PHYSIOL 990 - Diss-Precand
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Physiology (PHYSIOL)
Department: MED Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Credits:
1 - 8 (Non-LSA credit).
Requirements & Distribution:
BS
Other:
Independent
Consent:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Election for dissertation work by doctoral student not yet admitted as a Candidate.
BS:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
Grading:
Grading basis of 'S' or 'U'.
Repeatability:
May be repeated for credit.

Dissertation Research The dissertation research should make an original and significant contribution to the student’s field of research. The overall scope of the work will vary depending on the research area but it should be of sufficient quality, depth and originality to be published in peer reviewed scientific journals. The Dissertation Committee together with the student and mentor determine when the research is of sufficient quality and quantity to be appropriate for the Ph.D. dissertation. Dissertation Committee It is the responsibility of the student to set up the dissertation committee and organize timely meetings. This committee is intended to monitor students’ progress and help the student in several ways: 1. Develop a research program suitable for obtaining the Ph.D. degree. 2. Provide guidance during the course of the research and offer suggestions for future directions. 3. Ensure that the quality and quantity of research is suitable for obtaining the Ph.D. 4. Help the student and mentor determine when sufficient research has been completed to prepare the dissertation.

Ideally, the committee is formed soon after students pass the Preliminary Exam and the first meeting should be held when the research is still in its early stages. Although the length of committee meetings can vary greatly, it is recommended that approximately 2 hours be set aside for each committee meeting. The following information is intended to help students, mentors and committee members take greatest advantage of the dissertation committee.

Forming the committee The Committee must be formally established with Rackham prior to the first meeting. Rackham policy states the dissertation committee must have at least four members, three of whom are regular members of the graduate faculty and two of whom are from the candidate’s home program. Students are strongly encouraged to include a fifth committee member so that the committee will have a sufficient number in the event one member cannot be at the dissertation defense due to scheduling conflicts, leaving the University, etc. The committee must have a chair (student’s mentor), or two co-chairs, and a cognate member who holds at least a 50% appointment in a Rackham doctoral program and does not hold any fraction of an appointment in the candidate’s home program. Further clarification of criteria for committee membership is provided in the Rackham Student Handbook of Policies and Procedures ; students are urged to refer to that source.

First committee meeting This must be held within six months after passing Prelims (or before the December holiday break for students who take prelims in the Spring). The student should prepare a written proposal describing a potential line of dissertation research. This need not be a formal proposal in NIH style (as was prepared for Prelims) and it is not intended to be the final proposal, because the committee can help provide valuable input for developing the research plan. The proposal should contain a hypothesis and specific aims, sufficient background and preliminary data to justify the work, and a general outline of the experimental plan to accomplish the aims. Although the format and length will vary depending on the student and the project, 4 or 5 pages should generally be sufficient. The proposal should be distributed to the committee one week before the meeting to allow time for committee members to digest the information. The student should begin the meeting with an oral presentation describing the proposal and pertinent research conducted thus far (PowerPoint encouraged). This is followed by discussion and suggestions from committee members, and ultimately committee members expressing their view as to whether the proposed research would be sufficient for obtaining the Ph.D. Ideally, the meeting should end by setting the goals to be accomplished prior to the next meeting and the approximate time of the next meeting. The chair of the committee should prepare a written report of the meeting (see below).

Subsequent committee meetings Subsequent committee meetings should be held at least once a year, more frequently if considered desirable by the student, mentor, or committee. The goal of these meetings is for the student to present progress and for the committee to provide input to the student and mentor as to whether satisfactory progress is being made, if the student is on course, and ultimately to help the student and mentor decide when sufficient research has been conducted for writing the Ph.D. dissertation. One week prior to the meeting, the student should distribute to the committee a progress report that includes the hypothesis and specific aims (updated as needed from the original proposal) and research findings and interpretations obtained since the last meeting. It would be helpful for the student to indicate in this report his/her publications, abstracts and presentations relevant to the dissertation research. The student should begin the meeting with an oral presentation (PowerPoint recommended) reviewing the material in the progress report. This should be followed by a discussion and suggestions from the committee. The meeting should end by discussing next steps, goals and setting an approximate date for the next meeting.

Reports of committee meetings The chair of the dissertation committee should submit a written report to the Graduate Program administrator within two weeks after the meeting. This report should be signed by both the mentor and the student and distributed to all committee members. This report should indicate the date of the meeting, committee members present (and absent), and a written narrative describing the events that took place at the meeting. For the first meeting, this narrative should be sufficiently detailed as to indicate what has been proposed and whether it is feasible and sufficient as dissertation research. For subsequent meetings, it should specify progress and if this is sufficient relative to the goals set at the last meeting. It should include any deficits that were identified and recommendations of the committee. The report should include goals to be accomplished prior to the next meeting and approximate date of the next meeting.

Role of the mentor and the committee Although mentoring styles vary tremendously amongst faculty and depending on the student, a few general comments may be helpful. The Ph.D. research may be considered a collaboration between the student and mentor. It is appropriate for the mentor to provide substantial input and advice regarding development of the research plan, interpretation of results, and determination of next steps. Although this is a collaborative effort, the student should be the driving force. The committee should provide oversight and feedback, and should help the student and mentor in development and subsequent modification of the overall research plan. The committee should not force the student and mentor to conduct specific experiments; rather it should serve in an advisory capacity, and ultimately pass judgment as to whether the research and written dissertation are sufficient for the Ph.D. The student is encouraged to seek input from individual committee members outside the scheduled committee meetings.

PHYSIOL 990 - Diss-Precand
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