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Grant Writing/Comprehensive Workshop Paul R. Albert, Ph. D

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1 Grant Writing/Comprehensive Workshop Paul R. Albert, Ph. D
Grant Writing/Comprehensive Workshop Paul R. Albert, Ph.D. Director, NSC Graduate Program Univ. of Ottawa Objectives Requirements: Letter of Intent Submission Topic Examining Committee Format: Research Proposal Tips Procedures: Examining Committee Reports Oral Defense Evaluation

2 Objectives The Ph.D. comprehensive exam is a grant application of the type required by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (without the submission of a budget). The Ph.D. comprehensive exam is required to for students to demonstrate that they: Have a broad understanding of their area of concentration. Can develop the ability to solve problems related to research data and methodology. Can devise a research program to address new research questions in a rationale and feasible way.

3 Requirements: Letter of Intent
Ph.D. students must prepare a one page Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent is due by the end of the second year of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Students must register to CMM/NSC 9998 for the session they plan to pass the exam. The one-page letter of intent must be approved and signed by their supervisor and submitted to the Director of the Neuroscience Program for approval prior to beginning their comprehensive exam proposal. The written comprehensive exam (CMM/NSC 9998) is due no later than 2 months following final approval by the Director.

4 Requirements: Submission Procedures
The Ph.D. comprehensive exam must be completed within the first 3 years of the Ph.D. program. A supervisor should allow students to focus at least 1 month on completing their comprehensive exam. Students continue to register to CMM/NSC 9998 if the comprehensive exam is not completed by the end of the session. No Advisory Committee shall allow a student to write his/her thesis before the comprehensive exam is passed.

5 Requirements: Comprehensive Exam Committee
The examining committee is composed of three (3) members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. One examiner must be from the Advisory Committee. The Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the supervisor makes the selection of the Examining Committee. In case of disagreement, the Graduate Committee makes the final selection. The examiners are selected only after the Letter of Intent is submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies.

6 Requirements: Topic The topic of the research proposal can be any topic in Neuroscience but it must not address questions that will be in the Ph.D. thesis. The student and supervisor choose the topic. In case of disagreement, the topic is decided by the Advisory Committee.

7 Format: Letter of Intent
The letter of intent is a 1-page summary of the proposal (the most important page in a real grant) that should include: 1. Background (2-5 sentences): introduce the field highlighting why it is important, what is and isn't known, and why it is important to solve these unanswered questions. 2. Hypothesis: State 1-2 hypotheses; end with "our specific aims are..." 3. Specific Aims (≤3): No more than 3 bulleted Aims paragraphs that contain: the Aim (“To determine…”); the methods/approach (3-4 sentences); the outcomes and importance of these outcomes. 4. Conclusions and significance (1 paragraph): state importance of findings to be obtained. 5. Confirmed suggested reviewers: provide names of three reviewers who accept to review the proposal (at least one Thesis committee member, and one NSC Program member)

8 Format: Research Proposal
The written exam is a grant proposal of 10 pages single-spaced in length, excluding references and figures. Figures can include data from the laboratory or cited figures from publications. The proposal should include: 1.Summary (1 paragraph): a statement of the research problem addressed and its importance 2.Background (2-3 pages): Relevant background literature: concise, organized in sections, focused and relevant to the project proposed, providing justification for the proposal. 3.Hypotheses (1-3 points): state specific hypotheses (as in summary) 4.Specific Aims (1-3 points): list the experimental aims 5.Proposal (5-6 pages): for each aim give the experimental approaches and methodology used to address the hypotheses; discuss expected outcomes, pitfalls, alternate approaches or back-up strategies 6.Methodology (1-2 pages): for detailed description of key methods that are new to you or you have not published 7.Conclusions and significance (1 paragraph): state importance of findings to be obtained

WRITE CLEARLY. Clearly and concisely state the goals of the research. Avoid long sentences, complex phraseology and jargon. BE SUCCINCT. More is not better. Reviewers are busy; get to the point. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Keep the topic focused. Simplify concepts as much as possible to present clearly; where things are more complex, suggest why your model/interpretation is better supported. AVOID AMBIGUITIES. Fuzzy objectives are too vague or general: be specific about your hypotheses and how you will achieve them. PACKAGE THE APPLICATION MATERIAL WELL. It is absolutely vital to format the application to be easy to read. Use headings to show the logical progression through the application. DON'T TRUST YOUR COMPUTER SPELL CHECKER. Use a dictionary; have someone proof-read. SHOW IT TO YOUR SUPERVISOR. Your supervisor is an expert and can help point out flaws, bad ideas, possible solutions, things that don’t make sense.

10 Comprehensive Review The research proposal is submitted to the Assistant or Director of Graduate Studies. The Examining Committee has four (4) weeks to revise the proposal. Each examiner submits a report (Evaluation of a Research Proposal for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam) to the Assistant Director of Graduate Studies. A copy of each report is given to the student for their preparation of the oral exam. The report must indicate one of the following two (2) options: 1. The research proposal is ready for the oral exam. 2. The research proposal requires major changes A student must submit a revised proposal if more than one examiner requires major changes.

11 Oral Defense Procedure
Students can request up to two (2) weeks to prepare for the oral examination after receiving the examiner comments. Student is expected to defend his/her proposal during the oral examination. The result of the Comprehensive exam is reported on a Pass/Fail basis. Students who do not attain the pass mark will be allowed only one more oral examination. Students who do not successfully complete the re-examination, will be recorded as a Fail, and must withdraw from the program.

12 Oral Defense The comprehensive defense is similar to a thesis defense
The oral presentation should be minutes, and should present an outline of the key points of the proposal. The committee can then ask questions in any area related to the proposed research, in 1-2 rounds min per reviewer. The committee then reaches its decision in private.

13 GOOD LUCK! Questions?

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