Developing Researcher Identity Through the PhD Confirmation


  • Marion Heron University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Nadya Yakovchuk University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Helen Donaghue Queen Margaret University, United Kingdom


Researcher identity, doctoral student, PhD, confirmation viva, confirmation report


The PhD confirmation, or upgrade stage, is a key requirement and rite of passage for most doctoral students. Yet despite its significance and high-stakes nature, little attention has been paid to students’ experiences of this stage of the PhD journey and how it influences the development of their researcher identity. Through semi-structured interviews with PhD students from a range of disciplines who had recently successfully completed the confirmation stage, we found that for many the confirmation stage was a catalyst for ‘feeling’ like a researcher through external validation, recognition and legitimacy. Students also developed their researcher identity through talking about their research with significant others. We argue for recognising the pivotal role the confirmation stage plays in developing doctoral students’ researcher identity and offer suggestions on how supervisors and researcher developers can support students through this transition.


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How to Cite

Developing Researcher Identity Through the PhD Confirmation. (2023). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 20(5).