This article shares the processes of five emerging researchers as they trace their journeys in becoming researchers and examine their identities through the qualitative, arts-informed method of “commonplace book” creation. It positions commonplace books as “living document” that explore the ongoing processes of identity development we experience as novice scholars in the field of education. Using this article, we extend our artistic processes, inviting readers to join the conversation and reflect on why and how they engage in academic work, as well as the potential this method has for reflection, meaning-making and dissemination. We highlight the use of commonplace books as an arts-informed reflective method and a valuable performance in the journey of becoming/being academic researchers.


Researcher Identity, Doctoral Journey, Arts-Informed Reflective Methods, Commonplace Books

Author Bio(s)

Layal Shuman is a researcher interested in how design methods help people develop creative and empathetic mindsets, and gain skills needed to become change-makers. Shuman teaches courses in creativity, design and education, and is currently completing her PhD in the Faculty of Education at McGill University. Shuman also collaborates with educators and researchers across the country to promote design thinking for social innovation in schools. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: layal.shuman@mail.mcgill.ca.

Abigail Shabtay is a course lecturer at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. A recipient of McGill Faculty of Education’s Dean’s Award, and a grant for community and culture, her PhD research explores youth motivation using participatory play-building. She is the Managing Director of Artucate Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers young people through arts-based initiatives and participatory action research, and the Program Director of Kids Love Tech, where she advocates for the integration of drama, art, science, and technology education for children. In addition to this work, Abigail is an artist-activist creating art installations that promote social change. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: abigail.shabtay@mail.mcgill.ca.

Maggie McDonnell is a doctoral candidate and course lecturer in McGill University’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education. She also teaches English Literature and Liberal Arts at Vanier College, and is a part-time yoga and cycling instructor. Her doctoral research focuses on personal and professional identity in higher education teachers, and the relationship between identity and approaches to assessment. Other research interests include communities of practice, the role of failure in the learning process, and development of academic identity. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: margaret.mcdonnell@mail.mcgill.ca.

Fauzanah Fauzan El Muhammady is a doctoral student in Education Studies at Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE), McGill University, Canada. She obtained her bachelor’s in Anthropology from Andalas University, West Sumatra, Indonesia and obtained two masters’ in Communication Sciences (Intercultural Communication) from University of Indonesia, and Sociocultural and International Development Education Studies (SIDES) Program from Florida State University, USA. She works for Indonesia’s central government at Directorate Islamic Higher Education, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA). Her doctoral research focuses on policy analysis on higher education institutional transformation in the context of Indonesia’s Islamic Higher Education Institutions. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: fauzanah.elmuhammady@mail.mcgill.ca.

Nicole Bourassa graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She subsequently received a Diploma in Education, an MA in Educational Leadership, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Studies from McGill University. She is presently teaching high school English and Dance and is a part-time instructor at McGill University in the Faculty of Integrated Studies in Education. Nicole was a Lead teacher for the implementation of the Quebec Educational Reform, presenting training sessions and workshops for the purpose of effective implementation of the Q.E.P. She is also an educational consultant for both the public and private sectors. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: nicole.bourassa@mail.mcgill.ca.

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