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Christina's LIS Rant
Sunday, November 30, 2008
  Comprehensive Exam Readings
I'm the last one at the iSchool at Maryland to go through the comprehensive exam process. They've approved a new process for the doctoral program that has an "integrative" paper for the hurdle to jump before advancing to candidacy.

Comprehensive exams are handled differently in the ischool, because we have such diverse areas of research. I saw that in some socy departments, you're basically given a list -- here's what you must know if you're going to call yourself this flavor of sociologist. For us, we craft our lists around a story of how we define an area and what we're interested in studying. The typical thing is 5 areas - 2 major and 3 minor - but some people have done 3 major and 1 minor. Two of these areas must be communication and information transfer and information retrieval. My areas are:
In Communication I emphasize scholarly communication, but I've of course got a lot of stuff on communication models and theories, information seeking, diffusion of innovations, and information behavior of scientists and engineers. (total 42 articles & chapters + 3 whole books).

In STS - I'm all over the place, but luckily I have two really strong committee members who have given me *a lot* of needed guidance. My sub-areas are scientific norms; social studies of knowledge; inscription, authorship, and the dissemination of scientific work; scientists in groups; the laboratory; science and technology policy; and public understanding of science. (total 28 articles & chapters + 9 books)

In CMC, I look at CMC (general aspects and norms and behaviors), social computing technologies, social networks and online communities, people working together online (like data and information sharing as well as collaboration), and then some example studies. (total 46 articles & chapters + 2 books - yes, this is a lot for a minor area, sigh)

In IR, I have information seeking processes (all of these articles are cross-listed, but are here for completeness), types of searches, query formulation, information organization, matching, relevance, evaluation, and cases and contexts. (total 43 articles & chapters + 2 books)

In Research methods, I hit the quantitative stuff in a glancing blow, but emphasize qualitative and network methods. I also added a whole section on bibliometrics - which makes me very happy. The sub areas are overview textbooks (so this includes the two stats texts), qualitative research methods (data gathering methods, analysis tools and methods, evaluating qualitative research), mixed methods research, network analysis methods, and bibliometrics. (total 31 articles/chapters + 8 books). The articles/chapters count is somewhat misleading because one listing is 8 chapters of a stats text and another is 14 chapters of another stats text.

So this is really daunting - especially with a March target date! Some of these things are cross-listed, too.

Total of 175 unique articles/chapters + 22 unique books = 197 unique readings. I've read probably more than half of the articles before but less than half of the books - but I need to re-read as well as look at my reading notes.

I'm going to try to track some of these here just to keep honest! Wish me luck.

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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