Identities of a post-graduate research student


student identity
identity models

How to Cite

Cairns, A. 2023. Identities of a post-graduate research student. Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 2, 3 (Jul. 2023). DOI:


This paper explores the multiple identities held and embodied by a post-graduate research (PGR) student and helps to produce new knowledge about the identity of PGR students. This could have wider implications for the sector by helping to facilitate an understanding of those studying within it.  

The results are contextualised with literature from the field of art (Daichendt, 2010; Thornton, 2013), and the identities of the researcher are visualised on networks of enterprises. Networks of enterprises are visual tools for tracking and charting the different enterprises of creative people at work overtime (Wallace & Gruber, 1989).

The paper is a reflective piece, with the results written autoethnographically by an artist-teacher-researcher-student. Autoethnographic research can be shared as stories, poems, or performances (Bochner & Ellis, 2016; Pace, 2012). This paper includes autoethnographic vignettes written in a first-person voice. The data were collected through the lived experience of the multifaceted identity. In writing about these experiences, the researcher can explore and gain an understanding of the phenomena of identity as a post-graduate research student.

The vignettes are analysed with the published literature and data collected from 17 artist-teachers in Adult Community Learning, to see how their experiences compared to my own. This allows for commonalities and divergences to be identified, and to see if the autoethnographic vignettes are generalisable.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 Abbie Cairns