Student Proposals and Dissertation Plans

The “Plan of Dissertation Research” should be submitted with their first proposal. This plan can be referred to in later proposals. It should be no more than 1000 words and uploaded as a PDF; instructions for how to upload or replace a plan are available here.

The Plan of Dissertation is important in the proposal review process and should be well written; it is not a placeholder and should not be a replica of the proposal. At a minimum, it should contain:

  • A summary of thesis science and goals,
  • The role played by Observatory observations being proposed,
  • A thesis time line,
  • The adviser name and institution,
  • An estimate of the total Observatory telescope resources needed.

The plan provides some assurance against a dissertation being impaired by adverse referee comments on one proposal, when the referees do not see the full scope of the project. Students should keep their expected graduation date in the user profile (Section 2.1) and in the thesis time line updated, as the date of data acquisition must fall within the timeline of the PhD. If the observing semester occurs after the student intends to graduate, then it is not appropriate to indicate that the proposal is for a dissertation. While not a guarantee, the Observatory allows reviewers to consider elevating the proposal in the rankings if it is associated with an acceptable Plan of Dissertation. This is given in consideration to the time constraints students typically operate under, as having to resubmit a proposal due to minor criticisms may not be possible within the scope of their studies. Therefore, it is advantageous for students to provide a thoughtful and thorough Plan of Dissertation if their PhD research is reliant on the proposal data.