This article presents an original engagement with research into emotions in the PhD to ask ‘Where’s the validation?’ by using emotion work as a theoretical foundation. We develop a focus on emotional dissonance in the PhD journey to explore challenges around managing emotion. We explore how PhD students manage emotions around their projects and their PhD communities. Our focus in this paper is on the lived experiences of six PhD students, using reflective methods and interviews. In our analysis of the challenges PhD students face, we find that validation is a key part of the doctoral learning journey, and the emotion work that takes place. By aligning analysis of PhD emotion work with the theme of ‘validation theory’, we pinpoint how instances of validation are key to identity formation for PhD students. We argue that validation is crucial for PhD students’ wellbeing and conclude that unless identity formation as a PhD student coincides with processes of external validation, then emotional dissonance occurs.
Collins, J. & Brown, N. (2022). “Where’s the validation?” The role of emotion work and validation for doctoral students. Higher Education Research and Development, 41(2). DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2020.1833315