chapter  7
14 Pages

The shaping of doctoral knowledge and supervision

There may be distinctive aspects of supervising someone undertaking insider research for a professional doctorate that are not evident with insider research for a PhD, as a central tenet of many professional doctorates is the need to integrate ‘academic’ or propositional knowledge and ‘professional’ or experiential knowledge. Discussion that involves integration of different types of knowledge needs first to consider whether different types of knowledge can indeed be identified, and if so, how. Then it may be possible to point to differences between them. We take as a starting point the model of Gibbons et al. that distinguishes between Mode One and Mode Two knowledge, and then show that accepting this model to analyse process and practices of practitioner researchers on a professional doctorate is problematic. Table 7.1 highlights the differences between Gibbons et al.’s (1994) model of Mode One and Mode Two knowledge. The traditional PhD, originally intended to produce Mode One propositional knowledge, is associated with and defined by academia, with the primary purpose of sustaining the recruitment of academics and contributing ideologically or theoretically to academic fields of knowledge (Thorne, 2001). In contrast, the main aim of the professional doctorate (which may be said to produce Mode Two experiential knowledge) is to make a significant contribution to practice and practitioner knowledge through research (see Myers, 1996; Barnett, 1997; Jacob, 2000; Lee et al., 2000). But there are a number of problems arising with the model of Gibbons et al. First, a traditional PhD may already produce knowledge that is trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary, since this is the nature of the subject area, and the student may also be researching practice. Second, whilst many professional doctorate programmes aim for their graduates to make a contribution to knowledge of practice, there is currently no assessment of this impact, or potential impact, on practice and no involvement of professionals for whom the research may be intended. Thus, whilst knowledge production in these doctorate degrees currently may take a new form of a critical reflection on working knowledge, it continues to position that knowledge within the academy.