Research on Doctoral Education

Transforming doctoral education through scholarly research

Research on doctoral education is a growing area of inquiry, both internationally and within our Centre. We have been, and continue to be, involved in a number of cross-institutional and international research collaborations that interrogate different aspects of doctoral education. The following research and popular press article attest to this important area and show our commitment to constantly revising and transforming our doctoral offerings using cutting-edge insights from research. The following papers have been written by a number of CHERTL supervisors and PhD graduates over the years.


Academic articles and book chapters 

Clarence, S. & Wilmot, K. (2024). ‘Navigating co-supervision: Creating supportive relationships between peers in supervision teams’, in C. Rolph (ed.) Supervising Doctoral Candidates: Surviving and Thriving in Academia, pp. 61–74. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.


Wilmot, K. (2023). Constructing research findings: a tool for teaching doctoral writing. Teaching in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2023.2280264


Clarence, S. & van Heerden, M. (2023). Doctor who? Developing a translation device for exploring successful doctoral being and becoming. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL), 11(1): 96-119.


Wilmot, K. & McKenna, S. (2023). ‘Collaboration, collegiality, and commitment: Cultivating critical hope in a doctoral programme’, in M. Samuels & H. Hariaye (Eds.), Transforming postgraduate research in Africa, pp. 33-56. Alternation African Scholarship Book Series. Pietermaritzburg: CSSALL Publishers (Pty) Ltd. Open access: 


McKenna, S. & van Schalkwyk, S. (2023). A scoping review of the changing landscape of doctoral education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2023.2168121


Wilmot, K. (2022). ‘Fail early and fail fast’: The value of group supervision for doctoral candidates. Higher Education Research and Development, 41(6), 2108-2121.


Motshoane, P. & McKenna, S. (2021). Crossing the border from candidate to supervisor: the need for appropriate development. Teaching in Higher Education, 26(3): 387-403. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2021.1900814


Wilmot, K. (2021). Learning to theorise data in doctoral writing: A tool for teaching and learning, in C. Winberg, S. McKenna & K. Wilmot (Eds.), Building knowledge in higher education: Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Legitimation Code Theory (pp. 126–141). London: Routledge.


McKenna, S. (2021). The politics of postgraduate education: supervising in a troubled world. In, P. Rule, E. Bitzer & L. Frick (Eds.), The global scholar: implications for postgraduate studies and supervision (pp. 97-112). Stellenbosch: African Sun Media.


van Schalkwyk, S., Mouton, J., Redelinghuys, H. & McKenna, S. (2020). A systematic analysis of doctoral publication trends in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 116(7-8): 1-9.


Wilmot, K. (2020). Building knowledge with theory: Unpacking complexity in doctoral writing. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 18–38.


Oluwole, DO., Achadu, O., Asfour, F., Chakona, G., Mason, P., Mataruse, P., & McKenna, S. (2018). Postgraduate writing groups as spaces of agency development. South African Journal of Higher Education, 32(6): 370-381.


Wilmot, K. & McKenna, S. (2018). Writing groups as transformative spaces. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(4): 868-882. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1450361


McKenna, S., Quinn, L. & Vorster, J. (2018). Mapping the field of Higher Education Research using PhD examination reports. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(3): 579-592. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1428178


Wilmot, K. (2018). Designing writing groups to support postgraduate students’ academic writing: a case study from a South African university. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 55(3), 257–265.


McKenna, S. (2017). Crossing conceptual thresholds in doctoral communities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 54(5): 458-466. DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2016.1155471


McKenna, S., Clarence-Fincham, J., Boughey, C., Wels, H. & van den Heavel, H. (2017). Strengthening postgraduate supervision. Stellenbosch: African Sun Media.


Frick, L., McKenna, S. & Muthama, E. (2017). Death of the PhD: when industry partners determine doctoral outcomes. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(2): 444-447. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1263467


Frick, BL., Albertyn, R., Brodin, E., McKenna, S. & Claesson, S. (2016). The role of doctoral education in early career academic development. In, M. Fourie-Malherbe, C. Aitchison, E. Blitzer & R. Albertyn (Eds.), Postgraduate Supervision-Future Foci for the knowledge society (pp. 203-221). Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS.


McKenna, S. (2014). Higher education studies as a field of research. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning, 9(1): 6-16.


Popular Press Articles


McKenna, S. & Motshoane, P. (June, 2023) Five characteristics of effective supervisor training. Times Higher Education.


Wilmot, K. (April, 2022). ‘Fail early and fail fast’: the value of research groups for breaking and rebuilding ideas. Guest contributor post on Supervising PhDs blog.


McKenna, S. (December, 2019) The model of PhD study at South African universities needs to change. Mail & Guardian.


McKenna, S. (November, 2019) South Africa takes steps to assure the quality of its doctorates. The Conversation.


McKenna, S. (May, 2019) South African research output has risen, but caution must temper celebration. The Conversation.


Wilmot, K. (June, 2018). Learning how to theorise data in doctoral writing. Guest contributor post on DoctoralWriting SIG blog.


Wilmot, K. & McKenna, S. (May, 2018). University writing groups provide an unexpected space for change. The Conversation.





Last Modified: Thu, 06 Jun 2024 09:33:04 SAST