By undertaking the professional doctorate, Doctor of Education, I had the opportunity to choose between presenting my work in a traditional disseration or in a portfolio of pieces or artefacts that are linked by a metastatement.  This is a relatively new option for the Doctor of Education at UTS, and I was one of the first cohort to present our doctoral research in education in this way at UTS.

Changes in doctoral research in Australia over the last decade and a half have led to the development both of new forms of doctoral research and new ways of communicating doctoral research outcomes (Clerke & Lee 2008). For example, there has been the emergence of the professional doctorate (Malfroy & Yates 2003; Neumann 2005), which allows professionals to engage in research that extends their knowledge, skills, professionalism and supports evidence-based practice (Burgess & Wellington 2010). At the same time, the doctoral research portfolio is becoming more available in Australian universities, and is seen to accommodate “different kinds of knowledge production in various genres to a range of different audiences” (Clerke & Lee 2008 p.18).

Robyn Muldoon uses the metaphor of a temple to describe her professional doctorate portfolio (Muldoon 2010). While my metaphor is that of a prefabricated home, it is, nevertheless, a Grand Design. Prefabricated homes, now often known as a kit homes or modular homes, once may have been “little more than glorified huts” (Davidson 2011 p.1).  However, responding to a changing environment and changed expectations, they are now environmentally sustainable, economical and built fit-for-purpose. Similarly, the doctoral research portfolio is more prevalent and is certainly designed and constructed to be fit-for-purpose.

My doctoral portfolio speaks to three audiences: academe, the profession and the workplace (adapted from Lee, Green & Brennan 2000). For my research, all three are located within the higher education sector, with a relatively high degree of overlap between the audiences. This overlap is shown visually in Figure 1, in which each audience is represented by a shade of blue. Like a modular home, the portfolio is designed, to a plan, from pieces that are constructed “off-site” and, ultimately, assembled on the meta-statement foundation, held together by my professional practice. The modular pieces of the portfolio represent different stages in my doctoral journey, having been developed from other "non-portfolio" pieces as shown in Figure 2. The meta statement addresses the academic audience only, while the three journal articles speak to both the academe and the profession, and the audience for the management report is that of the workplace.  The modular portfolio pieces sit squarely within the central portion of the meta-statement foundation, relating to sections on methodology, findings and implications.



Figure 1: Schematic representation of my doctoral portfolio


doctoral journey


Figure 2: The doctoral journey:  development of portfolio pieces



With thanks to Kevin McCloud for his program Grand Designs.  A number of episodes have featured quite remarkable kit homes (for example: Episodes 6 and 9 in Season 8), which have inspired my pragmatic conceptualisation of my portfolio. 


Burgess, H. & Wellington, J. 2010, 'Exploring the impact of the professional doctorate on students' professional practice and personal development: Early indications', Work Based Learning E-journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 160-76

Clerke, T. & Lee, A. 2008, 'Mainstreaming the doctoral research portfolio?', paper presented to the 2008 Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference, Adelaide, Australia, 17-18 April 2008.

Davidson, M. 2011, 'Houses that deliver', The Daily Telegraph, 26 March 2011,

Lee, A., Green, B. & Brennan, M. 2000, 'Organisational Knowledge: Professional Practice and the Professional Doctorate at Work', in J.G.C. Rhodes (ed.), Research and knowledge at work: perspectives, case studies and innovative strategies, Routledge, New York and London,, pp. pp. 117-36.

Malfroy, J. & Yates, L. 2003, 'Knowledge in action: doctoral programmes forging new identities', Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 119-29.

Muldoon, R. 2010, 'What does a Professional Doctorate Portfolio look like?', The Journal of the Education Research Group of Adelaide, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 35-43.

Neumann, R. 2005, 'Doctoral Differences: Professional doctorates and PhDs compared', Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 173-88.