It is fairly uncommon for a PhD student to conduct a study that looks at PhD education, and this paper discusses the challenges and advantages of my experience as a PhD student in conducting a PhD research about the PhD. This PhD research project was not an action research or self-reflective of my own educational journey. In this paper, I identify the challenges concerning my position as both a PhD student and a researcher exploring the educational processes of the PhD, and illustrate the ways I adopted to overcome these challenges. I also point out that having addressed these challenges; there are advantages due to the concurrent position of being a PhD student and a researcher that contributed to the development of new knowledge in the field of PhD education.


Doctoral Research, Insider-Outsider, Reflexivity, Sensitivity, Hierarchical Pitfall, Interviewer-Interviewee Relationship, Doctoral Education

Author Bio(s)

Chang Da Wan (C. D. Wan) is a lecturer at the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN), Universiti Sains Malaysia. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford in the field of higher education and was trained as an economist at the University of Malaya and National University of Singapore. His main interests lie in higher education and economics, and uses qualitative and quantitative methods to undertake a number of research and consultancy projects with the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia, UNESCO-Bangkok and OECD including the Review of the Malaysian National Higher Education Strategic Plan, doctoral education, academic profession, academic governance and leadership, research and innovation management, transition from secondary to higher education, and prospects for Malaysian higher education in the Middle East and North African region. Currently, he is leading a team of researchers to prepare a policy paper on doctoral education in Commonwealth Africa for the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Facility, and also a co-researcher in Malaysia for the Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership (APHERP) Research Cluster on Hybrid Universities in East Asia. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: ipptn.wan@gmail.com.


This research project is part of a doctoral study at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. I would that this opportunity to extend my gratitude to my supervisors and other colleagues who have commented on the methodology of my research project. Appreciation is also extended to the anonymous referee who had helped to improve the article. Yet, all remaining errors are mine.

Publication Date


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