Welcome to the Department of Biology
Graduate School guidelines and requirements for Ph.D. degrees are provided on the Graduate School webpage:http://grad.illinoisstate.edu/academics/thesis-dissertation/. All Ph.D. students are expected to be aware of these requirements. Many of the forms that need to be submitted to the Graduate School are also available on the Graduate School webpage: http://grad.illinoisstate.edu/academics/forms/.
Combined PhD Qualifying Examination & Proposal Defense Format
PhD students must complete a combined qualifying examination and proposal defense with written and oral components, administered by the student’s dissertation committee. This requirement must be completed before the beginning of the 5th semester. The cobined qualifying exam and proposal defense will test the student’s ability to (1) assimilate knowledge and to evaluate primary literature in his or her area of specialization, focusing on the student’s ability to discuss broadly ideas, concepts, data, theory, and the literature of his/her area of specialization; and (2) write a full-length research proposal draft on his/her dissertation topic. It is expected that the area of specialization is broader than the dissertation topic, and that passing the candidacy exam requires demonstrating knowledge and understanding beyond the dissertation proposal. Upon passing, the completed proposal defense form will be submitted to the graduate school and the student will advance to candidacy.
The written portion of the combined qualifying examination and proposal defense will include submission of a full draft of the student’s dissertation proposal to the student’s committee and to the graduate director. This should consist of a research proposal, written in the format of the committee’s choice (preferably NIH or NSF full proposal format) on the student's dissertation topic. The emphasis should be ample introduction to the research topic and placing proposed research into the context of the literature in the field; describing hypotheses that will be tested; and describing appropriate methods, data analysis, and interpretation that will test those hypotheses. The goal should be for the student to prepare a proposal that, with input from the advisor/dissertation committee and subsequent revisions, is of sufficient quality to be submitted to an external funding organization. In order for the dissertation committee to complete review of the written proposal, it must be submitted to the student’s dissertation committee at least two weeks before the oral defense component is scheduled.
Oral Defense Component
One week prior to the oral examination, the student will present his/her plan of dissertation study to the faculty and graduate students via a departmental or a brown-bag seminar. The oral examination will consist of a defense of the written dissertation proposal draft. The student's knowledge of and ability to discuss scientific issues associated with their area of specialization will also be evaluated. At the conclusion of the oral defense of the proposal, the dissertation committee will vote to pass or fail the student on the overall combined qualifying examination and proposal defense (both written and oral components, and both the proposal and knowledge of the area of specialization). The decision of the Dissertation Committee will be by majority vote. Upon failing the combined qualifying examination and propsal defense, the student may attempt to qualify one additional time, within 6 months of the initial attempt. Upon passing the combined qualifying examination and proposal defense (both written and oral components), the student will continue to improve upon the written proposal, incorporating suggested ideas and improvements from both the proposal seminar and oral defense component of the qualifying exam and proposal defenseThe student will submit a final, improved copy of the dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee for approval within two months of the combined qualifying exam and proposal defense date. After approval by the dissertation committee, the final draft of the proposal will be submitted to the Biology office, the completed Proposal Defense Form (available on the Graduate School web site) will be submitted to the Graduate School, and the student will advance to candidacy. The Oral Proposal Defense will usually begin with a seminar presentation by the student, which will be followed by questions by the Dissertation Committee and discussion. Ordinarily, approximately three hours should be scheduled for the examination following the seminar.
A Ph.D. degree in the Biological Sciences carries an expectation that degree holders will contribute scientifically to their discipline by scholarly publication. Thus, prior to the dissertation defense, each student will have produced at least two manuscripts from their dissertation work that have been submitted to or published in peer-reviewed journals. Merely presenting dissertation chapters written in the form of a publication at the defense, or stating that data within the dissertation will be compiled into manuscripts, are not sufficient to schedule a dissertation defense. Dissertation committees, primarily the major professor, are charged with ensuring that this requirement is met prior to scheduling the defense. Prior to scheduling a disseration defense, a student must submit to the Graduate School a signed School of Biological Sciences Right to Defend Form for Ph.D. Students. This form is available in the Biology office and must be signed by either the Graduate Director or the School Director. Exceptions to this requirement must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
Before you schedule your oral Dissertation Defense examination, you must have your dissertation draft authorized to be defended by (1) your Dissertation Committee and (2) the Graduate School. A copy of the Right to Defend form is available on the Graduate School website. The Graduate School must issue to you the Right to Defend form no less than one week (seven days) prior to the date you intend to take your oral examination. The examination must be scheduled on or before the date that the Graduate School has specified as the date for final submission of theses/dissertations.
ALTERNATIVE DISSERTATION FORMAT
DO POLYANDROUS HOUSE WRENS GAIN INDIRECT GENETIC BENEFITS FOR SOME OF THEIR OFFSPRING?
page 1: Abstract page
page 2: Title page
page 3: Copyright page (optional)
page 4: Committee page
page 5: Acknowledgment page (optional)
page 6: Table of contents