The Written Document

The written document must be in the format of an NIH F30/31. As such, the document should not exceed 7 pages, excluding references. The Thesis Proposal must be submitted to the Thesis Proposal Review Committee at least three weeks in advance of the Oral Presentation. When writing the Thesis Proposal, it should contain:

  1. Specific Aims (1 page): Describe the hypothesis(es) you are testing. What are your research objectives? What conclusions could be made from your findings? Be concise, clear and logical. Provide an approximate timetable for accomplishing these aims. Your aims are the test(s) of your hypothesis

  2. Research Proposal (6 pages): The research proposal portion typically includes the following sections:

    • A clear statement of the scientific premise. The purpose of this will be covered in the Rigor and Reproducibility course in Year 1.

    • Background/Significance: Provide a critical review – evaluate, don't just cite! – of the most pertinent work that raised the question you are answering, spawned the idea for your plans, made your approach feasible, etc. Critically evaluate what others have done. How does your dissertation relate to other problems or areas of biomedical sciences and/or contemporary biology? Identify any concerns. Explain how your hypothesis and planned accomplishments fit. This is an opportunity to relate your plans to the ongoing tradition in science and explain why your work is important.

    • Preliminary Studies: Describe what you have already accomplished. Where appropriate, provide data, even if preliminary. You do not need an enormous amount of preliminary data; it is far better to take this Examination near the beginning of the project. Explain how these results fit in with your plans.

    • Research Design and Methods: Describe the primary techniques you will use. Critique them - exactly what will they show? With how much assurance? How will you evaluate them? What kinds of artifacts have been observed or could be expected? Are the methods adequate to test your hypothesis(es)? Can other procedures be applied to achieve the same goals? Why are yours better?

    • Literature Cited: Not included in the page limit.

  3. Formatting Instructions:

    • Font: Use single-spaced, 11-point Arial font (A Symbol font may be used to insert Greek letters or special characters; the font size requirement still applies.)

    • Page Margins: Use at least one-half inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages.

  4. Figures, Graphs, Diagrams, Charts, Tables, Figure Legends, and Footnotes: You may use a smaller type size, but it must be in a black font color, readily legible, and follow the font typeface requirement. Color can be used in figures; however, all text must be in a black font color, clear and legible.

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