My dissertation committee

The Dissertation Committee

Guidelines for Dissertation Committee Service. Furthermore, each committee: Must have a sole chair or two co-chairs Must have a cognate member who is familiar with the standards for doctoral research and holds at least a.

How to Form an Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Committee

All nominations must be approved by the Graduate School and are subject to the following guidelines: Graduate Faculty see definition above —i. Graduate Faculty see definition above not affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program may serve on dissertation committees.

They may also serve as co-chair with a member of the Graduate Faculty see definition above affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program, but not as sole chair or cognate member. Instructors and Lecturers who have no appointment as members as Graduate Faculty see definition above may serve on dissertation committees if they hold an earned Doctorate from an accredited institution. Retired and emeriti Professors who were affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program may serve on dissertation committees.

Committees (Doctoral/Master’s)

They may also serve as co-chair or, by special arrangement see Special Membership , as sole chair or cognate member. Research Professors RP,i. They may serve as a co-chair, regular member or by special arrangement as a sole chair. Research Scientists RS, i.

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Organization of the DAC Meeting. The student self-evaluation form should be discussed this should have been reviewed by the student with their P. Again, the student self-evaluation form can help frame this discussion.

This is also an opportunity to share with the committee any other problems of a confidential nature with which the student needs help or at least the DAC should be aware of in assessing progress. In this manner, the DAC serves to moderate the student-advisor relationship and recognize hurdles to progress that the student faces that may be arising from their interactions with the advisor, or lack thereof, or within the laboratory environment. If needed, the DAC chair will bring issues arising to the attention of the Faculty Director, or encourage students and advisors to do so, for further mitigation.

After these private meetings with the DAC, the DAC, the advisor and the student will proceed to the student presentation portion as described below. The main part of the meeting will consist of a minute presentation by the student of results and plans.

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Dissertation Committee – Words of Wisdom

Committee members will typically interrupt the presentation with questions, and the presentation is followed by a discussion of progress and future plans. The advisor should interject minimally so that the student has the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of their field and scientific maturity surrounding ongoing and future work. The student does not present an exhaustive set of data generated since the previous DAC, but rather summarizes the core findings and conclusions, alternative interpretations, and impediments to progress.

The collective expertise of the DAC, advisor, and student are employed to help set or reset the course of experiments, focusing on the student recognizing the highest priority experiments and developing a plan of action to complete those experiments. Rigor and reproducibility should be points of emphasis in the DAC meeting, accompanied by a critical discussion of quantitative approaches and proper use of statistical methods.


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In addition to providing constructive comments and point-by-point suggestions on the science, both during the meeting and in the written report, the DAC assesses and documents whether the student is on a good track toward graduation and the progress of their development as a scientist. The overall DAC meeting usually lasts about two hours.


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The core requirement for this milestone is that the student must have completed a body of primary research deemed to be of publishable quality. While a first-author research paper is not required to attain the degree, the vast majority of graduating students will have at least one published first-author, peer-reviewed, primary research paper or at least one that is largely prepared or submitted prior to graduation.

Career aspirations and immediate future plans can also factor in to the timing of this decision.

When the DAC committee concludes that the student has met the requirements for earning a Ph. Harvard T. Search for:.

What is a Thesis Defense? - Grad School Hub

Subsequent DAC meetings should be scheduled about every months to assess student progress. It is anticipated that DAC meetings will be more frequent for students G-4 and above. All students must demonstrate to the DAC committee a plausible track towards degree completion by year 5 or they may not be allowed to continue in the program.