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L ocating the doctoral study in the ‘paradigm skirmishes’: Challenges and prospects for adopting a paradigm cradle
It is important to understand the thought patterns of students and supervisors that underlie the choice of paradigm and determine the progression of doctoral studies as an integral part of articulating scholarship at the doctoral level and subsequently, to completing the research. This paper traces a student’s and a supervisor’s thought patterns in the contested space of paradigms by adopting Bryman’s (2007) phrase ‘paradigm skirmishes’ to explore their experiences of a doctoral research study. It analyses some of the contested issues in paradigm proliferation and juxtaposes the doctoral research journey within it. We observe that engaging within the paradigm ‘skirmish arena’ is a tricky process, but an inevitable part of the doctoral student’s academic discourse. The use of the term ‘cradle’ in this paper is a metaphor to imply the ‘nurturance’ and ‘upbringing’ that doctoral students might require to develop intellectual maturity in academic authority and voice. As a ‘written conversation of minds’ of supervisor and supervisee, this paper not only traces some of the tensions that doctoral students undergo, but also illustrates how some university structures and supervision are critical to nurturing originality and critical engagement with discourse, particularly during moments of uncertainty and intellectual exhilaration.