This is just a reminder for those of you in our Th.M. program. If you intend to begin your thesis or work on a guided research project in the Fall, you should start working on your research proposal. Technically, you can submit the proposal as late as the second week of the semester, but I strongly recommend getting it in earlier. Your best-case-scenario is to submit your proposal to me by mid-August so that we have a couple of weeks to refine it before the semester starts. That allows you to hit the ground running in September and have the whole semester to work on your thesis or project. So, if you’re not already working on your proposal, get started soon.
Now I’d like to make a few comments on the specific proposal process here at Western. The process is really the same whether you’re writing a thesis or a guided research project. Feel free to post a comment if you have a question that I don’t cover here.
First, timing. You really want to start working on your research proposal the semester before you intend to start writing your project. That’s because, as I noted in my last post, the proposal can take a while to finish, and you want to have a completed proposal before you start on the project. Also, you can’t register your project until I’ve signed off on your proposal. So, give yourself plenty of time to get your proposal done. If you haven’t done much research on your proposed topic yet, I’d give it a full semester. It won’t take that long, but you’ll probably have other classes that you’re working on. Give yourself plenty of time to do some background reading, talk with faculty, and craft the proposal. If you’ve already done quite a bit of that, I’d still start working on the proposal at least a month before you want to start writing.
Second, first drafts. You will write a first draft of your research proposal and send it to me, your lofty and highly esteemed program director. (Since you need me to sign off on you proposal, sending small tokens of appreciation along with the proposal would not amiss.) Most often, I’ll comment on your proposal, suggest some changes, and send it back to you. My focus at this point will be on helping you craft a proposal that is clear and addresses all the things I discussed in my earlier post. It’s not uncommon for us to go through a couple of drafts at this point.
Third, finishing. Once we’re both satisfied that you have a clear proposal, we’ll agree on which faculty are best qualified to supervise your project. (Actually, we’ll have talked about this already. But, at this stage we need to make a final decision.) And, you’ll send your research proposal to them. They may suggest some changes to the proposal as well. Although you’ll have a clear proposal by this time, they know their area far better than I do, and will be reading your proposal with more of a focus on the content and research involved.
Fourth, registering. When, your faculty supervisor(s) are satisfied with the proposal, you’re ready to get signatures and register the project. Once you register your project, you’re on the clock. If you’re working on a Guided Research Project, you have to finish the project in the semester that you registered it. So, we’ll want to get that registered right at the beginning of the semester to give you enough time to finish. If it’s a thesis, you’ll be registered for one credit that first semester and every semester after until you finish (you have to maintain continuous registration until you’re done).
I think that’s the whole process. Again, if you have any thoughts or questions, post them in the comments.