November 19, 2007

What IS an orals paper?

One essential element in completing your Oral Preliminary Examination -- the last step before beginning your dissertation research -- is preparation of an orals paper. There are significant variations by advisor in what an orals paper includes; in general, I think the orals paper should be a description of an area of academic scholarship (most likely related to your planned dissertation), it should present a focused review of theory and research in that area, and it should have both an analysis of the literature (including methodological critiques) and a synthesis of what is known and not yet known -- thus setting up your dissertation.

The paper often 'reappears' in edited form as Chapter 2 in your dissertation. Thus, it's worth doing well!

Some years ago, I prepared this document to describe the essential elements of an orals paper, and the necessary skills for passing your oral exam. Please read that document as part of your Orals Paper Planning Process!!!