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Original Research Proposal – Physical

Original Research Proposal – Physical

Each student is required to submit an original research proposal (ORP) consisting of a one-page preproposal and a seven-to-twelve-page full proposal. We encourage the student to set the scope of the proposal with minimal overlap with the current research activity of the Ph.D. dissertation.  


Pre-proposal: The one-page preproposal outlining the aim of the proposed research must be submitted to the division’s graduate studies representative by August 15th of the student’s fourth year for the topic pre-approval. If a resubmission of the pre-proposal is required, it is due on November 15th. The preproposal should be single-spaced with font being Times New Roman at size 11.  Using figure is discouraged in the one-page preproposal.


Full proposal: The full proposal must then be submitted by March 1st of the following year. Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel (composed of at least two faculty members), and an evaluation will be provided by the panel before April 30th. A proposal deemed inadequate will be returned to the student for revision. Revised proposals must be resubmitted by June 30th and approved by a date set by the faculty panel.


The full proposal should be seven to twelve pages in length (excluding the references) and should be double-spaced with font being Times New Roman at size 11. Using figures is encouraged in the full proposal. The format of the full proposal’s body should follow:

  1. Introduction/ Executive Summary (1-2 pages):
    • Specifically describe the scientific question and hypothesis of the proposed research.
    • Summarize the aims and clarify how these aims will answer the scientific questions/hypotheses.
    • Explain how the proposed research advances our knowledge of chemistry. Describe how the concepts, methods, or technologies in the field will be changed or expanded if the proposed aims are achieved.
  2. Literature Survey (2-5 pages):
    • Discuss the current state of the scientific understanding for the proposed problem that the proposed project addresses.
    • Provide a deep and specific survey of the field with approximately 30 references.
  3. Research Plan (4-8 pages):
    • Describe any novel theoretical and/or experimental approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and their advantage over existing methodologies.
    • Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to evaluate the specific outcomes of the project.





Rubric for preproposal:

The preproposal will be evaluated by the faculty members of pchem division. Each pchem faculty will evaluate the pre-proposal with Pass or Fail, as well as a short comment on how to improve.

Rubric for full proposal:

  • Research Significance: Does the proposal address an important question in physical chemistry? Does it contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field? Are the proposed objectives clear and relevant? \
  • Previous Work and References: Are relevant previous studies acknowledged and appropriately referenced? Does the proposal build upon existing knowledge in the field?
  • Clarity and Writing: Is the proposal well-written and easy to understand? Are the ideas presented coherently and logically?
  • Scientific Approach: Is the proposed methodology appropriate for addressing the research question? Are the experimental or theoretical techniques well-designed and feasible? Are potential challenges and limitations addressed adequately?
  • Originality and Innovation: Does the proposal introduce novel concepts, ideas, or approaches? Does it demonstrate creativity in the research design and problem-solving?
  • Research Plan: Is the proposal well-organized and structured? Are the objectives, methods, and expected outcomes clearly outlined?

The faculty panel will evaluate each aspect above and grade each aspect with number grading system 1,2,3,4, and 5, where “5” is the highest grade. If the total grade is above or equal to 20, and no item has a score below 3, the proposal gets a pass. If the total grade is equal to or lower than 19 or if any aspect gets a grade smaller than 3, the proposal is deemed inadequate.

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