The key experiences in becoming an independent mathematics education researcher were investigated through interviews with eight doctoral students with academic job intentions at a Turkish university. Findings showed that doctoral students conceptualized a mathematics education researcher with several types of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, including research methods, mathematics, critical thinking, and being ethical and patient. They felt like a researcher when they collected and analyzed data at a research study. However, only the ones who were involved in team research identified themselves as independent researchers. Providing doctoral students with more research opportunities during the doctoral programs might support their development as independent researchers.