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Mary DePew Resource Center for Research Writing: Comprehensive Exam Writing

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Guidance for Comprehensive Exam Writing & Revision, College of Education

As you work on revising your Comprehensive Exam, the reviewers recommend the following in addition to the feedback provided on the rubric: 

  1. Reference Pan (2017) Exemplar #5 and look at examples of literature reviews (chapter 2) in dissertations from your field.
  2. Pay attention to writing at the paragraph level and ensure that topic sentences are clear. Ensure that all sentences are on topic.  
  3. Keep direct quotes to a minimum. Paraphrasing is favorable
  4. Utilize multiple sources to back up any given claim when possible.  
  5. Use ‘roadmap’ sentences (those that give the reader a clear sense of where things are going) and introductions and conclusions that align to exactly what you say are going to do. Connective tissue is needed throughout each paper to help the reader understand the paper’s organization and how ideas are related. View Pan and Expository Paragraph Writing for guidance.
  6. Ensure that writing falls in line with the scope of what you are writing/what your central argument is. 
  7. If you are responding to a content-related question, utilize the question you are addressing to clearly distinguish the section headings in your paper to ensure that you are addressing all of the elements of the question.
  8. If you are responding to a content-related question, clearly indicate how you will go about answering this question definitively.
  9. Since you are not doing a study yet, avoid calling your literature review a study. This is a review of the literature, not yet part of a proposed study, and it also does not need a clear theoretical frame at this time. 
  10. Paragraphs should have clear topic sentences which should dictate how they are both distinct from what has already been written and how they are related to the central topic.  Information that follows topic sentences in each paragraph should be on topic and all analysis should move claims forward in key and clear ways. 
  11. All literature in your reference list must be found using the CUC Klinck Memorial Library Resources. This ensures that the literature you include is academic, credible, and most often, peer-reviewed, due to the library's networks: I-Share, CARLI, and OCLC WorldShare.  Anything that is unavailable, or not full-text, can be requested through the library team, it is a free and unlimited service for graduate students at CUC. 
  12. Ensure that any comment from a reviewer is applied throughout–often, if you are making this error once, you are most likely making it throughout your document.
  13. If you are making truth claims, they must be backed up.  Anything you are claiming as fact, or claiming as what is “known” must be backed up with literature, otherwise it is conjecture, or from your own personal experience, which must be made clear. Otherwise, you will unintentionally plagiarize


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