The PhD story: Life before becoming a PhD student at the Department of Sport Sciences at Malmö University


Alexander Jansson (ed.), Johan Carlsson, Veronica Jägerbrink,
Sofia Sebelius, Camilla Strömberg & Emelie Wiklund
Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University


There is limited knowledge about PhD students’ backgrounds and how these backgrounds affect their research, particularly in sport sciences. Therefore, this study aims to contribute with knowledge about the backgrounds of sport sciences PhD students by investigating whether their backgrounds affect both becoming PhD students and how they conduct their research. Importantly, the study descriptively presents PhD students’ stories about their backgrounds and explores whether there are general themes in these stories. Guided by an auto-monographic approach, we asked PhD students at the Department of Sport sciences at Malmö University to “describe whether my background influenced me to become a doctoral student in sport sciences and whether my background affects my research.” Although the PhD students’ narratives include many perspectives and experiences, they also raise questions about the diversity of the group—they reveal a lack of cultural and socioeconomic diversity in the group. As a result, this article raises questions about whether “enough” is being done, by Malmö University and Department of Sport Sciences, to attract PhD students with different backgrounds.


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ALEXANDER JANSSON is a PhD student and lecture at the Department of Sport Sciences, Malmö University. Jansson has a master’s degree in social sciences (Lund University), a bachelor’s degree in psychology (Linnæus University) and a teacher’s degree in physical education (Linnæus University). Jansson has taught for several years at universities in several fields. His research areas include questions related to equivalence, equality, equity with a focus on sports pedagogy. 

JOHAN CARLSSON is a PhD student at the Department of Sport Sciences, Malmö University, where he also has a one-year master’s degree in Sport Sciences. Besides that, Carlsson works at The Writing Centre at Malmö University helping undergraduate students with their academic writing. His research areas include questions related to environmental sustainability and trends in sport with a focus of sport management and sport history.

VERONICA JÄGERBRINK is a PhD student at the Department of Sport Sciences, Malmö University, and lecturer at the Department of Sport Sciences at Linnæus University. Jägerbrink has a master’s degree in Sport Sciences (Linnæus University), a teacher’s degree in physical education (Linnaeus university). Jägerbrink has taught for several years at universities mostly with teacher education. Her research areas include questions related to sustainable movement education in school (SMOVE).

SOFIA SEBELIUS has a teacher’s degree in physical education and biology with many years of experience teaching in primary schools. Sebelius has a Degree of Licentiate of Arts, with the thesis Att vara idrottslärare – om de själva får berätta [To be a PE teacher – in their own words]. Sebelius teaches assessment, grading, and school development as well as play, motor skills and health at the Department of Sports Sciences, Malmö University. Since 2019 she is a PhD student and investigates the physical education profession and the limitations and opportunities inherent in it.

CAMILLA STRÖMBERG is a PhD student at the Department of Sport Sciences at Malmö University and a lecturer at the Department of Sport Sciences at Linnæus University. Strömberg has a master’s degree in Sport Sciences (Linnæus University) and a bachelor’s degree in coaching and sports management (Linnæus University). Strömberg has taught for several years at universities in several fields. Her research areas include questions related to children’s and youth sports, sports for all in competitive sports, and leadership.

EMELIE WIKLUND is a PhD student at the Department of Sport Sciences at Malmö University. Wiklund has a master’s degree in medical science (Umeå University) and a bachelor’s degree in medicine, main area physiotherapy (Umeå university). Wiklund has taught for several years at universities in several fields. Her research areas include questions related to promotion of physical activity for children and youth in a school context.


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