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The Third Meeting of the ACC is the defense of an original research proposal based on the literature rather than on the student's own research. It provides the student with an opportunity to demonstrate understanding and originality in a field selected by the student to suit his or her own interests and abilities.

The Third Meeting of the ACC should take place before the end of the student’s fourth year in the program.

7.1. Role of the ACC

The student’s ACC will give the student advice on the preparation of a proposal, and is charged with judging the proposal and informing the Department of the results.

7.2. Components of the 3rd Meeting Report

The student must provide the ACC with:

  1. an original research proposal, prepared according to the guidelines in Section 7.3.
  2. a research report describing progress thus far toward the dissertation. The student should consult with the advisor and ACC Chair for guidance on format and level of detail for this report.
  3. a brief exit plan (typically 1 page), developed in consultation with their research advisor, describing what additional work is planned for the dissertation with dates for their completion.

7.3. Proposal Guidelines

  1. The proposal should be prepared in a format typical for a funding agency in your research area. Consult your ACC on an appropriate format and length.
  2. You may get some idea of the scope expected in proposals by examining proposals shared by senior students, but feel free to exhibit your own judgment as to how much you have to say to demonstrate the value, originality, and creativity in the research you propose.
  3. The proposal as a whole is to be developed by you independently, but you may seek help from faculty or students when you have specific technical problems.
  4. If you need advice as to whether a problem is suitable as a basis for a proposal, consult with the Chair of your ACC or ask the ACC Chair to schedule a meeting of the ACC to discuss these matters with you.
  5. Your proposal, research progress report, and exit plan should be sent to your ACC at least one week before the date of the Third Meeting. You should ask each member of your ACC if they would prefer an electronic or hard copy of the proposal.
  6. The problem dealt with in the proposal must be specific, but the importance of the problem in a general context should be made clear. Explain clearly why the proposed research is worth pursuing.
  7. Your statement of the problem must be precise and unambiguous; there should be no room for doubt as to what you mean.
  8. The literature pertaining to the problem should be well documented. Use a consistent set of bibliographic conventions, preferably those used in one of the journals that is important in the area of your proposition. Include URL or doi information for references where it is available.
  9. The method of attack should be described fully, including the feasibility of each step in the process you propose for solving the problem.
  10. Map out the possible results of the proposed research and the conclusions which would follow from each.
  11. Assumptions and uncertainties should be dealt with explicitly and as completely as possible.
  12. An estimate of the time required to carry out the problem should be made on the basis that you would yourself conduct the research. If there are substantial costs for equipment, computer time, and especially expensive materials, you should try to estimate these as well.
  13. Students should consult the guidelines for proposal preparation published by a funding agency (NSF, NIH, DOE, DOD, etc.) appropriate for the problem they are proposing to address.

7.4. Schedule and Notification

The student will schedule the proposal defense and notify the GPC of the time, place, and topic. The Third Meeting should take place before the end of the student's fourth year in the program.

7.5. ACC Action

The ACC will deliberate in private at the conclusion of the proposal defense and the student will be informed of the results directly by the ACC Chair at the conclusion of its deliberation. A written report will be presented to the GPC with a copy to the student. The ACC may require a student to revise the research proposal, to repeat the Third Meeting all or in part, and/or to modify the exit plan or research progress report.

7.6. Faculty Review

The faculty may review the progress of any student at any time, at the request of the student, research advisor, or ACC. At this time, the student's ACC as well as the Research Advisor may be called on for comment in cases which seem to require attention.