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RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
JOURNEY PLOT Graph of the trajectory
Author: Anna Sala Bubaré
Background justification.
The Journey Plot was initially created as a non-traditional visualisation method of
collecting data and is particularly suited to considering experiences of a lengthy duration
(Turner, 2015). It is based on the notion of ‘journey’ that emphasizes an individual’s
movement from one place to another. Several events that have a significant impact on the
experience take place along the journey (Miller & Brimicombe, 2003).
The graphic representation of the experiences promotes individuals’ recall about the
experience, offers guide and structure to the narrative. Moreover, it allows access to the
underlying conceptions in relation to the experience, such as what it means for them to do
research or do a doctorate (Mazzetti & Blenkinsopp, 2012). The multimodality of the
representation (visual and oral) enables interpretation and understanding of the complex
changes since it allows researchers and interviewers to relate experiences and
interpretations (Mazzetti & Blenkinsopp, 2012). Additionally, it allows them and the
participants to contrast the description of the experience with the with its graphic
representation (McAlpine, 2016), in order to compare, ask or provide more detail or
clarify in situ misunderstandings and inconsistencies (Sala-Bubaré & Castelló, 2017). On
the other hand, Journey Plot is a useful tool to clarify, summarise and contrast certain
aspects of the trajectory that may remain inaccessible through language, such as the
emotional intensity of events, and especially the general overview of the process and
trajectory and the changes occur during that time (Turner, 2015). In this sense, it is useful
to organise events cronologically. Finally, in research or teamwork contexts, the graph
facilitates quick and visual comparison of the trajectory of two or more individuals.
Description of the instrument.
The Journey Plot is a simple graph with two axes, one vertical and one horizontal. The
vertical axis represents the intensity of the experience, from very positive to very negative,
and the horizontal axis represents the duration of the experience or the period of time to
be explored (this axis can include the timescale and temporal divisions or can be left
blank). The participant has to draw a line representing the evolution of the intensity of the
experience and label the significant events that took place during that period of time.
Used as a pedagogical tool, Journey Plot is presented in the context of an interview,
counselling session or training to promote awareness, reflection and sometimes
discussion about the positive and negative events, their causes and consequences and the
coping and resolution strategies, the tempo, rhythm and intensity of the experience. The
ultimate objective is to extract useful learning for the person, for instance, to introduce
changes in the management of time and objectives of the thesis; in the participation in
training and research activities; or in the coping strategies of negative situations. It is
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
usually used along with a more or less structured protocol of questions that guide the
reflection. Below we present a protocol sample (pages 6-7).
Use of the tool for researcher education
This instrument can be used in different moments of the doctoral trajectory. For each
moment, its use can address different specific objectives:
- Beginning of the doctorate. In the initial stages of the doctorate, the Journey Plot
can be utilised to generate and negotiate conceptions, representations and
expectations about the thesis, tasks, roles and responsibilities of each actor, share
milestones and build the relationship between supervisors and PhD students. In
this case, the Journey Plot can be drawn retrospectively, about students’ previous
trajectory, and prospectively about the expectations and forecast of the trajectory
during the doctorate.
- Intermediate phases. In intermediate stages, the tool can be employed as a
formative evaluation instrument to share meanings about the experiences lived up
to that moment, give students feedback about their process and development,
revise and adjust expectations, objectives and milestones, redefine roles and
responsibilities and regulate the coping strategies.
- Final phase of the doctorate. In the final stage of the doctorate, the Journey Plot can
be utilised to assess the process and draw conclusions, but also to plan doctoral
students’ professional trajectory, identify and discuss options and generate and
negotiate expectations about their professional future.
The time axis of the Journey Plot (length and period) will need to be modified in relation to
the moment the instruments are used and the specific objectives to be achieved. On the
other hand, these objectives will also guide the plan of the activity or concrete situation in
which the Journey Plot will be employed. In this sense, a series of decisions need to be
taken in relation to the content of the Journey Plot, the persons involved in the reflection
process and the focus and position the supervisor will take during the activity.
Content of the Journey Plot:
- Doctoral students’ development as a researcher. Students’ learning and
development of the competencies as a researcher. The aim is to analyse the
progress of the students, the most significant moments during the trajectory
(discoveries, setbacks, etc.), resolution strategies, causes and consequences of the
significant events and learning that promoted or hindered students’ development.
- Evolution of the thesis. Evolution of the research (design, data collection and
analysis) and the thesis (manuscript, articles). The aim is to analyse the progress
of the research, the most significant moments of the trajectory (advancements,
discoveries, setbacks, etc.), the resolution strategies, causes and consequences of
the significant events in relation to the evolution of the thesis.
