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Qualifying Paper

The qualifying paper is a starting point for dissertation research. In the qualifying paper process, a Ph.D. student will:

  • Explore a potential research topic (that could lead to a feasible, original, and applied research project)
  • Demonstrate readiness to engage in research
  • Present overall understanding of the field of global leadership studies

The paper should describe what might be studied and why a particular phenomenon needs to be examined. In addition, a student has to provide a brief explanation of how this phenomenon might be studied. The intention of the how component is to offer preliminary thoughts on potential research hypotheses and research design. The main focus, however, is placed on the what and why components.

Writing the qualifying paper provides an opportunity for a student and committee members to engage in discussions about:

  • Significance of a suggested topic to scholarship and practice
  • Relevance of this topic within the field of global leadership studies
  • Appropriateness of a conceptual framework
  • Feasibility of a study

Discussion with committee members at the qualifying paper defense will help a student prepare a better developed research question, refine theoretical framework, and review research limitations and potential challenges.

Elements of the Qualifying Paper

  • Introduction: Overview of what will be included in the paper and why
  • Statement of the Problem: Overall global conditions where a proposed global leadership phenomenon is observed; understanding of global leadership; arguments about what we know, do not know, and need to know about a suggested global leadership phenomenon to enrich global leadership scholarship and aid practitioners in global organizations
  • Theoretical framework: Description of main concepts suggested for the study and appropriate theories
  • Significance of the study: For scholars and practitioners
  • Research Purpose and Questions: Overall study purpose, research gap(s), and broad research questions to address in the study
  • Method: Brief statement on proposed research method, hypotheses, research design, potential variables and instruments (where applicable), sample description, etc., and explanation of choices; this section represents a student’s understanding of the connection between a research question and a chosen research method

Qualifying paper defense signifies comprehensive exam completion.