Ph.D. Study and the Use of a Reflective Diary: a Dialogue with Self
Little is written about the use of reflective diaries in relation to Ph.D. study. This study explored the reflections of a nurse educationalist as she underwent the doctoral process. Hermeneutic phenomenology provided a philosophical and methodological framework for the study. Findings identified a number of important issues for students and academics. These included identification of stages in the real life Ph.D. process, time constraints, need for stamina, fluctuation in feelings, consideration of wider social issues, taking stock, identification of learning, loss of artistry and the need for pragmatism. Major issues arise in relation to mature students undertaking part-time Higher Education. A constant theme is tiredness and the need for stamina. Learning takes place against a backdrop of endurance and time constraints with the student striving to juggle demands from the world of work and home life with study requirements. This is seen as a marathon process. These findings raise questions about the nature of the experience Ph.D. students receive and challenge its value as a positive learning experience. The final reflective section (1999–2000) locates the diary within a longer time span and re-evaluates the significance of the issues identified.