BGS Home » Current Students » Academic Information and Policies » Dissertation Policies

Dissertation Policies

Lab Notebooks at Dissertation Committee Meetings

Starting in the Fall 2006 semester, all dissertation level students must bring their lab notebooks to their dissertation committee meetings. If a student has previously met with the dissertation committee, then he or she should bring the notebooks used since the last committee meeting. The dissertation committee should make a point of reviewing notebook data at each meeting. There is no expectation that lab notebooks be reviewed in their entirety. However, the dissertation committee should feel confident that the student's lab data are complete and well managed. Graduate groups may wish to impose additional requirements, such as assigning a particular committee member responsibility for reviewing lab notebooks or arranging for the notebooks to be reviewed in greater detail by a committee member outside of the meetings. In any event, each graduate group’s dissertation committee meeting report forms will be amended so as to document the committee’s review of lab notebooks. (Approved by Biomedical Advisory Committee, September 15, 2006)

Permission to Write and Defend the Dissertation

The thesis committee must formally grant permission to write the thesis. Students are expected to write their thesis full-time and upon request demonstrate reasonable progress to their mentor and committee. In addition, students must submit the thesis to the graduate group within six months of receiving permission to write.

If the student will not meet the six-month deadline for submitting the thesis, s/he must meet with the committee again before the end of the six months. The committee will review the student’s progress and set a new deadline for the submission of the thesis. Under normal circumstances, no more than one additional month will be granted. If the student does not submit the thesis or meet with the committee during the six-month period, the graduate group will put the student on academic probation. The graduate group’s academic review committee will determine whether the student should be given permission to defend the thesis, and under what circumstances, or whether the student should be withdrawn from the graduate group or offered a terminal masters degree.

After the student submits the thesis, the committee has up to one month to review it. If the committee determines that the student must revise the thesis prior to defending it, the student will have one month to make the revisions.

Once the committee approves the thesis, the student will have one month in which to finalize the defense arrangements. (It is expected that the student will make tentative arrangements for the defense before this point.) (Revised and approved by Biomedical Advisory Committee, February 5, 2000)

Students Leaving the Lab Prior to Defending the Dissertation

BGS’ Conditions of Fellowship Awards states: “BGS fellowships provide tuition, fees, health insurance, and a stipend for all full time students in residence and in good academic standing.” It is recognized that on occasion students will finish the dissertation outside of the lab. In the case that a student leaves the laboratory prior to completing the dissertation, it is assumed that s/he is no longer entitled to receive compensation unless the student and faculty mentor arrive at a written agreement that addresses the following issues: how long the stipend will be provided, the scope of remaining work, the anticipated defense date, the anticipated graduation date, and any other issues of concern to the student or mentor. This agreement must be approved by the mentor, thesis committee chair, and graduate group chair, and BGS must be notified. Under no circumstances may a student continue to receive a stipend if s/he has begun another paid position. Students who leave the lab must adhere to the six-month deadline for submitting the thesis. (Revised and approved by Biomedical Advisory Committee, February 5, 2000)

Dissertation Level Students Changing Mentors

A dissertation student wishing to change mentors must submit a written request to the graduate group chair. The student need not provide the reasons for the request in writing. The graduate group chair must then convene a meeting of the graduate group’s academic review committee, with the student present, to discuss the request. The academic review committee should consult separately with the current mentor and members of the student’s thesis committee. The academic review committee will then document its decision – detailing funding arrangements, timing, new thesis committee composition, and any other issues associated with a change of mentors – and provide copies to the student, the current mentor, and the proposed mentor. If the student is hesitant to take up this issue with the graduate group chair (e.g., the chair is the student’s current mentor or a close collaborator of the current mentor), the student may speak to his or her thesis committee chair or the director of BGS, who will then ensure that the above procedure is followed. (Approved by Biomedical Advisory Committee, November 19, 1999)