Thinking of doing a doctorate?

Reflections from a tertiary learning advisor perspective




Tertiary learning advisor, TLA, doctoral study, doctorate, PhD, autoethnography


This article considers the desirability of the doctorate for a tertiary learning advisor (TLA), explains the process and experience of doctoral study, and affirms how doctoral study can enhance the effectiveness of a TLA in developing students’ academic literacies. Effectiveness relates not only to the pedagogical relationship between a TLA and students, but to enhanced visibility and credibility of the TLA and their team within their institution. But what is the doctoral journey actually like? This article will be of interest to curious individuals who may have wondered what the doctorate involves in terms of time and commitment, and whether the benefits outweigh the costs. This article seeks to demystify the process and encourage neophyte researchers who may be considering a qualitative project. Using an autoethnography approach, I take as a case study my own doctoral journey, touching on my initial motivation and sharing candid insights on the challenges and milestones as I perceived them. These insights are shared through a series of brief narratives and reflections, with practical advice offered for each stage of the journey.

Author Biography

Quentin Allan, Auckland University of Technology

Dr Quentin Allan is a Senior Lecturer, and Academic Writing Advisor. He has worked at AUT since 2010. Based in the South Campus Library, he contributes to the work of the Learning Success team in developing academic literacies in students from all disciplines, both undergraduate and postgraduate. For further information and links to resources, see AUT's Library homepage: 

With a teaching background in language and literature, Quentin has over 30 years’ experience in a range of educational environments (in New Zealand and overseas) including seven years teaching linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. During his time in Hong Kong, he also worked for the Hong Kong Examinations Authority in a variety of roles. As a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK), Quentin supports AUT colleagues via altLAB’s Ako Aronui accreditation scheme as Mentor and Assessor. For further information, see altLAB's homepage:


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