A conceptual enquiry into communities of practice as praxis in international doctoral education
Undertaking a PhD entails diverse and multi-faceted challenges as doctoral researchers enter a distinct academic culture that requires transition to a new level and threshold of learning – with both knowledge acquisition and production at the core. While doctoral researchers are expected to secure different dimensions of knowledge, which necessitates meaningful ‘dialogue’ with experts, the colossal task is still ironically associated with isolated doctoral experience and somewhat limited postgraduate supervision provision. With the extra concerns typically confronting the international doctoral cohort, the pressure tends be intensified, and may lead to psychological well-being concerns. Nevertheless, there is evidence from the literature that highlights the often unacknowledged forms of learning opportunities and support mechanisms via community participation. By employing communities of practice as the main framework, this conceptual paper exemplifies the crucial role played by these communities – how these communities serve to scaffold doctoral researchers’ academic progress, support their psychological adjustments, and reinforce the crucial, but perhaps limited, formal doctoral support provision. By featuring effective examples of educational praxis via these communities, our paper offers a holistic understanding of formal and informal infrastructures as part of the wider doctoral ecology with a view to achieving a more holistic and meaningful doctoral experience.