Competing meanings of international experiences for early-career researchers: a collaborative autoethnographic approach

Yusuke Sakurai, Sae Shimauchi, Yukiko Shimmi, Yuki Amaki, Shingo Hanada, Dely Lazarte Elliot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there is a pressing demand for international experience for early career researchers (ECRs), the meaning of these experiences arising from their day-to-day work responsibilities is still unclear. Accordingly, using our emic reflections for this autoethnographic study, we—five Japanese ECRs with years of international experiences—collaboratively explored how we made sense of our international experiences, that is, our distinct capital attained from international study and research experiences. We used Identity Trajectory as a conceptual tool to widely capture ECRs’ key experiences and sense-making. Our reflective conversations resulted in five major themes: (1) global personal network, (2) communicative competence, (3) scholarly community culture, (4) scholarly ambition and (5) pedagogical application. We consistently valued our attained capital, but simultaneously recognised dilemmas while engaging in our work. Lack of institutional support was critical, preventing us from using our international experiential capital and further developing as internationally active researchers. This study offers insights for those who may consider an academic career in Japan after returning from international sojourns and for policymakers promoting the internationalisation of Japanese higher education. Studies such as this one also contribute to the exploration of the value of international experiences for researchers in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2367-2381
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • International experience
  • Japan
  • autoethnography
  • early career researchers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Competing meanings of international experiences for early-career researchers: a collaborative autoethnographic approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this