By the end of their third calendar year in residence, each ACO student must defend a Research Proposal. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that the student has adequate knowledge of a research area that would allow a thesis of the quality expected by ACO students, that the student is aware of an adequate supply of research problems, that he or she has a plan to pursue those problems, and that he or she is capable to carrying out his or her plan.
Guidelines for Administration of Defense of Research Proposal
- Purpose. The purpose of defending a research proposal is to demonstrate that the student has adequate knowledge of a research area that would allow a thesis of the quality expected by ACO students, that the student is aware of an adequate supply of research problems, that he or she has a plan to pursue those problems, and that he or she is capable to carrying out his or her plan.
- Research proposal. The student must submit a written Research Proposal of at least three pages and normally no more than six pages in length. The proposal must include a description of his or her chosen area of research, current state of research, a list of research problems with brief description of strategies to attack them, a list of research accomplishments to date, and a list of references that the student is familiar with. The list of references does not count toward the page limitation.
- Prior research. The candidate must demonstrate ability to conduct independent and original research. Ideally, this should be done by presenting a manuscript written by the student. It is highly recommended but not absolutely necessary that this manuscript be of publishable quality.
- Committee. A committee of at least three faculty members must be approved by the ACO Director at least two weeks prior to the defense. The home unit of the candidate must be represented on the committee by at least one full-time faculty member.
- Scheduling the defense. The written research proposal must be available to the committee and the ACO Director at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense of the proposal.
- The defense. The student should give a presentation of no more than 20 minutes in duration, followed by questions from the audience. The time limit should be strictly enforced. This part is public and may be scheduled as part of a seminar. Upon conclusion of the public part the committee shall ask more questions to determine the level of knowledge and readiness to start research on the part of the student. This part should be regarded as the main and most important component of the exercise. The questions should be substantive and inquisitive.
- Reporting the result. The committee shall report the results to the ACO Director. Each committee member shall evaluate the student in several categories according to a form developed for this purpose, and he or she shall make an overall recommendation. The Director can either accept the recommendation of the committee, or request a vote by the Coordinating Committee. In the latter case a majority vote by the Coordinate Committee will determine the outcome.
- Complaints and appeals. Any complaints or appeals shall be forwarded to the Coordinating Committee for a discussion and vote. A majority vote by the Committee will be final.