Dissertation Proposal Defense

Within six months of successful completion of the Oral II/Depth Exam and the awarding of the MPhil, the student obtains permission from his/her internal committee to defend their proposal. The internal members of the dissertation committee must receive a copy of the proposal at least four weeks prior to the scheduled defense. External members of the Dissertation Committee are not expected to attend the proposal defense. The GSAS Office of Dissertations does not receive a copy of the proposal. The student downloads the proposal defense application from http://gsas.columbia.edu/forms and fills in the form for the committee prior to the defense, giving the form itself to the committee chair. The chair is responsible for returning it to the Graduate Program Manager for submission to the Office of Dissertations. The chair of the committee is the most senior (in both rank and years within the department), highest ranking faculty member (ie Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) out of the three or four internal members. The sponsor is the research advisor. The first hour of the examination is public; the second hour is a closed-door session with the committee. For both the sake of convenience and the potential for increased attendance by members of the department, the student is responsible for scheduling the exam in either the PH-20 Conference Room (for Clinical, Public Health or Translational students) or the Irving 8th Floor Conference Room (for Bioinformatics students). In order to ensure that sufficient notice is given regarding the public part of the defense, the student e-mails an abstract to Rosemary Vazquez, a minimum of three weeks in advance of the examination date. The dissertation proposal is the first step in the development of the dissertation and is required to ensure the viability of the dissertation topic. The student begins the preparation of a dissertation, generally building on the topic that was the subject of his/her Oral II/Depth Exam.

Dissertation Proposal Outline

With the approval of the research advisor, the proposal may be distributed to the internal dissertation advisory committee at least 3 weeks prior to the proposal defense. The proposal must be an original and significant contribution to the field of Biomedical Informatics. The project described by the proposal must be reasonable in scope and grounded in the existing literature. At the discretion and approval of the research advisor, the dissertation proposal should consist of 12-30 single-spaced pages with half-inch margins and be done in a minimum of 11 point type. It should be distributed to the 3 internal dissertation committee members a minimum of 4 weeks in advance of the dissertation proposal date and should include the following:

Chapter I: Introduction (Overview of the Thesis)
Problem Statement
Purpose of the Study
Research Questions/Hypotheses
Experimental Design Associated with Hypotheses
Significance
Contributions
Limitations

Chapter II: Background and Related Work
Historical Background
Literature Review
Review of Theories Related to the Topic

Chapter III: Methodology (Details of Thesis)
Research Questions/Hypotheses
Preliminary Studies (Optional)
Experimental Design Applied (e.g. data sources, data collection, analysis, evaluation, etc.)

Chapter IV: Timeline

Chapter V: Bibliography