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Journey into Doctoral Candidacy: A Grounded Theory Study of Doctoral Qualification Exam Process

Burakgazi, Sevinc Gelmez
Yıldırım, Ali
The purpose of this study is to investigate the process doctoral students go through in qualification exam. Within a grounded theory design, a series of in-depth interviews were carried out with six doctoral candidates to inquire into their thoughts and experiences. Data collection started four months before the qualification exam and ended approximately a month after the exam had been taken. A total of 127 pages of interview transcripts were produced as a result of interviews. The data from these interviews were analysed in three stages: (1) initial coding and theorizing; (2) selective coding and theorizing; (3) theoretical codes. The theoretical codes were generated from the codes using the constant comparative method. The analysis revealed five interrelated phases students go through in the qualification exam: Ambiguity and procrastination; Getting lost and finding ways; Getting on with the unavoidable: taking the exam; Relief or burnout after the exam, and Looking back with mixed feelings.