Post Confirmation of Candidature – The Brown Paper Bag Plan

Brown Paper Bag Plan

Brown Paper Bag Plan

Although I still have to hear officially, my Confirmation of Candidature seminar was successful. The feedback I received was brilliant and I have nothing but grateful thanks for the support I have received.

As I now reflect on the process and make plans for the next steps I realise that the result hasn’t sunk in yet though the champagne has been drunk. I have been telling myself that I am now a proper authentic PhDer. I didn’t feel authentic before. Now some of that no doubt was down to the ‘imposter’ syndrome that many people face throughout their Candidature. But it didn’t take me long to realise that going through the process of Confirmation hooked into some childhood/teenage-self unhappy experiences and memories. No-one had said to me ‘you are not a real PhDer’ but of course I gravitated towards a sub-text. I told myself over and over again that until you are Confirmed, you are not authentic. But now that the process is over, I have to find a new message to sling around my brain and the photo of the Brown Paper Plan is that message.

Though you can’t read it properly, the Brown Paper Plan outlines the introduction to the Lit Review, something I have been working on since just before Christmas. I wanted to chart power structures, summarise the relevant works/studies/authors/research and evidence base for the papers I have included in the Review, and work out the overlaps and distinctions, and where my project fits into the Irish Studies research. So, I have made a start…oh I already have written up some of the literature but I felt like I was wading around the swamp and thought that a couple of summaries would assist with the rowing…

Let me know if you have come across something similar in your life:)

kind regards




8 thoughts on “Post Confirmation of Candidature – The Brown Paper Bag Plan

  1. Was that the best bubbly you’ve ever had? I can so relate to your sense that you were an impostor. I am proud of the successful achievements in my life, but the undertakings that I abandoned along the way are sources of shame to me. I have recently been examining these ‘failures’ and realise that they all occurred due to my sense of being an impostor. My first major ‘failure’ was resigning from the hospital where I was doing a general nursing course after two years of study. I’ve always told myself that I was too young at the time for all the responsibility, but looking back recently, I remembered that, at the time, I had convinced myself that I would not remember everything I’d learned and would therefore be a terrible ‘sister’. I also remembered one of my nursing buddies who actually gave a patient a dangerously incorrect dose of medication. She didn’t resign; she was obviously able to keep what had happened in perspective. There have been other things throughout my life such as writing a novel and being a DV advocate, both of which I withdrew from because I convinced myself that sooner or later people would realise that I was no good at it. Well, it’s never too late to change, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Thanks for your post; it’s inspiring!!


    • Hi Robyn
      It seems like the messages we tell ourselves are the cruellest of all. I really do hope that you start some serious work on that novel and you make your own ‘brown paper bag’ plan:) I read somewhere recently that ‘the past’ is a country you can never return to…and I partially agree with that.Although I have found that finding out as much as I can around that past is the best thing I have done for years…ie, the research project.
      Take care


    • Hi Jean

      In some Australian Universities, Confirmation of Candidature and updated research proposal is a very important milestone for PhD candidates. Without it, a candidate cannot proceed with their research projects under the auspices of the University. The confirmation seminar has to be presented within 12 months of starting the degree (FTE) for PhD candidates. A final research proposal also needs to be handed in at the time (to your supervisor, to seminar assessors). The confirmation aims to support the student by:
      • Encouraging you to find a focus for your research early on
      • Providing you with public feedback
      • Helping you develop presentation skills, proposal writing skills
      • Ensuring that adequate infrastructure, supervision arrangements and funds are in place

      The seminar and the research proposal are assessed. The process has to be organised by your supervisor.

      So, the Cof C is a major milestone and one I have been looking forward to and at the same time dreading. I must admit it is a wonderful feeling to be now able to move to the next stage of the project.

      What do Phders have to ‘do’ in Ireland then?



      • In the College I went to, the relevant Department adjudicated on one’s proposal and then we had annual reviews with the senior staff members. These were a huge ordeal but certainly kept us on our toes.


  2. Some unis have a similar process here so it is interesting finding out about the different processes. I don’t mind the regular reviews as it helps to keep the project on track, and I have certainly appreciated the regular meetings I have with my Supervisor.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your comments and congratulations…I can see how the process lends itself to many uses and it is very worthwhile I think and it is good to know that you are still using it:)


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