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Chinese International Doctoral Students’ Emotional Adaptation to Academic English Writing in NZ

Student Researcher: Linda (Qian) Yu
Main Supervisor: Professor Helen Sword
Co-Supervisor: Dr Marion Blumenstein

Researcher Introduction
My name is Linda (Qian) Yu, a doctoral student in the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education (CLeaR), Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland.

Research Project
My project focuses on Chinese international doctoral students (CIDSs) studying in an English-speaking country for the first time and their emotions about proposal writing during their provisional year at the University of Auckland. The research goal is to investigate which emotions Chinese students have experienced while working on their research proposals and calls attention to the students who are struggling to adapt to academic English writing in New Zealand.

I expect that the results from this study can help Chinese international PhD students understand why they encounter affective problems when adapting to academic English writing in New Zealand universities and employ coping strategies to handle their negative emotions. Moreover, I hope the research results may inform supervisors and higher educational institutions in New Zealand about this group of students’ emotional issues of advanced-academic English writing and their support needs.

Project Procedures and Participants’ Rights
This study is conducted in two phases to explore Chinese international doctoral students’ emotions about proposal writing at the University of Auckland.

Phase 1: If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete an online questionnaire, which takes less than 15 minutes. The main purpose of the questionnaire is to obtain general information about Chinese PhD students’ emotions about academic English writing during their provisional year and to select eligible participants for a series of one-off semi-structured interviews. The questionnaire is in English and Chinese, consisting of three parts. The first part includes 7 questions assessing your eligibility to participate in this study. The second part contains 5 questions about how you feel when you are working on your research proposal. In the third part, I will gather demographic information and your email address if you agree to be interviewed.

Phase 2: After you complete and submit the survey, you may be invited for a follow-up interview lasting a maximum of one hour if (1) you are willing to and provide your email address at the end of the questionnaire, and (2) have been selected. The focus of the interview is to identify emotional factors that may play a key role in the writing adaptation to academic English. It is hoped to gain a deeper understanding of students’ coping mechanism dealing with emotions as well as their perceived support needs.

Participants for the interview will be selected based on an unbiased sample with respect to gender, age, stage of PhD candidature in the Provisional Year and challenges of academic writing as perceived by the survey respondents. For these reasons, some prospective participants may not be included in the interview session and will be notified of this by the researchers. If you have been selected and interviewed, you will receive a shopping voucher valued at $20 at the end of the interview as a thank-you for your participating time.

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary. Your decision to either participate or not participate will not influence your doctoral education or academic relationships with the department or members of staff at the University of Auckland. If you are a student of Professor Helen Sword or/and Dr Marion Blumenstein assurance is given that your participation or non-participation in this study will have no effect on your academic progress or relationship with the university. You may contact your Head of Department (HoD) should you feel that this assurance has not been met.

As a participant, you have the right to withdraw yourself and your data from the research at any time within two weeks after submitting the questionnaire without giving reason. If you decide to withdraw, please contact me no later than two weeks after submitting your survey responses. I will then delete all your responses and information from my computer and the university server.

Data Storage, Retention, Destruction and Future Use
The data gained from surveys will be securely saved on my password protected computer located at CLeaR, University of Auckland, backed up by the university server. My supervisors and I will be the only people having access to this file. Any produced hard copies will be stored in a locked cabinet in my office. The data will be destroyed after a period of six years. Any data stored electronically on my computer and the university server will be permanently deleted after that time. Any paper copies will be destroyed using a safety document shredder. Survey results will be used for the student researcher’s doctoral thesis and also for potential academic publications and conference presentations. Only aggregated data will be used so not to identify you as an individual, for example, results will be reported as group averages and percentages. If you would like to have a copy of the survey findings, please indicate this with your contact information on the consent form. I will email a summary to you when the data analysis is complete.

Your participation and responses will be kept strictly confidential. No identifying information will be disclosed to a third party or any future publications or my thesis. Survey data will be reported in summaries of research findings as group averages and percentages.

Thank you very much for your time and effort in making this study possible. If you have any queries or want to know more about the study, please feel free to contact me or my supervisors.

Student Researcher Director of CLeaR
and Main Supervisor Co-Supervisor

Linda (Qian) Yu
+64 9 373 7999 ext. 87748
The University of Auckland

Professor Helen Sword
DDI: +64 9 923 6686

The University of Auckland

Dr Marion Blumenstein

DDI: +64 9 923 2479

The University of Auckland
You may also contact the Deputy Director of CLeaR, Dr Sean Sturm, by email: or phone: +64 9 923 3145.

For any queries regarding ethical concerns, you may contact the Chair, The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee, The University of Auckland, Research Office, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142. Telephone: 09 373-7599 ext. 83711. Email: