Reflexivity in International Contexts: Implications for U.S. Doctoral Students International Research Preparation

Christina W. Yao, Louise Michelle Vital
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 193-210
Aim/Purpose: Learning to conduct research, including considerations for concepts such as reflexivity, is a key component of doctoral student preparation in higher education. Yet limited attention is given to doctoral student training for conducting international research, particularly in understanding researcher reflexivity within international contexts.

Background: Incorporating reflexive practices in one’s scholarship is of particular importance because international research often includes U.S.-based researchers working with cultural groups and contexts that are very different from them. Thus, we examined the following: how do novice U.S. trained researchers understand the role of their reflexivity in qualitative international research?

Methodology: We utilized qualitative inquiry to answer the study’s research question. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 participants representing 11 higher education doctoral programs in the United States.

Contribution: This study provides insight on how U.S. doctoral students reflect on their researcher reflexivity as emerging international researchers utilizing three types of reflexivity as outlined by the conceptual perspectives that frame this study: introspection, social critique, and discursive deconstruction

Findings: Most participants believed that self-reflection is a critical component of reflexivity in international research. Several participants demonstrated an awareness of the privilege and power they bring to their international research based on their identities as Western-trained researchers. Participants utilized different forms of self-reflection when collecting, analyzing, and interpreting their data in order to ensure that the voices of their participants were appropriately represented in their research

Recommendations for Practitioners: Our recommendations for graduate preparation programs include helping doctoral students to understand reflexivity as both a research concept and an applied practice in international context.

Recommendation for Researchers: We recommend that novice researchers learn how to incorporate reflexive practices when conducting research because as emerging scholars they can have a better sense of how who they are and how they think about research influences their research activities.

Impact on Society: Implications from this study affect Western-based education programs that seek to internationalize curriculum and research priorities.

Future Research: In terms of next steps, we recommend research that explores how faculty train doctoral students to participate in the global contexts of educational research.
doctoral education, internationalization, reflexivity, research training, higher education
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