I felt this pressure each time I sat down to write. I felt it in selecting the right literature, in synthesising, and in drawing conclusions about this literature. I felt it in selecting a research approach and in deciding on the most appropriate data collection methods. I felt this pressure in adopting a confident voice in my writing, in presenting myself in my work as confident in each decision I made in the process of writing the dissertation.
While I received my fair share of feedback on my dissertation regarding areas to improve, this constructive feedback has ultimately made me more confident in presenting my work and in the decisions I have made throughout my PhD and in writing the dissertation. At some point, I began to view this feedback as a form of mentorship from my dissertation supervisors, just as Ferris (2019) describes regarding the role of feedback by thesis supervisors, and this was a turning point for me, a point at which I began to see the multiple rounds of feedback I was receiving as part of the normal process of mentorship of future academics.
Each of these experiences, processes rather than single instances, has helped me to move beyond the feelings associated with imposter syndrome – for the most part anyway. I share these experiences and my reflections on them here in the hopes that they might be helpful for other first-year PhD students experiencing the same feelings.
For me, reconceptualising the PhD experience as an apprenticeship and as a developmental process of becoming a researcher with a continually expanding repertoire has helped me to move beyond feelings of imposter syndrome and ultimately to feel comfortable in displaying a more confident sense of voice in my own writing.