The Online Doctoral Community of Practice (CoP): Sustaining the Doctoral Experience in the 21st Century

Anne Graham Cagney, Leslie Cordie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In any discipline, the contemporary doctorate requires significant scholarly research, along with intense dedication. Doctoral students must acquire high levels of knowledge, critically reflect on information, and engage others in discussion, including experts from across the discipline and indeed, across the world. Development of the doctoral student requires more than an individual advisor or mentor for successful navigation during this transformative journey. Participation in a community of learners can play a crucial role in providing a more holistic and significant doctoral experience. As a result, 21st-century learning environments necessitate fostering student-student (peer) learning and connection to a larger community of practitioners, enhanced through technology. Insights from literature on doctoral education, communities of practice (CoP), and digital learning technologies provide a conceptual framework for the investigation of two international doctoral programs. Using the practitioner research method of inquiry, we share specific findings that show engaging in a CoP through real-world digital applications can create powerful learning environments that support doctoral student transformation. We conclude that CoP create high-quality learning practices that mitigate the diversity of experiences and enhance the full development of the doctoral student from learner to successful practitioner-researcher and leader.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
JournalEducation Matters
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Community of Practice, Contemporary Doctorate, Digital Learning, Insider Inquiry


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