The role of conferences in doctoral student socialization

Kuzhabekova, A. and Temerbayeva, A. (2018)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 9(2): 181–196.


The purpose of this paper is to explore the role scholarly conferences play in professional socialization of doctoral students.

Using data from 20 interviews on conference experiences of student attendees of a North American conference in social sciences, as well as on the conference experiences of students from various disciplines at a private research intensive university in the USA, the authors explored how research identity of doctoral students change over time as result of participation in conferences, how the process of socialization is shaped by advisers and peers and how the experiences vary depending on the characteristics of the participants.

The authors found that conferences play an important role in socialization, and the effect from conference attendance increases with the number of conferences attended. The study also showed that students undergo several stages in the process of their socialization, throughout which they develop greater agency and independence as scholars, as well as a more positive image of themselves as researchers, and become more strategic in their behavior. The results also point to the key role of adviser and peers in the process of socialization, whereby the former can provide direction and orientation, while the latter may offer support and opportunities for mutual learning or future collaboration. The authors also found a notable difference in the support provided by advisers between teaching and research-oriented universities.

The paper applies doctoral student socialization theory to the analysis of informal doctoral experiences outside the program of study.

Cite this article

Kuzhabekova, A. and Temerbayeva, A. (2018) The role of conferences in doctoral student socialization. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 9(2): 181–196.

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