Option C: The Doctoral supervisory committee, in consultation with the student, determines the topics for three papers before any writing begins. The student may propose the three topics and/or draft three possible questions or outlines to present to the committee. The student may also provide initial reading lists (prior to Sept. 2010 all students were required to complete 3 comprehensive papers, as described here).
The papers typically cover the following three general areas:
1. The student’s area of specialization within Language and Literacy Education
does this mean TESL, or more specifically, L2 writing? How specific am I supposed to get here? ESL/EFL gap, NESTs and L2 writing, English writing in China -- some specific question about those?
2. One additional area or group of areas of special interest
Presumably world Englishes? Relationship of WEs to "China English?" Just English in China, broadly?
3. Appropriate research methodology
Review of survey/interview studies in WEs? In EFL writing? In Chinese ELT? In TESL, broadly?
Or....Dr Shi has suggested the papers should be:
1. Theoretical framework (Is WEs a theoretical framework? Should I delve into Bourdieu & Bakhtin as I did in an earlier paper that I totally fudged?)
2. Research Methods (I've heard it said this can be hard because it tends to be vague and not tied to anything real...Obvs need to do this at some point, but how shall I approach it?)
3. Empirical review of previous studies (To be folded into diss. Question is: Which studies? English in China? Probably, right? But if I'm influenced by other "is this a WEs variety" studies -- e.g. Europe, Singapore, India, Africa -- shouldn't those be just as necessary?)
Actually Dr Shi's way makes more sense to me...and it's basically half the dissertation. Yeah.
(from the new procedures; comps above are based on old procedures. I have a choice. Not sure which one to go for with proposal -- new way is more work but more feedback.)
After the coursework and comprehensive examinations, the research design for the dissertation is brought together in the form of a proposal. The proposal for the dissertation includes the research problem, theoretical framework, methodology, a thorough review of the research literature and the context for the work within relevant literature, the significance and limitations of the study. Including a time line and summary of the scope of each chapter of the thesis is also recommended. The proposal should be about 40 pages in length.
The research supervisor, in consultation with the student, will determine when the proposal is ready for examination. The student will then submit the proposal to the supervisory committee and circulate it to members of the department. The proposal presentation date should be scheduled at least three weeks after the proposal has been circulated. The defence will comprise two parts: a public presentation with questions from the supervisory committee and others (maximum of one hour) and a closed session with the student and the supervisory committee. Although the dissertation proposal will be the focus of questioning, the student should also be prepared to answer questions on areas relevant to the study.
I like the sound of that a lot, actually.