Towards a model of resilience protection: Factors influencing doctoral completion

Janet McCray, Paul Joseph-Richard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
399 Downloads (Pure)


This article asks what makes PhD completers resilient and which resilience protection factors help them complete their doctoral programme? A narrative inquiry methodology is applied to capture the experiences of eleven doctoral students who completed their PhDs in the United Kingdom. Data collected from interview conversations were analysed using resilience theory as a lens. We found that for these completers, success did not rely solely on the individual student, nor was the role of supervisors elevated, particularly for social and emotional support. Of importance were the students’ family and social network, institutional context and the nature of university central services and how these were available to the completers. The study’s contribution to the literature is in showing how the inter-relationship of the completers’ personal responses, environmental and social connections, and institutional processes was available to build resilience, as we present a model for resilience protection in doctoral students. We hope the findings presented will be of interest to PhD students, supervisors and other academic colleagues in universities globally, as they seek insights into successful PhD completion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-699
Number of pages21
JournalHigher Education
Early online date5 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 2020


  • Doctoral education
  • Resilience
  • Resilience protection


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