College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

PhD Research Paper Requirement

The requirement of writing of a research paper in the first year and a half is a salient feature of the PhD program. The paper should be a sole-authored work worthy of submission to a well-regarded professional journal such as the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, or journal of similar quality such as the Journal of Development Economics. Students are encouraged to begin development of research ideas immediately upon entering the graduate program. Initial ideas for the qualifying paper (consisting of a concise research question, a sketch of a framework for investigation, and verification of available data) must be submitted to the Qualifying Paper Committee by January 31 of the first year.

Based on the paper idea and student nominations, the Qualifying Paper Committee assigns a Qualifying Paper Advisor to each student. Thereafter, students report to and interact frequently with their Qualifying Paper Advisor. Students are also encouraged to seek advice or reactions from other faculty throughout the development of their paper just as a faculty member might seek advice from a colleague. However, the paper must be solely the student's work, which excludes work done jointly with faculty here or elsewhere (such as with a professor in prior graduate/undergraduate work). Criteria for plagiarism found in most academic journals apply to this paper.

The student's progress is evaluated by the Qualifying Paper Committee and the Qualifying Paper Advisor in the context of a June paper-writing workshop at the end of the first year of coursework. In the workshop, students make an oral presentation on the development of their paper ideas. Attendance is required.

The student's qualifying paper must be submitted to the Qualifying Paper Committee by August 31 following the first year. After soliciting a thorough review of the paper by the Qualifying Paper Advisor and an independent reviewer selected from the faculty, the Qualifying Paper Committee classifies the paper into one of three categories: (i) the paper is worthy of submission to a journal such as those listed above, (ii) the paper is in the substance and style of a journal paper such that with sufficient work it could lead to a journal publication, or (iii) the paper needs more work. Students with papers in the first category receive the grade of 'pass with distinction' and students with papers in the second category receive the grade of 'pass'. Either grade satisfies the qualifying paper requirement.

Students with papers in the third category are given detailed advice on how to bring their papers up to passing status, and continue to work with their Qualifying Paper Advisors (which subsequently includes the independent faculty reviewer). The revised paper must be submitted by January 31 of the second year, when a similar evaluation process occurs. If the revised paper fails to achieve a passing grade, the student's PhD program is terminated or converted to an MS program. The chair of the Qualifying Paper Committee conveys the committee's final evaluation for each student in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, who, in turn, provides written notification of the final decision to the student and the Department Chair.

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