring ‘epiphanies’ that emerged whilst writing the thesis influenced by discussion with the research participants. The paper will illustrate how autoethnography can be employed as an example of reflective practice to understand identity, highlighting its significance in being used as an example of reflective practice in qualitative research and working with participants. It was found that research can be considered a dynamic process with multiple strands to our identities not being bounded and static, but ever moving and changing. Although autoethnography can lead to narcissist representations, identities inevitably, directly or indirectly, influence the research process. Thus helping to develop a deeper understanding of the researcher’s position and identity in the qualitative research process, and arguably enabling the researcher to understand the research process and participants better.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-835
JournalReflective Practice
Issue number6
Early online date16 Nov 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2015


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