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An exploration of doctoral students’ resilience and coping strategies using Grounded Theory as the analytic lens

Kokotsaki, Dimitra



Aim/Purpose: This study aimed to explore doctoral students’ perceived resilience and the coping strategies they choose to employ to overcome challenging circumstances during their studies. Background: Doctoral students often experience barriers which may include personal, professional, academic and institutional related challenges (Pyhältö & Keskinen, 2012; Smith et al., 2006; Lovitts, 2001; Hunter & Devine, 2016; Miller & Brimicombe, 2004). The students’ ability to recover from any burdensome situations is essential for their progress, motivation and well-being (Sverdlik & Hall, 2020; Sverdlik et al., 2020; Agteren et al., 2019; Davydov et al., 2010). Methodology: The data for this study were gathered utilizing qualitative interviews conducted with a diverse cohort of thirteen doctoral candidates enrolled at a single higher education institution in the United Kingdom. These participants were deliberately chosen to encompass a range of backgrounds, including international and domestic students, varying study statuses and stages within their doctoral programs (full-time or part-time, and at the beginning, middle, or end of their studies), as well as differing funding situations (either funded or self-funded). The Grounded Theory methodology was employed as an appropriate analytical framework, providing a systematic set of procedures that facilitated the elucidation of the participants' conceptualizations and the significance they attributed to the concept of resilience throughout their doctoral pursuits. Contribution: Empirical studies have explored the stressors and motivations of doctoral students’ journey but little is known about the in-depth investigation of the choices students make to respond to adversity and how they demonstrate resilience. This study aimed to fill this gap in the relevant literature.


Kokotsaki, D. (2023). An exploration of doctoral students’ resilience and coping strategies using Grounded Theory as the analytic lens. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 18, 173-198.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 30, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date May 31, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 27, 2023
Journal International Journal of Doctoral Studies
Print ISSN 1556-8881
Electronic ISSN 1556-8873
Publisher Informing Science Institute
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Pages 173-198
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Published Journal Article (863 Kb)

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