Getting Started with the Exam-Dissertation Sequence

The Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS) is a 6-step, scaffolded process that enables you to earn credit for work that prepares you for your qualifying exams and dissertation research. Use this checklist to ensure that you are prepared to begin the EDS at your desired time. Do not wait until the “first day of class” to complete this checklist.

1. Fill out the EDS Progress Report to indicate when you plan to begin the EDS (at least one semester in advance)

Create your EDS Progress Report to indicate your intent to begin the Exam-Dissertation Sequence and a tentative research question (if known).

Setting Goals

  • You are encouraged to set some goals regarding when you plan to complete each major milestone. These courses do not run like a regular course – you control your pace.
  • Each “course” will take at least a full semester (even though you only register for a single term) due to the scaffolded review process and multiple purposes of this sequence.
  • Review sample Milestone Deadlines to map out your own timeline

Maintaining your Progress Report

  • You will maintain this progress report at least once per term throughout your EDS journey.
    • You will see an area where you can add individual progress report entries within the existing report – you do not need to create a new report each time.
    • Be sure to update your course registration/completion status each time.
  • This progress report will help us be aware of your progress, including submitting milestones, leaves of absence or any challenges or requests for support.
  • We will post your Examiner and Doctoral Committee details to this report once known (typically while you are working on your General Field)

EDS Email List for Periodic Updates

After you fill out the report, we will add you to our EDS email list so that you can begin to acclimate yourself to our process and community. While some of the updates in the emails may feel irrelevant, we encourage you to still read them as they will be useful in some capacity in the near future.

2a. Attend an upcoming EDS Onboarding session (at least one semester in advance)

The purpose of the Onboarding session is to help you become familiar with the Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS), including the process and requirements before you are officially ready to begin. However, the EDS Prework page links to you to several admin updates in the community that provide additional detail. Do not wait until you are officially ready to begin, as that will delay your progress.

  • View the Happening Now page to see when the next session will be held, typically at least once per semester.
  • View the EDS Introduction presentation found on the EDS Prework page, but this is not a substitute for attending the Onboarding session.
2b. Become familiar with the EDS resources, process, and requirements (at least one semester in advance)

The EDS part of our LDL website is where all of the “process” details can be found.

Key pages to review now:

Visit the different navigation menus early to know what is available; revisit them often while you are actively working on the EDS

Exam-Dissertation Sequence menu on the LDL Website

Note that we regularly update the website, so it is important that you revisit

2c. Map out a tentative timeline

Setting goals early can help you stay motivated during this more self-regulated and self-paced process. The overall process will typically take a minimum of 2 years for someone who is working on this part-time. It is possible to get distracted or discouraged during this process, but not unsurmountable if you leverage the scaffolding and support opportunities that we provide or encourage you to leverage.

Refer to the Milestone Deadlines page for a sample timeline.

Considerations

  • The review and revision process takes time for each milestone
  • While you register for an 8 (or 6 in the summer) term, you should expect that each major milestone may take you at least a full semester
  • Data collection strategies and duration vary and are not known at the start of your exam-dissertation sequence; allocate at least a full semester for data collection
  • During the final steps, your full dissertation draft is due before the start of the semester when you hope to graduate. The review and revision process can take several weeks
  • The final defense deadline is not the end of the semester; it is usually about 6 weeks before the semester ends
  • Your final deposit is due about 3 weeks before the semester ends

Time Management Tips (just a few)

  • Set interim goals, such as when to complete the updates, search for a certain number of scholarly sources each week, write a certain number of pages each week, etc.
  • Revisit your timeline goals on a regular (suggested – weekly) basis so that you can adjust them based on circumstances that may impact your progress
  • Commit to a writing schedule
  • Join a writing group to help you stay on task
3. Join the LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence CGScholar Community (at least one semester in advance)

We use a single community on CGScholar (LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence) for all steps in this sequence, regardless of when you begin. So you will see posts from peers who started before you. You are expected to complete the Admin and Individual Updates in order (the website provides direct links to each admin update in the order you should review them).

In the community you can:

  • View Admin Updates
  • Comment on Admin Updates
  • Post your own Updates
  • Comment on relevant peers’ Updates
  • View works that have been published by your peers

In the EDS, we don’t rely on analytics, but rather quality of contributions. While we encourage you to comment on peers’ Updates, strive to make your contributions relevant.

We encourage you to connect with peers who may have similar research interests, experiences, and/or are at a similar stage. We also encourage you to identify a mentor who is further along in the process.

4. Complete the EDS Survey (when you begin working on the EDS Prework)

Complete the Exam-Dissertation Sequence Survey as close to when you are starting the EDS Prework as possible to provide us with a baseline of your perspectives. This survey is used to help us improve your experience and for research purposes. Your participation is greatly appreciated. We ask that you complete the survey again periodically (about two to three times a year) throughout our experience in the EDS.

5. Complete the EDS Prework in the Community (at least one semester in advance)
  • Complete the EDS Prework at least one semester prior to formally beginning the EDS.
  • You are then welcome to start the General Field as soon as you have capacity.
6. Submit the form to be approved to register for EPOL 586: General Field Research Seminar (the semester before you plan to register)
  • Become familiar with the registration process, including the required forms and when to complete them at the relevant times.
  • Registering for courses in the EDS requires a form (you’ll see a message in the registration system that this requires instructor approval).
  • Once you fill out the Seminar Request form, you’ll receive an email from the department with the instructions on how to register.

EDS Getting Started Tip

We allow you to participate with us in the EDS even if you are not officially registered. You’ll learn quickly that we don’t follow a typical 8/6-week schedule and most students need a full semester to complete the milestones even though you are only registered for one term.

7. Schedule a brief individual advising session (after you have completed the EDS Prework)
  • This is a brief (5-15 minutes) session to check-in and ensure that you feel equipped to begin the EDS.
  • You are welcome to come prepared to discuss your tentative research question, but you will dig into this more while working on the General Field steps.
  • Contact Dr. Francis to arrange your initial individual advising session before you formally begin working on the General Field steps.
8. Attend the EDS Workshops and Group Advising sessions

Much of the work at this stage is self-directed. But we hold periodic workshops, peer group sessions, writing retreats, individual advising sessions, and weekly group advising sessions to help support you in this journey.

  • Workshops, peer presentations for prelim or final defense, peer group sessions are typically held on Mondays between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. CT
  • Group Advising Sessions are typically held most Mondays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. CT and some Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. CT.

Visit the Happening Now page on a regular basis to see the latest schedule.

While they are not required, you are strongly encouraged to attend the Group Advising Sessions by the time you are ready to officially begin the EDS. You are welcome to attend before that to see what they are like, such as at least one term prior to formally beginning the EDS. We find that students who participate in these have a higher completion rate and minimize the number of milestone revision cycles. Similarly, we recommend you attend the stage-specific workshops as you prepare for that particular step.