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
- Evolution of supervisors’ experience. Evolution of supervisors’ experience in
relation to the supervision of a certain doctoral student. The aim is to analyse the
most significant moments of the trajectory (advancements, discoveries, setbacks,
etc.), the resolution strategies of the supervisor, causes and consequences of the
significant events and learning achieved by supervisors in relation to their
development as researchers and supervisors.
Persons involved in the process of reflection:
- Individual. The doctoral student and/or the supervisor complete a Journey Plot.
Each analyses their graph and reflects on the process individually. Later on,
student and supervisor can share the conclusions. The main aim of this modality is
to raise awareness about the process.
- Shared with people not directly involved in the experience. Shared reflection among
peers about the development, experience or thesis of each individual. It can be
done in pairs, groups or in seminars and training courses for doctoral students or
supervisors. The main aim of this modality is to share similar experiences and
resolution strategies and offer and receive emotional support.
- Shared with people involved in the experience. Shared reflection between the
doctoral student and the supervisor. The main aim of this modality is to contrast
the interpretation of the events (causes, consequences, coping…) and share and
negotiate meanings, roles and responsibilities.
Focus and position of the supervisor:
- Mediator of the reflection of the doctoral student. In this modality, supervisors do
not draw a Journey Plot. They can mediate students’ reflection, asking questions
and offering their interpretation, or participate in the shared reflection about the
Journey Plot drawn by students.
- Perception of the experience of the doctoral student. In this modality, supervisors
draw a Journey Plot of their perception about students’ trajectory, their subjective
experience or development as researchers. The main objective is to contrast
different interpretations about students’ trajectory and build shared meanings of
the events lived.
- Perception of their own experience as supervisors. In this modality, supervisors
reflect on their experience as supervisors of a certain doctoral student,
emphasising their interpretation, challenges and learning, and the significant
events lived by the supervisors. The objective is to contrast students’ trajectory
with supervisors’, and the subjective experience of each of the actors in relation to
the development of the doctoral thesis. This modality can be more appropriate for
intermediate phases of the process.
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
Example of activities.
Next we present four activities related to different moments of the process of the doctoral
studies and that can be seen as prototypical examples of activities in which the Journey
Plot is used.
Activity 1
Moment: Beginning of the doctorate
Content: Students’ trajectory
Persons involved: Supervisor and student
Focus of the supervisor: mediator
Description:
The doctoral student draws a Journey Plot about their trajectory up to the moment
(previous studies and first steps into the doctorate, if appropriate) and about their
expectations along the doctorate. The supervisor guides the reflection on the process,
stressing the student’s conceptions and representations about the research and their
objectives and expectations about the doctorate. Both define objectives and some key
dates (presentation of the thesis proposal, data collection, participation in conferences,
etc.).
Activity 2.
Moment: Intermediate phase
Content: Students’ development as a researcher
Persons involved: Group of doctoral students
Focus of the supervisor: ---
Description:
The students individually draw a Journey Plot about their development as researchers.
Later on, they take turns to explain the graph to their peers, who ask questions to promote
shared reflection about the experience and learning achieved during this period. They can
also negotiate and share objectives for the following phases.
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
Activity 3.
Moment: Intermediate phase
Content: Evolution of the thesis
Persons involved: Supervisor and doctoral student
Focus of the supervisor: experience as supervisor
Description:
The doctoral students individually draw a Journey Plot about their thesis process, and the
supervisor does the same about their experience as a supervisor of this particular student.
Once the Journey Plots are finished, they share and compare the two graphs, emphasising
those experiences in which the interpretation and emotional intensity are very different
and in those events that appear in only one of the two graphs.
Activity 4.
Moment: Final phase
Content: Students’ development as researcher
Persons involved: Supervisor and doctoral student
Focus of the supervisor: experience of the doctoral student
Description:
Supervisor and student draw a Journey Plot about the development of the doctoral student
up to that moment and their future trajectory. They both share and compare the two
graphs, emphasising those experiences in which the interpretation and emotional
intensity are very different and in those events that appear in only one of the two graphs,
and they reflect together about the next milestones and possibilities for the student’s
professional development.
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
Protocol of questions to guide reflection.
In the following, we present a protocol of questions that promote in-depth analysis of the
different aspects of the graph. To use it, it is suggested that individuals adapt it in relation
to the objectives of each specific situation and person.
To reflect on a single Journey Plot
for each positive significant event
What happened here?
How did you feel then? How did these emotions evolve?
Who was involved in this event?
What caused this rise?
What did you learn from this experience?
(in the case of subsequent decrease) Why did it decrease after that?
