Organic Chemistry Path Preliminary Research Report

Students in the organic chemistry path are required to submit a research report by January 31 in the second year of graduate study, and to do an oral presentation and defense of the research.

The purpose of these requirements is two-fold: They emphasize, amid the examinations and other requirements, that Ph.D. research and a successful thesis remain the prime requirements for this degree. Second, they recognize that for Ph.D. research to be completed in reasonable time, thesis research must be vigorously pursued from the beginning. Thus, approval will be given for further study only where the Preliminary Research Report and Exam shows that there has been continuous conscientious and intensive research effort. Although successful results are impressive, hard work that still has not brought the research to its eventual successful conclusion will be acceptable.

This report is intended to allow the members of your faculty mentoring committee to evaluate your research progress, your familiarity with the literature and concepts on which your research is based, and your vision of future directions for your research. Thus, this report is the culmination of your first 1.5 years in the laboratory, and it should ideally be a pulling together of things you have learned during that time, at the bench as well as from the literature. Preparing this report should give you an excellent opportunity to assess your own progress; accurate self-assessment is crucial for professional success.

  1. Specific aims (recommended length = 1 page; summary of goals, hypotheses) 
  2. Background and significance (recommended length = 2-3 pages) 
  3. Summary of research progress (recommended length = 8-10 pages) 
  4. Future plans (recommended length = 3-4 pages) 
  5. Experimental protocols and other relevant data
  6. References: must include all important bibliographic information and article title

Total length for sections 1-4 limited to 15 pages (12-point type, single spaced)

Sections 5 and 6 are not subject to page limits

Comments: Many of you will have pursued more than one project by the end of your second year. Research on some of these projects may already have been terminated (e.g., because the project was completed or because an underlying assumption was shown to be incorrect). It is unnecessary to provide "future plans" for such projects. This type of effort can be discussed in part 3 or the description can be placed in an appendix that falls outside the 15-page limit. You should consult with your advisor about how best to document such efforts.

If you are currently working on two (or more) reasonably distinct projects, you may choose to provide separate write-ups, with sections 1-4, for each project. In this case, the total length for all projects must still fall within the 15-page limit. Alternatively, you may choose to focus the entire 15 pages on your most promising project and place information on other projects in an appendix (or multiple appendices) outside the 15-page limit. You should consult with your advisor before you start working on the report about how to ensure that all of your efforts are adequately covered.

The report should be submitted to your thesis advisor for approval. Then submit three copies of the report to the organic path coordinator, who will circulate them to the members of your committee.