Doctoral students enter an intense program of study that often bears little resemblance to prior educational experiences. Students are often surprised by the emotional and cognitive toll the program takes: loss of identity, feelings of isolation and incompetence, and concerns about meeting the academic demands of the program. The best defense against these barriers is to know what they are how to overcome them. Recognizing that beginner doctoral students may lack experiences with scholarly papers, the authors provide an easy-to-read autoethnographic case study that explores their own doctoral experiences. The article is addressed directly to new doctoral students and reveals challenges students may face early in their doctoral programs. The authors also provide recommendations for overcoming common barriers.

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