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Evaluation of research is a core function of academic work, yet there has been very little theoretical development about what it means to ‘know’ in relation to judgements made in examination of doctoral research. This chapter addresses the issue by reflecting on findings from three projects aimed at enhancing understanding of doctoral examination. In order to progress understanding about knowledge judgements in the doctoral research context, the chapter draws on two key contributions in the field of knowledge and knowing, namely, Habermas’ cognitive interests and Chinn, Buckland and Samarapungavan’s notion of epistemic cognition. It examines the common ground between the two bodies of theory, drawing illustratively on empirical work in the field of doctoral examination. The comparison of the Habermasian theory of cognitive interests with Chinn et al.’s notion of epistemic cognition led to the conclusion that there were areas of overlap between the two conceptual schemas that could be utilised to advance research into doctoral examination in higher education. Habermas’ cognitive interests (which underpin his ways of knowing theory) offer a conceptual lens that facilitates analysis of the interaction of ontological and epistemic components of knowledge production. Chinn et al.’s notion of epistemic cognition allows for finer grained analysis of aspects of the cognitive work involved in knowledge rendition. This work is particularly pertinent in an era that sees the boundaries of the disciplines being challenged by the need for new perspectives and cross-disciplinary approaches to solving complex problems.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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