Each time I submitted a large assignment, like my comprehensive exams or my dissertation proposal, it took several weeks before I received feedback from my advisor and my committee. While I waited for feedback, I worked on other things. Here’s some suggestions on what you can be doing while you wait for comprehensive examination feedback:
- Write a memo about the process. Note the work you did, what you were thinking at the time, and take stock of how you’re going to take things forward.
- If this is not your last comprehensive exam (all institutions are different when it comes to the doctoral process), start on your next comp. You can begin outlining, framing key ideas, look for exemplars, etc.
- If this is your last exam, start working on the research question. Two books that I highly recommend are Terrill’s (2015) Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation, and Bloomberg and Volpe’s (2015) Completing Your Qualitative Dissertation: A Roadmap from Beginning to End. Read example proposals from your department, and study how they are put together.
- Work on your conceptual framework. An excellent book to help you understand the different theoretical framings for your study is Ravitch and Riggan’s (2016) Reason and Rigor: How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research.
- Check your transcripts, and talk with your advisor to make sure you’ve got the credit loads that you need. If not, now is a good time to make up work and tie up any loose ends.
- Update your CV, your websites, your portfolios, etc.
Take some time to relax, and unwind! Do yoga, exercise, or just lay down and breathe while you relax your muscles. When I was working on my exams, it felt as if I was on ultra stress mode every day for months. This takes a lot out of you, so remember to breathe and go slowly. You need to recover because the next big step is coming up!