Category 1 (acceptable as submitted) – The first category is for thesis proposals that are approved without any changes. This category is rarely used.
Category 2 (only minor changes required) – The second category is for thesis proposals that require relatively minor changes/clarifications. Proposals in this category are resubmitted directly to the chair of the GSC who verifies that the required changes/clarifications have been made and then approves the proposal without involving the rest of the committee.
Category 3 (major changes required) – The third category is for thesis proposals that have omitted one or more significant portions or that are otherwise considered unacceptable by the committee. In this case, the proposal must be rewritten to address the concerns of the committee and resubmitted for review by the entire GSC. The GSC meets approximately every two weeks. This usually allows it to review MSc proposals in a timely fashion. After the meeting takes place, the chair of the GSC will synthesize the comments of the reviewing committee members to produce a letter to the student submitting the proposal. That letter will state the outcome of the review and will also provide the committee’s feedback to the student. Feedback is typically provided in two parts: a list of concerns and/or questions the committee had with the proposal and a list of less serious issues related to, typically, presentation and citation practices. Suggestions on the research itself may also be made, if such comments by the reviewing committee members were provided. In most cases, you should receive feedback within about three weeks from the time of submitting your proposal though, unfortunately, depending on the number of proposals submitted at a given point in time and the workload of the committee and its chair, this may take up to four weeks.
Common problems with MSc Proposals There have been a number of problems with previous thesis proposals that have occurred so frequently that it is worth identifying them explicitly. Some of these are major problems that will typically result in your proposal being placed in the third category while others are less serious but nevertheless common and annoying to your proposal’s reviewers (remember that it is always good to make it easy for your readers to review your work). The most common serious problems seen in previous MSc thesis proposals include:
Failure to identify and clearly state a specific problem that you are addressing – You must make it clear to the committee what you are intending to do. Even if you are planning on doing work that is more generally focused (such as developing a taxonomy or a framework) rather than, for example, solving a specific implementation problem you must clearly identify what it is you intend to do. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to specify what it is you are trying to do in a single sentence, perhaps with a couple of sentences of clarification afterward.
Failure to clearly describe the methodology you will use to complete your work – While, at the time you are writing your proposal, you will be unable to provide complete details on how you will solve your problem, you must be able to describe the techniques you plan on using and explain why they are appropriate for what you are trying to do. You should also discuss how any necessary alterations to aspects of the proposed techniques that might need to be done for use in your work will be accomplished.
Last modified: 27/02/2007
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