Once a year I try use my blog to provide some creative inspiration to a broad range of affiliates, including new and established researchers. Last year I used yoga poses as metaphors to explain the research process. This year I want to address doctoral students, chairs, methodologists, and committee members who disagree at times and must still work cooperatively for the validity of the right proposal. To that end, the following soliloquy, “The SAS Proposal Emergency Room” may help you and your team stay focused as every member is an important and integral part of the doctoral journey.
Sirens echoed outside the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies (SAS) emergency room. Doctors, chairs, methodologists, and students hurried about inside the ER, preparing to confront a major proposal accident.
The Sirens grew louder and louder. The janitor looked up while mopping to see the medical team race past. "What do you think happened?" he asked a nearby practitioner who had also stopped at the sight.
"It’s hard to say,” she said. “There are so many factors with cases like these-”
Suddenly, the switchboard at the head receptionist's desk lit up like fireworks on the Fourth of July. "SAS Emergency. How may I help you?" answered an assistant. "No, I can't give you any details just yet. All I know is it was discovered at residency. Administrators reported it about twenty minutes ago." Slamming the phone down, she wondered aloud, "What’s taking so long?"
Outside, several reporters had arrived ahead of the ambulances and now sought refuge near the entrance, hoping to learn more about the incident. With smoke blanketing from the rear tires, the first of several ambulances came to a screeching halt, nearly knocking over a reporter. Paramedics quickly transferred the first badly injured patient into the hospital. It was a grotesque sight.
"Is it a concept paper or research proposal, I can't tell?" asked one of the approaching practitioners. From head to toe it was not more than a few pages.
"Can you say anything? A few vowels would help," asked the only research methodologist on staff. More research practitioners were on their way to assist.
Looking down at what appeared to be the preface, fragments were lodged in haphazard patterns. The entire body was covered with dangling modifiers. "Just say anything," repeated a committee member. All that could be heard was a few incomplete and run-on sentences.
Whispering in the chair’s ear, the methodologist asked, "Can we save this poor fellow?"
"It's going to be difficult, and there's only a limited amount of course time remaining," replied the resident dissertation chair. Bring this research proposal to surgery STAT!"
"Wait!” screamed a committee member. “You can't operate. We have to have the doctoral student’s permission first."
Another committee member asked, "Is there a byline?"
The specialist chimed in: "Somebody must know... Get the residency facilitator right now!"
Outside, the author – a doctoral student – emerged from the ambulance. A reporter approached her. "Pardon me ma'am, can you tell me what happened?" The student was quite restless and shaken. Judging by how she rested her hand on her head, she was apparently the victim of writer's block. Behind her, more ambulances arrived carrying more proposals, each with their own shortcomings, ambiguities, and ailing research hypotheses.
Later, in the surgery room, the dissertation chair, methodologist, and committee members began working their research and grammatical magic on the first victim. Simultaneously, struggling doctoral students peered down from a viewing room, hoping to learn from the experts below.
In an active voice, the dissertation chair said, "Right now, I will begin to open up the problem statement."
After suturing several split infinitives, he glanced up to the doctoral students. "I hope you’re all watching carefully. The line I'm cutting is located in the literature review, just above a prepositional phrase. I've got to remove this colon," showed the Chair.
Next, he said, “I'm going to use parallel reconstruction here.” He narrated each step, offering guidance for their future work. When finished, he added, “You can quote me on that." The students did just that, taking careful notes from their view above.
He continued, "Prepare for a perfect research method." Tightening up a last gap in the hypothesis, the surgery finishes. "Prepare this research proposal for post-rhetorical recovery.”
"Wait a minute. This proposal can't go anywhere," noted a committee member. “It’s missing a period."
The Chair paused for a moment, hoping the students above wouldn't notice. "Correct, yes," he said as he added the missing period. "Now, prepare this proposal for post-rhetorical recovery.” The proposal was wheeled out and the team began preparing for the next accident victim.
In the recovery room, a research chair and methodologist couldn’t agree on which process of recovery would be best for the proposal. As this was where all the in-progress pieces went for more APA application, literature review, and research appropriation inspections — respectful collegial argument was common.
"No question, the Mac is the only way to go," said the methodologist.
"I disagree," said the research chair. “Windows is best."
During recovery, physical therapy – including review and input from all Committee Members – was a common occurrence which enabled the proposal new validity and strength with each passing week. Another round of syntax examinations via updated software with a 500,000-word dictionary and the latest thesaurus also aided the healing process.
Finally, after three months, the proposal’s vital signs read well. The piece was on its way to QRM! Every member of the School of Advanced Studies surgical team felt a positive sense of rigor, but perhaps none more than the doctoral student. For it is the doctoral student whose drive, attention to detail, whose willingness to work with the entire team of academicians ultimately applying the recommendations, can never be underestimated.
Scholarship Communications Project Manager Shauna Fields contributed to this soliloquy.