Practice and the professional doctorate: a diffractive re-reading

Dennis, Carol Azumah; Chandler, Kathy and Puntil, Donata (2023). Practice and the professional doctorate: a diffractive re-reading. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 47(3) pp. 364–377.



Drawing loosely upon strategies associated with collaborative autoethnography we conceptualise the place of practice in the professional doctorate through four distinct moves each of which compel us towards the conclusion that research, and practice are mutually entangled. In our first move ‘research informs practice’. In this space practice is a neutral recipient site that accepts the determinations of research unable to self-generate meaningful worthwhile knowledge. We ultimately reject this idea as one that diminishes both research and practice. In our second move, we suggest that research runs in parallel to practice, at times casting a shadow. Research is structured, rational and orderly, practice is unable or unwilling to conform to the predictions of research, its excess creating unmanageable confusion. The parallels of research and practice compel us to consider the extent to which their relationship is best understood as a disruptive one. In our third move, research unframes practice, making it impossible. This impossibility is premised not on the knowledge that research generates as such but rather on the impact new knowledge landscapes have on the researcher- practitioner, the mechanism that ultimately mediates research and practice. In placing the researcher-practitioner as the mediating mechanism between the academy and practice, it becomes apparent that research itself and knowledge generation is both embedded in and embodied by practice. We conclude with a rejection of research in contrast to practice and instead map the effect of difference. Ultimately, we argue that changes to professional practice are an inevitable consequence.

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