guidelines in our dept.

Sarah Boomer sarai at
Tue Aug 6 13:40:29 EST 1996

Dear Megan and others,

	After having only a vague description of PhD requirements for
years, our dept., under a revamped policy committee, wrote fairly more
straightforward guideline for things that should take place each year
during the PhD.  I do not know that these are suggested anyplace (although
a post-doc in our lab says they are similar to guidelines used at Wash U
in his old dept).  The guidelines were devised to shorten the PhD process
(which, despite efforts, remains at 6ish years).  The language of the
guidelines is also dominated by phrases regarding the use of the masters
(almost as though it was a blunt instrument) if guidelines weren't met.
These guidelines came out last year and haven't really been tested so,
unfortunately, I can't comment on how things will work.

	Basically, the committees were encouraged to strongly consider
students' general progress at the first meeting prior to the orals.  At
the orals (beginning of three years), it was strongly encouraged that the
first draft of a paper be in working order.  At the one year post-orals,
it was strongly advised that the student have a first author publication.
At five years, the student was strongly encouraged to have the thesis
outline and dates.

	Some interesting stipulations regarding what happens if the
student is still there at 6 years, mostly threatening use of the masters,
came into play.  Our dept. has also, for the first real time, had to
develop rules for dealing with students who's bosses run out of money (at
present 3 labs are dealing with dept.-supported students who teach or
whatnot in addition to fulfilling research).  What happens to the ideal
timeline in this case remains unclear.

	One of the ideas that were not approved (though some faculty
wanted) were ideas about mandating that certain faculty be on all
committees to equalize the oral exam experience.  In general, the policy
committee members have taken a more active role in "encouraging" students
to take specific faculty members if they perceive the committee as too
specific (although this is viewed as a way to say the committee is too
"easy" in most students' minds).

	One final note:  the latest growing problem faced here is that
first year students who come in stating they want to do virology or
bacteriology or whatever are coming in and finding all the labs they want
to work in full - and so rotation projects are stretching into 4 quarter
experiences (instead of the minimum 2 when I entered).  This also will add
to the PhD process and so issues like recruiting properly are very
problematic right now.

	Comments from other depts. on the effectiveness of this or
experiences appreciated.


Sarah Boomer				email:  sarai at
Dept. of Microbiology			work phone:  543-3376
Box 357242				work FAX:  543-3376
University of Washington
Seattle, WA  98195

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