Thursday, November 01, 2007

One month to go

At the end of all this, I will be a beautiful butterfly.

With October came an inordinate amount of stimulation/work/distraction - The AoIR conference, the UDC conference, and the InnoCom conference. In the last three weeks, hosting all three here at SFU Vancouver has been great in some ways (I don't have to schlepp myself to an airport and the difficulties therein) but draining in others (Organizing, Volunteering, Presenting, one may do in one's hometown while living an hour away from the conference site).

My smalltalk during those conferences inevitably included talking about this process of cocooning a PhD must do--comprehensive exams. Every department's procedure for this lovely hazing ritual (as some near and dear colleagues have called it) differs, and many PhD programs around the world do not have such exams (i.e., the process from the get-go is... the dissertation).

When I describe the process, those who have gone through it give me that 'knowing look' like the "ohhh... comps," and offer sympathetic nods and advice for getting through it. Others who have not gone through it (yet) tend to react with awe and say things like, "That's a major thing that kept me from doing a doctorate" or "Wow... it sounds so involved...". Others who do not have to go through it altogether (like my Aussie or European or Asian PhD friends).... just tend to point and laugh.

My process: in a uber simplified nutshell, I derive from coursework, past reads, and advisors a list of 30-40 sources in two areas (total: 60-80 sources). During a semester... or two... I master the readings on this list and then I get 'examined.' This entails my committee sending me a list of questions from which I must choose four to answer (each, an approximately 3000 word essay). I will have a week to write these answers. Then, the committee holds a defense where I give a talk on my answers and do a question/answer round akin to a thesis defense.
The process is pass/fail, and upon achieving a pass on the comprehensive exams, the candidate is formally 'raised' to full candidacy. After this 2/3 completion mark in the program, one can 'start' working on their prospectus (a 20-25 page thesis proposal) for their dissertation, get that approved, and finally 'start' working on the dissertation.

So, this is my final month in this process before I do my week of hell--I mean, writing. I'm missing November conferences I'd really like to go to like the American Anthropological Association's meeting in DC, the National Communication Association annual and the Media Culture and Industry in Asia conference in Korea. Shout outs to colleagues going to those... I wistfully send regrets. It's never a 'good' time for comps, I suppose...:)

In the meantime, I'm not sure how much of my half-baked syntheses I can blog about during this month, so things might look a bit sparse (as if they haven't already. ha...) or things might look mundane because I decided to blog about a really good procrastination activity... get the picture. These meta-ideas I'm playing with will coalesce through adversity as they always seem to. Things will look better in mid-December. I'll come up for air... talk to more friends again... etc. Honest.

It will be a Happy Holiday indeed in December once the comps are done. I'll probably get a vestigial wisdom tooth out during that time too (because that's as good a time as any).

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home