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ABSTRACT. There are ethical difficulties for supervisors when their doctoral student does not seem to be making progress and may be advised to withdraw from study. The topic emerged in a reflexive online discussion as part of the second phase of a participatory research project on ethical theorizing applied to difficulties in thesis supervision. Ethical questions involving non-completion of the doctorate may be framed within Foucauldian ethics regarding care of the self as the new academic scholar is encouraged through supervision to become an autonomous, independent researcher; at the same time, somewhat contradictorily, becoming an academic self recognizable as having achieved mastery in a particular discipline. Wider feminist, postmodern and political debates around the ethics of care were employed to support a reflexive troubling of ethical difficulties without a quest for moral certainty; instead, the online discussions offered a place for collaborative, reflexive discussion about ethical choices that are contingent on particular circumstances, mutable and yet indicative of potential for resolution through embodied reactions of supervisors. The reflexive process illustrated in the online discussions aimed at ethical practice that acknowledges the place of widening supervision teams and administrative supports while also calling for openness in disclosure of difficulties despite contemporary pressures towards narrow forms of accountability. pp. 102–120

Keywords: doctoral education; postgraduate supervision; ethnics; embodiment; feminist poststructural

LISE BIRD CLAIBORNE
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University of Waikato

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