I often make my doctoral students cry, but I hasten to add it’s not because I am mean. The supervision work I do is emotionally intense because I seem to have (accidentally) become a specialist in helping people who have had difficult candidatures for one reason or another. Gina Wisker calls these people ‘doctoral orphans‘ – which is a nice description I think.
Doctoral orphans are interesting people. Wisker claims those who finish have become confident self learners. Certainly the ones I have met are self reliant and clever. Many academics, however, shy away from taking them on under the impression they will be too much trouble.
This is a pity because often orphans have developed advanced coping strategies and are usually fast learners once you point them in the right direction. One technique is to take the existing writing apart and analyse it together (for a…
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