Concept Paper (Dissertation)
It is strongly recommended that the candidate prepare a concept paper (2-3 pages) that will serve as an early communication device between the candidate and the Doctoral Committee about the proposed research. Typically, the concept paper presents an overview of the proposed research problem, its context, and a way to study it.
After the Doctoral Committee concurs on the concept paper, the candidate will submit a proposal to the committee members. The candidate is advised to consult with his/her major professor and doctoral committee members during the proposal preparation phase
The purposes of the dissertation proposal are:
- to identify the research problem,
- to survey and evaluate the relevant literature, and
- to describe the plan for conducting the research.
The proposal is a contract between the candidate and the Doctoral Committee as to the research that will be conducted. It is therefore important that the details of the research plan be specified and approved in the proposal before the data are collected. (Sample questions to be considered in the development of a research proposal are shown in Appendix II.)
It is important for every doctoral student to adhere to the IRB Requirements. At the proposal defense, the Outside Chairperson will remind the student of the necessity of the IRB review. A copy of the Certificate of Completion of Training in Human Subjects Protection must accompany the proposal when it is submitted to the COEDU Associate Dean’s Office. The Certificate of Completion and evidence of annual re-certification must be presented with the dissertation when submitting the Request for Final Oral Defense. A copy of IRB Approval of the final research protocol must be submitted to the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
In writing the proposal, the candidate should follow the format specified in the USF Thesis and Dissertation Handbook or dissertation format instructions available online at the USF Office of Graduate Studies’ website at http://www.grad.usf.edu (then click on "Current Students"), and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th edition), available at the USF Bookstore, or if appropriate, a style manual approved by the Major Professor, the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the USF Office of Graduate Studies.
When the proposal is submitted to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs as ready to defend, it must be accompanied by the Request for Ph.D./Ed.D. Proposal Defense form signed by all members of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee indicating that they have read the proposal and that it is suitable for defense. The proposal document must contain a completed Title Page (please choose the one that is appropriate to the area of specialization), a Table of Contents, a List of References, and a copy of the Certificate of Completion of an approved program in the "Protection of Human Subjects."
The purpose of the proposal defense is to elicit professional input and insight related to the research problem and proposed method of inquiry. It is highly recommended that a proposal pre-defense be held, at which time the Doctoral Committee can discuss with the candidate any major changes necessary before the proposal is ready for the formal defense. The date, time, and place of the formal proposal defense should be decided at the pre-defense meeting.
The candidate should provide each committee member a copy of the proposal at least 2 weeks prior to the pre-defense or 5 weeks prior to the formal defense (if a pre-defense is not held) to provide committee members time to read and react to the proposal before it is scheduled for a formal defense. Suggested changes to the proposal should be made prior to its submission to the Associate Dean's Office.
After the necessary changes are made, the candidate will distribute one copy of the proposal to be defended to each Doctoral Committee member and secure his/her signature on the Request for Proposal Defense form. The candidate will submit the completed Request for Proposal Defense form and two copies of the dissertation proposal to the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at least three weeks prior to the date scheduled for the proposal defense. Upon approval of the Request for Proposal Defense form by the COEDU Associate Dean, notification of the defense will be made to the College community.
Outside Chairperson: The COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will appoint a College of Education fully credentialed faculty member outside of the student's academic department to serve as the Chairperson of the dissertation proposal defense. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will forward one copy of the proposal to the Outside Chairperson and retain one copy in the Dean's Office for examination by interested faculty. The Outside Chairperson will be responsible for reading the dissertation proposal and presiding over the proposal defense by the doctoral candidate.
The Outside Chairperson completes the Outline of Chairperson's Report form, noting the necessity of the IRB review, and attaches a list of recommended changes to the proposal prepared by the Major Professor. This form with the attachment is sent to the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Note that a copy of IRB Approval of the final research protocol must be submitted to the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
The Major Professor prepares and sends the list of recommended changes to the proposal to the student, the committee members, and the Outside Chairperson. These changes will be incorporated in a revised proposal. When all committee members have signed the Title Page of the revised proposal, it will be submitted to the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
NOTE: Candidates may not defend their proposals and their final dissertations within the same semester or within a 3-month time period across semesters. Exceptions to this policy may be approved if the Major Professor provides the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs with a written explanation why the candidate does not need this much time and negotiates a different time frame at the time the proposal is submitted.
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