Original Research Proposal – Analytical

Original Research Proposal – Analytical

In the spring of your 3rd year, you will (1) prepare and original research proposal (2-3 pages) and (2) give a 30-minute literature seminar on an analytical research topic of your choice. This topic must not directly overlap with your thesis research.

How do I choose my topic?

The topic cannot overlap with your current project, a component of the research outlined in your 2nd year oral examination, or a project of a current member of your lab. The topic could be focused on a particular instrumental technique, a novel means of sample preparation, a concept to push the limit of what is currently measurable with existing methods, or an application where better measurements will provide new scientific insights.

Your literature seminar should provide the audience with the background information necessary to understand your topic and highlight state-of-the-art examples. It can contain 1 – 2 slides that highlight your original research proposal but should focus primarily on current literature.

Your original research proposal will build upon the foundation presented in your literature seminar and:

  1. Apply the instrumental technique or method to a research topic of interest, where there is enough background to justify why the topic is of interest.
  2. Propose improvements to the instrumental technique or method, highlighting the new knowledge gained or the ease by which one obtains/interprets collected data.
  3. Highlight an area where the technique or data analyses are not used to their full potential. Once that potential is identified, suggest the best path forward.

What is the timeline for topic selection, original research proposal writing, and my literature presentation?

Topic selectionSeptember 1stSubmit the title and a 2 – 4 sentence description of the topic to your PI. This topic will be discussed by the analytical faculty. Once approved, you may begin preparing.
Literature PresentationSpring semesterYou will be assigned a 30-minute slot to present your topic in the Analytical Seminar series.
Original Research Proposal7 days prior to seminarYour original research proposal (2 – 3 pages) must be emailed to the analytical faculty for their review and feedback. You may consult with your PI for the green light to e-mail the finished product to the analytical faculty.

What is the format of the literature seminar?

Two students will present their literature topics in a given seminar slot. Most talks are 22 – 24 minutes in length, allowing a few minutes to answer the audience’s questions. When preparing the presentation, it is important to practice with your cohort, your research group, and anyone else that will listen.

Putting together a great talk is very difficult. It requires a lot of planning to ensure a clear and logical storyline that conveys the most important information. After preparing the slides, practice as many times as you can. Incorporate the feedback of your cohort, your research group, and anyone else who will listen.

As you begin preparing the presentation, make sure the audience knows:

  1. Why the topic is important to both measurement scientists and the broad scientific community. It should be clear what information the measurements are providing (and why we should care about them).
  2. Background
    1. If presenting a new technique or method, provide information on the limitations to what is currently done. Improvements could be in LOD, resolution, dynamic range, cost, time, sample prep, etc.
    2. If presenting on a broad topic, provide us information about the most common (or the least common) techniques used and why they are appropriate to answer a question of interest.
  3. Current literature examples
    1. Show us the most current and exciting work others are doing in this area. Highlight what makes the work exciting. Walk us through the datasets and tell us what we are looking at and why it is interesting/important.
    2. Give us context for why you chose the papers (note: “I chose this paper because the X group works is this area” is not a good reason).
  4. Show us that you have mastered the topic by presenting what the next challenges to overcome are. Really wow us by providing your own commentary and ideas.
  5. Conclude by telling us the most important points we should remember next week when someone asks about your talk.

What is the format of the original research proposal?

Your original research proposal should be in the form of a “white paper.” A white paper format is a research pitch that is primarily focused on what the proposed work will accomplish and its ability to either directly transform a field or provide the insight needed to enable such a transformation.

Format. The original research proposal should be no more than 3 pages single-spaced in length, including all text and figures. A Gantt chart should also be provided on a separate page detailing a timeline for the major goals and tasks to be performed. The references are not part of the page requirement. The document should have 0.5” margins and use 11 pt Arial font.

Significance. The overarching significance of the proposed research should be less than 0.5 pages in length. The background information needed to appreciate the significance of the topic is expected to be conveyed during the literature seminar, but students are encouraged to focus on the broader scientific impact of the proposal. What potential does the proposed science have to advance knowledge?

Approach. The proposed work can be a written as a narrative or divided into research aims or goals. It should be detailed enough that the reader understands how the experiments will be done, what information will be gained from the experiments, and how that data will be used. The proposal should also highlight potential pitfalls and provide alternative strategies or approaches to success.

If the proposal is focused on providing new insights into a field, then the aims should clearly convey why this information is needed to test our fundamental understanding of a topic. If the proposal is focused on instrument advancements of technique development, the aims should clearly convey the metrics of success and state how these metrics will be evaluated. If the proposal is focused on a particular application, it must be clear how the approach is both innovative and transformative when compared to others working in the same area.

Figures, schematics, and diagrams of the proposed designs or workflows are highly recommended. Important figures of merit that are needed to accomplish the proposed work are also recommended. Mention of literature precedence, as well as the appropriate citations, is needed to support the proposed research.

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