Finding My Intuitive Researcher’s Voice Through Reflexivity: An Autoethnographic Study


  • Natalie Cunningham
  • Teresa Carmichael


Reflexivity, autoethnography, intuition, academic environment, researcher identity, research supervisor, PhD student


Using autoethnography as a method and looking back to and writing about my experience (in the first person) as a relatively inexperienced researcher completing her PhD in a business school environment, I share critical moments of my research journey. The context in which I was conducting the research was a business school environment in the subject area of executive coaching. Executive coaching is a relatively new and emerging field in contrast to the many other fields in business, such as finance and economics. We comment on the role reflexivity played in facilitating identity formation as a researcher. Reflexivity is the ability to explore, reflect on and examine social and contextual issues that impact on research. Combining reflexivity with the aim of ethnography, which is to study common and shared experiences for purposes of understanding the cultural implications of these social and contextual issues, I reflect on how the academic structure, systems and processes were an inhibitor to finding my voice. I share how reflexivity was a major contributing factor to increasing confidence in my own identity as a researcher. I examine and analyse the aspects of reflexivity that facilitated this growth in my confidence and how this experience might facilitate the same empowerment in other researchers. The paper looks at approaches to creating a reflexive culture of research drawing on Finlay’s typology of reflexivity. One example of this typology is collective reflexivity in which more than one voice is heard. This paper is co‑authored with my supervisor, and her reflections are included. Collaborative reflexivity assists in addressing some of the validity concerns of only one voice. This paper will assist not only novice researchers but also the practice of research – providing a way of not just “doing” research but “being” a researcher.



1 Jul 2018