Now, You Submit Your First Piece

I've submitted it.  The Qualifying Paper Proposal (QPP).  It's the first serious piece of work we submit on the path to our dissertation.  The program has students submit a QPP in which students identify a problem and a proposal to study the problem.  That is the proposal is to ultimately write the Qualifying Paper (QP), or a significant literature review exploring the problem.  If all goes well, this gets folded into our Dissertation Proposal (DP).  If all the stars align, the QPP, QP, and DP become the first three chapters of the dissertation (substantial revisions notwithstanding--or rather, completed expected)  So it is kinda a big first step.  

We started on this path back in June when we took the course associated with the QPP.  It was a 3-week writing workshop that helped us fine-tune our ideas to put them into some kind of coherent sense.  We submitted a rough draft to the instructor in mid-July and then continued working on them throughout the summer.  We finally submitted them on the first week back in September.  

I enjoyed this process of producing, getting feedback, and refining.  It helped me to improve my paper and get something that I felt genuinely proud of in terms of submitting.  It is a hard process and there's a lot of throwing things against the wall to see if it works as well as a lot of writing, rewriting, unwriting, and slicing.  But I felt with each draft, each reread, each tweak, I got closer to what it was I was trying to say. 

It's not like this blog where while I do reflect and think, I don't necessarily refine.  These thoughts and ideas come to me, I pulled them together and hope they make some kind of sense, then just throw them up because this is in many ways, my warehouse of thought.  I mean a sentence like the previous one would never be accepted (and probably shouldn't) for the QPP.  
A photo of a black keyboard with the center on the "enter" button.

I'm guessing--and for those reading this, you should realize that--you'll never be quite done with the QPP until you are done with the dissertation.  At least, that's the conclusion I'm coming to.  After all, if the QPP is essentially the problem statement of the dissertation, you're going to constantly come back to that problem statement and make sure what you're asking is actually what you're answering.  You're going to find new information, new angles, or new frames with which to play around with.  And that is largely what happened to me constantly over this summer.  Time and again.  It's true that you better love your topic because you're going to keep thinking about it.  

But after meeting several times with my chair and the professor that taught the course, I feel like I definitely have a good direction and question.  I've found a subject that really interests me (the increasing costs of knowledge in the digital age and how higher education can afford access to it), and I feel like I may have something unique and interesting to contribute to the discussion.  

The proccess is challenging but in a good way and rewarding.  After I work through a draft with a faculty member, I can tell that I'm closer.  I may not be at the finish line, but I'm closer.  I like what I have submitted but I know that it is likely to get substantial feedback because well, I'm still new at this.  I'm still understanding how to parallel park the bus and it's tricky!  

So, it's been submitted.  Now, I just wait...and wonder.  If you're interested, you're welcome to take a peak at it.  I can guarantee it's not exciting content but if you want to get a sense of what it could look like, you are well to read away:  


Now, I need to not think about it for a few weeks...as unlikely as that may seem.


Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:



  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. Dissertation Journal #1
  14. Dissertation Journal #2
  15. So Starts The Third Semester
  16. My Educational Philosophy...for now
  17. Dissertation Journal #3
  18. PhD'ese
  19. And Sometimes, You Feel It
  20.  Semester's Endgame
  21. Year 1, Officially Done
  22. Year 2, Week 1, Day 1
  23. Year 2, Week 1 Done!
  24. 1/3 Complete!?!?!
  25. Click...
  26. Day 1; Semester 5
  27. Share and Share Alike
  28. Mind-filled and Mindful 
  29. 5th Semester Down
  30. 6th Semester Is Upon Us
  31. It's Becoming Real...
  32. It Is No Longer "All About The Base"
  33. Year #3, Day #1: Chomping At the Bit
  34. Year #3: Week #2: The Lows and Highs
  35. Year #3: Junes No More


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