Confronting otherness: An e- conversation between doctoral students living with the Imposter Syndrome

  • Georgann Cope-Watson Brock University
  • Andrea Smith Betts York University
Keywords: Imposter Phenomenon, self study, autoethnography,


This qualitative research study is about two women doctoral students who are experiencing ―The Imposter Syndrome‖ (Clance & Imes, 1978), a phenomenon characterized by an inability to internalize academic success. The purpose of this study is to connect the theoretical frameworks around this phenomenon to our experiences as women graduate students in a doctoral program. The research question for this study is: Do our email conversations provide us with clues to explain our imposter feelings? The methodology for this study is autoethnography (Ellis, 1997). Emails collected over an eight month period provide the data for this study. To analyze the data we used thematic analysis. The data reveal three predominant themes; fear, family and fellowship. The findings of this study provoke an extension into the experiences of other doctoral students as they meet the challenges of self concepts in their course of study.
Research Study/Recherche