Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 1 (2010)

Scribbling in the margins: Negotiating the tensions and challenges of the regional research student

Wendy Davis, CQUniversity


This paper is a critical reflection on the experience of completing a PhD at a regional campus of a regional university. The paper employs the idea of writing in the margins, and the generation of marginalia as a long established academic practice, as a metaphor for the regional postgraduate experience. It considers the experience of the research student from a variety of perspectives, including personal transformation and change, the experience of writing in a non-metropolitan centre, the tensions in researching at a multi-campus regional university and the challenges of undertaking research in the discipline of the humanities in the metaphorical terms of marginalia. By critically reflecting on these aspects of my own PhD experience the paper observes how these challenges produce a different understanding of marginalia. That is, rather than connecting this to the common notion of marginalisation, postgraduate research as “scribbling in the margins” has the potential to generate research which is arguably a richer, more rewarding experience than it might initially appear.

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