1. Purpose
    1. Provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate competence in professional activities related to experimental psychopathology. The primary focus is on scientific competence, but that need not be an exclusive focus.
    2. Although we believe it is legitimate for the examination to focus on a defined area of special interest to the student, there should also be an opportunity to probe for knowledge and skills in broader areas.
    3. The agreed-upon procedure is based on the concept that the comprehensive examinations should assess important skills that are relevant to future professional activities.
    4. The comprehensive exam requires that the student write an evidence-based review paper that allows for examination of the student’s competence in a content area as well as their competence in writing and conceptualization. The review should focus on a general area of the student’s interest and may encompass the dissertation area, but must be broader than the dissertation. Here are some examples of acceptable relationships between the review paper and the dissertation:
      1. The review paper is on treatment of substance use disorders, and the dissertation is on treatment of heroin addiction in adolescence.
      2. The review paper is on the etiology of eating disorders, and the dissertation is on the etiology of bulimia nervosa.
      3. The review paper is on assessment of stress in children, but the dissertation is on assessment of stress in physically abused children.
  2. Content and Format
    1. Students will write a critical review paper or systematic review in a broad topic of their interest within Experimental Psychopathology.
    2. Topics should be chosen primarily by the student in consultation with the chair of the guidance committee.
    3. Proposal
      1. The student will submit the EP Track Comprehensive Exam Proposal, which includes the title of the paper, and the relation to the student’s dissertation. This form should be submitted early is to ensure that the topic is appropriately different from the dissertation and to establish the timeline for the comprehensive exam review and response periods.
      2. The proposal should be approved in writing or email by
        1. the student
        2. the guidance committee chair
        3. at least one of the Experimental Psychopathology track co-leaders
    4. Review Paper
      1. The review paper should be a scholarly review of a topic in experimental psychopathology. It should represent a contribution to the literature in that it critiques existing studies, integrates and interprets results and proposes improved conceptualizations, intervention approaches, measurement methods, and/or experimental design.
      2. The topic should not be the same as a paper the student previously wrote although it can be on a different aspect of the same general topic.
      3. The paper may encompass the dissertation area, but must be broader than the dissertation.
      4. If appropriate to the topical content and to the student’s knowledge base, the student is encouraged to adhere to current reporting guidelines appropriate to the chosen review approach (e.g., as defined at http://www.prisma-statement.org/, http://www.equator-network.org/, and elsewhere). However, this is NOT a requirement of the examination.
      5. There is no specific recommendation regarding length, but students are encouraged to be succinct and to consider typical journal length limitations. The review must include one or more tables that summarize the important aspects of the reviewed studies. The manuscript should be prepared for blind review (e.g., no name, autoreferencing should not unblind, the properties of the document should not include author name).
      6. The paper represents the work of the student. Prior to the formal review, the student will not receive any feedback or input, or reviews of the draft from any faculty members.
  3. Review of the Exam
    1. A. Instructions for submission of Experimental Psychopathology Comprehensive Exam.
    2.      1. Students are required to inform track chairs at least two weeks in advance of the desired date for submitting the exam, and greater advanced notice is strongly encouraged. This advanced notice will facilitate completion of the review during a time period that is feasible for both the student and the reviewers since reviewers are not always available for a specific time frame nor is it always possible to complete the review immediately upon submission.
    1.      2. Reviews will be completed as close to the two week and one week windows as possible, but track chairs cannot guarantee it will occur within that exact time frame. It is the student’s responsibility, therefore, to submit the exam in sufficient time to allow for review, response, revision (if needed), and final review.
    2. B. Students planning to apply for internship in the fall must submit their exams by June 1. Failure to comply may result in your internship applications being delayed as completion of the major area of study comprehensive exam is a requirement for Advancement to Candidacy. Students are not allowed to apply for internships unless they have been Advanced to Candidacy.
    3. C. Review papers will be reviewed anonymously by two JDP faculty members.
      1. One reviewer should be from UC San Diego and one from SDSU
      2. Up to one reviewer may be a member of the student’s guidance committee
      3. At least one reviewer will not be a member of the guidance committee
      4. The guidance committee chair will not be a reviewer. A co-chair is also excluded if that person substantively contributed to topic selection.
    4. Potential reviewers are recommended by the student and/or their guidance committee chair, but the reviewers are assigned by the track leaders and are anonymous to the student.
    5. It is the joint responsibility of the SDSU and UC San Diego track leaders to facilitate the reviewer’s written feedback in a timely manner.
    6. The Review Process
      1. The reviewers will provide specific written feedback on strengths and weaknesses of the exam. The narrative feedback is essential for the educational value of the requirement.
      2. Each reviewer is asked to pose two questions to the student that probe potential areas of weakness or areas that are not addressed in the document within two weeks. This method allows reviewers to assess broader areas of competence in experimental psychopathology.
      3. Students have one week to submit double-spaced, written responses to each reviewer’s questions in two separate documents. References should be included. The recommended length of each question response is 3-5 pages but may vary. Students may be asked to revise the comprehensive exam by one or more reviewers. In such cases, this revision will take place within the week during which responses to questions are being prepared, and track-changes and/or a description of the changes should be provided. Alternatively, students may choose to withdraw the current examination and restart the examination process with a revised submission at a later date.
      4. Reviewers then score the entire comprehensive exam as passed or not passed. Additional written feedback may be provided at this time.
      5. Passing should not be a function of whether the review is publishable as is, but rather a demonstration of an adequate level of competence to function as a specialist in experimental psychopathology.

IV. Timing

  1. The exam does not need to be turned in at the same time by all students.
  2. The comprehensive examination can be submitted at the beginning of the third year. Final deadlines are listed below, but students are encouraged to finish well before these dates.
  3. Final Deadlines:
    1. Comprehensive exam proposal signed by the Track Chairs and placed in the student’s file by April 15 of the year they intend to apply for internship.
    2. The completed project should be submitted for review by June 1 of the year they intend to apply for internship.
    3. Initial review should be completed within two weeks of when the product is submitted.
    4. Students have one week to respond to the reviewer questions.
    5. The reviewers have one week to respond to the answers and grade the comprehensive exams.
    6. The review process takes approximately one month and all students should have formal reviews by July of their internship application year.
    7. Although it is suggested, it is not required to have passed the comprehensive exam prior to defending dissertation.
    8. If one or both reviewers do not pass the student, a plan for remediation must be developed by the guidance committee chair and one of the Experimental Psychopathology Track Chairs. This written plan must be approved by the JDP Co-Directors.

Last Updated: 3/18/2024