(in the case of maintained positive moment) Why was this positive moment maintained
over time? How did you achieve that?
for each negative significant event
What happened here?
How did you feel then? How did these emotions evolve?
Who was involved in this event?
What caused this slope?
Could it have been anticipated, predicted or avoided?
What did you learn from this experience?
(in the case of subsequent increase) Why did it rise after that? What did you do to overcome
this negative moment?
(in the case of maintained negative moment) Why was this negative moment maintained
over time? What were the causes? Could you have done something different to overcome
this negative moment earlier?
for the general shape of the graph
Does this graph represent the evolution of the experience?
Has it really been that stable / unstable / negative / positive / changing / etc.?
How do you see the future?
To compare and reflect on two or more Journey Plots
for each positive significant event shared in all the graphs
What happened here?
How did you (all) feel then? How did these emotions evolve?
What are the causes of this rise?
What did you (all) learn from this experience?
(in the case of subsequent decrease) Why did it decrease after that?
(in the case of maintained positive moment) Why was this positive moment maintained
over time? How did you (all) achieve that?
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
… for each negative significant event shared in all the graphs
What happened here?
How did you (all) feel then? How did these emotions evolve?
Who was involved in this event?
What caused this slope? Could it have been anticipated, predicted or avoided?
What did you (all) learn from this experience?
(in the case of subsequent increase) Why did it rise after that? What did you (all) do to
overcome this negative moment?
(in the case of maintained negative moment) Why was this negative moment maintained
over time? What were the causes? Could you (all) have done something different to
overcome this negative moment earlier?
to compare trajectories
What similarities do you (all) identify in the general shape of the graph? Is there any
section that is similar?
What differences do you (all) identify in the general shape of the graph? Is there any
section that is significantly different?
(if yes) Why are there differences?
Which key events are shared among the graphs?
Does the same event have the same intensity in each graph?
(if no) Why are they different? Why did each of you experience it in a different way?
How do you see the future going?
References.
Mazzetti, A., & Blenkinsopp, J. (2012). Evaluating a visual timeline methodology for
appraisal and coping research. Journal of Occupational and Organizational
Psychology, 85, 649-665.
McAlpine, L. (2016). Becoming a PI: From ‘doing’ to ‘managing’ research. Teaching in
Higher Education, 21(1), 49-63. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1110789
Miller, N., & Brimicombe, A. (2003). Mapping research journeys across complex terrain
with heavy baggage. Studies in Continuing Education, 26 (3), pp. 405-417.
https://doi.org/10.1080/0158037042000265962
Sala-Bubaré, A., & Castelló, M. (2017). Exploring the relationship between doctoral
students’ experiences and research community positioning. Studies in Continuing
Education, 39(1), 16-34. https://doi.org/10.1080/0158037X.2016.1216832
Shaw, K., Holbrook, A., Scevak, J., & Bourke, S. (2008). The response of pre-service teachers
to a compulsory research project. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(3), 90-
110. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03246291
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
Turner, G. (2015). Learning to Supervise: Four Journeys. Innovations in Education and
Teaching International, 52(1), 8698.
https://doi.org/10.1080/1470329031000088978
RESEARCHER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (RID-SSISS)
ERASMUS+ PROJECT
Universitat Ramon Llull
On the diagram below please draw the highs and lows of your experience XXXX from XXX to XXXX. Please label the high and low points i.e.
what they represent and the ascending and descending lines.
LOWS
TIME
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Despite the growing number of studies exploring PhD students’ experiences and their social relationships with other researchers, there is a lack of research on the interaction between the type of experiences and the social agents involved, especially in relation to not only problems and challenges, but also to positive emotions and experiences. In this study, we addressed this gap exploring the relationship between four ecology doctoral students’ most significant experiences and their perceived position in the research community. Additionally, we aimed at exploring the utility of a methodological device with two instruments, Journey Plot and Community Plot. Results showed, in one hand, that both positive and negative experiences were significant in students’ trajectories, but the proportion varied greatly across participants. Supervisors were related to negative experiences, whereas the broader community was mostly source of positive experiences. Research writing and communication experiences were significant in relation to all the social agents, while other contents of experience were restricted to the smallest social layers (e.g. research motives were confined to the individual layer, and research organization to the individual and supervisor layers). Relationships between the type of experiences and participants’ position in the community were found and implications for doctoral education discussed.
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Becoming a PI: From 'doing' to 'managing' research. Teaching in Higher Education
  • L Mcalpine
McAlpine, L. (2016). Becoming a PI: From 'doing' to 'managing' research. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(1), 49-63. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1110789