Doctoral Students’ Sense of Relational Agency in Their Scholarly Communities

Kirsi Pyhältö, Jenni Keskinen


The literature emphasizes the importance of integrating doctoral students into scholarly communities and practices at the very beginning of their studies. Although the importance of student participation in a scholarly community has been recognized empirical evidence concerning the quality of participation that promotes such engagement is scarce. This study focuses on exploring doctoral students’ sense of relational agency in terms of their scholarly communities and how this is related to study persistence and experienced socio-psychological well-being. Altogether 669 doctoral candidates from three faculties (humanities, medicine, and behavioural sciences) from a large research-intensive Finnish University completed a doctoral student survey. The results showed that a minority of the students perceived themselves as active relational agents in terms of their scholarly communities. However, students who perceived themselves as active relational agents experienced less lack of interest in their studies, less negative emotions, and less often considered abandoning their studies than students who perceived themselves as passive objects in their communities.        

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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