Original Research Proposal – Biological

Original Research Plan – Biological

Doctoral students in the Division must complete an original research proposal (ORP) in the fourth year of graduate study. The ORP is developed in two phases, consisting of a one-page pre-proposal followed by the full proposal. The scope of the proposal must be clearly outside of the current plan of the Ph.D. dissertation.

The one-page pre-proposal outlining the aim of the proposed research must be submitted to the division graduate studies representative by May 1 of the student’s third year. The student is encouraged to discuss the project informally with their advisor to confirm general project appropriateness. The pre-proposal should introduce the topic, identify the knowledge gap or intellectual motivation, and provide a brief outline for the research proposal. The pre-proposal will be evaluated by the student’s Ph.D. advisor for topic choice and outline. If a resubmission is required, it is due on or before June 1.

The full proposal must be submitted to the division graduate studies representative on or before September 30 of the student’s fourth year. Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel, and an evaluation will be provided within two months of the submission deadline. A proposal deemed inadequate will be returned for revision. Revised full proposals must be returned within two months of receiving the decision that revision is required.

The full proposal should be five single-spaced pages (excluding references, but including figures; 11 point Arial font, 1″ margins). The format of the full proposal is:

  1. Specific Aims (~1/2 page)
    • Describe the knowledge gap or intellectual motivation for the project.
    • Summarize the aims and clarify how they address the stated scientific questions/hypotheses.
    • Describe the potential long-term impact of the proposed research.
  2. Significance (~1 page)
    • Discuss the current state of the scientific understanding for the proposed problem.
    • Provide a terse but deep and specific survey of the field, >20 references.
    • Discuss the most distinctive conceptual advance(s) or innovation of the project.
    • Explain the potential of the project to have a broad, sustained impact on the field.
  3. Research Plan (3.5 pages)
    • Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to evaluate the specific outcomes of the project.
    • Describe any novel theoretical and/or experimental approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and their advantage over existing methodologies.
    • Outline potential limitations, alternative strategies, and management of risk.
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