PhD Chronicles: And Then You Get Your Feedback

I'm walking out of the diner that my brother, my father, and I went to for breakfast.  We had been talking on a variety of subjects as we usually do.  I happen to look at my phone to see that I have an email from the program chair and I figure it's something to do with social media since that's what I'm working on with them.  I open it to quickly glance at it and see the words QPP.  I quickly close the message.  I'm can't look at it right now.  I say my goodbyes and head to my car.  

I sit in my car and open the email and give it a cursory read, looking for the keywords.  Of course, the email doesn't have the keywords, it just tells me the committee's comments are in the attached document.  So I wait a few moments until it is opened and I can see it on my phone.  Right there in bold, "Revise and Resubmit."  



A picture of the letter from the committee.


I read that and frown a bit.  I read through the entire letter with its different feedback and frown.  I read the comments again and find myself getting resistant.  And then, I let it go for the moment.  It was enough to see the comments, know when the revision is due, and that there were positive comments throughout.  I drive home and put it out of my mind for 24 hours.  Sometime within that period, I post to my cohort's Facebook group to say that I've gotten feedback and that it was to revise and resubmit.  I do this because inevitably, others will have gotten this too (we're told about half) and to give comfort should others be feeling the tinges of disappointment that are creeping in on my periphery, I put mine out there first.  


Later, I go for a walk with my partner and tell her about the revise and resubmit.  She seems agitated by it and I find myself defending their decision.  There are clear strengths to the paper and equally clear weaknesses.  She presents the analogy of saying, "It seems like you had the color blue and they asked for purple and you gave them purple but now they want green."  I run with the analogy and explain that it's more like, "I started with blue and now I have purple mixed with blue; not entirely purple yet and the thing is, I'm colorblind so I'm navigating this on advice of what purple should look like but because I'm making purple and I've never made purple before, I'm going to have trouble getting to purple."  In explaining it and defending it, I feel better about it.  


While intentionally staying away from it in the next day or so, my mind, of course, wanders back it I start to think about how I can fix what needs fixing and how I might restructure it appropriately.  Because now that the faultlines have been identified, I can see the paper standing on shakey group.  So, there's  nothing left to do but to build a better structure.  


Feedback is essential if we are to move forward but when you're pouring your thoughts and ideas into the process, feedback is always going to feel personal, even when it isn't.  I needed to take time away from it, I needed my partner to challenge the process.  It is a good process but it is one that will be challenging to the ego and I just need to be ok with that and remember that the feedback thus far has led me from a fledgling of an idea to a substantive work that needs reworking but is still a solid idea.  


You can read the full feedback letter here.  It does help to have access to the QPP itself as a point of reference which I'm also including here.  





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