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College of Education

STEM student and faculty imposterism

What is Impostor Phenomenon?

Impostor phenomenon is an internalized experience of intellectual phoniness. People who feel like impostors are typically bright, motivated and successful, yet usually have incorrect, unrealistic and self-defeating self-perceptions. They think that they are not smart enough and may not have a realistic sense of their competence . We would like to understand if these self-perceptions affect how people navigate their career and opportunities to advance.

Why is it important to understand?

Doctoral or medical training are time-intensive, complex processes that require significant scientific skill development. Yet, research examining how those who feel like impostors navigate their training is not well-documented. We would like to learn why competent individuals feel or do not feel like impostors and how that can influence their career decision-making.


All individuals from the fields described below are welcome to participate in the study, whether or not they have ever felt like impostors. We are looking for participants from universities, medical schools and research institutions located in the United States from the following fields:

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, new or established faculty and researchers outside academia.

Medicine and Biomedical Science: Training physicians, physician-scientists (both MDs and MD-PhDs), residents, biomedical science researchers, and those who have left the field.

Time commitment

The first step of participation is completing an online survey (10 minutes). This will be followed by a more in-depth interview (30-45 minutes) that will be scheduled based on your availability. Anything you share will be confidential and your name or identifying information will not be disclosed. Your participation is voluntary. There are no perceived risks for you to participate in this study. Your participation and support would be immensely helpful, not only in improving our understanding of the impostor phenomenon through research, but also in informing policy. We hope that you will consider participating.

Have more questions?

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Devasmita Chakraverty, the study director, by email at or by phone at 509-358-7568.

This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Washington State University.

Thank you,

Devasmita Chakraverty
Assistant Professor of Science Education
Health Science STEM Education Research Center
Washington State University

Washington State University