Best Practices For Your Doctoral Committee Meeting for PhD Thesis

Scheduling a proposal meeting involves (1) Finding a date and time acceptable to all committee members, (2) Selecting an appropriate and convenient location for the meeting , and (3) reserving the meeting room.

To ensure that committee members have adequate time to review your proposal before the meeting, it is preferable that they receive a final draft at least two weeks prior to the meeting. This draft should incorporate all of their ideas and recommendations for change. It should also be a high quality document-clean, accurate and complete.

To prepare yourself ,consult your advisor about the proposal meetings’ purpose and procedures. Also consult colleagues experienced in the process and get their perspective about the meeting’s dynamics and expectations. I also advise that you be well steeped in the literature related to your topic. Not only does it give you a greater self-assurance ,it indicates to your committee that you understand and have control over your study’s parameters.

During the meeting

Your advisor typically introduces the committee members and facilitates the proposal meeting. Most meetings are informal in nature- characterized by a spirit of collegiality and support. Questions and comments about the proposal revolve around understanding the study, clarifying ambiguities, anticipating problems ,and uncovering any major flaws in the study design .The committee’s role is to bring a new set of eyes to your study and help you define the parameters more clearly and precisely.

Before your committee accepts your proposal and sends you off to gather data, committee members should agree on the following four things.

  1. The scope of inquiry. Is it manageable? Is it PhD-level research?
  2. Appropriateness of the design. Is it suitable for research questions ?Is it doable?
  3. Significance of study. Does it make a valuable contribution to the field?
  4. Instrumentation. Does your instrument(s) adequately cover the research questions asked?

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